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Possum living: How to live well without a job and with almost no money Hardcover – 1978

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Editorial Reviews


“Dolly Freed is my hero….[If] this smart, engaging, funny, and frank manifesto…doesn’t make you want to quit the rat race at least a little bit, then you must be one big, fat rat.”
--Vice Magazine

“Compulsively readable…[In]this strange, engaging hymn to the laid-back life now, in 2010, one message comes out loud and clear. As the 18-year-old sage Dolly Freed wrote: ‘I refuse to spend the first 60 years of my life worrying about the last 20.’”
--New York Times Art Beat

“Dolly is a sharp writer, an autodidact and an 18-year-old of unusual competence and grit…[T]here’s nothing precious about Possum Living: it's genuine in a way few books are,…”

“…this book will not only make you laugh but might actually inspire you to embrace a simpler life.”
--Oprah Magazine

“An elegant memoir”
--Philadelphia City Paper
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Universe Books (1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0876639872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0876639870
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,501,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"Why is it that people assume one must be a hippie, or live in some dreary wilderness, or be a folksy, hard-working, back-to-nature soybean-and-yogurt freak in order to largely bypass the money economy? My father and I have a house on a half-acre lot 40 miles north of Philadelphia, Pa. (hardly a pioneer homestead), maintain a middle-class façade, and live well without a job or regular income--and without working hard, either."

--Dolly Freed, Possum Living: How To Live Well
Without A Job And With (Almost) No Money

Following her success as an author, Dolly Freed grew up to become a NASA aerospace engineer. She aced the SATs with an education she received from the public library and put herself through college. She's been an environmental educator, business owner, and college professor. She now lives in Texas with her husband and two children.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

244 of 263 people found the following review helpful By lml3000 on April 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
I was thrilled to discover the new release of this book and especially happy to read the afterward by Dolly. Over the years, I have often wondered what had become of her and what directions her life took. My old copy of Possum Living sits tattered and taped in my permanent book collection which consists of only twelve books. I love this book and would read other titles by Dolly if she were inclined to write and publish them. (hint, hint). I may not have agreed with everything in the book but found it to be a wonderfully written account of Dolly's experience, full of humor and candor and wisdom way beyond her years. I was also one of the (many, I'm sure) folks who was inspired by Dolly and actually took her advise and embarked on the possum lifestyle. I found a dilapidated, abandoned house in a pleasant neighborhood and bought it at auction, dirt cheap. Believe it or not, I was by myself with no help or support and earning minimum wage at the time. It was true that broken pipes and windows and rats (yes, rats) just didn't seem like a big deal without the big thirty year mortgage, and there was enormous satisfaction in fixing the place up, improving both my home and the neighborhood. Since then, I have discovered so many radical ways to stretch a dollar or completely get around the dollar that I could easily write my own book. Most people who consider themselves "frugal" aren't anywhere near it. I'm still living in the same house and most people don't see anything "different" unless they really scratch beneath the surface. Often when they do, they are both horrified and envious. The usual response is, "I could never....Read more ›
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262 of 296 people found the following review helpful By s0nicfreak on December 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
I do not think homesteaders are crazy; heck, I aspire to be a homesteader. However, I think the author of this book is a bit crazy. She talks about "leaving the rat race," but it seems she was never in it; what she really means is that her father (whom she calls Daddy throughout the book) left the rat race and her mother left them. She plans to have kids someday while continuing to live with her father and having a man either move in or "visit." (Yeah, good luck finding a guy to father your children when you spend all your time at home with "Daddy") And one of her ways of dealing with legal issues it to "catch your adversary's attention" by doing things like throwing a brick through his window in the middle of the night. She mentions other people that she claims are making the homesteaders look bad, but does not realize she is one of them.

Since she was never in the rat race, you'd think this book has some helpful tips about starting homesteading without having ever been in the rat race; but sadly, it does not. The house she lives in was bought by her parents when they worked, and she says that one should work for a few years to buy a house and give it to their children. Personally I think a huge part of homesteading is being self-sufficient, and would not want my adult offspring dependent on me giving them a house.

Not only does this book not tell you how to start from nothing, it also does not tell you much of anything. There are a few tips, but certainly not $10 worth. More than once it tells you to go to read books about a subject, when if you bought this book you probably expected this book to tell you about the subject.
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72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By J. Stephen Conn on January 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought Possum Living when it first came out in the late 1970s and devoured it. Although that was during a period when I had a great career and an income to match, I have always had a strong frugal side. This book provided a wealth of great ideas, but even more it was a tremendous source of inspiration. I loved the book, read it 3 or 4 times, and then lost it, along with many other books, in the process of a move. Most of the books I lost were not worth replacing, and I couldn't even remember what many of them were. But Possum Living was special. I missed it and lamented the loss - even more so when I learned the book was out of print and I could not find another copy.

Some years later, when I found myself jobless and broke for a couple of years, I remembered the lessons Dolly Freed shares in this wonderful book and what could have been a tragedy became a great, liberating adventure.

I had wondered whatever became of Dolly and had tried in vain to find her by searching the internet. After many years, I'm absolutely delighted to learn that Possum Living has been reprinted and is available once again. I've ordered another copy, and this time I intend to hold on to it. I trust a whole new generation will discover not only this book, but the lifestyle which it champions. With today's worsening economy, the message of Possum Living is needed more now than ever.

Get this book. Reading it may change your life - and could even save it.
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141 of 160 people found the following review helpful By photofreak on January 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
Please don't buy this horrible book. I am into urban homesteading and try to grow most of my family's veggies and fruits in our backyard. Not only are most of the "money saving tips" out of date, but many are immoral as well as illegal. You can find an archive text of the 1978 release on the web if you google it. Not only does the author advocate vandalism and eating unfortunate homeless cats and dogs, but she also talks about eating "long pig". Check out the chapter MEATS. For those of you who don't know, "long pig" is slang for HUMAN. Granted she says for "emergency", but there is no way anyone homesteading or "possum living" should be in that kind of emergency. This is reserved for Andes plane crash victims. Register with the local food bank or hitch a ride to the local soup kitchen if necessary. If hunting wild game is your thing, then do it responsibly, but don't eat pets or people.

I am more than a bit concerned that some people are recommending this book wholesale without paying any attention to the ethical issues it contains. Some are just glossing over these problems saying, "She is just joking." Unfortunately, this is not the case. According to a recent interview, the following is the kind of environment in which she grew up. Her attitude toward her father, Frank ..." She accepted and even endorsed his crazy behavior, his moral code." "When developers started building houses nearby, those houses mysteriously burned. Barking dogs disappeared. When the derelict hotel across the road burned to the ground, everyone (wrongly) assumed vagrants. "If someone's playing loud music at the creek behind the house, you or I would go ask them to turn it down," says Marie. "Frank would go cut their tires. It was just Frank's nature.
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