Three New Leaves is about three important things: vagabonding, minimalism, and the Primal way of life. To say I’m a fan of each would be a little bit of an understatement, but to say that I created them would pretty much be a (flattering!) lie.
And so, in the interest of full disclosure, I thought I’d give credit where it’s due: to three separate authors who each inspired me, in the span of about six months, to radically change the way I was living. That’s kind of a big deal, I think.
I have a tendency to blaze through things, consuming media at way too fast a pace, but the three that follow — the Big Three, in my book — forced me to stop, breathe for just a few moments, and reevaluate my life.
For that, I’ll always be grateful.
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel (Rolf Potts)
Whew. That’s a mouthful.
I remember the day I first read this. I had some spare time to kill before my next class, so I plopped myself down in a hallway, cracked open the cover, and didn’t look up until I had that weird sensation that someone was watching.
Some dude was drawing me. He had a sketchpad and a pencil and was studying me very intently, and — though flattered and somewhat creeped out — I couldn’t figure out why until I looked up at the clock. I’d been reading for about an hour straight, unmoving all the while. That little realization lead to two others: this is damn good book, and that I’d missed half of my class.
You won’t be surprised, then, when I say this is my favorite book of all time. It’s just good. I could write paragraphs upon paragraphs of very flowery, charming prose, but I’ll just say this: if you’ve ever had even the slightest idea to travel outside of the country, read this book. If you’ve ever had the idea to do it for months at a time, definitely read this book. Hell, if you’ve ever had the idea to do something bold and incredible with your life, read this book right now.
It isn’t very long. And I think you’ll be surprised that Rolf Potts managed to capture, in so few words, so many incredible things: the thrill of adventure, the unmatched wonder of travel, and a firm belief at what you’ll find in strange, new environments — you. A new you, maybe, or just the strongest, happiest version yet.
(That’s why I travel, after all!)
The Power of Less (Leo Babauta)
It’s funny, I guess, that I don’t really remember this book at all. That doesn’t say much about my memory, but maybe that’s the irony: I was so overwhelmed by stress whenever I first read it that I’m pretty sure the message went in one ear and straight out the other.
Hard to be a minimalist when your life is completely overrun with stuff, isn’t it? But the book did its trick: I remembered it, months later, when the stress in my life had only ramped up further and I felt powerless to do anything about it. There, sitting in a room overflowing with crap, I remembered the Power of Less.
I, er, didn’t read it again. But I remembered Leo’s message well enough to take a very serious look at what I was doing and to consider, for the first time, what I could do differently. How I could do more, in a sense, by doing much less, by cutting the crap out of my life and focusing on the essential. I give the book all the credit because it did something very important: it introduced me to minimalism, even at a time when I couldn’t appreciate it, and the message was so simple and strong that it later came back to change me.
The Primal Blueprint (Mark Sisson)
I haven’t talked about Primal much, I’ll admit. It’s a risky subject, in a sense — people can get very defensive about their eating habits, and I’d hate to come across like some nutty fanatic trying to spread the word of a book that definitely goes counter to conventional wisdom.
But it works. I’ve been burning fat pretty steadily for about three months, now, and the lines of my abs are starting to pop up whenever I check my progress in the mirror. My family has caught on, and the word about my ‘diet’ is spreading along the grapevine as both my brother and mother see significant improvements in their health and general body composition.
I owe it all to Mark Sisson. I found his site by accident, but the muscular and fit man at the top of the page seemed like pretty compelling advertising for his unique way of life. The success stories and before/after picture threads in the forum really drove the point home, and that was all it took — I ordered the book, devoured it in about three days of steady reading (it’s a tome!), and never looked back.
I’ll be covering Primal more often from now on, as it’s a subject worth discussion, and hopefully pictures of my own progress might take the “Matt’s crazy!” card far from the table. In the meantime, I’ll just say this: if you’re unhappy with your weight, read this book. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, why not try it for a month and see what happens? What do you have to lose, really, besides a few pounds?
And that’s it!
My three favorite books, complete with all the love and gratitude I can send to their amazing authors. If I can do anything with Three New Leaves, I hope I can capture some of the inspiration they’ve given me and send it right on to you. And, well, assuming that fails, at least you know where to look to find the real deal!
But what about you? What books have inspired you and changed your life? I’d love to hear about them!