I picked up this book Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James in the book exchange box a couple of days ago and enjoyed several half-hour readings of common sense suggestions for living a good life. It’s a parallel book to The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead by Charles Murray, and The Next Million Years by Charles Galton Darwin, and is easy reading and loaded with easy-to-follow advice.
These three books have ideas you don’t encounter much these days in popular media, and therefore not so much in current popular thinking either. Each of these authors has had fabulously successful careers, even in popular media. Darwin’s book is openly dissed by many readers because of his hyper-long view of human history which makes our current values seem trivial. A modern reader doesn’t want to feel unimportant and thus they dislike, even hate, an author who classifies them as of fleeting importance.
Charles Murray doesn’t come off much better in the popular view because he presents clear descriptions of how their general intelligence is modest, to put it politely, and that their current lifestyles are destroying healthy family life and thus destroying the foundations of a healthy society. No one wants to hear or read, that, and so Murray is widely vilified. However, his book is loaded with sound ideas on how to improve your life, and I have been applying some of those ideas to my personal life. This Curmudgeon’s Guide‘s proclaimed audience is twenty-five-year-old college graduates and I would highly recommend it to that cohort. I am now eighty-four years old and would recommend it to my cohort too. We are already proclaimed to be curmudgeons by young adults, and we should consider playing our role in society properly.
St. James’ book isn’t as grating to most people’s world view as are Darwin’s and Murray’s because of their abstract and abrasive overview of humanity. Her book is given in the clear and present tone of mildly motherly advice. No, not quite. It is more like the advice of a thoughtful grandmother who loves you dearly. Or, perhaps like an aunt who just wants the very best for you. The book does have the slightly condescending tone of someone whose been there, done that and got a fine collection of T-shirts to prove it.
I recommend reading all three of these short books as a trilogy. They will help straighten a few paths ahead that currently look very crooked.