The Way Home

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

Really enjoyed this. A perfect mix of anger, wisdom, stillness & kindness about our relationship with the world and spending time with it felt like stepping away from the noise for a while.
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The author’s mission statement in his own words: “Interpreted another way, there is a timeless simplicity about my life. I have found that when you peel off the plastic that industrial society vacuum-packs around you, what remains - your real needs - could not be simpler. Fresh air. Clean water. Real food. Companionship. Warmth…..There’s no extravagance, no clutter, no unnecessary complications. Nothing to buy, nothing to be. No frills, no bills. Only the raw ingredients of life, to be dealt with immediately and directly, with no middlemen to complicate and confuse the matter.”

His life is NOT simple. It’s full of hard work, all day long, all seasons, one whole year where he left everything behind, on which the book is based. That is after one whole year of living at the properly-built farmhouse in the three acre small-holding he bought during Recession. He moved out of that farmhouse, built a cabin instead and lived in it and on the property without ANY amenity - and all sorts of self-sufficient work, to get by. This is his story, for that one year’s excursions (and putting his philosophy on life into practice).

Even if you make it through the haze of self-referential promotional detail of the author’s written work and many anecdotes / quotes he shares of other authors, instead of getting straight to the point, I lost interest in the author’s journey when on page 29, in the middle of winter season, he describes his bathing ritual (light a fire in coal, put a pot to boil, bring the tub from outside into the cabin, put a washbasin in it and ‘depending on which body part I’m washing I’m either kneeling in the bathtub or hunkered over the washbowl, splashing around or using a flannel. It takes over an hour.’ No mention is made of any washing lotion / soap but the author gave up on detergents of all sorts 10 years ago when he was 27, which he declares as the reason he hasn’t been sick in a decade. He uses wood ash and horsetail plant to clean up dishes and ‘soapwort liquid’ for clothes. He doesn’t mention what he uses for his hands and butt but I’m guessing it’s soapwort because he says it is good for skin and hair too; He empties bucket of his shit, so let your imagination run with that image because there are none here). I understand what the author is trying to experience through an off-the-grid, totally au-natural, medieval existence (he says he is saving bowhead whale, Arctic fox and beluga by not having water pumped electronically into his cabin or having radiators to get hot water and showers), but it was a bit too much for me. I mean, what is the meaning of life if you cannot even have or enjoy basic plumbing or a hot bath or proper butt hygiene? The author’s idea of Eden seems like an addiction to extreme survival sports. He finds it all pleasant.

Apart from what transpires at page 29 - what I consider to be a major hiccup to an otherwise inspiring true story of an admirable, confused man’s dream of how to spend his days - the book is study of a man practicing his convictions through discipline, hard work and perseverance. I am fully aware that the author will never see this or any other review unless it’s handwritten and sent via post-mail to him, however I do wish he had included his annual calendar of tasks done in specific months to ensure continuity and provision of goods, food and basic care to property. That would have been useful. There are also no pictures (or Kristy’s illustrations!) in the ARC I have. Real bummer. Maybe the publisher could have sent someone to his place to take images.
Also, I don’t know what the use is of cutting down trees (beech and birch) just to warm up your place (no word on how he controls wood from disease, termite) and reading paper-books, instead of ebooks because the tree loss is huge in both cases and makes his work against nature as opposed to pro-nature. Or whether he plants new trees each spring (he planted new trees in 2013 before moving in the farmhouse).

All his neighbors are really old people - like one leg in the grave kind of old (fifty to eighty year olds). No one has children living in.

How do you read by the fire without electricity? They used CANDLES (2-3 a day but stopped altogether six months in). And of course, he made the candles: in June, a cuts rush from the potato field, turning it into a candle wick for winter (when light is dark or dim for 16 hours daily!).

They piss ‘outside’ the cabin. I can only imagine the smell around the cabin! They poop in a bucket and then throw it out in a ‘humanure system’ - let that sink in first: what it means is that the compost pile used to grow veggies and all contains human piss and shit (“of everyone who lives here and a few visitors….in it I see stories and memories and history and a great link between a place and its people” says the author as a way of explaining bond between land and people). He has 6 compost heaps and he turns them over on another when they shrink in size. I found all this to be ‘ewwww,’ but it did clear up the great big mystery that had engulfed me for 139 pages - where he produces manure from (since he doesn’t raise cows or buffalo, only chicken, and hunts / kills deer) or does he buy it?

The author is heavily influenced by Henry David Thoreau, whom he mentions constantly.

The author believes that ecological impact of industrial-scale technology and agriculture is that it depends on oil rigs, quarries, mines, the factory system, state armies, deforestation, urbanisation, suburbanisation and damage to rivers and fish and environment, but he goes a step further. He also feels strongly about the dependency that society has for technology, amenities and stuff and his actions are all about getting rid of the psychological and practical dependency over things and comforts. This means that though the author still enjoys cartoned peanut butter, ninety-nine percent of his time on the remote place is spent doing hard labor simply to exist. Of course all neighbors help each other out, that’s what poverty-stricken people do - stick together. It’s unpaid labor. This means there would be no migration or exchange of ideas from foreigners because everything is generational and exclusive. The world left that concept behind a long time ago when rising population coincided with lack of resources. He in effect is surrounded by people he does not necessarily like, but needs for various freebies. His conversations with neighbors and those in pub are superficial at best - with them either agreeing with him or he merely putting up with their life stories - with no real connection or divergent wisdom, when all of the people he likes and is close to, far far away. But I get what the author is doing, he wanted to go back to a time when people had more control over their lives and accepted what they didn’t have and enjoyed the daily pleasures of a simple co-existence, with a deeper connectedness and humility and kindness for each other - but I have to say, he has chosen a very lonely way to accomplish it.

The author hates big business and Silicon Valley billionaires (Exhibit A: “Now I suspect that supporting a corporate football team is a sort of toxic substitute for our basic need to belong to a tribe who are all bound by the same common purpose. But when one player you roared on one season signs for a rival club the next, for 90 million Euros, the joke starts to wear thin.”)

The book shows the author to be in incredible shape to be able to do hard labor to achieve a non-dependent lifestyle. He works in the field to grow veggies, carries wooden carts, cuts wood, skins deer, walks 14 kilometers, endures harsh weather, and does all sorts of odd jobs around the land all by himself. This is a lot of work just to survive. I don’t know how his partner was killing time but it grows clear soon that she is not happy there.

He mentions eating (deer) meat after being a lifelong vegetarian. My guess is he’d have to, with all the unforgiving work he has to do in a day.

He doesn’t mention whether he and his girlfriend/ partner are using natural methods to control getting pregnant or she’s on the pill or whether he got the snip right after unplugging his phone and computer and before he ventured on this remote place, or she got the tubes done. It probably doesn’t matter because she isn’t living with him by the end of the book - she writes a ‘Dear John’ letter (that’s 5 years, 2 girlfriends and 1 small-holding; he doesn’t want kids). 

The author is either not a fan of music or prefers birdsongs (by thrush, goldfinch, bullfinch and magpie). He didn’t learn the tin whistle like his girlfriend Kristy told him to and he has to take her to a pub for her to tap dance to ‘electronic’ music. 

There’s a real sense of isolation and frog-in-the-well mentality. I would have gone nuts like Nicholson in ‘Shining’ (and I suspect the author is on his way there too - or he’s extremely brave). 

Honorable mention: ‘a friend…..met a small village-worth of women on the banks of remotest part of Pakistan, washing clothes together, laughing, talking, being playful.’ (I have to put a disclaimer here: clothes are washed like this IN EVERY PART OF PAKISTAN, whether a community is together at it or just a help maid or single individual!)

Second Honorable mention: The Great Blasket Island.

And the line: “I’m in the hot tub with Edward Abbey. All 336 pages of him.”

There’s a lot of alcohol drinking by the author in this book (yes, it’s culture and tradition, but all the hard labor got me wondering whether it was not also an escape or coping mechanism?) He grows raspberries and blackberries for this purpose and got 22 kg of blackcurrants for free from a friend who grows them but doesn’t have buyers because people don’t make jams and preserves anymore. The author figures it will take him a day and a half’s work to make 75 liters of wine and 20 jars of jam. Even the conversations he has with others in pubs, or which he shares in this book during his mundane travels, are about miserable people trying to justify what society has lost in its pursuit of progress, probably because the author doesn’t care if the whole world goes up in flames, as long as his cabin doesn’t. And this is a man who has worked as an activist, businessman and digital journalist but thought it best to go back to the olden days when people rode station wagons and did not hurt native species, except for an occasional deer.

The author ‘runs’ a free hostel and event space at his small-holding called The Happy Pig, whose kind-of address that he provides gives a general idea of the place only: “Knockmoyle, Kylebrack, Loughrea, County Galway, Ireland.” He doesn’t give out directions. He wants you to just show up at the door. Once there, you are literally on your own, self-reliant for food and entertainment. And you can guess where and what the loo is - unless the hostel is in the farmhouse with running electricity and working plumbing - but that would not sit well with the author: he wants you to take a risk, experience not knowing, learning and enjoying an uncoded nature, wild, and unbroken.

At the end, having typed the manuscript himself so that it does get published (though swearing that he will one day write with his own pen, ink and paper aka quill, ink-cap-mushrooms, birch polypores and dryad’s saddle fungus), the author reminisces whether he’ll continue to live like this and mentions that he isn’t done exploring human beings, their depths and layers and how he feels we are all cloaked in from the moment we are born and he would like to see people without the masks and ‘ambition, plastic and comfort.’ My only question is how will he ever do that if he continues to isolate himself from the the rest of the world? Imagine, a bearded man in a moorish Irish land whom you may meet if you go there and he may meet you if he has the time! Besides, he’s still in love with Kristy.
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The Way Home is an interesting book about how one man decided to leave behind technology and all modern conveniences and live a more simple life. Mark Boyle lives on a smallholding in Ireland. He goes to great lengths to remove technology completely from his life, so it makes for a thought-provoking read. 

Boyle decided to live without money first and that led him to also decide to live in a way that our ancestors did. Throughout the book, he documents the lives of the Blasket Islanders, who lived on the Great Blasket Island in a very similar manner to Boyle’s life on the smallholding. They had to be completely self-reliant and they learned to survive in a harsh environment. 

Boyle begins as a vegan, but he finds that it cannot be sustained in the type of life he has made for himself, so he does eat fish, which he catches himself in nearby waterways. He walks or rides a bike everywhere and refuses to use mass transportation. He hauls wood, manure, building supplies, and just about everything else in wheelbarrows or other human-powered devices. He does not use tractors to work his farm, preferring human power to gasoline power. He writes with pencil and paper and agonizes over having to type the book manuscript at the end. 

Part of his farm is a hostel at which people of similar mind can stay. They make their own food, grow their own herbs, harvest wild plants, and eat meat that they hunt or fish. The neighbors are all supportive of his endeavors and some donate items that he uses for building, etc. But, these folks that live in this rural lifestyle also see their way of life disappearing. Large-scale farms and technology are replacing it. Their local pubs and post offices are being closed, as often happens in rural areas. So, Boyle’s book is, in a way, documenting the kind of life that most of us will never get to experience as it is swallowed by the larger tech world. 

The pacing of the writing is slow, as befits the fact that it was written with paper and pencil by candlelight. It seems to be more of an exploration of his daily experiences and similar to a diary account in that way. But is it also an account, in real time, of how he gave thought to each step along the way. How he decided what to use in place of the modern technology for each item or project that he completed on his farm. He also explores how these compromises change his life and his outlook on things in general. How doing everything by manual labor improved his overall health. How he felt physically affected by actually spending 12 hours a day for 7 days typing up the manuscript. He noticed the negative effects right away after having become more accustomed to a totally different way of life. 

The book is sad as well. I found the times when the forests were clearcut around him, or his favorite wild spot on the river got cut down and turned into a fenced farm, very sad. It’s disturbing to see how nature is slowly being destroyed to make way for humans and our high-tech way of life. I wanted to cry when that beautiful spot on the river was plowed under. It supported so much wildlife and they had nowhere to go. 

This book may not be for everyone, because it does move slowly at times. But it is interesting to those of us who would like to try this way of life. It gives you an idea what might be required to do so. It would be a lot of physical work and require some sacrifices for sure. But it would be nice to try it. It can only make positive changes in our outlook. Slowing down is not all that bad an idea after all. We live in such a fast-paced world now that slowing down actually requires us to unplug and deliberately turn away from that pace. In my opinion, this would be a good thing, not only for us, but for our planet as well.
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This is a great read and much better than I thought it would be. I really enjoyed the added history the author included as a way to show how things were done before technology. I also like his honesty about defining technology. It really depends on your point of view and how far away from the origination of the technology you live in.
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A different view from what I was expecting.   I never knew about the author's moneyless adventures, but this one really took me in.  Interesting how he reacts to little things like someone asking them to dial a number or to take a picture.  At times is seemed to drag a little bit, but then picked up again.
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This was a wonderful read for me - I love books that mix a kind of memoir-style with a focus on slow or 'simple' living and this one absolutely hit the mark for me. (Pun not intended - sorry!) I feel like this is something I will be picking up again to reread from time to time, to get my priorities back in check. Whilst I appreciate everything that technology does for me - connecting me to the outside world (due to my chronic illnesses and the oft-necessary isolation that they bring) being one of the most important - I am wary of being 'connected' all the time. I think something is lost when we live our lives completely online, and I really enjoyed watching Mark Boyle explore what technology meant to him, how he wanted to let it impact upon his life, and what he chose to prioritise instead.

This book can be intense at times, but also remarkably cozy, and I highly recommend it for anyone out there who, like me, prefers the slower things in life.
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"...You know that industrial capitalism is nearing the completion of its ultimate vision when people have to pay their neighbors to go for a walk with them..."

From the very start a relaxed and engaging accounting of Mark Boyle’s adventure in living for one year without technology. Mixed in with digressions of interesting personal anecdotes are Boyle’s philosophies that are based on scientific fact and not at all self-righteous or pretentious.

"...I make myself a cup of chocolate mint picked fresh from the herb garden, lie up against an old willow tree, and watch the world go by.  I’ve a lot of things on my mind to do but, for medical reasons, I decide that it’s best to just lie here for a while.  The two wood pigeons in the Scots pine in front of me are doing much the same…"

A year ago my spouse and I decided to sell our home in Melbourne, Florida as well as our cabin in northern Michigan in order to live and travel in a self-contained travel trailer. The free-time and de-pressurized lifestyle has aided us in relaxing more and regularly enjoying our favorite recreational activities. Both of us have been beaten up with injuries sustained in our previous lifestyle of juggling too much work with just a little play. We are better able to cope with our personal recoveries with the reduction of our prior self-imposed responsibilities. The biggest difference between us and Mark Boyle however is our continued reliance on internet technology. We stay attuned to a little streaming sports and news, our email, cell phone and text messages, and this particular writing machine.      

"...As we use the ‘humanure’ system here, which incorporates human piss and shit into the mix, there’s a part of everyone who lives here, and a few of the visitors, in the heaps in front of me.  Most people, having never done it, find the thought of turning this kind of compost disgusting, but that’s just one way of looking at it.  In it I see stories and memories and history, and a great link between a place and its people.  All I am really doing is making soil, and that seems to me a good way to start the day as any. And in doing so  I’m continually reminded that the boundaries between us and the land which nourishes us are nowhere near as clear as we might like to imagine…"

My wife and I have a Nature’s Head composting toilet in our Oliver travel trailer. And because we live in the trailer full-time the toilet requires at the very least bi-monthly maintenance. When that day comes I remove the two screws holding the toilet down to the floor and carry the entire contraption outside. I generally just dump the contents in varying parts of our forest floor to allow the coco coir to continue decomposing the accumulated mass. After wiping down the toilet I refill it with coco-coir,  adding two one-gallon bags of expanded fresh coco coir to the toilet, mixing in some pine pellets and a bit of natural bug-deterrent. The exercise is not something I detest nor is it gross and disgusting. It makes me feel closer to the earth and more responsible for its stewardship. Flushing gallons of fresh water down the drain every day is something we no longer participate in.

"...If you don’t make time for health, you have to make time for illness…"

The above quotation is so true. And simple. The older we get the more it resonates. Our past comes up to catch us and we see the error of our ways. Mark Boyle has produced a fine and interesting textbook as well as a memoir of life worth living. I am sure there will be more.  

"...(Krishnamurti once remarked that ‘it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society’)..."
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I got about 20% of the way through this book but did not finish it. The story was very slow paced and I did not find the author's reasons for going without technology to be compelling or interesting to me. I thought this book would be like Stranger in the Woods, but it was far from that. I think some will find something in this book, it just wasn't for me.
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I found this an eye opening read. I’m sure a lot of us think we would be better off without technology & want to cut back on our social media use, but this is taking it to another level - not only social media, but gas/electric & most modern technologies that we would class as everyday comforts (or just take for granted without thinking about them). Mark builds a new cabin/house on his smallholding in rural Ireland, and this book charts his life & how he gets on with this completely new way of life.

It’s an inspirational read, and although I doubt many of us would go to these lengths, it does make you think about the important things in life. I thoroughly enjoyed this & I’m definitely going to search out his first book now.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Thought provoking. We can’t all go and live in the woods but there are things we can do to reconnect with nature. I’m aware that my own use of tech is diminishing (and I enjoy getting out into the natural world more) but can’t see myself completely abandoning it. What Mark did here is often described as following 'a simple life'. Personally think it’s far from simple on many levels but there is a sort of timeless simplicity about it. While Mark's choices may not be a realistic solution for everyone the idea of curbing our addictions to more stuff, more growth, more dehumanising, distracting technologies is certainly worth considering.
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It wasn't that bad of a book, just didn't feel like it was my taste of a book but I'm not going to downgrade it since I didn't like it but someone else might love it a little more than I did.
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I'm reviewing this book that I have recently read on a Kindle device while sitting here on a PC situated in a well lighted and heated comfortable environment with tabs open that enable me to access the World Wide Web. I'm therefore thinking that this is probably the direct antithesis to what constitutes Mark Boyle's present life and ethos as portrayed in his latest wonderfully thought provoking and also entertaining book "The Way Home." Mark's  first book published in 2010  "The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living" documents how he was able to live without money and now he explores the challenges, philosophy and reality of spending a year without technology. Part practical guide, part polemic, part coming to terms with his past life this is a book that is a bit different from other escape back to nature accounts that I have read  recently for Mark is constantly trying to come to terms with how humans should interact with nature in an increasingly technology dominated world.

Living in a cabin on a small holding situated on the rugged and isolated west coast of Ireland, we get the sense of a community that is slowly dying. The post offices and pubs are closing and the young have long departed to the cities. For the mainly elderly remaining it seems that a way of life will cease once they are departed. Mark paints a wonderful picture of the local characters with all their eccentricities as they go about their daily life. We read how he learns  to farm, fish and develop his smallholding environment. This is a very personal book and the part regarding his eventual parting with his girlfriend Kirsty with whom he shared many of his struggles and triumphs during the year is beautifully moving and heartfelt. Divided into the four seasons we get a real feel of the distinctiveness and challenges that each one presents.

After reading this book you may well look at the environment that surrounds you in a different light and perhaps think more deeply about how we are destroying it. Certainly in my opinion well worth a read.
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Mark Boyle may be known to you as the Moneyless Man; after the financial crash in 2008, he decided to live for a year without exchanging anything for money. Not being paid, nor paying money for anything either. I vaguely followed his journey back then.

A couple of years ago, Mark Boyle decided he would give up technology and live a “simple life” on his smallholding in Ireland. Not just giving up his phone and social media, but all technology. No electricity, no landline phone. An interesting premise for any book and so I was keen to get an ARC via Netgalley, which I then very ironically read on my ereader…

Naturally, a book like this invites people to feel attacked, anyone who ever steps out of the norm and declares they want a different life has the potential to make people who don’t do the same feel as if judgement is passed on their life and that someone like Mark Boyle is looking down on them. Yet, I hope people go into this book not thinking that or reacting that way, because I fear they may miss a wonderful opportunity to be inspired. I found it both an enlightning reading experience as well as a good moment to look at myself and see where I could do more. No plans to move to a smallholding at present, but we can all do better and must all do better if we want to save the planet (and us, because let’s face it if we are gone, the planet is going to be just fine).

I think what immediately drew me in was how he approached it: No dogma, just exploration. The best things are started like this in my opinion. Too many rules set you up for failure or as Mark Boyle puts it:

On top of that, those years taught me that rules have  a tendency to set your life up as a game to win, a challenge to overcome, creating kind of black and white scenarios our society leans towards.

The book is written like a diary and yes, without a computer, putting pen to paper. Boyle reflects a lot on this slower writing process, but after some time he feels that this new pace improves his writing. I cannot judge this as I have not read any of his other books, but I can see how “thinking twice, writing once” makes a nice change from the write a rubbish first draft and then start writing the actual book preaching, we have come to accept and although I know this to be true for myself, I also know that a lot of writers have written in a more deliberate way.

The year was not plain sailing that’s for sure. He missed calling his parents and hearing their voice. Jobs that a machine could have done in minutes took hours or days. He went from being vegan to being a meat and fish eater again and that required quite some soul searching.

He started this journey with his partner Kirsty and how that ends, you will have to find out for yourself. Kirsty, or rather the lack of her in the narrative of his reflections, is the one thing that I would found missing in this book. As a woman, I found it interesting (and alarming) how easily the couple slipped into established gender roles: Mark out with this axe creating his environment, tending to his land, shaping his universe, while at home in the self-built hut, Kirsty tends to the hearth. He does comment on it once, briefly, but this was an aspect that I would have liked him to explore more. Did he really not see this more, did this really not bother him?  The thought that a return to a simpler life would render women consigned back into the kitchen, really gave me something to think about and Kirsty’s absence in the narrative for long stretches, made me worried that this ideal he was creating would ultimately lead to another silencing of women, women absent from the overall narrative: seen but not heard. There was so much I wanted to know about this journey from Kirsty, that part of me hopes that she will write her side of it at some point.

The lack of rules he set himself meant that he was making it up as he went along and I think that was the charm of the book. He is often conflicted in his choices. Often unhappy with the compromise he has to make. Yet, I think, this is what stopped this book from becoming too preachy. Yes, Boyle judges society, but he also does not claim he has got it all figured out.

It is rather hard work: There is no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.

As for me and my reaction: Boyle has inspired me. Maybe not in the way he intended. We are not going to move to a smallholding in Ireland, no returning to the husband’s roots. We lack the skills. I lack the health. But we shall push forward with the changes we have made, the way we feel we can make a difference. And yes, there is so much more we can do and I think I needed that kick in the behind.
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I wanted to like this book, I really did. But I quickly discovered it was not my style. What struck me the most was the author's was very Thoreau-like. If that's your thing - great! But it is not mine. If you enjoy literary works without a linear direction that read as if you were having a conversation with someone about experiences they've had during their life, you might well love this book.
I did not, sad to say. But I wanted to. Just not my cup of tea.
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I have to say, I was rather disappointed in The Way Home: Tales From a Life Without Technology by Mark Boyle. I’m not sure if this was caused by my expectation of the content of this book or if there may have been a cultural difference.  I was expecting more of a how-to, ‘this is what I did to live close to nature’ kind of story. What I read was a rather rambling, diary-like expository train of thought that pulled me from the narrative. 
If you are looking for a book written as a memoir or journal with lots of side stories mixed into the narrative, this might be the book for you. 
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Oneworld Publications for an honest review.
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You might disagree with some of his key thinking. Particular the over romanticism of non tech living. But its a lovely read and thought provoking.
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Every time I picked it up it was like stepping out of the fast lane and being reminded that there is another way to live. 
I started noticing the birds singing more, slowed down my activity and even made a new friend because I slowed down enough to speak to a stranger, share a slow walk and conversation with them (they were elderly and used a walker). It was a life affirming experience, directly as a result of reading this book.
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When I started this book, written by off-grid-living Boyle, I was ready to pick holes into what I thought was by yet another smug, pontificating hippie. Like the types that wave their veganism in your face and lecture you about even looking at a menu...
I expected the well-trodden story of: [insert self–inflicted hardship*], whine at length about it, expect the reader to fall down on their knees in awe and praise them. I would have preferred less of the jibes and railings against the oh-so-condemnable world of technology and commerce, constantly patting himself on the back, but rather a more day-by-day account of things needing doing. It is also very telling that Kirstie, the girlfriend, did not seem to have a voice - contrary to all the farmers, pub buddies and “natural life” advocates Boyle quotes so extensively.
It’s all very well to condemn the vagaries of modern life, but where exactly IS the fine line? From mundane questions like “Do you have nail scissors or do you gnaw your fingernails to a practicable length? Do you make all your own containers/tools/appliances or rely on donated/discarded stuff?  Aren’t you really a bit of a freeloader (e.g. hitch-hiking)? Where does the money come from for your frequent pub visits (that’ll be the technology-soiled suckers that buy your journalistic output), and does the beer you drink there not line the pockets of multinational companies?” to much more serious questions like “What happens if you or your partner fall seriously ill? Would you take a medicine made by despicable, greedy pharma companies? And what about if your parents needed care? If you had children, would you go ahead with your chosen lifestyle?”
For my taste, this book, although containing some interesting insights, was too much of a navel-gazing frenzy.
And Mark Boyle will probably sneer: “Hah, made you think!” And he would be entirely right.

*like circumnavigating the globe in a raft hand-crocheted from plaited, ethically-sourced, fairtrade, recycled cocktail umbrellas
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An interesting memoir of a man who decides to remove himself from all modern technology and conveniences, including electricity and running water. To be self reliant and to connect with creation. I found it interesting. I expected preachy, and it was thought provoking but not overly aggressive in the conclusions hes made for himself.
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As a fellow Irish native, Mark Boyle's way of thinking and living appeal to me greatly; I admired him a lot when he essentially gave up on the money economy and this book was a brilliant look into the extreme end of zero waste. Eschewing electricity, fossil fuels and technology, Mark and his girlfriend build what they need on a slice of land in western Ireland and commit to a life without the badgering of mass human progression. Learning to farm, fish and build from his smallholding, Boyle considers the world from an ecological point of view, persistently operating to do no harm and participating fully in the food cycle as he needs to after years of being both veggie and vegan to some extent. His story is refreshing and though his commitment seems extreme, he makes clear that the reality facing us is that his actions, though radical now, may be necessary to ensure the future survival of us.
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