Live Simply and Prosper

| May - June 2008

A book about the joys of consuming less might seem ill-considered at a time when financially strapped families are managing the vexing task of trimming the household budget. But David Wann makes a compelling case that the current fiscal squeeze is really a good thing in Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007), his cheerful reverie on striking out on a path to fulfillment unhinged from the accumulation of wealth. Wann, a coauthor of 2001’s best-selling Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, covers a lot of solution-oriented ground, from conscientious consumption and cohousing to building human-scale neighborhoods and dismantling the fossil-fuel economy. Along the way he offers plenty of pie-in-the-sky ruminations, but dreaming seems necessary in the face of looming environmental crises and an economy stalled out on consumption. We must, Wann writes, recycle the American Dream of accumulation into something more sustainable for the earth and our own psyches. And if hard times make that mandate more urgent, all the better.

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