The 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno

The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul by Dave Bruno



Format: Ebook

Source: from the library  (Overdrive)

Apparently, I wanted to read this way back in July when I began to get interested in minimalism and the simplicity movement.

In 2009, Dave Bruno decided to create the 100 Thing Challenge. He was overwhelmed with the amount of stuff filling up his family’s house, and the need to constantly buy things he didn’t use. So his Challenge was to own only 100 things for one year, and write about it on his blog. Then he expanded the blog posts into this book. He counted his individual items, but not items he shared with his wife and daughters. Books counted as “1 library,” though he didn’t mention how many books he had.

Bruno narrowed down his hobbies during the challenge. He started out with hiking, camping, woodworking, and making model trains. He realized he was drawn to building expensive model trains because his dad had created one for him as a kid, and they made him think of his dad. He had to let go of the past. He had woodworking equipment stashed in his garage because he imagined himself a “master woodworker.” This imaginary woodworker had a different temperament than Dave himself, so by getting rid of the woodworking tools, he let go of that image of himself. These sections were very thought-provoking. Things he didn’t need reminded him of the past, or he envisioned himself using them in the future, and ended up distracting him from his life with friends and family.

As Bruno is Christian, he did make a few Bible references. It wasn’t enough to make me stop reading though. There was also an odd section where he went on a hiking trip and met a woman who was unprepared for weather changes on the trail. Later his friend, also Christian, said the woman “was Satan,” there to tempt him, but he said he wasn’t tempted at all–he just helped a less experienced hiker. I’m not sure what that section had to do with minimalism or simplicity– maybe knowing the weather where you are and taking only what you need. A chapter I liked better was the one where he talked about his “perfect day”: doing work he enjoyed, spending time outdoors, and spending time with his family, which were the “things” he really wanted after all.

The end of the book has a “create your own challenge” chapter. Bruno does reiterate that the challenge is not for everyone–previously he had mentioned trying to pare down his young daughters’ toys, which they found distressing. He also mentioned that he picked 100 things, but other people could pick different minimal numbers of things to own, or adapt his challenge in other ways. One adaption he mentioned that I’m familiar with was blogger and author Leo Babauta‘s list of 50 possessions from 2010, which is here.

Overall, I liked this book. It made me think a lot about how I use the things I own, how I spend my time, and how many things I actually need to have the life I want.



June-July 2015 Round Up

I’m behind on my goals! Here is an update. I got all of these books from my library in print or ebook.

In June and July 2015, I read:
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

This was a really good YA historical novel. I have a review coming up!
You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren

I’m interested in adding bodyweight training to my running routine. This seemed like a good place to start. (He has a woman’s version, Body by You, which I might look at too.)  I ended up not using the program from this book, but this was very inspiring and scientifically sound, so I would recommend it. Lauren also made the program into a book and app.

Living with Less: How to Downsize to 100 Personal Possessions by Mary Lambert

This was a basic primer on minimalism by an English organizing consultant. I agree with some of the reviews on Goodreads that this was repetitive and a little sexist. (“Men collect sports equipment!” “Women collect clothes!”) Lambert shares excerpts from her blog when she decided to downsize to 100 items. By the end, one of her items was “T-shirts (13).” I understand grouping some things into categories, but to me 13 t-shirts is 13 items! I’m looking forward to going more in-depth on minimalism by reading The 100 Things Challenge by Dave Bruno, who invented the challenge, and The Joy of Less by Francine Jay.

The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff


This book explored “natural science” from around the 17th century to the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was very long, but I enjoyed learning about many of the people who “stocked” US and UK natural history museums and their adventures in other countries.
Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War by H. Donald Winkler

Winkler covered women from both the Union and the Confederacy. I ended up only reading about half of it due to time. I liked that each chapter was about a different woman, and was a good overview of each woman’s life. I recognized Harriet Tubman, Belle Boyd and Mary Surratt, but the rest I didn’t know. I would recommend it!

Deep Secret (Magids #1) by Diana Wynne Jones


I finally read this after hearing about it on Neil Gaiman’s blog a few years ago. I thought it was a children’s book, as I know Diana Wynne Jones wrote mainly for kids.  It turned out to be a novel for adults, but teens could read it too.

A Magid is a magician who handles the political relations between many worlds in the Multiverse. Each world has three Magids. Magid Rupert Venables’ superiors send him to find Earth’s third one. He finds good candidates at a science fiction convention. He doesn’t know anything about science fiction and finds it all ridiculous. He just wants to find the third Magid and save the Multiverse from evil. I liked the world building and characterization. I understand the second book is for children, elementary or middle school.

Focusing in on Reviews

So that’s what I read recently. All of those tie into my new focus of reviews:  nonfiction I want to write about, science fiction, fantasy, or historical fiction. (I didn’t read any classic novels this month, but want to add that too.)