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A Reasonable Life: Toward a Simpler, Secure, More Humane Existence
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A Reasonable Life: Toward a Simpler, Secure, More Humane Existence

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  142 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
With our environment on its knees, our great myths and cities crumbling, Ferenc Máté argues in this passionate, darkly funny book that now is the time to begin our lives anew, on a more human scale. With our lust for mechanized "progress" we have damaged and endangered not only our planet but also our communities, families, and even friendships. He warns that our environme ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 17th 1997 by Albatross (first published 1993)
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Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ferenc Máté has produced a book that dares to be the impassioned argument for a reasonable life. Máté has done what no author that I've read recently has been able to do and that is to put into a well-organized narrative form, that which many of us who agree with him have been thinking for so long. It's one thing to read statistics about economic disparities between rich and poor and about the seemingly crushing economic and ecological weight of what most will probably agree is excessive consump ...more
May 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: newbies to anti-consumerism
Recommended to Melissa by: Kathy Sheridan
As other reviewers have pointed out, this book does read a bit like a vitriolic rant, but it might just be a rant worth reading. If you haven't begun to question the consumerist lifestyle, this book is an entertaining, eye-opening introduction to the "ills of modern society" and what the hell should be done about them, and I highly recommend reading it.

However, if this is a topic to which you've given a reasonable amount of thought, I doubt any of the information presented in the book will come
Dec 03, 2007 added it
I FINALLY finished this book. It is full of great ideas for living a reasonable life, HOWEVER, the tone is just plain mean. The author writes as if every reader is an idiot who is stupid and as if every one who doesn't live the same lifestyle he and his family does is determined to ruin the earth. I hated him by the time I was done reading it.

I guess I am more of the ilk that if we can all try to make small changes in our lifestyles we can do our little bits to help. I don't think we should al
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Everything he says in this book is completely true, although it will leave you with a feeling of despair. It has made me re-think my consumer behavior, and I may try to grow a few veggies this summer. At times, his tone is a bit off-putting, like he's yelling at us. But overall I think everyone needs to read this.
Dana Miranda
Aug 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
Mate's ramblings indulges the reader's horror at being disconnected from the environment while opportunistically pitching his dissatisfaction as an argument to man’s ills. this however forgoes that mother nature can only be the cause of our moral problems for as long as we live in nature. and thus is true only when humanity was housed in nature's womb and ceases to be applicable as soon as man created his own surroundings, made his own environment, of the fabric of his mental image, of which Ma ...more
Mar 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
I agree with the other review I read on this site. This book reads like a rant from a highschooler. I do agree with some (many) of his principles, but they just aren't well thought out.

What I agree with:

1. That people have no idea what the actual cost (environmentally, socially, spiritually) of an item is. Everything has a price and we have been using the planets resources in an unsustainable way.

2. That the world and our lives can be dreary rat races where we are starved of meaning, relaxation
Jul 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Ferenc Máté has written an impassioned book that I believe clearly sums up most of my beliefs on where our values have faltered and the fallout from the things we've chosen to embrace. I would rate the book higher if it wasn't for the fact that I've been exposed to many of these ideas through some of my other readings and in a tone that is less of a rant. While I believe it's necessary to be impassioned about all that is wrong in the world and the uphill climb we face in battling this adversity, ...more
May 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Tina by: Sally Demarest
This was one of those books that makes you think--hard. It's about how our American lives are unsustainable, due to overconsumption, breakdown of relationship ties, and media. (I'm oversimplifying, but that's basically it.) The author advocates a return to an agrarian lifestyle, with a house you've built yourself. The author sounds almost crazy, but I had to agree with almost everything he said.

This book could be a life-changer.
Jun 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of the handful of books that has completely changed my thinking. It clearly explains how we've completely screwed our lives up with the priorities we've set, the junk we eat, and the mindless activities we engage in. Even if one doesn't want to blow up the t.v. and get back to nature, the book offers some ideas that can be used to improve the quality of one's life. In short, it's an indictment on the rat race and explains why even the rat who wins is a loser.
Yolanda Cortez
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Un libro que te hace pensar en tu vida actual y recapacitar sobre hacia dónde vamos con nuestras actitudes comportamientos y materialismo.

Además de narrar de manera agradable y sencilla las sugerencias para retomar esa vida sencilla y simple, añorada en algún momento de nuestro largo camino por la vida.
Aug 24, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a blog style written book. It is an attempt to change human philosophy to include a more sustainable lifestyle. He is preaching to the choir, of whom want solutions rather than just bitchy rants. I agree with most of his conclusions. i don't like the way he writes them or his very narrowminded and contradictory resolutions, on the few paragraphs that he gives them.
Raehn Fahl
Nov 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is a MUST read for anyone who dreams of a life of self-sufficiency, where big government and big business don't dictate how we live our lives and fulfill our need for self-actualization; where local economies and communities are the guy next door, not the guy across the ocean with no vested interest in anything but how to keep us dumb, ignorant and chasing that carrot.
Feb 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Mate gets you thinking about whether being as busy as we are is really making us happier. He makes some good points and interesting questions. He does take his argument several steps further than most average people are likely to go (everyone leaving cities and living in small self sufficient farms and hamlets), but hey, if you'd like to , go for it. :)
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
The book had a few good points even if it was preachy. I especially liked the point about how being plugged in to our electronic devices all the time reduces our attention span significantly. However, the part about growing your own garden didn't grab me. I prefer to buy produce from the local co-op or farmer's markets when I can. Gardening, aside from little dabbling, just isn't in my DNA.
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: completed
Sometimes hysterical & simplistic, often insightful. Exposes the ordinary as unconscionable and unreasonable. A fresh perspective, an indictment, an expose. Most valuable in unshrouding everyday foolishness & counterproductive behavior. 
Apr 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Great enjoyable very thoughtful book that will make you hopefully think about your life and ways in which you might want to change it to enjoy it a bit more and remember what it's like to be human again.
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If you are interested in ecogolgy, sustainability and frugality, there is NO better book. Written with a degree of humor, he points out many of the errors in our thinking and where our government has gone wrong. Read this book!
Dec 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Some parts were really funny about the things Americans spend money on. Lots of ranting and raving about how detached we have gotten from values of the past. Didn't come away with many concrete changes I could make in my life though.
Nic Hartmann
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In spite of his tone, which is admittedly a bit condescending at times, Ferenc Mate's points still seem pretty relevant today; I wonder what the Internet's impact would make on this book if it were written now!
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
A thought provoking book on what matters (or should matter) in daily life and what we can do to make it simpler and more stress-free. I am looking forward to reading the recently released sequal "A Real Life".
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read on the way we live our lives and what is truly important.
If you feel you are in need of a book to ground you I recommend this small, but very good "read".
Jul 02, 2008 is currently reading it
I find it very interesting that this book was first published in the early 90's. I am not very far into it yet, but am certainly intrigued.
Oct 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Funny and relevant. But also preachy, rant-y and negative.
Feb 10, 2009 rated it liked it
I anxiously awaited this book from the library, and had high hopes for it. While I agree with him on some points, I felt the author had quite an attitude which I didn't appreciate.
May 22, 2007 rated it did not like it
I'm very interested in the concepts, but the book reads like a rant I would have written in high school. Lots of random punctuation, italics and sentences that end like this??!!
Sid Johnson
May 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I found this book at a book sale while on vacation many years ago and read straight through it. It was life changing for me. I've recommended it to many people.
rated it really liked it
Sep 29, 2010
Kathy Quinney
rated it it was amazing
Oct 25, 2007
rated it liked it
Jun 02, 2012
rated it it was amazing
Jan 30, 2013
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Ferenc Máté has made a career of out documenting his own quests—whether it’s restoring a Tuscan ruin, building a vineyard from scratch, or sailing the seven seas.

Born in Transylvania, he escaped at age eleven when the Hungarian revolution was crushed by Soviet tanks. He grew up in Vancouver and has lived in California, Paris, Rome, the Bahamas and New York. He has worked on a railroad extra-gang a
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“We seldom consider how much of our lives we must render in return for some object we barely want, seldom need, buy only because it was put before us...And this is understandable given the workings of our system where without a job we perish, where if we don't want a job and are happy to get by we are labeled irresponsible, non-contributing leeches on society. But if we hire a fleet of bulldozers, tear up half the countryside and build some monstrous factory, casino or mall, we are called entrepreneurs, job-creators, stalwarts of the community. Maybe we should all be shut away on some planet for the insane. Then again, maybe that is where we are.” 49 likes
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