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The Green Life: Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Living Simply

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January 27, 2010

Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Living Simply

Books about environmentalism

Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. To counteract commercialism and our throwaway culture, this week we’re recommending books about how to lead a simpler life.

Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and With (almost) No Money (by Dolly Freed, $13, Tin House, Jan. 2010): Originally published in 1980 and re-released earlier this month, Freed’s manifesto is based on the five years she and her father spent living off the land and describes the freedom of subsistence living. The author, who has served as an environmental educator, encourages readers to drop the trappings of their materialistic lives and to insteas spend their days catching fish, building woodstoves, and raising rabbits for slaughter.

Wearing Smaller Shoes: Living Light on the Big Blue Marble (by Chip Haynes, $17, New Society Publishers, Aug. 2009): Everyone’s looking for ways to save money, and Haynes is here to tell you that going green can help. His tips to reduce your footprint include discuss reducing water and electricity use, as well as solid waste (i.e. recycling). This fun, easy read isn't just for hard-core environmentalists; frugal folks of all kinds will appreciate the small changes Haynes proposes.

Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier & Healthier for Less (by Leah Ingram, $13, Adams Media, Jan. 2010): While not intended to be a green guide per se, many of the practical ideas Ingram presents are part of the eco-conscious consumer’s repertoire: eating healthy, gardening, reducing energy consumption, and increasing your car’s gas mileage. The family-friendly book is only quietly green but its tips speak volumes about simplifying your life to save money.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Self-Sufficient Living (by Jerome D. Belanger, $19, Alpha, Nov. 2009): As the title suggests, this is a comprehensive template to the simple life from which you can learn how to best store and cook fresh produce from your garden, raise chickens for eggs and goats for milk, and slow down the pace of your life. Whatever your reasons for wanting to become self-sufficient, this guide provides the knowledge and skills to get there.

Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills (edited by Abigail R. Gehring, $25, Skyhorse Publishing, Apr. 2008): At first glance, this book seems old-fashioned, with its instructions about weaving and building a log cabin -- but you can pick and choose the most relevant ideas to incorporate into your lifestyle. It's an excellent, well-illustrated resource for folks with a lot of land, and even has some sections that work for city dwellers and suburbanites, such as directions about how to bake bread and brew beer.

--Sophie Matson

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