A pile of slow living books lay on a table next to a white lamp and a burning candle.

11 Best Slow Living Books (That Will Inspire You)

These incredible slow living books give you insights to start a slower, simpler life – and to keep you inspired. 

From beginners guides to philosophical musings on modern-day stress, there’s a huge array of books out there about slow and simple living.

And a good book is a powerful push to change your lifestyle, whether you want to spend less time online, get in tune with nature – or just declutter your closet.

So how do you find the perfect slow living book for you – that’s just right for your stage in life? There are so many out there – and some of them are just filled with generic advice,

Dee sits in a chair by the window and flips through a book. There are book shelves and plants behind her.

I’ve been living a slower, simple life for years – and there are my absolute favorite books that have changed my worldview and helped me fight stress, FOMO and anxiety.

They’re packed with insights from experts, beautiful images and inspiring wisdom to live by.

Best books on slow living: 

1. Destination Simple – Brooke McAlary

The cover of the book Destination Simple shows a minimal mug of coffee against a grey background

Recommended if: you’re a busy beginner looking for an accessible, easy-to-read guide.

Destination Simple is a no-nonsense guide that focuses on how to reduce busyness with habits like single-tasking, unplugging from social media and practicing gratitude.

It includes practical tips to slow down and set up calming morning and evening rhythms to anchor your day. The chapters are readable with checklists, step by step guides and bullet points on how to implement the ideas in real life (even if you have children).

McAlary, host of the Slow Home Podcast, says the book is about being intentional with your daily actions and creating the life you want. But it’s also realistic. Creating change takes effort, time and energy – but the payoff is huge.

The book talks about how single-tasking brings you into the present moment and leads to more focused work. There are also insights on how disconnecting from social media leads to more creativity and better conversations.

Key quote:

“Achieving and then maintaining a state of balanced perfection would be incredibly stressful and unfulfilling. Instead you need to understand that your time is limited and valuable. And you can choose where to place your energies, depending upon where they need to be.”

2. Essentialism – Greg McKeown

slow living books

Recommended if: you’re feeling stretched thin, overworked and unfulfilled. You keep saying “yes” to commitments and then regret it.

Essentialism makes a case for doing less – but doing it better with more focus. It’s not about getting more done, but about doing the right things to make the biggest impact.

The book is inspired by the author’s real life. McKeown once rushed off to a client meeting the day after his daughter’s birth, as his wife lay in the hospital. But later, ironically the client lost all respect for him. And McKeown realized that if you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.

Essentialism is a guide for being more productive at work and it’s filled with anecdotes from the business world.

It makes a compelling case for cutting out the busywork and eschewing social pressure to focus on work that makes an impact. When you invest your time and energy in fewer things, you’ll make more significant progress.

Key quote:

“The Nonessentialist operates under the false logic that the more he strives, the more he will achieve, but the reality is, the more we reach for the stars, the harder it is to get ourselves off the ground.”

3. In Praise of Slowness – Carl Honore

The cover of the book In Praise of Slowness shows a globe in the circle of a pocket watch.

Recommended if: you’re interested in how society began to speed up – and what’s being done against it. 

In Praise of Slowness is a look at how speed permeates every facet of your life – from orgasm-oriented sex to the increased tempo of classical music concerts.

Honore chronicles the slow movement from Maryland’s suburbs (where they prioritized communities over cars) to Rome and the origins of the Slow Food movement as a backlash against a McDonald’s opening on the Spanish Steps.

The book traces the origins of the modern world’s preoccupation with speed from the first public clocks in Medieval town squares to the punch clocks of the Industrial Revolution.

It looks at slow food as a reaction against industrial farming, and slow cities that have cut noise and increased green spaces. And it examines trends like tantric sex and meditation, and the rise of hobbies like knitting and gardening that were once seen as old-fashioned.

Key quote:

“Fast and Slow do more than just describe a rate of change. They are shorthand for ways of being, or philosophies of life. Fast is busy, controlling, aggressive, hurried, analytical, stressed, superficial, impatient, active, quantity-over-quality. Slow is the opposite: calm, careful, receptive, still, intuitive, unhurried, patient, reflective, quality-over-quantity.”

4. Wintering – Katherine May

The cover of the book Wintering shows an illustration of a warm orange sun over a landscape of distant mountains and sprigs of plants.

Recommended if: you love literary writing and powerful storytelling. 

Wintering is a story about the power of retreat when life gets overwhelming. And it reads more like a literary autobiography than a guide to slow living.

Wintering is the story of a university lecturer who becomes physically ill from the stress of a demanding career. She recounts her journey to recovery – from guiltily taking time off work to swimming in the Blue Lagoon and celebrating solstice at Stonehenge.

It’s a compelling story about the taboos associated with rest – and how it’s often synonymous with weakness. Wintering argues for embracing the difficult winters of your life as a chance to grow – instead of trying to power through.

It’s a guide to dealing with illness, loss and defeat. And it’s a handbook to facing loneliness, despair and all the other emotions that society often glosses over.

Key quote:

“When I started feeling the drag of winter, I began to treat myself like a favored child: with kindness and love. I assumed my needs were reasonable and that my feelings were signals of something important. I kept myself well fed and made sure I was getting enough sleep. I took myself for walks in the fresh air and spent time doing things that soothed me. I asked myself: What is this winter all about? I asked myself: What change is coming?”

5. Slow – Brooke McAlary

slow living books

Recommended if: you’re overwhelmed and want practical strategies to prioritize what’s important. 

Slow is the story of McAlary’s messy journey towards a simpler life. It’s full of personal anecdotes sprinkled with tips on everything from decluttering to fighting perfectionism.

McAlary also looks at why we crave material possessions in the first place – whether that’s advertising, our egos, insecurity or boredom. There are tips on how to share items instead of buying, and how to mend what you already have without stigma.

The book lists practices like yoga, creativity and going outside as ways to appreciate the present moment. When you’re aware of your thoughts, you notice the lies and negativity you’re dwelling in.

Slow also talks about how the online world often means no downtime because you’re constantly connected. McAlary gives strategies to fight this overwhelm, whether that’s phone-free weekends or no screens at the dinner table.

Key quote:

“Do the work of uncovering your Why … do the work of establishing your own personal philosophy and set of values. Do the work of naming the highest, eulogy- worthy priorities in your life. Then do the work of putting them at the center of your life, every day.”

6. Rest Is Resistance – Tricia Hersey

Rest is Resistance

Recommended if: you want to explore the root causes of grind culture and your inability to slow down. 

Rest is Resistance shows how grind culture brainwashes you to equate your self-worth with productivity and material wealth.

This life-changing book sheds light on how grind culture supports both capitalism and white supremacy. And how this system exploits and oppresses humans while keeping them constantly exhausted, sleep deprived and struggling just to make a living.

Hersey looks at how capitalism convinces you that you must constantly hustle to pay your bills. Capitalism also convinces you that rest is a weak and unambitious indulgence – or a reward that you must first earn.

Hersey tells her story as a Black woman who found liberation through rest. She also gleams inspiration from her ancestors, whose very bodies were properties used as machines for labor.

Key quote:

“Rest is a form of resistance because it disrupts and pushes back against capitalism and white supremacy. Both these toxic systems refuse to see the inherent divinity in human beings and have used bodies as a tool for production, evil, and destruction for centuries. Grind culture has made us all human machines, willing and ready to donate our lives to a capitalist system that thrives by placing profits over people.”

7. The Slow Fix – Carl Honore

slow living books

Recommended if: you’re in a business looking for fresh insights on a slower, more holistic approach to problem-solving.

The Slow Fix is a look at our addiction to shortcuts. It’s filled with stories about how a holistic, slower approach is better – whether that’s rehabilitation at a Norwegian prison or a school in Los Angeles that tackles the roots of its troubles.

The Slow Fix explains why we’re hooked on quick fixes (that rarely work) and the rush of an easy solution. Our brains are fond of familiar solutions so we’re less likely to think outside the box. And we’re more likely to repeat past mistakes.

A slow fix usually starts with admitting there’s a problem, accepting blame and thinking deep. Rushing makes us less creative – and all creativity needs an incubation period.

Honore lists the elements of a slow fix – and draws on examples from how Bogota revitalized its downtown to how officials in Spain convinced the majority of the public to agree to organ donations.

Key quote:

“Even if it feels like everything is getting faster, we are, at the start of the 21st century, exquisitely placed to embed the Slow Fix at the core of our culture. To do so, however, we must tame our addiction to the quick fix. Given human biology, and the world we inhabit, this will not be easy, but there are ways to inoculate against the virus of hurry.”

8. Soulful Simplicity – Courtney Carver

soulful simplicity

Recommended if: you want slow but radical changes in your life to reduce stress, debt and overwhelm.

Soulful Simplicity tells the story of how Carver’s MS diagnosis inspired changes in her life – from simplifying to focusing on what’s really important.

Carver’s journey was slow but nevertheless radical. She paid off her debt, decluttered, quit her job, downsized to a small apartment and deepened her relationships.

She talks about her experiences with yoga, the benefits of sleep, and having fewer ends – instead of working hard to make ends meet.

Carver tells the story of creating her trademark Project 333 and dressing with only 33 items or less for three months. She not only freed up her time and money, but also received more compliments.

Key quote:

“The better I felt, the less I cared about upgrading appliances, buying new carpet for the living room, or building a new deck or fence. We started talking more about what was important to us, and what kind of life we wanted to have, how we wanted to support our daughter, and what life would look like when we were debt-free.”

9. The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down – Haemin Sunim

slow living books

Recommended if: you’re looking for a deep, Zen Buddhist reflection on mindfulness – and how it impacts all aspects of your life.

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down is a collection of reflections on life, love and relationships. Penned by an influential Zen Buddhist teacher from Korea, it’s a guide to being mindful in a fast-paced world.

From finding your calling to not worrying about what others think, this book reads like advice from a wise grandfather. There are no bullet points or strategies. This book is more about gentle, poetic reflections that will make you examine your life.

The book has eight chapters on various aspects of life from love and friendships to work and aspirations – and how mindfulness can help with them all.

Sunim explores facets of the slow life like the importance of tolerance and learning from different spiritual traditions. He also talks about the importance of space and independence in relationships, and the life-changing magic of observing your own thoughts and emotions.

Featured quotes:

“The world is experienced according to the state of one’s mind. When your mind is joyful and compassionate, the world is, too … when your mind is filled with negative thoughts, the world appears negative, too. When you feel overwhelmed and busy, remember that you are not powerless. And when your mind rests, the world also rests.”

10. Seeking Slow – Melanie Barnes

seeking slow

Recommended if: you’re looking for visual inspiration, practical tips and insights into being kinder to yourself. 

Seeking Slow is a beautifully photographed guide to slow and seasonal living by the creator of the blog Geoffrey and Grace.

It takes a holistic approach and offers insights on everything from mindful travel to leisure. There are also activities for each season and crafts to make with kids.

Barnes writes eloquently on the role of self-compassion in slow living. And there’s an entire section on digital detoxing and strategies to keep the Internet from taking over your life.

There are sections on well-being and taking care of your body, seasonal living in tune with nature and crafting a simple home that inspires a slower pace of life.

Featured quotes:

“When we begin to live more slowly, we find we have time to look within—space unfolds and allows us to deeply think and reevaluate things. We have time to think about the purpose and meaning within our lives, and naturally, we become more intentional and thoughtful with the decisions we make.”

11. Digital Minimalism – Cal Newport

digital minimalism

Recommended if: you’re addicted to your phone and just can’t make a digital detox work. 

If you reach for your phone first thing in the morning – and spend hours scrolling whenever you’re bored – then Digital Minimalism will quite possibly change your life.

Because once you do break away from your phone, you’ll be amazed at how less hurried your life will feel – and how many hours begin to free up.

Though getting there isn’t easy. And while we all know the dangers of social media, Digital Minimalism really puts the online life into perspective.

It also shows how another lifestyle is possible – and often beneficial. You don’t have to sacrifice friendships or networking when you log out. Your relationships will actually deepen when you set aside your phone.

Key quote:

“Digital Minimalism: A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

Slow living magazines

slow living magazine

Need some slow living inspiration? Flip through some beautiful slow living magazines during those times you’d normally reach for your phone.

Read 10 Best Slow Living Magazines (To Inspire You) for my ultimate guide to the best reads!

A beginner’s guide to slow living

slow living in the city

Do you want to live a slower and less stressful life –  but you’re not exactly sure how to make it happen? It’s not easy to slow down when you have a demanding job and family.

Read 16 Life-Changing Slow Living Tips (You Can Start Today) for my ultimate guide to practical slow living that works for your life.

More on slow living:

57 Life-Changing Simple Living Quotes (To Inspire You)

15 Inspiring Slow Living Instagram Accounts

16 Practical Tips For Slow Living in the City

8 Must-Read Slow Living & Minimalism Blogs

10 Incredible Slow Fashion Tips (To Transform Your Wardrobe)