Book Review – The 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno

I just finished reading, “The 100 Thing Challenge” by David Bruno.  It’s written by a guy named Dave (clever title to his blog and twitter handle @guynameddave) who lives in the suburbs of California and decides he is going to purge his life of all non-essential items.  His goal was to reach 100 total items and then live at or below that number for 365 days, a super cool idea.  He has a wife, kids, and a lifetime’s worth of “stuff” that he’s hung onto, so much so that he feels owned and buried by his belongings.  He’s not too far of from many Americans who spend their time seeking “The American Dream”; having a good job, 2.5 kids, dog, cat, and a nice house in suburbia among other things.  Lots of people are seemingly happy with that but a guy named Dave was looking for a project to reinvent himself.

First he purged everything except 100 essential items and then he lived for one year actually under 100 items, sometimes down into the 80’s.  A very cool project indeed, we could learn a lot from such an experiment.  I am learning a lot about myself and what’s important in my life by doing such a challenge.  There are a lot of personal relationships involved behind much of the “stuff” you have which makes it all the more complicated whether or not you actually need or use the things you own.  If it were just a practical matter you could make a list of what you use and a list of what you don’t use and voila it’d   be easy.  However, this has only worked for part of my belongings, everything else has a “reason” (or excuse) for being in my life.

However, despite the coolness of such a project, I felt that Dave’s book actually talked quite little about the project itself.  I expected to hear a lot more about his process of getting rid of stuff, there’s a lot of emotional stuff hidden in the things you own, so much so that it can become painful to get rid of things.  Also, I expected to hear more about what it was like to go from an average American-style consumer/father/husband to a minimalist consumer/father/husband.  I didn’t really get any of this in the book, or at least as much as I was hoping for.  There were tidbits of his actual challenge hidden among long side stories and anecdotes that were only loosely tied to the challenge.  He constantly referred back to his audiobook company that him and a friend started.  It’s cool that he started a company and then sold his shares to regain some time in his life, but ultimately I felt that the topic digressed too far and too many times back to his company instead of to his challenge.

He made some concessions or caveats (as I did as well) which I agree with but he seemed to focus on getting out his anti-american consumerism opinions in print instead of making it a more personal story.  I wanted to know what HIS struggles were, not how he felt about American consumerism.  I didn’t so much care to hear dozens of pages on his opinions about how bad American consumerism is for us as a society and how his 100 item challenge “movement”, if successful, would cure us of it.

The 100 item challenge was a great idea in theory but I was a little disappointed  about the lack of depth in the book.  I do however suggest checking out the Twitter hashtag #100TC (100 Thing Challenge) because there are plenty of people around the country, myself included, who have latched onto this idea of owning only 100 items.  I’ve found lot’s of cool tips, tricks, and other resources for how to live at around 100 total items.  Check it out.

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