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Living on the Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel

Living on the Earth (edition 2003)

by Alicia Bay Laurel

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196385,968 (4.42)2
Title:Living on the Earth
Authors:Alicia Bay Laurel
Info:Gibbs Smith (2003), Edition: Rev Upd Lr, Paperback, 256 pages
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Living on the Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel


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I got this book the year it was published. The fact that, 43 years later, shows that I either still value it or I'm the worst hoarder in the world. No, strike that last bit even if there is a small bit of truth in it.

I love and value this book highly. It is truly an excellent reference book in case one has been (a) stranded on a desert island with only the flotsam that has washed ashore, (b) a person who wants to get back to living a small life, or (c) the lights have gone out because there's been a terrible storm and you need to keep things going for a couple of days.

It has a little bit of everything in it from how to backpack into the wilderness to some stellar-class recipes for eggplant toothpaste to roasted soy beans. Laurel gives instructions on how to sun-dry fruits and veggies, tie-dyeing, making a pair of pants and a shirt without a pattern (I've made both from her instructions), to simple first aid.

If you can find a copy of Living on the Earth, buy it. You'll never know when the lights will go out for a few days. ( )
  bfgar | Jun 11, 2014 |
its a more colorful version of country wisdom and know how. the information is a bit different. i like both, though this one i could read, where the other i would mainly just want to reference.
this doesnt cover a lot of things however, it also covers things a lot of self suffiency guides dont. ( )
  iatethecloudsforyou | Dec 1, 2010 |
I'm not sure that there are many books that serve as both badge of counter-culture criterion and a modest how-to for general self-sufficiency. It reads like a children's book for hippies, with cute line-figure scribbles that enliven more than they illustrate. Owning this book will save you hours of perusing back issues of Mother Earth News for similar, less well-arranged information of the common theme (I know this because I actually have done this same thing). You can read it to make fun of it, for the neat flower-child tricks, or because you crave the backwoods life but Bradford Angier scares you. For any and all, this book is plainly terrific. ( )
2 vote BlackMike | Dec 22, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375708812, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:53 -0400)

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