Day: July 29, 2010

the New Economics of True Wealth
by Juliet B. Schor

I feel like I can\’t really give this book credit. I admit I didn\’t really understand everything presented in the first half of it; I don\’t usually read books about economics. So I\’m just going to plunge in and give you my general impressions and tell you about what stood out for me. If you\’re really interested in it, you should seek out some other reviews that reflect a better understanding; this is just touching the surface.

I picked this book up at my husband\’s urging. It was hard to get into at first; my mind would tend to wander after just a few pages. But I\’m glad I stuck it out. Plenitude first discusses how current economic practices and environmental disaster are intricately tied together. It really swung me around emotionally, as I kept feeling alternately horrified at projections for the future and utterly hopeless that anything will change in time to make a difference and save our planet. But then Schor talks about things people can do, and already are doing and I started to feel encouraged and even excited for the future. Her main point seems to be that we must as a whole society embrace a renewable lifestyle, that economic growth must dissipate into something small, local and sustainable. Not only will this help the environment in innumerable ways, but also raise people\’s feelings of wellbeing and purpose. She points out that countless studies have shown that after reaching a certain level of stability (ie out of poverty) more work (money) does not increase your happiness, just stress. Instead, people find satisfaction from investing time into worthwhile activities that don\’t produce monetary income but have other benefits: friendships, sharing information and knowledge, growing your own food, handcrafting items that can be used, traded or sold, etc. It\’s all about putting more back into your local community and focusing on reusing what we already have instead of further pillaging nature. There are so many things in here that had me going: wow! Fab labs. Houses built of alternative, recycled materials. \”Slow\” movements and resource sharing spreading across communities. People reclaiming dead lots and turning them into something useful or green for everyone to benefit from. It all sounds like small inconsequential things, perhaps (does turning my kitchen waste into garden compost really make an impact on the big picture?) but if you look at it all together, with people everywhere doing these things, the effects could be amazing, and just what we need.

You can read a lot more about the ideas in Plenitude at the author\’s own site. There\’s far more to it than what I\’ve shared here; I just touched on the things that inspired me personally.

Rating: 4/5 …….. 258 pages, 2010

More opinions at:
Illahee Notes
Off Grid: Free Yourself

by Bobbie Kalman and Tammy Everts

My daughter chose this cute book about cats at the library. Everyone knows of lions and tigers, but what about servals, ocelots and the jaguarundi? Little Cats is a bright, cheerful book of fun facts on the small cats, from domestic housecats to wildcats and even pumas and cheetahs, which are not classified with the big cats (because they can\’t roar, among other things). I like how the book continually compares things a child will recognize from their pet kitty with similar behaviors or traits the wild cats have. It mentions the different kinds of places cats live (both wild and domestic), what they eat, how they hide and raise their families. The second half of the book features eleven small wild cat species with a brief description highlighting their distinctive features:  lynxes and bobcats have tufted ears and short tails, ocelots pluck the feathers before they eat a bird, the fishing cat has webbed toes for swimming, etc. The final page mentions that many wild cats are endangered from poaching and habitat loss, also that pet cats have the opposite trouble: overpopulation. I thought it was kind of odd that the photo descriptions are listed at the very back; and as my daughter wanted me to read them all (I had to guess to identify some of the cats while reading) I had to flip back and forth from every page to match up the descriptions with their pictures for her. It does keep the layout looking very clean and tidy though, not having them included in the main body. If you have a young child who likes cats, this little book is very appealing!

Rating: 3/5 …….. 32 pages, 1994

DISCLAIMER:

All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it

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