Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Off the Grid book review and giveaway

After reading this book, I have rather mixed feelings. On one hand, I had high hopes that the author of this book would take a different tack in his approach in Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America.

Instead of focusing on how the people he interviewed in this book worked out the nitty gritty of living off the grid, the author, Nick Rosen, spent a lot of time going over the politics and in-fighting of the groups involved. It makes for a somewhat fascinating read, but you don't really learn much besides the author's biases.

One big bone I have to pick is how he really, rather cruelly, treats his subjects. I'm assuming Mr. Rosen does so in order to make this otherwise potentially dry subject more exciting, but it starts to get a little old as he rakes each of his interviewees over the coals. Many are portrayed as crazy or mean or both and disregards their motivations.

I guess I'm not the only one left with this impression. From Publisher's Weekly:
Fed up with "the hyper-consumption of the past thirty years, the pointless acquisitions, the hopeless materialism, and the obsession with celebrity trivia," British journalist and filmmaker Rosen sets out across the U.S. to find the perfect off-the-grid community "beyond the reach of the power cables and water lines that intersect the modern world."

His journey brings him into contact with a colorful collection of rebels and outcasts--aging hippies, anarchist kids, a middle-aged couple with an "off-the-grid McMansion" in Colorado--and he sprinkles his tale with the sorts of practical tips likely to appeal to anyone considering a similar adventure: the Clivus Multrum is "the Hummer of composting toilets."

What Rosen lacks is a knack for storytelling; he would have done well to step back and let his subjects speak for themselves. Instead, he constantly inserts himself into the frame and insists on passing humorless judgment on nearly everyone he meets (and a fair number of people he doesn't), and even whole cities are roundly dismissed (Boulder is "the smuggest town in America"). His curmudgeonly asides are off-putting, and it's disappointing to see the book's idealism and noble reach devolve into grousing.

Maybe I was expecting the book to be closer to David Black's, Living off the Grid: A Simple Guide to Creating and Maintaining a Self-reliant Supply of Energy, Water, Shelter and More which is a lot more "how-to" and less "how stupid!"

Overall, I disagreed with his treatment of several of the people he profiles in his book, his opinion on peak oil, climate change and a number of other issues. That said, I did learn about these groups and individuals that were interviewed, and for that I appreciated the book. I otherwise would not know they exist and what these folks are up to. Although I'm not exactly giving this a sparkling review, it is worth reading for that alone.

Now, I generally don't like doing two giveaways at the same time but, ah, what the hell. If you are interested in throwing you name in the hat for a copy of this book, please enter your name in the comments of this post by midnight Saturday, August 21st, 2010 PST.

21 comments:

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

hmmmm....not so sure about this book but what the hell. I have nothing else to read currently.

Dawnee said...

Have you read "The Last American Man" by Elizabeth Gilbert? That's a good one. I hope they don't ruin it by making it a movie with Julia Roberts.

Crunchy Chicken said...

No, I haven't. But Nick Rosen (the author) talks about it extensively in this book. I did want to read it.

iheartgardening said...

I'm in Crunchola.

Jen. said...

My son met that guy (The Last American Man). imho you can never have too many books, so I'm in!

GeekGirl said...

I love to read, so why not? I'm in.

Simply Green said...

I love reading, throw my name in the hat.

Also, because I love your blog so much (which I truly do) I gave you an award :)

http://frugalgreen.blogspot.com/2010/08/i-received-blog-award.html

Mrs. Money said...

Interesting! I'd love to read it!

Anonymous said...

I just requested it from the library. I'd suggest a related book: Better Off by Eric Brende.

Lucy said...

Well..I guess I would still read it haha so count me in. Doesn't this guy know that South Park is the smuggest city, gosh?

Gayle said...

I have been watching this Off the Grid stuff for awhile now, and was thinking of looking for the book at the library. Maybe I'll win it instead.

Mary H said...

I'm in - and thanks for the caveat.

ikkinlala said...

If Canadians may enter, I'd be interested in reading this book.

Olivia said...

Yes - another Canadian would also like to enter. I have read Gilbert's "The Last American Man" - not sure WHERE Julia Roberts would fit in that story unless she played his mother or one of his groupies.As a former back-to-the-lander, I am quite familiar with off-the-grid living.

Carey's Blog said...

Hi Crunchy, Please put my name in the hat. I find the subject very interesting.

C. said...

Eh, I'd read it just because I'm curious.

Jane said...

I'd be really curious to ready this. I've got "Farm City" on the go right now and it would be neat to compare them.


I follow a blog from Kitchener, ON about a couple who have created a farm in their suburban yard and it kind of falls into this category too.

http://www.littlecityfarm.ca/

Heather said...

sounds interesting at least...i'm in :-)

Jelly Bean said...

i love books. :)

Kate said...

Found your blog a couple of days ago, started at the beginning and have been reading it pretty much non-stop through to today :-) Can't wait for the next challenge!

Q said...

Sounds like a great giveaway, I'd like my name in too please :)

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