Book Review

You are currently browsing the archive for the Book Review category.

Before I even opened the book, NEW SLOW CITY: Living Simply in the World’s Fastest City by William Powers, I New Slow City by William Powerswas completely taken by it’s cover. The cover’s illustrator, Kyle Pierce, captures the essence of the book with the incredibly beautiful monarch butterflies that appear to be serenely looking out onto the city.

About the book:

Burned-out after years of doing development work around the world, William Powers spent a season in a 12-foot-by-12-foot cabin off the grid in North Carolina, as recounted in his award-winning memoir Twelve by Twelve. Could he live a similarly minimalist life in the heart of New York City? To find out, Powers and his wife jettisoned 80 percent of their stuff, left their 2,000-square-foot Queens townhouse, and moved into a 350-square-foot “micro-apartment” in Greenwich Village. Downshifting to a two-day workweek, Powers explores the viability of Slow Food and Slow Money, technology fasts and urban sanctuaries. Discovering a colorful cast of New Yorkers attempting to resist the culture of Total Work, Powers offers an inspiring exploration for anyone trying to make urban life more people- and planet-friendly.

I highly recommend this book! I felt myself throughout trying to envision ways that I could slow down in my own life. Having lived in New York and worked in the city, I was so inspired by how the Powers were able to live simply and intentionally in a city with a million distractions.

An inspirational quest to slowdown, simplify, and find serenity in a supercharged city. ~Francine Jay

More about the author:

Born and raised on Long Island, William Powers has worked for over a decade in development aid and conservation in Latin America, Africa, Native North America, and Washington, DC. He is a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute and is on the adjunct faculty of New York University. A third generation New Yorker, Powers has also spent two decades exploring the American culture-of-speed and its alternatives in some fifty countries around the world. He has covered the subject in his four books and written about it in the Washington Post and the Atlantic. An expert on sustainable development, he is a freelance writer and speaker.

For more information, visit http://williampowersbooks.com/.

Tags: , , , ,

A Talk with Tina Welling, Author of Writing Wild: Forming a Creative Partnership with NatureWriting Wild by Tina Welling

Tina Welling is the author of three novels published by NAL Accent/Penguin, including Cowboys Never Cry. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Sun, Body & Soul, and a variety of anthologies. She lives in Jackson Hole, WY and her website is www.TinaWelling.com.

In Writing Wild you discuss how writing changed your life, even caused disruption, can you tell us about that?

WRITING WILD is about awareness, about waking up through our senses and discovering our interconnection to all things.  This realization changes a person.  In my case, it affected my relationship with myself and that created a domino series of changes in my marriage, in my mothering, in my position with my original family.  In the book, I discuss how exhilarating this was for me and perplexing for the others.

What does forming a relationship with nature have to do one’s creativity?

The natural world is the macrocosm, our creative energy is the microcosm.  “As above, so below,” is the old spiritual law that tells us that everything we need to know about how to manage, protect, and express our creative energy is taught to us by nature.  Nature holds the patterns, rhythms, and keys to the mystery of creativity.  It’s a natural resource of wisdom we don’t tend to use, perhaps because it is right outside our door.

 How did you discover the connection between personal creative energy and nature?

It was a series of realizations, just moments really, when I was outdoors enjoying the solitude and silence, daydreaming.  Once I was on a mountaintop, once skiing alone on the snowy flats, once on the front porch of my cabin.  By the third time I glimpsed the connection, I said right out loud, “I think I’m on to something.”  Years of further daydreaming, writing, reading, losing the idea and re-finding again it followed.

 Name the most important connection between creativity and the natural world.

The natural world grounds the illusive creative energy we personally experience.  It is present in physical form, made real to us.  We can experience it anytime we open to the natural processes around us.  Once open, every offering of nature’s wisdom is available to us.  Plus we also gain support, inspiration, validation, and we realize there are no failures, everything is useful, everything is part of everything else.

You talk about “lowering your standards” to open the flow of creative energy; how does that work?

When we hold high expectations of ourselves we put up an immediate obstacle to moving forward.  We can so easily freeze up and do nothing.  Lowering our standards is a phrase I borrowed from the poet William Stafford, who taught me that by lowering our expectations and the demands on ourselves we are free to move onward, to create wholly original work.  We must drop our urge to compare our work to others or to our past work or to our expected work.  We want to be surprised, so we need to be vulnerable and wide open to whatever occurs to us at each moment.

You say that nature triggers stories, does that really happen?

I have seen it happen over and over to students in my workshops and have experienced it myself.  Although it feels mysterious with something of the divine to it, science backs this process up.  And it all begins with the senses.  So simple.  So enjoyable.  I have found storylines for my novels and personal insights for my inner work.  I lay it out in 3 easy steps in WRITING WILD.

In Writing Wild, you give advice for creative writers that is also prescribed for emotional healing, could you briefly describe that?

It’s like breathing.  An inward/outward form of attention that makes for pleasurable reading, energetic creative writing, and happens also to be a method for journaling that heals.  Studies show that trauma is eased by using this natural pulse found within our bodies to write about the difficulties in our lives.  I explain the idea fully in the book and used the method myself to write the book.  In this way, my intention is to make WRITING WILD enjoyable to read as well as informative and in its way healing.

Tags: , , , ,

Maybe the key to happiness is to focus less on making moments last and more on making them count.  ~Lori Deschene

I love to read and whenever someone recommends a book, I’m in heaven. So when New World Library contacted me about an advanced copy of You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too, I jumped at the chance.

You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) is an inspirational blueprint towards a simpler life. The author, Tammy Strobel, combines her research with real life stories and real life solutions. The result is a book that gently reminds you what is important in life and gives you the tools to make necessary changes.

Life shouldn’t be printed on dollar bills. ~Clifford Odets

Before reading You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap), I felt like we were living a pretty simple life. We try to be thoughtful about our purchases and smart with our finances, so I was surprised at how many new ways to simplify I discovered. This book motivated me to do better for all the right reasons.

Here are a few (of many) quotes from the book that really resonated with me:

Ultimately, “simplifying your life” means being open, vulnerable, and courageous enough to redefine the way you live – because you want to.

How much of your life is dedicated to acquiring and managing your stuff?

The point isn’t to downsize as dramatically as possible, but to do so in ways that improve and enhance your home life and relationships.

I highly recommend You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too and you’ll be able to find it in bookstores on September 18th or online from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Indie Bound, New World Library and Powell’s.

More about the author:

Tammy Strobel is a writer, simple living advocate, coffee addict, and tiny house enthusiast. She created her blog, RowdyKittens.com, to share her story of embracing simplicity. Since then, her story has been featured in the New York Times, The Today Show, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, and in a variety of other media outlets. Her blog is http://www.rowdykittens.com. Here is a link to an Oregon Public Radio interview with Tammy and her husband on living in a tiny house: http://www.opb.org/thinkoutloud/shows/how-we-live-tiny-houses/.

True happiness consists in making others happy. ~a Hindu proverb

Tags: , , , , ,

by Wendy Gabriel

Image my surprise (and delight) when Sue Reed, author and landscape architect, contacted me about her new book, Energy-Wise Landscape Design: A New Approach for your Home and Garden. My approach in landscape design has always been to work with what I had, don’t add toxic chemicals and do add native plants whenever and wherever I could. After reading Energy-Wise Landscape Design, I was taken to a whole new level and have a new appreciation for how important our landscape design can be.

This book should be required reading for anyone who has a hand in planning a landscape design: homeowners, builders, city planners and so on.

Some of my favorites:

Chapter 8: Reducing (or Eliminating) Lawn
This chapter describes the evolution of the North American lawn and how we can replace some lawn with other things or design a lawn-free landscape. I sincerely wish that we could all shift the way we view a “perfect” lawn.

In the ultimate irony, to keep grass free of weeds, we blithely spread bags full of chemicals that harm the health of ourselves and our children, our pets and our friends, not to mention a whole world of wild creatures we never see or consider.

Chapter 9: Using Water Efficiently
This chapter explains how to design our landscapes so they need and consume less water including a section on collecting rainwater.

There is so much information packed into this book along with amazing photos and detailed drawings. Sue gives us an education in landscape design while opening our eyes to the possibilities of our individual landscapes. Her voice is full of common sense and charm. I highly recommend this book.

And, not only is the book fabulous, Sue’s publisher New Society Publishers has been Deep Green for over 30 years. They have produced the book on recycled paper made with 100% post consumer waste, processed chlorine free and old growth free. It’s a book you can feel good about buying for all the right reasons.

It’s time for us to imagine a new kind of landscape, one in which beauty is not just a social convention or a glossy magazine image, but also an expression of our social values. Now in the 21st century, we can design, build and care for our landscapes so that in addition to looking attractive they will also work for our own good and the good of the larger world.

For more information visit Energy-Wise Landscape Design.

Tags: , , , , ,

Sophie Uliano is a girl after my own heart, she understands that living sustainably is all about common sense and she makes it all Do It Gorgeouslyhappen with grace and charm. I was excited to get a copy of her newest book Do It Gorgeously: How to Make Less Toxic, Less Expensive, and More Beautiful Products and was overwhelmed (in a good way) with the plethora of awesome information.

Do It Gorgeously is a fabulous collection of green projects and recipes covering nearly all areas of life. There is so much information packed into this 375-page book, from Organic Teething Biscuits and Double Mint Foot Lotion to Deodorizing Car Spray and non-toxic cleaners. Not only does Sophie give us fantastic recipes and tips, she explains why we should keep ourselves and our homes toxin free.

This book is a must for anyone who wants to live healthier while staying within your budget. It’s also a great gift idea. You could make, for example, a jar of Lavender and Rosemary Moisturizer and give it and the book to one of your favorite people.

And to make the book even more impressive, Sophie is donating 10% of the profits to Canswerlink. They provide non-toxic cleaning supplies and services to cancer patients going through chemo/radiation/hospice.

I came away from this book with a renewed sense of empowerment. I can make my own beauty products and save a bunch of money. I can fix a leaking toilet and save a call to an expensive plumber. I can make my own organic mustard. There are so many things we can do daily to improve our lives and our environment.

Learn more about Do It Gorgeously: How to Make Less Toxic, Less Expensive, and More Beautiful Products at GorgeouslyGreen.com.

Thank you Sophie for sharing your gift of chic green living!

Tags: , , , ,