Wishing for a simpler life?

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Friday night I went to Borders in search of a book my sister said I had to get… See You In A Hundred Years by Logan Ward.  Ward and his wife gave up big city New York life and turned back the clock to live like it was 1900.  They bought a farm in Virginia, got rid of their computers, gave up their jobs, their cell phones, bought a horse-drawn carriage and vowed to live off the land for a year.  

Here's a brief description:

Logan Ward and his wife, Heather, were prototypical New Yorkers circa 2000: their lives steeped in ambition, work, and stress. Feeling their souls grow numb, wanting their toddler son to see the stars at night, the Wards made a plan. They would return to their native South, find a farm, and for one year live exactly as people did in 1900 Virginia: without a car or electricity–and with only the food they could grow themselves. It was a project that would push their relationship to the brink–and illuminate stunning hardships and equally remarkable surprises.

From Logan’s emotionally charged battles with Belle, the family workhorse, to Heather’s daily trials with a wood-fired cooking stove and a constant siege of garden pests and cantankerous animals, the Wards were soon overwhelmed by their new life. At the same time as Logan and Heather struggled with their increasingly fragile relationship, as their son relished simple joys, the couple discovered something else: within their self-imposed time warp, they had found a community, a sense of belonging, and an appreciation both for what we’ve lost–and what we’ve gained–across a century of change.

There are photos of their adventure on their website… I'll drop them in below (hopefully they won't mind?)… 

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I cannot put the book down.  I lived in New York for a short stint… it was during that time that I realized I was a country girl.  The city was fast and bustling, but lonely and empty.  I think I could give it all up and live off the land for a year.  I think in this gloomy economy we all long for something more simplified.  I don't think it would be easy to give it all up, but I do think I could do it.  Don't get me wrong – I'd miss a warm bath and my coffee pot that has a timer. 

Could you give it all up for a simpler life and time? 

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Another book that I failed to mention that I finished: Trail of Crumbs… it deserves recognition too.  Obviously I haven't finished Ward's yet, but when I do I'll give another review.  Kim Sunee's writing is some of the most beautiful I have read.  And each chapter ends with amazing recipes.  The imagery throughout the book makes you feel like you are right there with her on her adventures and search for love.  

Here's a brief description:

At a South Korean marketplace, three-year-old Kim Sunee's mother deposits her on a bench with a fistful of food and a promise to return. Three days later, a policeman takes the little girl and what is now a fistful of crumbs to a police station, where she learns that her mother isn't coming back. From here, her extraordinary life journey begins. Adopted by a young New Orleans couple, Kim spends her youth as one of only two Asian children in her entire school and church. At the age of 21, she becomes involved with a famous French businessman, and suddenly finds herself living in France, mistress over his houses and stepmother to his eight-year-old daughter. But despite this glamorous lifestyle, Kim feels like an outsider, and it is in food and cooking that she finds solace and a sense of place.

Kim has a blog that is great too… check it out HERE.

I highly recommend both of these books… what are you reading?  Any recommendations for me? 

Comments

  1. Thanks for the recommendations, I loved the book Trail of Crumbs so much and found myself using it for recipe inspiration long after I finished reading (love the couscous salad)! I recently finished the Time Travelers Wife which is great for a quick read and the next book on my list is A Lady, First by Letitia Baldridge, it is the story of her life as the social secretary under Jackie Kennedy.

  2. We are heading to your area in just 2 weeks, and I have been looking for some good reads to bring with me. I think I might have to pick these two up! Thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately, I have nothing to give you in exchange. My reading time has been limited lately. I did start Amsterdam (by Ian McEwan), but I didn’t get far enough into it to recommend it.

  3. A simpler life does sound heavenly a lot of the time, but I don’t think I could give up hot showers…and a great restaurant. Thanks for the tip on the book, though. I’ll be really interested in reading it.

  4. E- what a great post! A few months ago I read a good book with a similar theme- Little Heathens- Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish. Good old stories and recipes and helpful household tricks. You would like it- I recommend it! I am so glad that you spent some time in NYC though- we had a good time!

  5. the one i am recommending to everyone these days is SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME. by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It will change your life. And, I just got See You In A Hundred Years for the Father In Law’s Birthday

  6. Sister,
    Hello, it’s me, your sister. Would you like to buy some land with me {you can bring Chance and I’ll bring my children & husband} and we can roll back our calendars say 50 years? They had hot water and coffee back then… and central AC… but no cell phones, laptops, facebook, or blogs. We’d probably have withdrawls. But this is my cordial invitation. Let me know if you’re game. I know where we can find some land, I know someone who knows AutoCad {wink}, a great Civil Engineer {wink}, a man who has mad skills at managing the land {wink}, and I could make us clothes, aprons, and dish towels. The best part is the Dollar General is only a few miles away if we need a Diet Coke. I love you!

  7. I’ve often wanted to live a simpler life…. I love modern conveniences, but some days I think life would be so much better with no internet (and look at me here online, of course), tv, cell phones (well maybe for emergencies ;))…my days would be so much more productive and I think so much better. no distractions from spending time with my daughter and husband! I’ll have to read this book! thanks for the recommendation…. one of my favorite books is The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls – not sure if it’s everyone’s type of book, but I love it!

  8. read Trail of Crumbs recently, very well-written and romantic. it makes me feel like I can’t cook, haha.
    and I love Logan Ward’s writing, but haven’t picked up this book yet. definitely love the concept and have considered it on occassion — especially during busy weeks! not so sure I could give up the internet, but would definitely love a simpler life!

  9. Erika-
    My husband and I discuss this topic at least once a week. I’m ready for a different pace of life and a new challenge but Scott is still unsure. Maybe someday we’ll both be on the same page! :)
    Martha B.

  10. this post made me freak. why do i feel like i am about to embark on the complete opposite of a simple life? that sort of scares me! I hope we can get out to my godparent’s farm once more in the next few weeks — I need my fix on freshly laid eggs!

  11. Wow, I requested both of those from the library before I even hopped over here to comment. Thank you for the recs!
    I am currently loving Come Back: a mother and daughter’s journey through hell and back by Claire & Mia Fontaine. It is an incredibly interesting account from both mother and daughter on abuse, addiction, and their bond.

  12. Ahh, the simple life. I could TOTALLY do it. I posted on this recently:
    http://steelmagnoliainteriors.blogspot.com/2009/01/in-my-dreams.html
    We just need a compound of farmhouses! :)
    For the past year, I have completely been thinking differently and begging my husband to move to some land with the kids and dog. A quiet life with my family and my faith…what more could anyone ask for? When I think of eternity and it makes this stint seem so short…make it count!
    xx
    Kara

  13. Trail of Crumbs had an awesome Summer Couscous recipe written up in Cottage Living (awwh) last summer that I make all the time and everyone loves-with oranges, mint, red onions, golden raisins…try it out this spring/summer, guarantee it will become one your family favorites!
    I am reading (very slowly I might add!) The Glass Castle.
    ~Dina from Atlanta

  14. I have requested these from the library and can’t wait to get them. I just finished The Last Lecture, a truly inspiring story. I’m not working on American Wife.

  15. I just finished Trail of Crumbs and thought it was very good. I am not yet finished with, but would highly recommend “Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society”, by M.A.Shaffer. It is wonderful.

  16. Just finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Very good. Takes place on one of the Channel Islands right after the end of WWII. Fast, easy read.
    Thanks for the book recs.

  17. Thanks for the book recs! I’d like to read See You in a Hundred Years for its perspective; however, I think the more difficult challenge is “unplugging in place.” For those of us who cannot pick up and leave, how do we simplify while remaining connected to our present community? Are we ready to leave Facebook, limit computer time, turn off the TV, decline invitations, say no to school volunteering, etc? This is my challenge.
    To dig a little deeper into the farming subject, I’m reading The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan. It reminds me that living the simple life is rarely simple. And to really dig deep, I’m liking Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations by David Montgomery. Among the many challenges we face now, this book convinces that our topsoil preservation is among the greatest.
    -Amy in Atlanta

  18. We have always said if this world gets too bad for our children then we would move off somewhere. My husband say’s Ecuador, but I think he just pulled that out of a hat, ha!

  19. Oh great post. I love learning about new books. I’m going to be running to the library tomorrow and see if they have them.
    Thanks!

  20. Before you chuck it all, speak to my Dad. He can tell ya some tales.
    I think I would like it for a few days but then I would need some city for the energy of it all.
    Great post and food for thought as well as books to read.

  21. I really wanted to love Trail of Crumbs and parts of it were great (the descriptions of French life, for one. Loved that), but I found the author to be incredibly annoying. I just couldn’t be sympathetic to her and that surprised me.

  22. If you like “See you in a Hundred Years”, you should try “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. It is not like her other books, but talks about how she and her family abandoned New Mexico and moved to a farm in W. Virginia. For 1 year they only ate seasonal foods (no strawberries in winter, for example) and only off the food produced by her farm. Really interesting….

  23. Don’t think I could do the simple life. Although at times the thought is nice. Thanks to your recommendation we just picked Trial of Crumbs as a first Book Club pick. Thanks!

  24. Both these books look fantastic!

  25. erika,
    thanks to you, several friends who gather weekly to knit, for a mere hour or so, will now be starting a book/social event about every 6 weeks and we all voted to “go out” – and “Trail of Crumbs” is our first book! we agreed, the Simple Life would be wishful thinking.
    pve

  26. I am always looking for a great new book! Thanks for the recommendations. I think Trail of Crumbs may make it for my next Book Group pick as well! Great blog she has too!

  27. This book sounds fantastic!!! I also read about Trail of Crumbs, glad to hear you like it. I hear we are getting new neighbors(Carter’s) sometime!! Yeah!! Maybe we can make Bay Magnolia a simpler life. The guys can fish and hunt. We can all have gardens and share. Not too far fetched!

  28. Erika – thank you for the recommendations. Only on page 60 of Trail of Crumbs and am already entranced. It IS beautiful writing and what a story! Happy Friday!

  29. Hi I just dropped in to say hello. I’m reading The Host by Stephanie Meyers. It’s a really good book, and long. About 600 fast flipping pages. Hardly a Sci-Fi type but more of a story of two strong willed women who grow to live & love each other despite pressures from the then known world. Very good book.
    http://www.amazon.com/Host-Novel-Stephenie-Meyer/dp/0316068047

  30. Wish you luck, I’ll pop back to read your updates, love the stove cooker. LOTS OF RESPECT

  31. i want to read that!
    i could go for simpler…but i think my life pretty simple. i wouldn’t want a horse drawn carriage ONLY. and i don’t think i would give up my computer if i didn’t have to.
    but the country….yes!
    i could be out all alone with a garden and goats. :)

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