Book Review-How To Live Well Without Owning A Car
I have been hearing all about how How to Live Well Without Owning a Car is the foremost manual on how to live car-free no matter where you live. I am here to tell you that it is true. This book rocks.
It starts by laying out exactly how much car ownership is costing you, and our society as a whole. I found that angle, as opposed to the “Save the Earth” approach, to be oddly refreshing. Let’s be honest, most people care a hell of a lot more about their bank account than their carbon footprint. I sold my car, so I was already rid of that cost, but was still stunned by how much a car is truly costing me. A chapter on how to sell your car also takes the fear out of that, which I can tell you is scary.
The book then went on to list all the reasons cars are bad (pollution, road rage, global warming, unwalkability of cities, etc) in a fair and un-tedious way. Again, refreshing and un-preachy. The next few chapters were the most helpful: how to get to work without a car. Balish covered all the bases, talking about biking, transit, carpooling, walking, motorcycling…even in line skating! The advice was simple and well thought out. Real like examples peppered the pages, telling of suburbanites and city dwellers who went car free for a multitude of reasons and have found success.
Balish also realizes that not everyone can do such a dramatic thing, so suggests car-lite, an idea that I think most American’s would be more likely to get behind (until they realize how awesome it is and give up their cars completely!). A one week trial period and a weekend dry run are also suggested, making the whole thing less dauting.
Wondering how to get groceries, meds, shoes and diapers without a car? All covered in this book that I am now calling my “non-drivers manual”. Tips on arriving fresh and maintaining good hygeine are also a topic of discussion and I found the ideas to be right on track. Dating without a car scare you? Check out chapter 22.
This book is a must read for anyone who is car free, thinking of going car free, has a daughter who has recently gone car free (Mom-I am looking at you!), or thinks anyone who has done it is a freak. The stories are genuine and infectious, the ideas are helpful and realistic and the writing is engaging. I have a feeling I will be referring to this book often in the days to come and loaning it out to friends. (Perhaps we need a copy at Bici Coop?). A quick and helpful read to be sure.
Thanks Chris Balish, you have taken the mystique and fear out of living a car free life in a car centric culture.