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Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money

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3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  806 Ratings  ·  150 Reviews
In the 1970s Dolly Freed lived of the land dirt cheap and plum easy. Living in their own house on a half-acre lot outside of Philadelphia for almost five years, Dolly and her father produced their own food and drink and spent roughly $700 each per year. Thirty years later Dolly Freed's Possum Living is as fascinating and pertinent as it was in 1978. Tin House is reissuing ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 12th 2010 by Tin House Books (first published January 1st 1978)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,858)
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Lex
Aug 31, 2011 Lex rated it it was ok
This book, we learn, was written by an 18-year old with a 7th grade education. For such a narrow life view, she seems to think she has a whole lot figured out. I must say, I found some creepy undertones in her almost cult-like devotion to "Daddy," who taught her to admire Diogenes as he did: a Greek philosopher, Diogenes felt even back then that objects own us rather than the reverse, and thus tried to own as little as possible. While this could be called admirable, Dolly (a pseudonym) and her f ...more
Aleah
Jul 24, 2011 Aleah rated it really liked it
In 1978 an 18-year-old young woman wrote Possum Living to explain and, to a certain degree to teach, about she and her father's life of voluntary simplicity. It made a few waves and then seemed to slip beneath the surface of popular opinion until 2010, when the original publication was found in an attic and subsequently republished. This how-to manual on the simple life was penned by Dolly Freed, a blunt no-nonsense sort who is difficult to ignore. I started the book half-heartedly, expecting to ...more
Elise
Aug 01, 2012 Elise rated it liked it
I became interested in this book after reading about Dolly Freed in a blog. Freed (a pen name) was only 18 when she wrote this book in the 1970s, which in part explains how radical it is. She lived with her father in a house outside Philadelphia which they bought for cheap and renovated themselves, and continued to live off the land, not working "real jobs" or relying on money.

One of Freed's main points is how ironic it is that the majority of us work for most of the day in order to make money t
...more
s0nicfreak
Dec 23, 2010 s0nicfreak rated it did not like it
I do not think homesteaders are crazy; heck, I aspire to be a homesteader. However, I think the author of this book is a bit crazy. She talks about “leaving the rat race,” but it seems she was never in it; what she really means is that her father (whom she calls Daddy throughout the book) left the rat race and her mother left them. She plans to have kids someday while continuing to live with her father and having a man either move in or “visit.” (Yeah, good luck finding a guy to father your chil ...more
Bucket
Oct 27, 2012 Bucket rated it did not like it
One star for INSANITY. Written in 1978 by 18 year old 'Dolly Freed,' this isn't so much a practical guide for living cheaply as it is a crazed manifesto. Bursting at the seams with rhetoric one can only assume she absorbed from 'daddy'--the undisguisedly alcoholic father she lived with for 5 years on a half-acre lot in Pennsylvania, raising rabbits for slaughter and brewing up moonshine (all without a day job!)--this book contains everything from how to build a wood stove from a barrel to, yes, ...more
James
Apr 01, 2016 James rated it really liked it
'Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money' could just as easily be called 'How to Kill Stuff and Eat it' as that's what the lion's share of this survivalism classic is about.

The true life story of the girl behind the pseudonym Dolly Freed is as fascinating as the book itself but you can google that.

I read it cold, knowing nothing much about it, and all I'm sharing here are a handful of my half-assed random impressions of the book.

What struck me like a blow to the
...more
TPK
May 12, 2010 TPK rated it liked it
(reposted from my blog)

I first came across information about Possum Living online, actually; I stumbled across the Possum Living blog and was simply fascinated. "Dolly Freed" (not her real name) was a good writer with a distinctive, funny voice, and I was curious what she might have had to say about life without a job back in her late teens.

Turns out, she had plenty to say. Dolly's "possum living" existence -- surviving and thriving with no regular job, living on just enough money to buy absolut
...more
Manintheboat
Oct 07, 2010 Manintheboat rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
The book advocates avoidance of paying taxes to "the government" but suggests the utilization of government services such as libraries, extension services, schools, parks, and roads (but not fire departments).

"Well" for the standard of living in the United States, is a bit of a misnomer. This family lacks health insurance and if they ended up in the emergency room (we all require more medical care as we age), their bill would be something everyone else would have to pay for.

Society is subsidizi
...more
Renee
Mar 02, 2010 Renee rated it liked it
First published in 1978, this not-so-well written book is written by 17 year old Dolly Freed who lives with her father, and whose joint goal is to “live well without a job and with (almost) no money. “How do they do this you may ask; by raising rabbits in the basement and clunking them over the head before pa puts rabbit stew on the kettle. They also, grown their own crops, pick old produce from area supermarkets and bought their own wardrobes at Goodwill for less than $15. Dad and Dolly aren’t ...more
Wesley
Aug 06, 2010 Wesley rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most interesting reads of my life. If you have a vegetable garden or tend to think about ways of saving money or what it would be like to not work all your life to pay your car payment you'll love this republication. The fact that its 40 some years old makes it even better. A guy moved to a house in New York (state), decided he was going to buy an old farm house and get back to "nature". Ironically enough the house he bought was previously owned by people wanting to get back ...more
Nadir
Mar 15, 2011 Nadir rated it really liked it
Shelves: how-to
Surprisingly enjoyable read, with a mix of how-to (on a remarkably wide variety of subjects) with a counter-culture manifesto about separating oneself from the everyday grind. "Dolly" points out how you truly need so little of what our consumption-oriented life tells us we need. The big stumbling block for most people is that this low-cost lifestyle assumes you own your home in cash and don't have a mortgage to service. For most people living the "normal" sub-urban or urban lifestyle, that's a n ...more
Jessi
Apr 18, 2011 Jessi rated it did not like it
I hated this book. HATED it. The only part I enjoyed in the entire thing was the epilogue, written by the author 30 years after she originally published her back-to-basics manifesto on how to live an off-the-grid life. I thought I would love it-- I've been reading a lot of books lately that explore a return to nature and a rejection of modern "conveniences". I was interested to read it, too, because it was written in the '70s, and I figured it would be exciting to compare the experiences of mult ...more
Michelle
Dec 14, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it
This was fun. I particularly enjoyed Freed's revisions that appeared after the book proper, some 30 years later, where she retracted some of the ideas that caused me to discredit her earlier on in the book. The ultimate truth remained the same, though. There are many ways to live this life, and not all involve 'work' in the traditional sense. Life would be a lot easier for a lot of people if we all did with a few less 'things' and a little more time.
Jessica Faulkner Chase
Sep 15, 2012 Jessica Faulkner Chase rated it really liked it
I can't believe an eighteen-year-old wrote this book. I thought the book had really good info about survival if you don't have a lot of money. I particularly liked the last ten pages, though. "If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living." I also love the points about TV being a stalking horse and that you should hold on to the good and let go of the bad. And ...more
Jess
Jul 29, 2010 Jess rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in it (easy to skim if you like); potential possums
Recommended to Jess by: Jezebel
This book was mentioned on Jezebel and half the comments alluded to reading and loving it. I had never heard of it, but later the day happened to walk past the reissued addition on the new self at CHN and figured why not, kismet and all.

For a book written in 1978, it lines up surprisingly well with 2010. The book's based on solid bones. Base ideas include: gardening, using the library for free research, learning by doing, only buying what you need & avoiding consumerism, eating healthy foods
...more
M.F. Soriano
Jul 23, 2010 M.F. Soriano rated it it was amazing
Sometimes how-to books are worth reading not because they're particularly informative, but because they're encouraging. I often use literature as a sort of prescribed propaganda, reading certain books and articles not to learn, but to feel less alone in my interests, and less marginalized in my desires.

This book is a great example of all that. Really, Dolly Freed doesn't give much information that you couldn't come up with yourself, and what she does teach are the sorts of things you really need
...more
David Galloway
Jul 26, 2012 David Galloway rated it really liked it
Shelves: homesteading
I picked this up while browsing the shelves at Barnes and Noble recently. I had heard of the book before, but was curious to see if the advice given still holds up. Remarkably, much of it does; I don't agree with the pseudonymous Dolly Freed on everything but most of the advice in the book is sound and entertainingly written.

For those of you unfamiliar with Possum Living, it was written back in the 1970s as a how-to guide to leave the rat race and live on a thousand bucks a year or less. The aut
...more
Sunday
Feb 03, 2011 Sunday rated it really liked it
This insanely practical guide to killing and de-shelling turtles (among other things. Dandelion Wine.) is not read for the instructions, but for the Ideas. Dolly's message is daydreamy and beautiful, a life of occasional weed picking and buying wheat from feed stores. It is romance in the highest. It calls to me even now, as I'm sitting in my work cubicle, stomach growling from all of this Jolly Time popcorn I just ate.

And even more romantic, it's dark. Dark as Heathcliff on the moors. There is
...more
Anina
May 17, 2010 Anina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
I tend not to buy books unless I come across something super unusual I can't get at the public library. Enter this from where else, a library book sale for 50 cents.

This book was written in 1976 by 19 year old Dolly Freed. She and her father live on very little money because they don't like to work. To a lesser extent, they also like being off the grid and out of the economic system for personal reasons. The book is not preachy though, it just tells you how to do the things they do. They raise r
...more
Holly McIntyre
Jun 16, 2011 Holly McIntyre rated it really liked it
What a delightfully odd little book. It is dated (from the 1970s and examples show it) and extreme (raising rabbits in your basement to kill for meat; making your own moonshine). Still, the main points remain valid: the key to financial freedom is 1)owning, free and clear, a place to live no matter how shabby, and 2) reducing your needs/wants to an absolute minimum. Since these are two of my life goals, I found the account inspiring, if beyond my means. I especially enjoyed the afterward by the ...more
Randy Ray
Oct 01, 2011 Randy Ray rated it really liked it
My wife turned me on to this book, and I loved it. It didn't convince me to drop out and become a possum, but it did clarify in my mind that I put too much pressure on myself to earn money. Dolly Freed is a clever writer, and I laughed out loud several times while reading the book. Having grown up in rural northeast Texas, not all of the concepts were alien to me. I've definitely eaten my share of fish that I caught myself, and I know how enjoyable both the catching and the eating of those fish ...more
Nova
Feb 13, 2014 Nova rated it liked it
I really wish Goodreads would allow for half star ratings, because this book deserves a little more than two stars but I don't know if it really deserves the whole three. It's a flawed piece of work, to be sure, but that's to be expected given that it was written by a 19 year old with, at best, a seventh grade education. Like most people of that age, the author is pretty limited in her world-view, but what she does know, she knows well. She can be intelligent, witty, insightful, and was able to ...more
Beth
Jan 27, 2011 Beth rated it did not like it
This book was just not realistic for me. Unless you want to raise and kill rabbits for dinner, forgo any traveling in your lifetime, and basically lay around on your couch your entire life, I would skip this book. I'm all for finding ways to live better and simplify your life, put "possom living" is not for me. Half of the book deals with foraging for food and even refers to eating stray animals. I would much rather WORK, earn money and eat my processed foods.
Luna Moonbeam
Aug 04, 2014 Luna Moonbeam rated it really liked it
Shelves: living-the-dream
This book is a very easy read. Exactly what's needed when you are just starting the process. It was written in the 1970's so some of the information is out of date (how to purchase a house in foreclosure, for example, and prices of course). However, a LOT of the information is timeless. Perspective. Humans need very few material possessions. Written in the very candid and cheeky voice of an anarchist who shuns all that is imposed by "The Man", its a fantastic read, whether you want the informati ...more
Hm
Feb 02, 2010 Hm rated it liked it
This book has a lot of great advice - although I won't be raising rabbits in my basement any time soon. It is written in a sassy voice and helps remind you of what you really need in life. I found the chapter on moonshine especially valuable.
Laura
This book should have been called "How to eat shit that you never thought you could (and really shouldn't) while being smug about it." I hate working full-time like anyone who is sane with a soul, but I am NOT eating cats!
Nanci
Apr 07, 2009 Nanci rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly one of the most unique books I've ever come across. I wish the book were in print. I'd give a copy to everyone I know.
Allison
Jun 02, 2016 Allison rated it really liked it
Abandoning-industrial-civilization porn of the highest order. The plucky 18-year-old author went on to become a NASA engineer despite dropping out of school in seventh grade, and it shows: she has a intriguingly empirical attitude while explaining such topics as proper rabbit skinning, moonshine distillation and questionably legal fishing methods.

The book is dense with practical information, but the real reason to read is Freed's charming cantankerous tour through a self-sufficient life. You mig
...more
Megalion
Apr 01, 2016 Megalion rated it it was amazing
Definitely make sure you're reading the 2009 edition that includes an afterword by the author.

It was a fascinating read. It's not just a how to book but one that is full of anecdotes and attitude (a cocky one that's natural of an 18yr old who think she's got the edge)
Since it's over 30 yrs old, there's a lot of things that are different now (prices in particular) but the ideas and reasonings are still applicable.

She does note right up front that to truly manage to live on little money requires
...more
Holly
Oct 25, 2011 Holly rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
I really wanted to love this book and I can't believe how different it was from my expectations. Let me start by pointing out that in the afterword the author herself dismisses the validity of her own work as a nice idea with no practicality. She lives in a regular house, with her regular family, and has a regular job and cable television. Her father, or the "main possum" of the book was actually just an alcoholic and she ended up ending all contact with him later in his life and they never spok ...more
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