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Renewable: One Woman's Search for Simplicity, Faithfulness, and Hope Paperback – March 3, 2015

4.9 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“If you’ve ever felt despair about the state of the world or wondered, ‘What can I do?’ I recommend reading Renewable. Eileen Flanagan’s insightful memoir shows a deep understanding of complex global problems, while showing us how one person can change their life while working to change the world we all share.”
—Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director Greenpeace International

“Simple, beautiful and nourishing, this book is a necessary reminder that the renewable energy we need most is people power!”
—Bill McKibben, founder 350.org

“In a book laced with humorous anecdotes, Eileen Flanagan writes of her quest for simplicity while beset by the contradictions of modern life. A former Peace Corps volunteer turned soccer mom, her dilemmas are easy to relate to, yet her narrative inspiring. The inner voice of integrity does point out a path all of us can follow.”
—George Lakey, author of Toward a Living Revolution

“A wise and delightful tale, reminding us not only of the need for simplicity, but of the need to follow our heart’s calling. The whole world benefits from those with the courage to do so.”
—Bronnie Ware, author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

“Drawing on her Irish family history, Eileen Flanagan shares a poignant human story that illustrates the courage we need to create a more just future for our children and children everywhere.”
—Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN Special Envoy on Climate Change

“Everyone who has felt a sense of mismatch between their values and their day-to-day lives should read this book! In an inviting and non-preachy narrative, Flanagan inspires readers to find joy and meaning in community and action, rather than chasing ever more stuff. If she can do it, we all can!”
—Annie Leonard, author of The Story of Stuff and Executive Director of Greenpeace USA

About the Author

A graduate of both Duke and Yale, Eileen Flanagan writes for a wide range of national publications and speaks at conferences, colleges, and religious gatherings. She is the author of The Wisdom to Know the Difference: When to Make a Change―and When to Let Go, which was endorsed by the Dalai Lama and won the Silver Nautilus Book Award. A leader of Earth Quaker Action Team, she lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two children.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: She Writes Press (March 3, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1631529684
  • ISBN-13: 978-1631529689
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #919,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got the book today and have stayed up way past my bedtime reading. Flanagan transports the reader to the White House and to a small village in Botswana with prose that is simple and direct. Her attention to detail, humor, and genuine curiosity and shine through. The story is at once personal and epic. I cannot recommend it enough!
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I have recently found myself reading some non-fiction by women doing good things because I felt I 'should' read them (the other being Suzanne Strempek Shea's "This is Paradise" about the Irish mom, Mags Riordan, who set up a clinic in Africa in memory of her son.) I did not expect the writing and the imagery and the emotional content to drag me in to the point that I'm not doing the things I should be doing, (which is the benchmark for all of us true readers, right?) Flanagan's "Renewable" had me at at the Preface, where she admits: "I'd developed a low-level despair about my ability to protect the planet they [her children] would inherit." At middle age, we often have that moment where we realize our lives changed insidiously, we are no longer the women we imagined we would be. Sometimes we are better in many ways, but we recognize how we missed. The true narrative for me in this inspiring book is Flanagan's unwavering self appraisal and call to action.
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Format: Paperback
Renewable tells the story of the power and joy that come from the process of growth. In listening to her inner promptings, the author allows herself – even at a time that she had family and career in full swing – to do what so many of us long to do. She allowed herself to align with what was truly important. I’ve heard many tales of people stilling the cultural cacophony and resetting their course at times of crisis. People have that kind of clarity when their lives are nearing their ends due to age or illness. But Eileen’s story is about doing it right now, at a time that she can act for many years on her promptings, make a difference in the world, and renew her life in a way only living one’s mission can do. This book and its author are inspiring examples.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a Peace Corps volunteer in her youth, Flanagan spent several years in a mud hut amongst her African friends, and found that having very little was just enough. She returned home with the idealistic vision that she'd be able to live simply in the United States, but found it increasingly difficult to resist the American, consumerism way of life. Never preachy, Flanagan admits her own failures and struggles with trying to raise socially conscious, ecologically aware kids in a "keeping up with the Joneses" world. Beautifully written, well researched and informative, this book captured my activist heart and inspired me to live more simply, and to remember my own values about the world that my children will inherit.
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This is a book with a message I wish everyone could hear. It's a story about taking responsibility both for oneself and for the planet, in a very personal journey toward both self-realization and commitment. The book is told with honesty, grace, and humor, and it's superbly written. Flanagan doesn't tell the story the obvious, chronological way - instead she skillfully weaves her experiences in with her ethical questing, moving back and forth in time and from the US to Africa. A moving and important book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Flanagan asks an important question with this non-fiction book: is it possible to jolt ourselves awake out of suburban, middle-aged complacency, and return to a life of faith in action?

I enjoyed many things about Eileen Flanagan's introspective journey here:

* Descriptions of the simplicity of her life in the Peace Corps in Botswana, and her reverse culture shock returning to the US
* The real-world application of her Quaker faith
* Her honesty in evaluating the contrast between third- and first-world issues
* Her dedication to creating a more just planet

However, I ended up skimming the latter parts, because I wasn't as interested in her current-day social action projects, or descriptions of committee meetings and group dynamics. I felt like the last third of the book, or so, became bogged down in smaller ideas, and lacked the big, bold sweep of the earlier chapters.

Still, I have to admire what she tried to do, and the vitality of her writing.
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"Renewable" came to me at a moment in my life when I really needed it--like many books do to Eileen Flanagan in her narrative. I too am reaching the end of active-duty motherhood and wondering how to shift gears to my next goal. Although my calling is not the same as hers, I found "Renewable" to be a fascinating and entertaining reminder to listen for the voice of spirit within. The book is also an interesting look inside the world of direct action civil disobedience, it's funny AND it contains a wonderful travel story about Africa, then and now. I have read all of Flanagan's books, and somehow she is always a few steps ahead of me--but not so far away that I can't see her lantern as I follow along the trail through the dark woods.
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Format: Paperback
In the midst of people despairing about the future of the environment, this book shines. It's a well-written novel for people looking for uplift and inspiration, woven with the author's vibrant personal story. Importantly, the author has been involved in meaningful social change, taking risks in her own pursuit to make the world a better place.
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