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Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America

3.17  ·  Rating details ·  570 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
Inside the subculture of off-grid living
Written by a leading authority on living off the grid, this is a fascinating and timely look at one of the fastest growing movements in America. In researching the stories that would become "Off the Grid," Nick Rosen traveled from one end of the United States to the other, spending time with all kinds of individuals and families st
ebook, 352 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Penguin Books
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Jan 27, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One star. Misogynistic, xenophobic book. Another case of a white guy being given a platform he should never have been given. Though there are some interesting anecdotes of people living off-grid in America for a variety of reason, there's little practical or in-depth information and the historical argument for the "grid conspiracy" in the beginning is confused and too short (feels tacked on). Women are rated in terms of attractiveness and willingness to put out. Space is devoted to off-grid sout ...more
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Going off the grid is a subject I have an almost endless interest in; I'll say almost because it turns out my interest ends here, with this book. Rosen is honestly just a bit of a twit. At some point, he expresses dismay when a host offers him a plastic cup for his wine. I was so exasperated with him by this point, I figured he was mad because it's gauche to put wine in plastic, not that he had a legitimate ecological reason to not use disposable cups. This book is filled with snarky tidbits lik ...more
Aug 23, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, I really, really wanted to like this book more than I did. It's hard to describe why I didn't fully enjoy reading it, but I think it has to do with the pervasive...mean-spirited feeling of the thing. I certainly wouldn't expect the author to actually like all of his subjects, or for them to like him. However, his descriptions of many of them and their lifestyles just give me a nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach, like I was hearing gossip.

It got to the point around the middle of the bo
Nov 12, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: set-aside
Typically I love books like this. So much so that my best friend likes to make fun of me for how much I enjoy the at-least-historically-if-not-currently-privileged-white-male-decides-to-"rough-it"-then-writes-a-book-about-how-hard-but-how-rewarding-it-is genre. The general criticisms of books like these are definitely valid. But I've always defended them and enjoyed them because (surprise!) I myself am a white male that's been pretty lucky in life. Reading someone who speaks to you from your own ...more
Nov 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book's really interesting, and has a lot of really cool interviews, and could be really amazing. BUT. the author ruins it so much with his judgmental attitude! he brings up all these irrelevant details (like the fact that he ONLY rents luxury SUV's to drive around the country...for research of an OFF-GRID book!!, or the attractiveness/unattractiveness of his interview subject [like that has ANYTHING to do with ANYTHING]).
here are my top few ridiculous statements made in this book:
1. while h
This book would be so much better if Nick Rosen didn't spend most of it being a condescending snob. In the name of sustainability, he could even take all the energy he would save and put it towards becoming a better writer.

The first chapter of the book, focusing on the history of the grid, is very difficult to slog through. The information it contains could have been presented in a more interesting way, or interspersed with the remaining chapters of the book, or eliminated altogether. As it is,
When Nick Rosen put up a website to help his fellow Britons find resources and land reduce their carbon footprint by living off the grid, he was astonished at all of the interest his site received from the United States. He had more American readers than English readers, in fact, and decided to investigate. Off the Grid records his visits with various communities which operate outside the electrical grid. Although its subtitle refers to a coherent movement, there is nothing like that actually he ...more
Adriane Devries
British journalist Nick Rosen’s curiosity of the self-sustaining lifestyle, fueled perhaps with a dose of his own social antipathy, leads him to interview a smattering of off-grid communities and individuals across America. On his pilgrimage, he scavenges enough cheap living arrangements, gossip, home brew and, ahem, locally grown flora to rant about the allure, challenges, politics and inevitable conflicts that surround such a counter-cultural lifestyle. It sounds fun, really, except for the mo ...more
Nov 20, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book needs less contempt and more transitions and section summaries. I'm not sure what Nick Rosen wants me to think of people who live off the grid--I think he likes the idea, based on the fact that he wrote a book about it and lives off the grid part time himself. But he treats those who choose to live off grid with such contempt that I'm not sure there's anyone living off grid that he respects--they're either too rich or too poor, they love the earth too much or they love their guns too m ...more
I often grab books I see on my library's "new" shelves, and this was one of them. I give it three stars for the stories the author found. Rosen did a lot of work and research to find the many people with whom he visited, interviewed, and stayed. Unfortunately, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Rosen goes overboard on being honest and upfront about his own opinions, to the extent that his commentary interferes with the stories of his subjects so strongly as to become a distraction.

In add
Hannah Corson
As someone who is in the process of finishing building a Tiny House, I enjoyed the book. It made me want to finish the tiny house SOON - so we can live in it and enjoy a simple lifestyle.

Nick Rosen (from the UK) wrote this book about his experiences journeying across the United States interviewing folks who live off the grid. He does an amazing job interviewing a wide spectrum of people, all with different reasons WHY they choose to live the lifestyle that they are.

He also does a great job div
Jun 21, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While this book gives an array of perspectives and reasons for going off the grid, the author analyzes his interviewees too harshly. He seemed to be more critical of the women than the men. His descriptions of the people who he interviewed have nothing to do with the actual subject of the book. I don't object to the author giving his opinion, but I felt like he was gossiping about those he interviewed.

It was, however, nice to read about all of the different living situations and the reasons peo
C.w. Second
Although for me the idea of living off grid is rather interesting and compelling, this book does little to encourage people to signup for the lifestyle. Primarily the author, Nick Rosen, drove all around North America seeking out all sorts of off-griders and briefly writing about his interactions with these strangers. All too often the reader is left wanting more from these interactions, more imagery, more character development, more philosophy, just plain more.

OK. but it was informative, and h
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Like the other reviews say, the concept is better than the work itself. I had no motivation to keep goingin and pushed myself to read half of it. I jumped to the end and even that wasn't too interesting. This did however prompt me to research composting toilets. I HIGHLY recommend you look up composting toilets on youtube. Not this book though lol
D. Marie
Mar 21, 2017 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Kalie Lyn
There have been some semi-bad reviews on this book – non-professional reviews none the less – and also some readers expecting the book was going to be different to how it actually is. Off the Grid by Nick Rosen isn’t about HOW to live off the grid – if you want that, read his other book, How to Live Off-Grid – but instead about his encounters with people whom already live off-grid and why they decided to ditch the rat race and lead a simpler life.

Nick Rosen is a writer and award-winning document
Mar 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nick Rosen, an Englishman who's spent a lot of time in America, travels around the States interviewing various people who are living "off the grid," ie. taking care of their own electrical, water supply, and waste management needs. He loosely groups people into different categories based on why they chose this lifestyle, such as the survivalist, the homeless, those making political statements, those doing it for environmental reasons, etc. This was the first book I've read about living with alte ...more
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm still working my way through this one, but so far it's a pretty big disappointment. The book is advertised as being social research into people who choose to live "off the grid," choosing to distance themselves somewhat or completely from regularly used water, electric, and sewar systems.

Currently the first third of the book has been a few historical acedotes about people the author met, a LONG chapter on why electric and water companies are evil and a lot about pot. The next chapter includ
Jan 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book not so much a definition of a movement than a collection of profiles of individuals that are living an off the grid lifestyle for various political, economic, social, religious and legal reasons. Taken as that it is an interesting read. Rosen traveled all over the US interviewing and sometimes staying with people that were living in off the grid situations. This varies from nice houses in the Florida Keys to people living in cars and tents in big cities to religious communes and pot gr ...more
Off the Grid starts out pleasant enough to lure you in a third of the way into the book so that as a reader you feel obliged to finish this book.

There are some stories of beautiful scenery and wild places which are wonderful.
The various commentaries on home schooling I completely agree with the various parents. I personally know two home schooling families. The addition of computer access assures complex home schooling, thus allowing for their children to thrive. A few of the home schoolers situ
Sep 20, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I love the outdoors, and the peace/space for contemplation that off-grid solitude can provide. I even think about one day becoming a part-timer as Rosen describes people who have off-grid second homes. With this in mind, I naturally thought I would enjoy this little book.

The book consists of brief snapshots of different individuals who live off the grid for various reasons. The work is incredibly superficial and thin on details related to how the characters actually live or what they have done
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Rosen's last chapter, wherein he actually makes some extremely constructive suggestions for living off the grid or making lands more hospitable to those who wish to do so, was truly the only thing worth reading in this whole book.

Well, that is, of course, unless you came to "Off the Grid" with a desire to read: how the oppressive market, evil corporate structures, and nefarious marketing strategies among American utilities ruined America; anti-religious & anti-homeschooling commentary (larg
Sue Jackson
Reading Off The Grid by Nick Rosen was an effort for me. The first time I picked up the book, I lost interest and gave up. Determined to read the book because the topic seemed interesting, I picked it up again and this time it was much better. The idea of living off the grid and hearing about how people do that is interesting to me. It is not something I would do but I would applaud anyone who choses to stand by their convictions and live honorably off the grid. Unfortunately, many of the people ...more
Oct 15, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was an odd sort of book. A couple of times I thought about putting it down and going on to something else. I did finish it, finally, however, I'm not sure how much it's really about living off the grid as it a Kitty Kelly type review of the people Mr. Rosen meets as he writes this book.

The last few chapters finally do get into a bit of detail about living off the grid. It's almost as if he decided he had best include some information about that since it's part of the title. Still, it's not
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look at life off the grid in the US- but I can't help noticing how hypocritical Rosen is, driving all over,drinking more wine than Dionysus, and really not giving a very balanced view of it all--if that was ever his intention. I guess coming away, I don't know if he is actually for living off the grid or against it.
Maybe the best part was the Last American Man, who embodies a lot of the characteristics of self sufficiency I seek to live, and really knows his stuff. Its also an in
Stefan Garcia
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This certainly was not what I was expecting. I believed it was going to be a sort of "self-help" book, with inspiring stories about going off grid, how much it helped others, and tells how and why you should do it. Instead I got a "warts-and-all" account of life off the grid, who does it, why they do it, and how they do it differently. Rosen's sneery narration can certainly be criticised, as many have, but I felt it was a realistic exploration of the subject and for me, as someone actually consi ...more
Feb 07, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was of the opinion in selecting this book that it would provide a detailed picture of exactly how people actually survived living off the grid. While some information is given, it ends up being more of a list of the actual people living off the grid, most of which he doesn't have a very high opinion. This was disappointing in the regard that instead of being a useful book for people to learn about it and encourage this lifestyle, the author doesn't seem to really like it himself.
Jan 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, it started off really well, mainly because Rosen begins the book by talking about Sequoia of Greenfield Ranch, an activist comrade whom I respected very much who passed away some years ago now. Then, the book kind of goes all over the place. The earlier sections on the histories of power companies' grabbing of resources are useful, but not written in the most engaging way. Then, the book becomes short chapters on the off the grid people with whom Rosen spent time. Some folks' stories are m ...more
D.M. Dutcher
A well written book about various people as they try to live off the grid, unconnected to the power, water, or sewer systems. Unfortunately it works against the idea listed in the title. Mostly because a majority of those he interviews are:

1. Pot dealers or smokers.
2. Have serious issues, some almost to the point of mental illness.

Seriously. You get people whose kids can't do a simple math problem when asked, several people who fly into conspiracy theories at the least provocation, a hispanic ma
Patty Garland
I suppose my rating is partly a product of my own expectations. At the expense of profiling a wide spectrum of off-the-grid individuals the author loses the finer details of their lives. His writing seems so concerned with making sure his readers don't feel like he is pushing an off-the-grid agenda that most of his profiles are unflattering or filled with evidence of their philosophical gaps. I recognize this may be the product of his journalism background. However, I wanted more details and les ...more
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