Melissa's Reviews > No Impact Man

No Impact Man by Colin Beavan
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's review
Jul 04, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: sustainable-homesteading
Read from July 04 to 07, 2010

In spite of the gross "guilty liberal" subtitle business, I'm enjoying this book more than I thought I would. There's something appealing about Beavan's honesty, even when I'm sometimes baffled as to how an adult human being could be so completely clueless about things that seem pretty common sense from where I'm standing. Example: He spends a couple of hours in search of a mesh shopping bag, because he saw or imagined--can't remember--people in France using them at the open stall markets, and after turning up empty-handed after trekking to half a dozen stores that don't carry this particular type of bag, he returns home sans food and he and his wife admit defeat (again) and end up ordering takeout. Seriously?

I'm only a third of the way in, so hopefully his ability to problem solve improves, otherwise, if his experience is indicative of that of the vast majority of humanity...we're screwed.


After finishing it...

I'm surprised that I enjoyed this book, partly because I was worried that it would just be 200 pages of some privileged dude whining about everything and then marveling at how amazing it is that he actually wants to change, but also because anything he had to say about the necessity of change would be preaching to the choir. However, I found myself thinking. A lot.

Something about Beavan's process of examining his life and American culture as a whole resulted in really interesting trains of thought, and often, pretty profound insights that had less to do with using less fuel or eating local (although there was certainly plenty of that, too) and more about what it means to be a member of the human community and how that sense of community can motivate us to change our habits--not simply because we're running out of potable water or fuel, but because we care about ourselves and everyone else who's in this mess with us.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Wayne (new)

Wayne I feel conflicted. I'd heard about this project, and I'm interested in reading the book, but your review and the others here suggest that I would find this an incredibly painful read.

Melissa It is getting better in terms of his ability to come up with alternative actions, and if anything, reading this has helped me to see how self-righteous and obnoxious I must come off sometimes to people who don't have an awareness of why lifestyle changes are pretty much mandatory at this point. Also, it's made me rethink my reasons for living the way that I do and explore ways that I can have an even lesser impact. I'm about halfway through the book, so we'll see how it goes...

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