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A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity Hardcover – July 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931498253
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931498258
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 9.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Serene and thoughtful, this rambling scrapbook by Maine native and yurt-house builder Coperthwaite provides a vision of a life lived simply and self-sufficiently. From violence to education to how to build a "democratic chair" or make an axe, Coperthwaite covers an abundance of topics as he describes his version of a "handmade life" and explains why such a life is desirable. Never quite didactic, Coperthwaite meditates on topics-such as the idea of employment as exploitation-more than he preaches about them, moving glibly from idea to disconnected idea. A recipe for "a bread so good to both the palate and to health that a diet of bread and water would be a delight" is placed next to an anecdote about a young Eskimo girl named Maggie, for example. And the author's own poems, along with poems by D.H. Lawrence and Emily Dickinson, intersperse the narrative. Peter Forbes' engaging color photographs illustrate Coperthwaite's concepts-no easy feat given their breadth and diversity. 67 color photos, 10 b&w illustrations.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"This book, a richly textured exploration of Bill Coperthwaite's work and thought, encourages us to take the lessons of his life to heart. Each of us has the potential to craft our own lives with our own hands--actively, joyfully, and nonviolently, drawing upon the wisdom of our ancestors, striving for justice in the present, and fulfilling our obligations to those who will inherit our legacy."--John Saltmarsh (review refers to an earlier edition)



Publishers Weekly-
Serene and thoughtful, this rambling scrapbook by Maine native and yurt-house builder Coperthwaite provides a vision of a life lived simply and self-sufficiently. From violence to education to how to build a "democratic chair" or make an axe, Coperthwaite covers an abundance of topics as he describes his version of a "handmade life" and explains why such a life is desirable. Never quite didactic, Coperthwaite meditates on topics-such as the idea of employment as exploitation-more than he preaches about them, moving glibly from idea to disconnected idea. A recipe for "a bread so good to both the palate and to health that a diet of bread and water would be a delight" is placed next to an anecdote about a young Eskimo girl named Maggie, for example. And the author's own poems, along with poems by D.H. Lawrence and Emily Dickinson, intersperse the narrative. Peter Forbes' engaging color photographs illustrate Coperthwaite's concepts-no easy feat given their breadth and diversity. 67 color photos, 10 b&w illustrations. (review refers to an earlier edition of the book)

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

This book is more than just sustainable living, it is soulful and profound.
Melissa
I first bought the book for Kindle for my own reading, but enjoyed it so much I also purchased the paper version so I could lend the book to like-minded friends.
Joe Olivas
This book makes you realize that sometimes buying things costs more than you bargain for and you may just be better off doing some things for yourself.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 84 people found the following review helpful By mac@wellspring.co.nz on July 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I didn't go looking for this book. It simply fell into place. Literally. While I was browsing in the satellite branch of my local public library for books about business this volume fell on my head. It had been left precariously on top of the shelf.
Aesthetics appeal to me, to the cover was intriguing. I skipped the book about where mobile and wireless technology is taking society and immediately checked out A Handmade Life.
It is a beautifully presented book. The photographs of an idyllic life in Maine are appealingly presented. The text proposes a way of life that, even here on the paradisical edge of the Pacific Ocean, on the edge of the world, even, it is hard not to yearn for. And maybe that is true value of the book. It awakened a hankering in me for a more naieve way. Strangely it also help me make a number of business choices I had been faced with. Appropriate considering there is a side-bar in the book:
"Borrow from cultures old and new
And with our imaginations
Blend those borrowings
To Create new ways to live
That are simpler, gentler
More generous and beautiful."
Is that my cell-phone ringing?
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By reigel on March 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Thoreau spent two years in the woods, sustained by meals with friends. He wrote some of the most amazing prose to grace the earth. Here, the author hammers together a philosophy in the same vein. He may, as some have mentioned, have "traveled the world", but what else would one ask when in search of simplicity. He was, from what I gather, friends with the legendary Nearings (Helen and Scott), and like them, searched for a simpler life. I'm not sure it matters if the life acheived in search of simplicty isn't exactly what a person's philosophy attempts to express, but I am sure that the world is a better place for those who try. This book, though it may be a bit of marketing, is a necessity in the modern world. We do have choices. To say, as some others have, that we are "tied to mortgages" is erroneous thinking. These people are tied more to their thoughts than anything. My family (now five in force) has managed to escape those bonds on a meager salary. It is possible. No one is perfect. I wrote to William after I bought this book, and he responded in kind fashion. He is human. Is he perfect, no. But at least he's someone who's making an effort. The book is worth it. It may very well be a stepping stone in the right direction for many people. Pick up Thoreau, pick up Nearing's "The Good Life," pick up "Mortage Free!", see if you can't move in the same direction. It took us years, but we're getting closer. Maybe one day. Ideals are still valid.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 6, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is beautiful. It is well-written, and the author put a lot of careful thought into his work.

This book has much to say about simplicity and wanting less and getting more for the effort. This is one of those books that everyone should read. Especially all of us who live in industrialized nations and take simple skills and ways for granted.

This book makes you realize that sometimes buying things costs more than you bargain for and you may just be better off doing some things for yourself.

I also like the analogy of working a job you hate just for money as prostitution.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have to say I was disappointed in this book. I bought the Kindle version and within an hour I deleated it. I guess its my own fault for expecting from only the title that it would show the authors simple life. As I was scanning through the book, all I really saw was the philosophical aspects. I was hoping for a more practical approach. I have the dream,already. I was looking for his experiances say in purchasing land, raising food and how he actually lives the simple live. Pictures of things he made, etc. If you are looking for advice on how to live simply, look else where. If you need to find out the reasons to do so, this may be for you.
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By Lynda Read on November 10, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Absurd First World child of privilege jonesing for a Rousseau/Thoreau/Nearing fantasy.
1- Rousseau was wrong - savage, like the rest of us, aren't so noble
2- Thoreau's family did all the heavy lifting -including his cooking and laundry
3- Scott Nearing made his wife flee in misery and ended up committing suicide in the back 40 both broke and broken
Get real!
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By Robert E. Sorel on January 24, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book and try to have a spare copy around to give to friends and people that I meet who wish to lead a more grounded, intentional, and simpler life. Lush photos and simple elegant philosophy.
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Format: Paperback
Yesterday, on 11/27/13, William Coperthwaite died in Maine. A deeply felt loss and his legacy will be a continuing inspiration.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not much of a reader. It is a rare book that grabs my attention and makes me reevaluate the way I spend my time and effort, but this book was able to do that. It might have been a bit of preaching to the choir, as I also really enjoyed the Nearing books, but I think the author was able to articulate things in a way that was easy to digest and able to provoke thought, and is concise enough for anyone to pickup and read.

I probably won't go out and immediately change everything I do, but it has helped shape my view of the world; I can't think of a better endorsement.

I first bought the book for Kindle for my own reading, but enjoyed it so much I also purchased the paper version so I could lend the book to like-minded friends.
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