Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What's New On the Bookshelf?

Friends gave me the books above. No Impact Man is a memoir of a one-year effort to have no impact on the environment. Colin Beavan, who lives in New York City with his wife and toddler, goes from take-out to homemade, locally sourced leek and potato soup. What begins as a crazy idea for a book project morphs into a new approach to life. The subtitle says it all: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process.

Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes describes the movement back to the land, away from 9 to 5 jobs and consumerism, and how such a choice can improve quality of life. In Part 1, Hayes presents arguments on why we must relearn the skills our ancestors possessed in a text that often sounds like a well-written PHD thesis. (“As we realize the impact of each choice we make, we discover ways to simplify our demands and rebuild our domestic culture.”) In Part 2, she explains how to go about this worthy goal, using, as examples, a dozen “radical homemakers” who offered their stories to her for this project.

Wealth doesn’t buy happiness, or does it? What these two authors suggest is that disengagement from the myth, and the consumerism it engenders, can improve your life and help save the planet, too.

No Impact Man is an easier read, but Radical Homemakers made more of an impression on me for a number of reasons which I do not have time to detail here. I recommend that all the local food advocates reading this blog, and especially anyone considering such a lifestyle change, study Hayes’s book for validation and encouragement.