Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review: The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen

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The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen

I picked up this book on a recent library journey.  Of the stack of books I brought home, this was definitely one of my favorites.  It appealed to me both because it's packed with useful information, but also because the voice is a little bit different -- kind of hip, sort of edgy, and missing that self-congratulatory goody-two-shoes tone that often creeps into some of these books.

Of course, "urban homesteading" has its own connotations that differ from other types of frugality or self-sufficiency.  The thing that appeals to me most about urban homesteading is that it's sort of a rebellious act.  Urban homesteaders want it all: We want to embrace the arts of our forefathers without giving up the things we love about the city.  Urban homesteading is all about developing self-sufficiency skills while staying connected to the world, and this book very much touches on that.

The Urban Homestead is an overview or entry-level guide.  It covers a broad spectrum of topics but doesn't go into great detail for any one of them.  You'll need to find another source for really in-depth information, and I wouldn't recommend running out to start any project in here based on the information within these pages alone.  But as far as a guide that introduces you to the realm of "what's possible," this is one of the very best I've read.

A few of the things it talks about:
  • Gardening
  • Composting
  • Foraging
  • Growing livestock 
  • Canning/preserving
It has two authors, and though they generally present a unified narration throughout the book, they're not afraid to give opposing views when a second voice is warranted.  Another feature that I really enjoyed is that they bring in other people's life experiences, with anecdotes scattered throughout.  That adds a lot of voices and different perspectives.

Anyway, if you're looking for something lighthearted, inspiring, a little geeky, a touch irreverent and very much full of ideas, this is definitely a book worth looking into.  If you're already living a sustainable lifestyle or are looking for more advanced suggestions, this probably won't cover any new ground for you -- but you may still enjoy reading it just for the tone and personality.  I give it two thumbs up for sure. 

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