October 06, 2011

Better Off by Eric Brende

This was an interesting book. It was not quite what I expected but it read nicely as a journal and account of the time spent living without electricity.

The author Eric Brende, and his wife decide to take eighteen months and live without the modern benefits of technology. This includes electricity, washing machines, and motor powered farm equipment. They also do without refrigeration and have to come up with a way to preserve their own food; largely this is done by canning. While some of this is described, the majority of the book is more an account of the author's thoughts on everything and his interaction with the people of the community. He describes several work functions and takes time to explain in great detail each of the people in the community's habits, personalities, and backgrounds. It is interesting to note that the majority of them come from non-Amish background. Dubbed the Mininites by Brende, they live much like the Amish but have a few different doctrines of their own.

This book is not a good manual for learning how to do any of the homesteading skills or learning to live without electricity. It is more just an account of life and doesn't give the description necessary to performing these tasks safely. While it does have some interesting points (the bodies weakening by air condition)it should not be used as a how-to manual.

I did enjoy Brende's style of writing. It was richly descriptive and had a friendly approachable tone. He didn't try to act like he was better than anyone else because of his foray into this style of living. My only complaint would be that there is not a lot of description about his wife's thoughts and life living in this style. It made occasionally references to what she did but we never really learn how she felt about everything.

A great account on simply living. I would recommend it to anyone trying to get an idea about how to live the simple life.

Better Off
Copyright 2004
234 pages plus a P.S. section with About the Author, About the Book and Recommended Reading selections.

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