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The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living Paperback – January 3, 1990

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The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living + Loving and Leaving the Good Life (Good Life Series) + Simple Food for the Good Life: Random Acts of Cooking and Pithy Quotations (Good Life Series)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 411 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken Books; Reprint edition (January 3, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805209700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805209709
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Helen and Scott Nearing are the great-grandparents of the back-to-the-land movement, having abandoned the city in 1932 for a rural life based on self-reliance, good health, and a minimum of cash...Fascinating, timely, and wholly useful, a mix of the Nearings' challenging philosophy and expert counsel on practical skills."--Washington Post Book World

From the Inside Flap

This one volume edition of Living the Good Life and Continuing the Good Life brings these classics on rural homesteading together. This couple abandoned the city for a rural life with minimal cash and the knowledge of self reliance and good health.

More About the Author

Helen Nearing left city life with her husband, Scott, nearly sixty years ago to move first to Vermont and then to their farm in Harborside, Maine. The Nearings' food and living philosophies have provided the guidelines for many who seek a simpler way of life.

Customer Reviews

I had wanted to read this book for several yrs.
E. Meza
His legacy lives in my heart and this book is where I go back in time to understand a way of life I dream of.
I also liked the section on how they came to use hand laid stone wall fences rather than wire fences.
Beth DeRoos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

121 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is a reprint of two classics "Living the good life" and "Continuing the good life". In these books, Scott and Helen Nearing describe how they chose to live deliberately, and built for themselves a sustainable life and lifestyle in Vermont and Maine. In "Living the good life", they explain some of the circumstances that led them to stage a strategic withdrawal from New York City and relocate to a run-down farm in Vermont during the 1930s. They describe how they acquired and developed their land, how they built their house, and their garden and diet. A major focus of the book is explaining their philosophy of non-exploitation, and how they wanted to implement their ideas of social justice into their lifestyle. The Nearings believed so strongly in avoiding exploitation of any kind that they avoided resorting to animal labor or products on their farm. They arranged their days so that they could spend 4 hours doing bread labor, 4 hours working with the community, and had 4 hours of free time each day to pursue independent interests. They also describe how they earned cash income from maple sugaring on their property. Towards the end of this first section, they explain that growing crowds of visitors, combined with a general lack of cooperation in the community eventually convinced them to abandon their project in Vermont and move on to Maine.
In "Continuing the Good Life," the Nearings describe how they built a second homestead in Maine. Once again, they explain how they constructed a house from stone, and how they developed a case income, this time based on blueberries. Gardening and diet is also given more space in this volume than it had in "Living the Good Life".
This book is rich with both inspiration and practical details.
Read more ›
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138 of 149 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on April 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
I first became aware of the Nearings (Helen and Scott) as a university student in the late 1960s, when they were considered the elder statesmen of the Sixties counterculture's back-to-the-land movement. As such, they prefigure by decades all the current flood of authors counseling a return to basic human values, lives of simplicity and a turning away from lifestyles of mindless consumption. The thread of truth running through their decades of rural adventures and struggles to live their lives with quality, public service, and dignity is an American classic, and one the present generation could learn much from. Simply put, this is a classic volume that describes the Nearings' lifetime experiment at establishing and maintaining a more meaningful alternative lifestyle, one eschewing the waste, rampant materialism, and corporate subjugation so common in today's mainstream society. After reading this book, one will chuckle quietly at the pathos inherant in the sight of all these busy, self-important yuppies driving proudly down the highway in their hard-won BMWs, doing their deals and talking on their cellular phones while driving in traffic, going nowhere fast with such innane but self-absorbed intensity. There is a much more meaningful and satisfying way to approach one's life, and it is described in detail in this book. Buy it and be prepared to be educated and amazed. It has profoundly changed my own life and the way I approach the future, and I recommend it to anyone who has even a mild degree of discomfort with the rampant greed and materialism characterizing contemporary American society. Cheers!
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66 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Smallchief on January 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
This was an inspirational book for me when I was a young man and yearned to "go back to the land." Now, been there done that, and I'm more cynical about city folks in the country.

The Nearings left "civilization" in the depression era when Scott was about 50 and spent the next 50 years homesteading rural properties in Vermont and Maine. Actually, if you read between the lines, they spent only part of the year homesteading and the rest traveling and lecuturing. They were an opinionated pair -- strict vegetarians, organic gardeners, and full of personal idiosyncracies they spend a lot of time rationalizing. For example, they ate with wooden utensils rather than metal silverware because of fear of chemicals. But who can argue with them? Scott lived to be 100 and Helen lived a long time too.

There are as many contradictions in their philosophy as has a Marxist manifesto. The "simple life" as they define it includes a pickup truck (something of a luxury in 1930s Vermont), cement mixer and (gasp!)chemicals to acclerate the workings of their beloved compost pile. They are anti-capitalist but make a living selling maple sugar, blueberries, and Scott's economic tomes. I would guess they took advantage of the Depression by buying land at low, low prices from destitute farmers -- but they later donated some of it to the community. Typical of city folk in rural situations they looked down on their neighbors as backward rubes, incapable and unwilling to be educated (indoctrinated) by their betters. I would love to have a book about the Nearings by one of their neighbors. It could be hilarious.

Amidst the philosophy of a pair of radicals in the country is some good advice on how to build a stone house and wall, tap maple trees, and irritate your neighbors. The romance of the rural is compelling and I enjoy dipping into their books from time to time.

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