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The Way Home: Tales from a Life Without Technology

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  425 ratings  ·  90 reviews
It was 11pm when I checked my email for the last time and turned off my phone for what I hoped would be forever.

No running water, no car, no electricity or any of the things it powers: the internet, phone, washing machine, radio or light bulb. Just a wooden cabin, on a smallholding, by the edge of a stand of spruce.

In this honest and lyrical account of a remarkable life
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published April 4th 2019 by Oneworld Publications
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Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  425 ratings  ·  90 reviews

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This is a book about trying to live, as far as is possible and practicable, without modern technology - including no internet. Yet every time I've tried to write about it, the review is partly about … things people say on the internet. But the internet is the main venue for environmental and political commentary now, so maybe that's not as ridiculous as it seems.

Mark Boyle's Guardian columns about living off-grid in Ireland have always attracted a lot of ire from below-the-line commenters -
Boyle lives without electricity in a wooden cabin on a smallholding in County Galway, Ireland. He speaks of technology as an addiction and letting go of it as a detoxification process. For him it was a gradual shift that took place at the same time as he was moving away from modern conveniences. The Way Home is split into seasonal sections in which the author’s past and present intermingle. The writing consciously echoes Henry David Thoreau’s. Without even considering the privilege that got ...more
M. Sarki
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing

...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
Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
I wrote an entire post about it here:
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well, I don’t aim to insult/offend people within the first sentence of my review but I think I would not be overexaggerating if I said that about 80% of the modern, first world population – at the very least counting 70-80% of Europe- would NOT at all be able to follow in Mark Boyle’s footsteps. I am not fully cut out for that either, no matter how much I would like to be. Kudos, Mark- you’re my new hero!

The Way Home is more than an experiment agreed on a night out to live without technology.
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Although I’m sympathetic to Boyle’s discontent, his deep-seated misanthropy is just too much to take. I think he would much prefer to be a stag or a salmon than a man. The book offers some interesting insights but it’s anti human ideological purity offers no “way home.” He rails against pencils and fantasizes about making his own ink from mushrooms. Anyone would be much better off reading Aldo Leopold or Wendell Berry - authors he cites often. Boyle simply lacks the wisdom and grace of the ...more
May 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2019
It was late one evening when Mark Boyle checked his email one last time and turned off his phone. He fully intended to never switch it back on again. In his new home, a cabin alongside a wood there was no electricity or running water, no internet or sewage connections nor was he even going to have solar power! He was going fully off-grid.

Boyle was going to have to grow and catch his own food, collect his own firewood, build and repair anything that he needed around the home and collecting water
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summary: A narrative of a year without modern technology, and what it is like to live more directly and in rhythm with the immediate world of the author's smallholding and community.

"It was 11pm when I checked my email for the last time and turned off my phone for what I hoped would be forever strong. No running water, no car, no electricity or any of the things it powers: the internet, phone, washing machine, radio or light bulb. Just a wooden cabin, on a smallholding, by the edge of a stand of
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 ...more
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Way Home is a fascinating account of how Mark Boyle rejects technology to reconnect with nature- and with the lives of the Irish island of Knockmoyle’s original inhabitants. He is, without doubt, a man of conviction. Throughout ‘The Way Home’, his determination to put his beliefs into practice, whatever the hardship and personal cost, commands my respect. His experience highlights the disconnection between modern life and the natural world; he shows us how technology can de-skill us and make ...more
A fascinating and interesting book. I liked the style of writing and I think this book is full of food for thought.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to Oneworld Publications and Netgalley for this ARC
Lee Osborne
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've been meaning to read this book for some time, as I've long been interested in the concepts of "slow living", living more simply, using less and liberating myself from the worst excesses of capitalism. Ultimately, modern life squeezes us into a mould of consumption, forcing us to work hard for companies that we feel very little in common with. Mark Boyle has previously spent three years living without money, but this experiment - living on a remote smallholding with virtually no services or ...more
Rob Greenfield
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Like millions of other people around the world I first came upon Mark Boyle through a viral Facebook post. The story was headlined by an iconic photo of him sitting bare chested outside next to his homemade rocket stove and his clothes hanging out to dry.
After the stories popped up in my newsfeed enough times I finally decided to dive in and in learn about who this guy was. I was quite inspired right away and he made me rethink much of my life.
But once I read his books, he actually changed my
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Really enjoyed the premise and the insight into a life without technology, however, Mark Boyle manages to write this in the most arrogant, boastful and self righteous way that it just ruined the whole reading experience for me. Would have been absolutely perfect if I wasn’t written by such a narcissist.
Wendy Ballard
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Way Home: Tales from a Life Without Technology is extraordinary. Mark Boyle has held many different positions in life to make money. He's been a grocery clerk, a business manager, a lecturer and a writer, just to name a few. He's lived in the UK, had an extended trip/stay in New York. He's used technology to maintain his life: cell phones, computers, the Internet, social media - he's used them all. At a point in his life he decided to live without money. He did that successfully. Then he ...more
Eric Shapiro
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Strong 4/5. A fascinating account of the author's journey to live off the land and forego essentially all human technology, relying on his own two hands and mind (and help from friends and neighbours) to build a shelter and not only survive but live a meaningful life away from the distractions of modern society. It sounds cliche when I write it out like that, but Mark Boyle is well aware of this too. He often notes the various feedback he has received on his "experiment" (both this one and his ...more
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
It seems ironic to type out my admiration for "The Way Home" on my smartphone - one of many ironies I've noticed over the last few days as I've been reading it.

I think it's important to be critically aware of how we use technologies such as phones and computers, and how often we absentmindedly reach for them during the day. I have a tendency to read books like this, go into shock about my technology (over)use, strictly limit my use for a few weeks, then return to my old ways. Maybe I need to
tonia peckover
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm pretty sure that if Mark Boyle had lived in the Middle Ages he would have found his way to a monastery, possibly a hermitage. He has an ascetic's soul. This account of his withdrawal from a life dependent on technology is inspiring and revealing. What's most admirable about it is his honest engagement with the dilemmas his choices lead to and his commitment to his path. I loved following his story through the seasons, getting an idea of a different kind of life. It's clear from his account ...more
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
While I sometimes found myself wanting the book to be different, and while I have some quibbles with Boyle on a number of his choices, I still enjoyed reading about the challenges of living a low tech life in a high tech world. The reactions of people to Boyle's choices are one of the best things about this book. While the book ostensibly covers one year, it is clear the Boyle has a lot more experience and foundation to start with than an average person who decides to go off grid. He makes it ...more
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was the surprise find of the month. Not sure what I expected but it was altogether more pensive and reflective rather than an anti-technology rant.
It’s given me much pause for thought since I finished and enough impact to merit buying a copy. I’ve also recommended it to a number of people.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I feel like I'm being kind of generous giving this 4 stars. It's not written very well, and it was surprisingly vague on some of the things I was most curious about while spending too much time on things I didn't think were all that important, or that he's already written about in his other books, but I really like what Mark Boyle is about and I'm glad to see that he's still at it. In some ways this is actually an improvement over his earlier books. After years of experimentation he's come to ...more
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 24, 2019 rated it liked it
One winter morning in a cabin he has built himself, Mark Boyle turns away from modern technology, eschewing smart phones, electricity and even running water. This is his "year in the life" living off the land in rural Ireland, at a time when folks in the country are abandoning their ancestral lands to migrate en masse to urban areas.

The Way Home is thought-provoking and a frequently prompt for self-examination. It has left me feeling more generally pessimistic about the current state of things,
Paulo Adalberto Reimann
Apr 12, 2019 rated it did not like it

Gargantuan size bad piece of book. Absolutely useless. Want to read something good? Go for Walden. This one is horror. I feel myself entitled for a refund. Worst book in ages. BTW, writing style is childish. What a mistake. What a mistake. Garbage.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Best for:
People interested in what it looks like to truly, deeply, live one’s values.

In a nutshell:
Mark Boyle once lived without money for three years. Now he’s gone further - he’s given up everything we would consider to be modern technology. (But how is there a book, you ask? We’ll get there.)

Worth quoting:
‘What are we prepared to lose, and what do we want to gain, as we fumble our way through our short, precious lives.’

Why I chose it:
For the past couple of years I’m been very interested in
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had to read this after I came across an interview on Twitter between the author and Waterstones which they conducted by letter/post card. I am also concerned about the planet and I was interested to read what he said and how living without technology would work. He lives in Ireland, the home of his birth where he has set up a hostel for others who want to try living simply for a time (though you won't find it on the have to go and search in person for it!)

Mark Boyle's views on
Malinda Jane
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
It was a quick and easy read, but ultimately felt repetitive and a lot of the musing fell hollow. The author mentions how one shouldn’t romanticize his way of life, but that is entirely what this book is. Beyond that, it felt disingenuous to me - for someone who was setting out to eschew money, he continued to publish his writing and make public appearances, give talks and otherwise monetize and maintain a writing career. I’m sure in his own mind he considers his life’s work to be taking care of ...more
Joy Lenton
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many of us would like to escape the daily grind, the excessive accumulation of stuff or our reliance and dependence on technology. But few of us have the courage and wherewithal to make it permanent and make a living from it.

However, pioneering-spirited author Mark Boyle has done just that and recorded it all (by paper and pencil, no less) for us to witness second-hand. In this no holds barred, gritty reality read, the true cost of living off the grid is compellingly told.

It takes physical
Melanie Kirk
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read The Moneyless Man years ago when I was younger and more revolutionary then I am now, and it had a massive impact on me and my life choices. As such I was both excited and wary of reading this.

Mark's year without technology makes for some interesting observations and reflections on what it means to be human, but I found myself shaking my head several times throughout the book where five years ago I would have been nodding along eagerly. His philosophy strays into being too anti human for
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Mark Boyle aka The Moneyless Man (born 8 May 1979) is a business graduate who lived completely without money for three years, and is the best-selling author of The Moneyless Man (2010), and The Moneyless Manifesto (2012) and Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Gandhi (2015).

He is a director of Streetbank, a charity which enables people across the world to share skills and resources with neighbours.