Saturday, September 12, 2009

Green book review (and giveaway): Living Green: The Missing Manual

Did you ever feel like you could use a good manual that will guide you on how to live green? If you do, today this missing manual is right here on our weekly series of green books reviews.

Our book this week is:

Living Green: The Missing Manual

Author: Nancy Conner

Nancy Conner
holds a Ph.D. from Brown University and is the author of numerous books, including QuickBase: The Missing Manual and Google Apps: The Missing Manual. She lives in Ithaca, NY, recently named one of the greenest U.S. cities, where she shops for organic produce at the local farmers market and browses second-hand stores. Each day, she commutes up the stairs to her home office, where she works as an author, editor, and distance educator. Read Nancy's Living Green blog at You can also find her on twitter.

O'Reilly Media

Published on:
August 2009

What this book is about? (from the publisher's website)
Taking care of the earth is more important than ever, but the problems we're facing can seem overwhelming. Living Green: The Missing Manual helps make earth-friendly decisions more manageable by narrowing them down to a few simple choices. This all-in-one resource is packed with practical advice on ways you can help the environment by making simple changes in your home routine, work habits, and the way you shop and get around town. You don't have to embark on a radical new lifestyle to make a difference. Living Green: The Missing Manual shows you how small changes can have a big impact. With this book, you will:

  • Learn how to make your home energy efficient and free of toxic chemicals
  • Discover how to reduce waste, repurpose and recycle, and do more with less
  • Build and remodel earth-friendly homes with new techniques and materials
  • Learn tips for buying organic food and what it takes to grow your own
  • Get helpful information on fuel-efficient cars, including hybrid and electric models
  • Make your workplace greener and more cost-effective -- from changes at your desk to suggestions for company-wide policies
  • Explore how to choose renewable energies, such as wind and solar power

The book also provides you with ways to connect with like-minded people and offers a survey of exciting new green technologies. Learn how you can help the planet with Living Green: The Missing Manual.

What we think about it?

At the beginning of the book the author explains what you can expect to find in it and how it fits in your green reality:

Ever since Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring sounded the alarm about the effects of pesticides on the environment, countless books have been published that show how human behavior is taking a toll on the planet. Taken together, they present a convincing argument. But even if you want to start living a healthier, more environmentally responsible lifestyle, where do you begin?

That's where Living Green: The Missing Manual comes in. Although this book gives you plenty of reasons to think about your impact on the planet, its real focus is practical suggestions for making your impact a positive one. These pages are packed with tips, ideas, and instructions for greening in all areas of your life: at home, on the road, at work, at the grocery store, and beyond.

This description is very correct. The book, like a manual, is very practical, covering many green issues, but unlike manuals it also takes the time to explain you the "why" and not only the "how".

The book is filled with tips, some of them may look a bit more obvious like "Label your recycling bins so there's no confusion about what goes there", but many are very valuable - for example: "if you ship a lot of items, don't buy foam packing peanuts. Instead , try Puffy Stuff (, an all-natural, plant-based packaging material that's 100% biodegradable".

The fact that the book is covering many green issues is its main strength and weakness at the same time. It's great to have so many issues covered in one book, including your home, energy, food, shopping, transportation, workplace and so on. It really covers almost every main activity that we can think of in green terms. It will provide you with the good information and tips, but at the same time it won't be as thorough as guides that are only focused on one issue like renewable energy at home or food.

Last but not least, kudos to publisher, O'Reilly Media, on printing the book on Rolland Enviro 100 Book, which contains 100% post consumer fibers and is manufactured in Canada by Cascades using biogas energy, and also for making it available online through the O'Reilly Network Safari Bookshelf. You can check it out there and although you might find it's less convenient to scroll the book online, it will be much easier to use all the great links the book includes.

Bottom line: Just like the book is saying - if you're looking for a manual that will help you to know where and how to begin your green journey, you will definitely find this book very useful.


We're giving away our review copy of the book, courtesy of the publisher, and of course a tree will be planted for the copy!

How you can win? Please add a comment below with an answer the following question: How did your green journey begin? What was the first green step you took? Submissions are accepted until Monday, September 21, 12PM EST. The winner will be announced the following day.

If you're looking for other interesting green-themed books, you are invited to check out our green books page on Eco-Libris website's green resources section.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

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