Thursday, October 23, 2008

Book Review: Depletion and Abundance

One of the blogs I first stumbled upon when "going green" was Sharon Astyk's Casaubon's Book. I read her writings religiously for months . . . until I became a bit too paranoid about a the dismal future and a tad depressed. Besides, if you've follow Sharon's blog, you know how prolific she is! I just couldn't keep up. So I stopped.

Until her beautiful first book came out - Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front. I just couldn't resist. It's like I know someone who's become famous. Someone who's made it. And then there is the whole matter of the soft spot in my heart from my first blog love.

So I bought it. Yup. That's right. Even though Sharon and the Riot for Austerity crew allocate only $1000 for consumer goods, I shelled out some cold hard cash for Depletion and Abundance. And proceeded to read it. You might want to too.

Depletion and Abundance is a quick, readable book, peppered with, yes, gloom and doom over the state of the planet (pretty much all true). The book is also chalk full of useful information about how to live a lower energy, more enjoyable life. Sharon shares stories that will inspire you and argues, thoughtfully, for a life in which we treasure simplicity and meaning. If you've followed Sharon's blog, you'll recognize some of the writing which originally appeared as posts in Casaubon's Book. There is a fair amount of new material as well and it is all cleanly synthesized. I felt a bit of the old panic when I started the book, but, once I accepted it, I think Sharon makes some valuable points and can help us alter our paradigm, shift our values and embrace a lighter lifestyle.

I'm glad I read the book but, as the true test of a great book, I'm not actually going to keep it. I'll circulate it amongst my green book club and, if it makes it back to me, I'll do a giveaway here. It's worth a read but not worth the precious space on my bookshelf.

Recommended: for medium to dark green readers, or newly green readers who really want to get motivated.
Rating: three out of five stars.

Look for a guest review of Depletion and Abundance coming soon.


Theresa said...

I loved this book! I still read Sharon's blog faithfully, and I took her Adapting in Place course as well. This book is all the things I want to say coherently, but can only babble about. I've already lent my copy out too, to my Dad - we should have some (more) very interesting conversations in the weeks to come!

Anonymous said...

I follow Sharon's blog and have taken her courses so for me this book was a bit like preaching to the choir. Nonetheless I not only enjoyed reading it, but got new information. While I don't think it's a book I will refer back to often or on a daily basis, it is a book I intend to use (along the lines of what Theresa said) to say succinctly and elegantly in an approachable fashion a lot of really important things to people in my life. I'm planning to gift this book to my siblings this December. My mom was visiting and read my copy last week and is planning to buy a copy for her church -- this, if nothing else, says a lot about how accessible this book is and what a wide audience this book can appeal to. And as the financial world crashes all around us, even the skeptical will find it relevant.

Green Bean said...

Theresa: I'm so glad you loved this book. I do think she says everything quite coherently and I think her ideas are good ones.

Susanb: I do agree that, as the economy tanks, Sharon seems more and more relevant, which is, frankly, why I decided to go back to reading her.

Anonymous said...

This is on my list. I too sort of had to take a break from reading her blog as I felt utterly hopeless to do anything about the big problems in our world, even tho I'm doing the best I can in my own personal world (no car but rent sometimes, reuse all my plastics, don't bring any new in, buy locally, don't fly). I didn't read far enough to see the hope - I know it must be there.
I'm ready to face it again. Bring it on.

Anonymous said...

I had a very similar experience to yours: read her blog a lot in the beginning (when her writing was less prolific), and others' blogs too. But as I learned about and began to really understand all the problems we faced, I was done dwelling on the negatives and I stopped reading doom and gloom. Instead I focussed on action, solutions. While Sharon does write about solutions, they are infused with fear... so I only visit her blog occasionally now.

And truthfully, I think I am more apt to believe in people's and the planet's resilience now. I don't believe we are on the precipice of complete and utter disaster quite as much as I used to. I fear what will happen if we don't act more quickly and strongly than we are now, but I have a more positive outlook than I used to have.

So... for these reasons I've been reluctant to read her book. I think a few years ago I would have jumped on it, and been so thankful of its existence. But I wonder now if I will learn much from it. And since I am so prone to feeling fearful during these times, I wonder if it is good for me right now.

That said, I'm glad the book is out there. I'm glad there are more female voices in the peak oil and climate change arena. And I'm very glad Sharon and Miranda set up the Riot For Austerity, because it certainly gave me a push to go further in changing my lifestyle. LOL - that's where I met you, too!

So you say it's quick and readable... hmmm. What do you think - should I read it?

Theresa said...

Melinda - I didn't think it was very fear-infused at all. Although I suppose I may be a bit inured to that sort of thing by now and don't notice it. I found that the book was mostly about what could be done by the average person, given the realities that need to be faced. I would say it's worth a try.

Green Bean said...

Well, Melinda, we're going to do a give away on it next week. Throw your name in the hat and see if it was meant to be.