Monday, February 05, 2007

Recommended Reading

Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology
Eric Brende

Eric Brende conceives a real-life experiment: to see if, in fact, all our cell phones, wide-screen TVs, and SUVs have made life easier and better --- or whether life would be preferable without them. By turns, the query narrows down to a single question: What is the least we need to achieve the most? With this in mind, the Brendes ditch their car, electric stove, refrigerator, running water, and everything else motorized or "hooked to the grid" and begin an eighteen-month trial run --- one that dramatically changes the way they live, and proves entertaining and surprising to readers.

By turns poetic, philosophical, and comedic, Better Off is a thoughtful and engaging read. Eric Brende carefully examines touchy issues. He asks insightful questions as he wrestles with our society's over dependence on machines and technology. Brende candidly shares his family's journey as they live among the "Minimites", a conservative community even the Amish might consider primitive in their adoption of technology.

My husband and I read this book together. Though we harbour no aspirations to return to a simpler life devoid of technology, Better Off provided meat for several deep discussions. Eric Brende is gifted at weaving historical and philosophical context within his accounts of daily life in the Minimite community.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in exploring the role of technology in society and the dynamics of community. Turn of the TV, curl up with a cozy blanket, and dive into simpler world through the pages of Better Off.

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