Radical Simplicity: A Philosophy of How to Live and Create an Authentic lLfe

I, like many other readers of Radical Simplicity, appreciate on a certain level what Dan Price set out to do, although it would not be a lifestyle we would choose. Living in NYC, I'm surrounded by modern conveniences and luxuries. The other day, I received a set of Tour Edge golf clubs (via https://golfersproshop.com), a symbol of city luxury and leisure. Golfing, an activity often associated with upscale living and manicured greens, stands in stark contrast to the off-the-grid life Dan advocates for. It's funny how the two worlds can collide in a single moment. On one hand, you have the raw, unfiltered, and minimalistic life Dan illustrates, and on the other, the polished tees and greens of a golf course close to the heart of NYC.

I must admit, even with the allure of the golf course and the comforts of city living, there's a charm in Dan's hobbit hole existence. While I may not be ready to trade in my Tour Edge golf clubs for a life in the wilderness just yet, there's a certain allure to the simplicity he promotes.

Nevertheless, living in NYC does have its benefits when it comes to just about any type of service you might need. It's a city of contrasts, and Dan's philosophy provides a refreshing lens through which to view it. I might take a break this evening to chill out and peruse Dan's quirky drawings in his book. They make me smile.



About the Author

A former news and fine arts photographer, Dan Price is best known for Moonlight Chronicles, a series of hand-lettered and illustrated diaries which he self-published before finding sponsorship from Simple Shoes, a progressive footwear company. He lives in Joseph, Oregon, in ”an 80-square-foot underground room when not on the road pulling crazy stunts like walking across the state … or pedaling over 4,500 miles on a three-wheel racing tricycle to Key West.“ He just recently succeeded in raising two children with his life partner Lynne.


REVIEWS OF Radical Simplicity

August 22, 2005

Paul Armas Lepisto | TreeHugger  Living / Culture

First of all, a couple of confessions. 1.) I’ve been known to threaten family while watching latest Hollywood blockbuster on 30 inch Trinitron that we’re moving off the grid so start polishing up your library cards. 2.) I drove the mile to the library on a sunny day to write this review instead of taking my bicycle (time pressure was my excuse although I still managed to read a battery of periodicals before starting this). 3.) I was inclined to like Dan Price’s book Radical Simplicity and read it straight through. Of course, you can see by numbers one and two that I live in a delusional world where wishes and reality rarely meet and number three? Well, that’s just throwing gasoline on everything. And yet, that is one of the charms of Radical Simplicity. The author is very honest about some of the contradictions he presents (for example, he notes the critical importance of a life mate but cannot change the lifestyle that drives said life mate away - she wasn’t willing to live in a tipi complete with outhouse and sweatlodge), nevertheless, he conducts his life with a certain integrity that seems so sincere that to follow any other path would be the true lie. Another example. He sells his car, walks 350 miles home, praises the merits of riding a bicycle, but, when his life stumbles into a phase where he needs a car again, he gets a car. (For the record, the self-subsistence off-grid tome, Living the Good Life, states that the one thing they could not do without was their pickup truck).

Radical Simplicity is not really a guide to living a life where less is more, rather, one man’s story about evolving a lifestyle which reflects this attitude. If the advanced minimalist finds the philosophical component of Mr. Price’s efforts a bit thin, consider the fact that it is a twenty-odd year journey of self-discovery in which he doesn’t necessarily know the answers and doesn’t consider it a violation of his principles when he finally installs a hot shower of sorts or invests in an expensive copier [although his practice of dismantling, filling in and selling (as in tipi fabric), recycling or burning previous domiciles gives him a harsh introduction to the concept of equity when approaching the banker for copier loan]. And because we have the benefit of twenty years experimentation, the evolution of his less is more takes on a certain sophistication that lends itself to the phases everyone’s life passes through, or, in other senses, the reality that confronts his utopian lifestyle such as theft and ants.

When I summed the merits of this book up and asked myself whether or not it is worth $12.95, one thought flashed through my mind: You might not use Dan Price’s tips to help build your Hobbit hole, but if this book helps you trim 500 square feet off your next real estate purchase, then it’s a value.


Available at Amazon

Radical Simplicity Paperback – September 6, 2005

Radical Simplicity is a hand-lettered, illustrated book that speaks directly and elegantly to that craving we all have for an authentic life, one that we’ve each “hand made” for ourselves, rather than one dictated by outside circumstances. Author Dan Price, a Thoreau for the twenty-first century, has helped champion a growing trend that’s been variously referred to as “downshifting,” “opting out,” or “simple living.” What makes his book so different and engaging is that he speaks from the authenticity of first-hand experience, for Price is an American original who has made his dreams a reality. His message is: “You can live a life of freedom, in harmony with the rhythms of nature, and your own internal rhythm and creativity. You can live very well with very little money. That’s what I’ve done, and I can show you how.” This is as much a “reading” book as a how-to guide, one that expresses its profound insights into carving out a life of meaning in a beautiful, practical way. It is bound to strike a chord with world-weary baby boomers as well as time-pressured but still idealistic members of the younger generation.


Amazon Reviews

September 8, 2005


essential inspiration

By prinsing

Format: Paperback

This amazing little volume is quite simply (pun intended) brilliant! Whether the small nests you build for yourself are still in your daydreams or your pack is on your back as you head for the meadow of your dreams, this inspiring handbook can serve as guide, mentor and friend. As with all of Dan's books, and if you haven't read them all you "simply" must, they are solid reminders in a crazy world of what really matters, of how little we need to have everything. I just finished Radical Simplicty and my journal is on my lap, my pencil in hand, and I am a child again, making forts out of blankets under tables, sketching entire miniature worlds in which to live out my magic.


November 5, 2005


 Man's Quest For Simplicity

By sketchalo

Format: Paperback

I think Dan Price's life is quite interesting. I would never live in the side of a hill like he does as I enjoy indoor plumbing, but simplifying one's life is something I am trying to do. I am slowing things down each day. I always enjoyed Dan's adventures and Moonlight Chronicle booklets. His life is full of adventure, but it isn't expensive to replicate. I love his drawings, and it makes me happy to know that someone is living on less money; that it is indeed possible nowadays. Gives me hope.


December 2, 2006

*** Very Radical Living, But Respectful

By BookNerd Seattle

Format: Paperback

I can honestly say that Dan Price leads a radically simple life. I began reading his book, Radical Simplicity, hoping for suggestions on how to simplify my life. Instead, I was given a very enjoyable read about a man who lives similar to Henry David Thoreau in Walden.
When Price was young, he found a cupboard to crawl into with some blankets and a pillow for his Saturday morning nap. Since then, he has sought out small spaces to live. Price built and lived in many different contstructions in his lifetime including tipis, tents, cabins, and his ultimate dream house: a "hobbit hole". Great photos and sketches of these structures (inside and out) are included in this book.
Many people ask Price how he bathes. His solution was to build a sauna (a "sweat box" hut), cool off in the river, and then scrub himself down with biodegradable soap. Since he does not have a refrigerator, Price uses a food dehydrator for meat and plums. Yet he still has a van.
Yes, his lifestyle is too radical for me. Though I don't own a vehicle, I do need the hustle and bustle of a city. I'm more of an "indoor" kind of gal. Still, it's fun to read about someone's current life that's so extremely different from my own.
Given the choice of rereading Radical Simplicity or Walden, I'd pick Walden. But I'm glad I took a couple of hours to read Dan Price's book. If you are a Tolkien fan, you'll at least want to check out the sketches and photos of his hobbit-like home.
You can read more about Radical Simplicity on the book's website. Price also has a website for his other books and his 50+ issues of Moonlight Chronicles.


May 4, 2008

****Real life escapism.

By T. Crowe

Format: Paperback

I often read Amazon reviews before I read a book. I also like to go back and re-read them after I've finished a book to compare other reviewers' thoughts with my own - sort of a low-end book club, I guess. Besides, the 1 star and 2 star reviews for books are just plain fun(ny) to read sometimes. I have to agree some with both the reviewers that liked the book and with those who didn't.

Many people will appreciate how Dan has chosen to live and many will no doubt have problems with the way he has decided to live separately from his family. Very few will be able to or want to duplicate his lifestyle, however, and there I think is the most valid criticism of the book. This book is not a practical recipe for living simply; but then the book is titled "Radical Simplicity," so I don't think it was intended to be.

This book is an autobiography of a man who has chosen to live a life very different than most people. On that basis I very much enjoyed the book.


March 27, 2008

* What a flake!

By K. Fischer

Format: Paperback

I was required to read this book for school. Our entire class agrees : Dan Price is a flake who has no concept of simplicity. If everyone is the world lived as he did we'd be extinct by now. He abandoned his wife and kids because he couldn't hack it in civilized society. He claims to only need 80 sq ft of living space, yet he sprawls over 5 acres with a tipi, a sauna, and a studio to house his copy machine. The whole thing is wired for electricity and when he tires of a structure, instead of reusing the materials, he burns it. Very eco-friendly. He mis-quotes Zen philosophy, and has the audacity to compare himself to Thoreau. If you are seeking simplicity and balance in your life LOOK ELSEWHERE!