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Living on the Earth Paperback – May 2, 2000
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When we depend less on industrially produced consumer goods, we can live in quiet places. Our bodies become vigorous; we discover the serenity of living with the rhythms of the earth. We cease oppressing one another.
Oppression hasn't quite disappeared in the 30 years since Alicia Bay Laurel wrote these words, but, thanks to the enduring legacy of the back-to-the-land movement and the possibilities of telecommuting alike, more and more people are living in the "quiet places" Laurel celebrates. Living on the Earth was a well-worn (and bestselling) bible for the urban hipsters who fled the city and took up such pursuits as organic farming and leather tanning in the early 1970s; its author, a musician and artist who now makes her home in Hawaii, made their acclimation to country life just a little bit easier with her user-friendly instructions on such matters as how to keep gophers from invading the veggie patch and how to get rid of those nasty lice that once served as the mascots of bohemian existence.
Lice or no, the countryside still has its undeniable charms. The reissue of Laurel's handwritten, simply illustrated manual will appeal to anyone contemplating a new life beyond the city--or merely seeking pointers on how to simplify daily life. Things have changed, of course, since Laurel first self-published her zeitgeist-drenched book in 1970. Where the original edition had seed-to-bud instructions for growing marijuana, the reissue now comes with a modest disclaimer in which Laurel admits to having lost her taste for the stuff decades ago--but it also comes with a ringing endorsement for the use of hemp fiber and paper as a planet-friendly measure of economy. Laurel also juxtaposes her folk remedies for common ailments with a friendly reminder to head to the doctor if the pain is really bad, the kind of advice once shunned by the proudly self-sufficient barefoot medics, manuals in hand. Still, though updated here and there, Living on the Earth retains its recipes for everything from making Moroccan djellabas to molding scented candles to delivering a baby in the privacy of one's tipi, all good things to know.
More than a blast from the past--although it certainly is that--Laurel's book is still highly useful. And it's just plain fun. --Gregory McNamee
"LIVING ON THE EARTH is beautiful to see, hold, touch. The drawings and design radiate warmth, simplicity, sincerity. The whole effect of the book, as an object, is to induce serenity and goodwill Ö The information in it is useful to everybody everywhere who wants to enjoy and play with the good things in this life."
--Raymond Mungo, The New York Times Book Review
"LIVING ON THE EARTH is a living experience. It compounds all of the Whole Earth Catalogís hard-core information with all of the personal warmth and feeling that a girl with a melodically infatuating name like Alicia Bay Laurel could possess. Ö It reads as if she were writing a never-ending letter to you and you alone."
--The Village Voice
"May well be the best book in this catalog,"
--Whole Earth Catalog
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What arrived was a COMPLETELY different book (with the same title). I can see how the mistake happened, being that they both have the same name. But it's still a disappointment, and now I'm out the $ I paid for shipping. What I got was a National Geographic coffee table book full of photos from around the world, all taken in the 80's or early 90's. It's okay, nice enough. But it's not what I wanted. Oddly, on the Amazon page for the "hardback" version it shows a description and reviews for what I thought I was getting (Laurel's 1960's guide to all things hippy!)
As for the original (what I thought I was getting), this book is fantastic. I bought a copy years ago, and was ordering a replacement since mine didn't survive the test of time. Fun and unique, the book is great to read through. I even used some of the craft ideas. They were okay, not great. More than anything, it's just fun to look through and use for inspiration. I suspect that this book is only available in paperback.
Order with cation, if the book pictured is light brown with a gold design on the cover (and no words), then its the wrong one!
Have you ever missed a book?
This one is an inspiration, and a manual for cooperating with the Earth. Invaluable advice, and simple, low impact solutions for reducing impact on the environment. And a useful index with information on how to obtain materials to build your own or do it yourself without great expense.