Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday's green books series: Farewell, My Subaru

Today we're having for our green books series a funny and inspiring story of Doug Fine, who "grew up on concrete eating pizza" in American suburbia, and his attempts to kick oil while still living like an American in a small farm in New Mexico.

Our book for today is:

Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living

Doug Fine

Adventure journalist, NPR contributor and Cosmos-nudger Doug Fine speaks several languages, including suburban American, rural American and Alaskan American. He has reported and sent panicky emails from Rwanda to the Arctic Ocean. At last sighting he was living in New Mexico with too much livestock and just the right smear of stars.

Publisher: Villard

Published in: March 2008

What it is about (from the book's page on Like many Americans, Doug Fine enjoys his creature comforts, but he also knows full well they keep him addicted to oil. So he wonders: Is it possible to keep his Netflix and his car, his Wi-Fi and his subwoofers, and still reduce his carbon footprint?

In an attempt to find out, Fine up and moves to a remote ranch in New Mexico, where he brazenly vows to grow his own food, use sunlight to power his world, and drive on restaurant grease. Never mind that he’s never raised so much as a chicken or a bean. Or that he has no mechanical or electrical skills.

Whether installing Japanese solar panels, defending the goats he found on Craigslist against coyotes, or co-opting waste oil from the local Chinese restaurant to try and fill the new “veggie oil” tank in his ROAT (short for Ridiculously Oversized American Truck), Fine’s extraordinary undertaking makes one thing clear: It ain’t easy being green. In fact, his journey uncovers a slew of surprising facts about alternative energy, organic and locally grown food, and climate change.

Both a hilarious romp and an inspiring call to action, Farewell, My Subaru makes a profound statement about trading today’s instant gratifications for a deeper, more enduring kind of satisfaction.

Why you should get it:
1. Nothing like a good story about experiencing green living with a self-deprecation sense of humor.

Need an example? just read Doug's description of the book: "Farewell, My Subaru is the account of everything that can go wrong (and then right) when a regular guy tries to get oil out of his life. It details, among other embarrassing (but, my editor insists, inspiring) realities: coyotes eating my chickens, my near-death due to clumsiness during solar panel installation, and my suffering from Extreme Munchies thanks to the exhaust of my new carbon-neutral, vegetable oil-powered R.O.A.T. (Ridiculously Oversized American Truck)."

2. I like the fact that he connects the ideas of being greener with being more happy. We hear too often about the hurdles of getting green, but not too much about the happiness it brings to people's life.

3. Although Doug lives in a farm in New Mexico in a way that most people won't find a good fit for themselves, his ideas about combining the digital age with green living, when you don't need to give up amenities like Netflix or ice cream, can be relevant for many people who are looking to find the right path.

What others say about it:
“The details of Doug Fine’s experiment in green living are great fun…what we are built for. It’ll make you want to move!” –Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

“This is Green Acres for the smart set–– a witty and educational look at sustainable living. Buy it, read it, compost it.” –AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically

Want to learn more about Doug and his green living experience, with the goats, chickens, solar panels and his veggie oil truck? check out this short film from YouTube (and don't miss the sign in Hebrew he has in his farm..). You are also welcome to check out the book's website -

And if you're looking for other interesting green books, you are invited to check out our
green books page on our website's green resources section.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!