Off the Grid – Book Review

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Dusty Old Book
Around the beginning of August, I was lucky enough to get a free copy of Nick Rosen’s new book, “Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America“. Nick runs the website Off-the-Grid, and lives part-time off the grid himself.

Basically, its a documentary of his travels around the U.S. as he visited loads of different people who were living off the grid. How “off the grid” they were varied from “off the grid ready” to completely off the water AND electric grid.

To tell the truth, the book didn’t draw me in at first. After a brief introduction to what living off the grid means, and some info about himself, he goes into the history of the electric and water grids. Although the information itself was neat, it was not the most attention-grabbing stuff.

But as I kept reading, I got more and more into this book. We meet different “classes” of off-grid people, from people who have vacation homes that are off-grid (but live on the grid themselves) to people who live full-time off the grids in tiny houses.

It was interesting reading the conversations Nick had with the off-gridders. A lot of them seemed intelligent and nice, but some would come off as a bit paranoid. This is where we get to see Nick’s dry British humor, as he describes what he’s thinking as the person is telling him their strange ideas.

But most of the people did seem “normal”. Many of them moved off the grid to save money, or because they wanted a nice house on nice land, but couldn’t afford it if it was connected to the grid. Some people did it for ecological reasons, some for paranoia, but almost all because they felt a detachment from the consumerism-dominated American culture.

There were two main parts of the book that were my favorite:

Earthaven and Turtle Island

Earthaven welcome sign
The first part was when Nick traveled to two places very close to where I grew up in AshevilleEarthaven and Turtle Island, where we meet the (figurative) mountain of a man Eustace Conway. I haven’t been to either of those places, but after reading about them, I definitely want to go and stay for awhile.

Jim Juczak, Sultan of Scrounge

Jim Juczak, the Sultan o' Scrounge
The second part was when he visited the Sultan of Scrounge, Jim Juczak, who lives at the Woodhenge Self-Reliance Campus. This guy sounds like a genuine eco hero. He never pays full price for anything, and gets most things for free, and the rest at insano discounts. His house (which is round and sounds awesome) is built from reused or very discounted materials, and he even gets his food for very cheap. Anyhoo, it seemed like this guy alone could fill a book. Here’s a nice article about him, with pictures of his bodacious casa.

How to Get a Free Copy of
‘Off the Grid’

To sum it all up, I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s tired of the rat race, tired of debt, tired of the mindless consumerism that too many people succumb to. In fact, I will send a free copy of this book to the person who:

  • Writes a post on THEIR site (linking to this article) best describing how they save electricity and money
  • Tells me about their post
  • Gets chosen by me when this contest ends on October 1

So that’s that. I hope you give this book a shot. I thought it had great information and was pretty cool, but you don’t have to take MY word for it.

Posted in books, off the grid on Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 at 8:38 PM.

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