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The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  538 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
How do you define the good life? For many, success is measured not by health and happiness but by financial wealth. But such a worldview overlooks the important things in life: personal contentment, family time, spirituality, and the health of the planet and those living on it. A preoccupation with money and possessions is not only unhealthy, it can also drain the true joy ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Lisa
Jan 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked up The New Good Life on a whim. I didn't know who John Robbins was nor did I know his program Diet for a New America. Robbins, an heir to the Baskin-Robbins fortune, has experienced financial highs and lows. In The New Good Life he offers suggestions for how to create a life that brings you psychological security and happiness without all the trappings of our consumer culture. He examines how we've gone from being citizens to consumers and how that change has made us less happy, less sa ...more
thewestchestarian
We’re all hippies now handbook. First, a warning to right-of-center readers, without irony John Robbins lays down some heavy thoughts like: ”it’s not he who dies with the most toys that wins but he who dies with the most joys.” John named his son ”Ocean” which narrowly beat out christening him “Kale” in honor of, yes, the vegetable of the same name. Basically, John makes former California Governor Jerry Brown look like former Senator Joe McCarthy.

If you can press through the Leo Buscala peace, l

...more
Linda Riebel
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a friendly, compassionate, and deeply heartfelt guide on how to live. Bringing together research and personal experience of key themes - money, food, home, time, kids - John Robbins maps out a set of values that can lead our country to a better life, even in a time when security seems far away.
"Better life" to me means healthier and happier, woven together with care for other people, animals, and our earth. In his life and in this book, John Robbins shows how it can be done. Every step h
...more
Brittany
Aug 27, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up to see what Robbins recommended to live better on less, not to read his autobiography, so keep that in mind in reading my review. Anyone who has already been living on a budget, and I mean really and truly living on a budget to make ends meet, not skipping designer handbags and $200 face cream so you can go to Bora Bora next Christmas, has already heard and done most of what Robbins suggests one would do to live a simpler, more frugal life. That part of the book is nothing new, ...more
Vincent
Jun 07, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I went into this with high hopes but it's a pretty big letdown.
Because this Robbins guy stood to inherit a multi-million Baskins Robbins ice cream franchise, he is famous. He tells us he opted to say no to the money and instead live on an island in Canada. But he never gets into the nitty gritty of that. Will he dies penniless?
He and his wife have no skill or ability other than giving massages. Not a long term investment.
I was also disappointed that the vast majority of his guidance about liv
...more
Michael
John Robbins's book Healthy at 100 was a real eye opener for me about food, diet, and health. So when I saw this new audiobook of his, I thought it worth listening to.

I think there's a correlation between where you are on the political spectrum and how much you'll like this book. It will likely have more appeal to those on the left, though it's message is one that Americans near to hear. For those who don't know the author, John Robbins left behind a fortune as the heir to Baskins & Robbins
...more
Nancy
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Though I could accept why someone would want to turn their back on a large fortune and embrace voluntary simplicity, I just couldn't get over the fact that he could have used all that money and really made a difference in other folks lives with it. You don't want to own a Yacht named "The Thirty Second Flavor 2?" Fine! Then build a school in an impoverished nation - give to charities - create your own foundation and give it all away to those in need. Instead he just turned his back on the money ...more
JoAnn Jordan
Jun 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book on living a good life while expending less and being kinder to the world. It is not so much a financial handbook as a guide to taking better care of yourself. It is about learning to live in harmony with your surroundings and others you contact.

The writer is a very interesting person and his life experiences are very enlightening.

I highly recommend the book. It is a quick read with a great deal of good information.
shirley
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, how-to
I picked this book based on the title, as I was interested in the subject.

It wasn't until I read the book that I realized the author was the sole heir to the Baskin Robbins fortune who then walked away and chose to live a frugal simple life. Big surprise. I started googling John Robbins and found out more about him.

This book is a powerful testimony of someone who practiced what he preached.

I love the part in the book where there are recipes for simple nutritious food.

Overall, I really enjoyed
...more
Rebecca
Giving up his share of the Baskin Robbins empire and choosing to live a less materialistic life the author walks the walk. He shares his experiences, and ups and downs of life in an approachable way. There is no preaching or finger wagging which makes it feel more a believable and doable way of life.
Deb
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*Living more, spending less*

"In terms of what really makes life worth living, who's the wealthiest person you've ever known?"

John Robbins opens his book with this provocative question which sets the stage for the exploration of the fundamental question of what truly constitutes a wealthy life. In the "old good life," wealth was directly measured by how much we made, acquired, spent, and consumed: "The old good life taught that wealth depends on the multiplication of wants and material possession
...more
Katie Kenig
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I wish I could convince everyone I care about to read this wonderful, enlightening book.

What does living the "good life" mean to you? Is it an ever more abundant pile of "things" that fill our ever larger homes that we spend less and less time actually occupying? Is it a bigger pile of cash in your bank account or a fancier car or a boat that you barely get to use because of all the hours you have to work to pay for it?

John Robbins, born heir to the Baskin and Robbins ice cream fortune had it al
...more
Allison
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
Surprisingly interesting and informative and clearly written book. Robbins gives a bit of his background (heir, rejects heirdom, lives on $500 a year for years, becomes a millionaire through writing books & speaking, loses it all to Bernie Madoff) which gives him a unique perspective on money. His identification of six different money types (the Save, the Innocent, the Performer, the Sensualist, the Vigilant and the Giver) was very enneagram (shadow side, evolving and evolved for each type), ...more
Mindy
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book which I recommend everyone read. I especially wish that it were required reading for high school seniors. In the book on page 249, the author, John Robbins, refers to this speech by Robert Kennedy and I think it sums up why this book needed to be written and why it is so important.

"Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America
...more
Jessica
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having alternated between Thoreau, Robbins' Diet for a New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness and the Future of Life on Earth, and the old (good) Utne Reader in my adolescence, I was well prepared to read this book as an adult. In the big picture, I'm already following Robbins' advice, living in a small space, getting around on foot or by public transit, and eating very low on the food chain. But still, I learned a lot from this book! (In fact, if we're connected on twi ...more
Kate Lawrence
Robbins begins by speaking about money management, relating his personal odyssey of growing up wealthy, renouncing it to live very simply, then building up wealth again only to lose all of it in the Madoff scandal. Not only did he lose all his savings, but having heavily mortgaged his home, he was in danger of losing it as well.
Although loosely organized around ways to cut expenses, the book ranges widely to incorporate living more healthfully and sustainably as well as more frugally. For exampl
...more
Mary Peplinski
This author uses 200 words to say what could be better said in 50.
The first part is bibliographical. I found this somewhat interesting, but was turned off by the author's self-congratulatory tone. In the final chapter, the author claims that monetary wealth is not necessarily a sign of poor values (i.e. you can be rich and still be a "good" person). Why, then, was he so determined to shun his family's fortune and become a subsistence farmer? Wouldn't it be a greater challenge (and greater acc
...more
Claire
Oct 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a straight-forward read, focused on what the 'new good life' looks like, and how that is better for us as individuals and as a society than the old good life which centered around the accumulation of wealth and consumerism. If you haven't been living under a rock for the past decade, then there isn't anything ground-breaking here but it's always good to see how someone else sees this 'green' movement. I particularly appreciated the discussion about public transportation, including that o ...more
Gloria
Jun 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in simplicity
Shelves: non-fiction
Written by the son of the founder of Baskin-Robbins ice cream, this is a riches to rags by choice story of a man who consciously chooses to live simply and advocate simplicity practices each day. A great deal of it contains social-style references similar to Myers-Briggs that help you figure out how you spend money along with more references to "Your Money or Your Life" by Vicki Robin which explain how to get a grasp on your money and time. If you've already read material like this, this book do ...more
Randy Daugherty
Dec 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the greatest nor the worse of reading. John Robbins was the heir to the Baskin-Robbins fortune but turned his back on it , to make his own way in life.The frugal and meager life he and his wife started out with was interesting reading,his message of living simpler and more green is a message that more and more are sounding in these harder times. He offers many recipes for home cleaning supplies that are green and cheaper than many we now use.The biggest message though is not to seek happines ...more
Melinda
The heir to the Baskin-Robbins fortune who walks away and creates his own life and happiness devoid of financial excess kinda grabbed me. I quite enjoy financial stuff and learning about ways to save a buck as I am a saver archetype. And whilst there was nothing earth shatteringly new persay for me to learn its always nice to be reminded in this day and age that "life is important not things." Bigger is not always better. He dabbles in where you live, how you travel, what you eat including some ...more
David
Apr 13, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
After an interesting chapter about Robbins' life story, the book discusses our various attitudes towards money. Half a dozen categories of attitudes towards money are described in detail, and everybody will probably see themselves in one or two of the categories. Since most marital disagreements center on money, understanding these attitudes can help avoid conflicts. Robbins goes into quite a bit of detail about what makes really makes a person happy, versus what people think should make one hap ...more
Sara
Feb 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is fantastic. it helps identify what your "money type" is so that you can focus on encouraging your strengths in that area, help you balance out your life. Being aware of your type and your loved-ones' types could really help you understand each other better and be more sensitive to each others' views.

Lots of great ideas for seeking happiness in places other than accumulating "stuff."

Great recipes for cleaning products that are much more earth-friendly (and also I think better for my
...more
Penny
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
His latest book deals with finances and living a simple life. I learned that he lost big because Bernie Madoff had ruined his investments, so Robbins almost lost his house and understood this whole situationof our downward economy.
He has one chapter on eating healthier and talks about some of the best from quinoa to tofu. I copied several of his recipes. Another chapter gave useful info on safe cleaning supplies. So now I can get rid of all the polluting chemicals in our home. Also I got a websi
...more
Holly
Jun 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Robbins is an excellent storyteller, so the bits about his life were great. I read this to find a few ways to save money (which I did) but I found the information on how to live responsibly truly wonderful. It wasn't something I was looking for, but the bits about how eating meat is TRULY adding to the greenhouse gases, made me stop and think a bit. My husband is a meat eater, but I will figure out a way for our whole family to eat meatless at least one day a week. Ve ...more
Rachelle
Oct 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The New Good Life" is about transforming our entire relationship to money and achieving financial freedom. It's about defining success as happiness, not wealth or material things. Robbins is a little hard to relate to at times (he gave up a fortune and lived in a cabin for 10 years, like a modern day Grizzly Adams), and he's made and lost a lot of money (he's a Madoff victim). But he continues to be enthusiastic, optimistic, and practical, he seems like someone you would want to invite to dinne ...more
Experience Life
Whether you’re scaling back your spending by necessity or by choice, The New Good Life will help you enjoy the luxury of a rightsized existence. Robbins defines the “new good life” as one of conscious consumption (unlike the conspicuous consumption of days past) and recommends a list of actionable strategies to help you achieve it, from riding a bike to plugging up money leaks, to simply deciding to work less and be time-rich instead. His life-affirming advice to steward our time as well as our ...more
Monica
Jul 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an easy-read memoir/self-help book on find real value in your life without needing lots of "stuff." Very focused on shedding possessions and living simply. I like the parts on how to identify your relationship with money (and how to not let this *define* you). There are decent money management tips, interesting takes on big life choices (ie: buying a house, having a child) and some good reminders that money doesn't buy happiness.

Plus, the author's dad founded Baskin Robbins. So that's n
...more
Jennifer
A useful and well-written addition to the collection of books about moving away from capitalism and embracing a mind-set of happiness with less.

The author, son of the famed Robbins of Baskin-Robbins wealth, walked away from his inheritance at age 21 and talks about the reasons for choosing a different path.

It includes practical advice about natural cleaning porducts, simplifying your finances, eating naturally and much more. Essentially, this book combines many of the ideas from other books on
...more
Anthony Cox
This book was good for the person that is trying to leave a small carbon footprint, live frugally, declutter, trying to eat healthier (and on a budget), trying to not use toxic chemicals for cleaning your house. He had some really great ideas in here. I have used several of the household cleaning suggestions and have been pleasantly surprised. There are a few places in the book where he goes a little overboard (but not too far) on a couple of subjects and parts of it are a little hard to get thr ...more
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John Robbins is an American author, who popularized the links among nutrition, environmentalism, and animal rights. He is the author of the 1987 Diet for a New America, an exposé on connections between diet, physical health, animal cruelty, and environmentalism.

Robbins is the son of Irma Robbins and Baskin-Robbins co-founder Irv Robbins. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in
...more
More about John Robbins...
“In the never-ending battle between order and chaos, clutter sides with chaos every time. Anything that you possess that does not add to your life or your happiness eventually becomes a burden.” 7 likes
“The ancient Greeks told of a philosopher eating bread and lentils for dinner. He was approached by another man, who lived sumptuously by flattering the king. Said the flatterer, "If you would learn to be subservient to the king, you would not have to live on lentils." The philosopher replied, "If you would learn to live on lentils, you would not have to give up your independence in order to be docile and acquiescent to the king.” 4 likes
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