Item description for The Plain Reader by Scott Savage & Bill McKibben...
Overview Written by Quakers, Amish, Luddites, and others who have eschewed modern technology and mass society, a collection of thought-provoking essays from Plain magazine treats such topics as home schooling, midwifery, and community gardens. Original.
Publishers Description "If information highways are the wave of the future then I will build information country roads on which the traveller can reach the truth faster by going slower. . . ."
On these same country roads, far from the intrusions of modern technology, the Amish, Quakers, and other "plain folk" live their unencumbered lives, close to the land, in peaceful, smoothly-run communities. The thought-provoking, often challenging essays in The Plain Reader are written by men and women who rarely speak outside the borders of their local townships, and provide us with unique perspectives on life stripped down to necessity. Originally published in Plain Magazine, these pieces are sure to inspire reflection.
Reading about a garden cooperative in Connecticut, the raising of a home with only plaster and straw in hand, a fascinating trip to New York City through Amish eyes, compels each of us wonder: Can I too survive without television or that high-tech appliance cluttering my kitchen counter? Am I just a cog in the wheel of the global economy? Is isolation from one another and from the earth the simple destiny of humankind? Each rich, personal essay in this provocative collection offers solace, wisdom, joy, and quiet space for contemplation.
Citations And Professional Reviews The Plain Reader by Scott Savage & Bill McKibben has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Library Journal - 07/01/1998 page 96
Booklist - 06/15/1998 page 1678
Publishers Weekly - 06/29/1998 page 46
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More About Scott Savage & Bill McKibben
Savage is a member of the Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends.
Scott Savage currently resides in Barnesville, in the state of Ohio.
Reviews - What do customers think about Plain Reader?
The meek are not stupid. Oct 17, 2006
Measure twice, cut once. This proverb is a sample of the master carpenter's wisdom, which I would not disregard. But there is perhaps even a better wisdom for such tasks.
I knew an uneducated man, formal education ended in the sixth grade, a good part of his youth behind a mule, and in his young manhood giving service under General McArthur in Pacific island warfare. I don't think he weighed 130 pounds dry at age 65. But he taught me an immense amount as a master carpenter in his late years, overlooking my efforts while working in his home shop, helping me directly to improve my own home and its furniture.
What Virgil taught me was, cut twice, first on scrap then on final. He kept a bucket of scrap pieces of wood ready to run through the table saw, jointer, or router, before running through the final production piece in the work.
There are delicate refinements which only the observant and humble souls initially acquire. When they share these with us, we are immensely blessed.
Ten stars and Priceless wisdom Feb 25, 2003
This is one of those days when I am feeling terribly blessed because I was able to buy a copy of The Plain Reader Essays on Making a Simple Life - Edited by Scott Savage. This is one of those books if you can find a copy I recommend you buy it. It is out of print, so I think the only places you can find a copy are via used books or small new booksellers who may have a copy stuck away somewhere.
So what makes this book a gem? Well, for one thing it is a series of articles on a variety of topics, written by a lot of simple living folks on subjects that those seeking or living a simple life will really appreciate. One might even say its a great book to have next to your bedside so you can read something short, and encouraging before going to sleep.
A Mix Mar 12, 2002
The Plain Reader is a collection of articles that once appeared in the magazine "Plain". Its authors are comprised of individuals with varying philosophies on the virtues of a simple life. Some articles are written by Quakers, Amish and Brethren. There are also articles by homesteaders, authors of several books, and others.
Since the authors come from so many different backgrounds, the articles aren't always compatible. For example, several of the articles are extremely anti-technology, anti-electricity, anti-competition, anti-public school education, etc., whereas others espouse the use of some of these things in moderation.
To me, extremism in any direction is the antithesis of simplicity, which, after all, is what this book is supposed to be about. Still, the book is correctly subtitled "Essays on Making a Simple Life" - it is essays by different people, with different backgrounds and different beliefs about what constitutes a simple life. It is an educational read, not only about simplicity, but also about how certain groups view the rest of the world.
Wonderful writing and thought provoking Sep 12, 2001
A wonderful view of the world without all the gadgets we think are necessary. A great way to live and belong in the world. As a Christian I think we could do without alot of the junk the world thinks we need. Thanks for a great book.
A gentle challenge Jul 22, 2001
This selection of essays should be on the bedside table -- and read -- by everyone who claims to want to simplify their life. The truth is, many of us (Baby Boomers, Yuppies, BoBos et al) would like to live a simple life, provided we could still have all the amenities we've grown accustomed to -- cars (but nothing flashy), television (but not cable, of course), movies (art on film), designer clothes (but simple ones), gourmet food (we'll grow the herbs ourselves), computers/Internet access (well, it's just a modern typewriter/telephone and what a research tool!)
Savage and his friends claim that the techno life most of us lead is actually simpler than the lives they lead. In the techno life, we can do away with too much interaction with others. We separate ourselves with complications. We can live in virtual reality, paring down the complications (human beings) into abstracts. We can have friends around the world, although we might not know our neighbors names. We can amuse ourselves, filling our time with fantastic games, entertaining TV, music from around the world. What's wrong with that? It may be that life is so short, and we are spreading ourselves so thin, with all the possibilities at our finger tips, we may be missing real life completely.
They claim the simple life is actually the more complicated life, with all the mess and difficulties of living in a small community, having to rely on neighbors (who we might not even like) for help, raising our own foods, finding ways to entertain ourselves and our families that might involve planting, sewing, talking, writing, singing, and being in the moment (without the new agey spin to it).
Without lecturing, this collection of articles from The Plain Reader newspaper (subscribers are limited to 5,000 in order to keep it small and hand-made) motivates, illuminates and educates us.
Although the authors are generally Luddites, Quakers, Mennonites and other plain living folks, living sans TV, Nintendo, radio, daily newspapers, ownership of automobiles, etc., the articles are not judgmental of those of us still living in the consumer world. And let's be honest -- as much as we claim we want the simple life, here we are, you and I, writing and reading reviews, and buying books over the Internet! We're mentioned in the book, sympathetically.
In an interview with Jerry Mander, the Plain editor says, "..but I have never had anyone say to me, 'No, no get away from me. These issues aren't important to me. I like being a machine.' On the contrary, in every case where I've spoken heart-to-heart about my concerns, they've turned around and said, 'You know, I, too, have a real sense of unease about what I'm doing. I think I do watch too much television. I do feel controlled by it,' etc.
Now if I were to wag my finger at them, or organize activities to "wake them up," appealing to their minds, they would simply hold more tightly to their stake in the dominant culture. When I tell them my fears and failings, I've not had a single person fail to respond. And so I do believe this is how we're going to reach people. Our magazine reaches people by dissolving their fear, by encouraging others with what we're doing."
And so this book encourages us, with examples of what the plain folk, some once Bobos like thee and me, are doing. It almost pains me to read it, for I fall far short of the pure and simple thoughts in here. And yet there's hope -- I may not give up everything, but I can question, and make changes in how I live my life.
Mary Ann Laiser writes of The Media-Free Family; Bill Duesing has thoughts on "Leaving Money Behind; and Art Gish speaks of 'Food We Can Live With."
Even if you're not ready to leave it all behind, this is a wonderful book to read. So thought provoking, it may inspire you to question some of what you're doing, what you're allowing your children to do (I'm speaking to myself, here!) and how even small changes can be made. We bought one copy, but now we need more to pass along!
Can be read bit by bit, or at one sitting. Use a marker, or bookmarks. The woodcut illustrations by Mary Azarian are simple, but beautiful (better even than the cover.)