Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Off the Grid - Nick Rosen

Summary:  The grid is everywhere, sending power to the light switch on the wall and water to the faucet in the kitchen.  But is it essential?  Must one depend on it and the giant corporate and government infrastructure behind it?  With energy prices soaring, the housing market in shambles, the financial institutions collapsing, and unemployment looming, more and more Americans are choosing to free themselves from dependence on the grid.

Journalist and documentary filmmaker Nick Rosen traveled across the United States meeting some of these people.  They are millionaires and foreclosure victims, paranoid survivalists and saintly environmentalists, retirees and marijuana growers, and plenty of ordinary families -- all chasing their off-grid dreams.  As varied as this collection of characters is, they all share the belief that the grid -- and everything it represents -- has let them down, that they're better off taking care of themselves.  As Rosen reveals, it takes tremendous dedication and determination to live off the grid, but for them, it's worth it.  This is essential reading for anyone who's ever thought about going off the grid. (Summary from book - Image from www.greenwala.com)

My Review:  When I picked up Off the Grid I was excited to experience life "off the grid" in America.  I expected to read about a varity of people , with different backgrounds, philosophies, and motivations for living off grid.  At the same time, I wanted to be inspired and learn how to live a simpler, more economically freeing and environmentally conscious lifestyle. 

The first few chapters almost put me to sleep.  Instead of teasing me with tales of the off-the-grid lifestyle, the author focused on the greedy, corrupt, and monopolistic nature of the utility companies and the unnecessary nature of the grid.  While that might all be true… ZZZzzzzzzzzz….boring.  I was more interested in the people he encountered, their stories, and their lives, than in the history of the grid and the machinations of the utility companies.  I am one of those people who doesn't like to give up on books too quickly, so although the first few chapters made me want to drink a Monster, I persevered.  Unfortunately, things did not improve.  

While I loved the concept of one man exploring all the different levels of off-grid society, Off the Grid was the definition of poor execution.  The entire book was full of bias, tangents, irrelevant details, incomplete interviews, and half, um, hearted research.  Many times the author would go into great detail about a person living a certain off-grid lifestyle and simply “not have time” to visit them or decide to go to a hot springs and watch naked people make out instead.  This didn't stop him from blathering on about insignficant details in an attempt to mask his lack of genuine, useful information.  It was beyond irritating.   

I found it odd that while the author was obviously anti-grid, almost every person he interviewed was portrayed in a negative or patronizing manner.  Not only did he make most people living off the grid seem miserable/stupid/desperate/crazy, he failed to give any real information on how to live off the grid and didn't inspire me to unplug at all.  

In the end, I gave this book 178 pages of my life before calling it quits.  Not bad considering that is more than half the book and 158 pages longer than I wanted to read.  I still have plans to read more on this topic, but perhaps The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour would be a better choice.  Ultimately, life is too short to read boring books and I have a million more waiting in the wings.  This one is history.

My Rating: 1 Star

For the sensitive reader:  If you read this book after that rating, you get what you deserve. 

Sum it up:  A great concept with dismal excecution.

1 comment:

Offthe said...

Appreciate making the effort to write this great article and hopefully it will give all some ideas and concepts about Off Power grid Living and it is benefits. It is actually possible for people who've the need and commitment to get it done!!
Living off the grid


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