I do like some books. Its novels I don't like. I am too feeble of heart to handle all the emotions. Its hard enough in life to deal with real people (self included), let alone made up ones. I mean, I can handle Bridget Jones's Diary but Captain Corelli's Mandolin; no, Catch 22; forget it. I also think its a waste of my time reading novels where the end of the story is already written. With the non-fiction stuff I'll review here, its about learning what is going on in our world and then feeling empowered to do something about it. We, good people, are the ones who will be writing the end to this story of our troubled world.
So to the review. Living the Good Life by Linda Cockburn (2006) is one of the two books that changed our lives (the second book review is coming...). I read it quite a few years ago now, but still enjoy flicking through it. The book is about a family in Queensland who go for six months without spending any money in order to be kind to the plant, kind to their bodies and to experience all the other beneficial spin offs the 'experiment' might entail. Linda calls it an experiment in 'domestic sustainability' rather than self sufficiency because that ' implies 'going it alone' or turning away from the world'. They provide what the family needs by growing it, using animals, using solar panels and water tanks and bartering (apart from exemptions like the mortgage and medical bills) all on a large suburban block of 2180 square metres. The family had been planning the experiment for a good few years before hand and had established fruit trees and other infrastructure already in place, as well as many skills like bread making, gardening and so on. Linda's partner is a genius at making/fixing/inventing all sorts of things in his 'recycling centre'.
From me it gets five and a half stars out of five:
- One star because despite the fact this family is 100% amazing they are lovable, fallible and human: 'Caleb ate the last of the chocolate today...I feign disinterest as Caleb ate it while secretly hyperventilating.' I would do that but I was also inspired to think one day I could have a goat of my own too, damn it.
- The second star is because it is simply beautifully written.
- The third star is for geeky respect. The book is so well researched with facts about everything from the nutritional information of snails to the effects of volatile organic compounds (VOC's) to the specs on various types of hot water systems.
- The fourth star is for its humor
- The fifth star is for all the doable tips and recopies
- The half star is because it was a life changer. I love her final comments, 'Your actions will not save the world. Who cares, it was never the goal. It's about doing the things that are within your power to do. That's all you can do. Don't think of it as an obligation, think of it as an adventure.'