Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What the Amish Can Teach Us About the Simple Life by Georgia Varozza

This book had a lot of promise. I thought it was going to tell us about the principals that the Amish practice, and how that translate into our lives. After all, in the opening chapters, I came across this passage:

"The truth is there is another way. We can slow down - "come home" in the fineset sense of the word home. We can consciously delineate between our needs and our wants, and then make informed and prayerful decisions between our needs and our wants, and then make informed and prayerful decisions about what we will allow into our lives. We can concentrate on our families, friendships and faith communities instead of racing through life being too busy to deepen our most precious relationships."

Unfortunately, most of the book details how we can achieve an Amish-like lifestyle without actually being Amish. And for a good bit of the book (Housekeeping Tips and Waste Not, Want Not), the tips in it reminded me a lot of Chick Living: Frugal and Fabulous. Only that book was a bit more applicable to me because I'm the target demographic.

There are eight chapters. Out of it, I thought one was definitely helpful and two maybe were. I've already mentioned two in the paragraph so that leaves three. Two of the three (Backyard Gardening and Raising Barnyard Livestock) had very little application to me. I highly doubt I can keep another living thing alive for one, and I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to keep a chicken/plant in the dorm. Besides, what principles do these suggest? Self-sufficiency? Hard work? Must I raise my own food to achieve that?

The third chapter, Keeping Technology Where You Want It was actually pretty interesting. Of course, again it's inapplicable, because if I start to turn off my phone, my family will panic and think something happened to me in an earthquake.

The "somewhat helpful" chapters were Family First and Building Community. Family First talks about strengthening family bonds, although it focuses on people who have already given birth. And live in the same country. And are pretty young. Some of the activities suggested feel like they'll appeal only to younger kids, and to older kids if this is what they've been doing their whole lives. Building Community was interesting but again, the tips were generic.

 "Coming Home" was definitely my favourite chapter. It made a case for a simple lifestyle, and it should have been the first chapter.

What I did like about this book was how it explained the Amish practices, from which I probably took more inspiration than the author's tips. I felt as though the book was targeted towards an American mother, while I'm a single teen studying overseas. A bit of a disconnect.

It's definitely a book to keep in mind though, if you have a family and you don't want them to get caught up in the whole technology race. And if you want to raise animals (the raising chickens/rabbits/goats chapter was interesting. Although I don't own a pet).

Somehow, I expected something different. I found that I knew most of this stuff, from reading those "live on a budget" and "be organised" type of books that people started passing to me when they found out I was going to be living overseas.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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