Reflections on living without technology, off the grid if you will, and off the land without a chainsaw or a smartphone. Author Mark Boyle built his own little house and grew or hunted his own food and even started his own fire for cooking and heat without a lighter. He and his parter lived this way for well over a year. Boyle had a modern type fishing rod and a bicycle but he gave up the bike locks.
The Way Home: Tales from a life without technology
by Mark Boyle
2019 / 335 pages
Read by Gerard Doyle 8h 36m
Rating: 8.5 / memoir-environment
Boyle writes for the Guardian and he also wrote the book “The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living” published in 2010. That book was based on his experiences living without money for a year.
His little house and property are in central Ireland which he purchased in 2015 with the proceeds of his first book.
Starting with a chapter called “Winter,” the narrative follows the seasons through the years he lived without technology. He explains what he does like finishing his home, making friends and planting some vegetables. He also records his thoughts and ideas. He’s an interesting thinker and a good writer with a smooth if somewhat digressive style. He sometimes sounds like an old curmudgeon when he gets a bit nostalgic in his romancing of the past and complaining about “people these days.” I have a feeling he’d be the first one off the farm if he felt he was stuck there and wanted to see the city.
Chapter 2 is called Spring and Mark is busily planting more herbs and veggies – 30+ varieties. He objects to all the plastic he’s using and considers foraging instead. (Which is kind of silly – my ancestors were farmers and they didn’t use plastic back in 1840 when they immigrated to the US and settled in Iowa – they had wooden and metal tools – check out your local museum.) He takes mental excursions into his personal history along with what brought him to the point of living as he does now. And he contemplates his values – usually as opposed to what he thinks the rest of society does.
He has many friends and makes new friends easily so much of the book involves people he knows and meets and what they all do.
Since his youth he says he has wanted to do something with his life which had meaning, but how does one define that? Early on he left and returned to college a few times majoring in accountancy and taking a few odd jobs which suited him. He starts writing essays and articles for the Guardian and started living without money which turned into articles and a book.
He says he misses Joni Mitchell – ??? Excuse me? Mitchell is 78 or 79 years old. She was popular when I was in my teens and a bit older (plus an odd album or two in the 21st century). But Boyle is only 41 years old So, yup – that was nice music and it suits what you’re doing son, but don’t tell me you’re nostalgic for it – lol. That would be like me being nostalgic for WWII. (That didn’t take much off my rating though – it’s a very enjoyable book if you like memoirs.)