You always remember your first. Blog crush that is. My first was probably No Impact Man. I remember reading his blog, and thinking that was incredible to read about someone so committed to the environment. As I took up blogging, I also took up more blog reading. After No Impact Man came Crunchy Chicken. And soon thereafter came Green As a Thistle, a blog by Vanessa Farquharson about her challengicious adventures in living greenly.
Those were heady days ... can it be almost two years ago? I was in my blog honeymoon phase where I read blogs day in and day out, almost amazed at this brand new eco-world that had opened up in front of me. In other ways, the life I had carefully constructed was slowly falling apart. Striking writers picketed outside my office building. The boy in my life was wandering around the Asian subcontinent. I had just become an instant environmentalist due to a bit on the Colbert Report about cashmere goats.
It is possible, in retrospect, that I was cracking up.
These blogs were my lifeline at the time. As I attempted to replot my journey, I consistently turned, every day to the bloggy universe for inspiration. And few blogs resonated more than Vanessa's.
Vanessa, I felt, was like me. And not just because we were the same age. Or because we both lived alone. Or that neither of us had kids in an eco-universe filled with green moms. It was more than that. We both had the same sense of self-deprecating humor. The same, "Oh my God, am I really turning into that dirty hippie?!" flashes of self-awareness. Yes, Vanessa, was a lot like me. Except with better hair.
I adored her blog, shamefully stealing her often ingenious green ideas (see her makeshift bidet.) But most of all, I loved the sense of humor she brought to living greenly. You got the sense, reading her blog, that Vanessa knew she was an eco-nut and revelled in her nuttiness. When her challenge ended, and her daily posting stopped, I mourned along with many of her blog fans.
So when Vanessa published a book, I knew it was a must-read. Of course, it had to wait until after I finished exams, but I finally got around to reading the book last week. Before I started, I briefly wondered whether I'd find the book boring. After all, I've read the entire contents of Vanessa's blog. Would it simply be a rehashing of the blog? A greatest hits collection of posts?
I am happy to report, that in fact, Sleeping Naked is Green is a fun, enjoyable read with very little overlap between book and blog. The blog is a collection of Vanessa's 366 eco-changes. It's more technical and the better read if you need an eco-tip. The book, by contrast, is about Vanessa's personal journey as she embarks on her eco-year. In many ways, Sleeping Naked is Green can be seen as Vanessa's love letter to the environment. It's the story of the lengths a girl with an addiction to Veuve Clicquot is willing to go to in the name of Mother Earth.
Much of Vanessa's journey will be familiar to any eco-blogger. The competitive desire to be the "greenest of them all." The guilt complex associated with screwing up and buying a bottle of water. The "OMFG, my diva cup is stuck and I'm going to have to go to the E.R" freak out. The admonishments from your mom that you're never going to get married if you continue to look like a dirty hippie. As well as the gradual realization that you are having a positive impact on your friends and family. That in your own small way, you are playing your part.
Here's what I recommend. First, if you haven't already, read Vanessa's blog. The whole challenge-filled year from start to finish. Take notes, steal eco-tips, and enjoy. Then, read the book and get the scoop on the personal journey behind the challengicious year. But do it in this order. It's much better that way. Reading the blog and then the book is akin to listening to an album and then watching the VH1 special "Behind the Music." You don't fully appreciate the musician's personal struggles if you don't know the album. Luckily, Vanessa's journey is a lot more pleasant than that of Amy Winehouse's.
As I finished the book, I couldn't help but reflect upon how both of our eco-journeys changed our lives. I think both Vanessa and I were at crossroads in our lives when we began our environmental challenges. Two years later, I think we would both agree that our lives have substantially changed for the better. By engaging in some crazy shenanigans to save the planet, we somehow wound up saving ourselves.
6 months ago
I want to read her book but my library doesn't have it. Sheesh, every single time I see a new green book mentioned, I check my library. And every. single. time, they do not have it. Grrr!
Guess I'll settle for rereading her blog. :)
so interesting - No Impact Man, Crunchy Chicken, and Green as a Thistle were my first ecoblog reads too! i bet the same is true for a lot of ppl out there. I'm looking forward to reading vanessa's book as soon as i can get it.
your comment on how you think your eco-journeys have improved your lives was thought provoking for me...because i like you, i also got into being eco-concious and blogging about it 2 years ago, but i can't agree that my life feels more grounded or saved. maybe i'm not trying hard enough to be true to my beliefs about saving the planet. or maybe it's just due to other factors in my life. i'm curious to know if other eco/bloggers feel like their lives have improved.
Great review! I wondered how the book was. Wanna pop over to the Blogging Bookworm to make sure your review is included?? We've not had anyone review Vanessa's book yet.
I'll be reviewing her book this week as well. For me, it made for great reminiscing because we all started blogging at the same time and I read her blog every day as well.
Ahhh, the good ole days. Sniff.
Vanessa does have awesome hair! I love it so much. I read her blog religiously too except I almost never commented because I was shy about commenting!
Her book is on my to-read list. I may actually (gasp!) buy it and hope that she gets some pennies.
Chile, good idea. ;)
Color me Green, I think maybe it has to do with the place I was in my life. I mean, I won't speak for Vanessa, but I think my life has changed substantially because of my foray into environmentalism. I suppose it's possible that I would have ended up here in London in my masters program if it hadn't been for all of this, but it would have been very different....
GB, yes, I'll do that.
Deanna, I know, it's weird right? It reminded me of the good old days when I used to spend all my free time on blogs and the whole blog thing was shiny and new. Not that it isn't great now too, but you know ... it's different.
I talked to Vanessa about doing a book club with her book, but I figured it would mostly consist of "isn't that cool" or "didn't you think that was funny" comments from me.
But, if there's enough interest I could certainly try an abbreviated book club with less posts. And, well, hopefully actually finish it this time around.
Beany, right? She totally does, doesn't she? Vanessa, if you are reading the comments, what are you using these days? You gave up the vinegar rinse because it made your hair smell like fish and chips ... are you now using coconut oil?
*Wiping tear* Thanks for such an amazing review, Ruchi! Weird to think that NIM, Crunchy and I were doing the green blogging thing so early in the game... I always felt like I was late to the table with that (still refuse to Twitter, btw).
Chile -- can you ask your library if they'll order it? Or tell me what one you go to and I'll harass Houghton Mifflin and make sure at least one copy gets over there, STAT!
Crunchy, I'm all for an abbreviated book club, or even just a wee post on what you thought of it...
Oh, and also, this is making me laugh to no end hearing that people actually think my hair looks nice! In truth, I have one side that's curly and one side that's straight and it's pretty frizzy. Basically I just wash it, dry it, stick it in a ponytail and occasionally take it out of the ponytail to let it breath. I'm off the No 'Poo thing, and also off the vinegar rinse business because I feel like refilling my bottles with organic/natural products is eco-friendly enough and the other stuff from my pantry just wasn't cutting it. Brand-wise, I'm pretty hooked on Giovanni (the 50-50 shampoo and the Smooth as Silk conditioner are AMAZING and get scores of 2 on EWG's cosmetic database, which makes me happy).
Vanessa - it's the Pima County Library system in Arizona. I'll put in a request for them to buy it, but if you want to work your end, too, that'd be great.
Ruchi - your book review has now been added to the Blogging Bookworm's list (along with Vanessa's book, of course).
I look forward to reading your book, but I felt such a kinship with your comment about being amazed at the brand new eco-world of blogging. I too was thrilled, humbled, awestruck by the green blog world - of which I had no knowledge when I started blogging. It was so amazing to find people pretty much like me on the eco-journey . . .
Vanessa is seriously self-deprecating even about being self-deprecating. She does have nice hair and is generally beautiful all over.
I love your review of the book! And it is so accurate and so well deserved. I loved reading the book- having read her blog religiously, and been at the other end of the phone during many an anxiety attack over it and the many times she wanted to throw in the towel (unbleached cotton of course).
Though she is far too humble to ever boast, I love the impact she had and all the changes she has inspired- from little to big.
My family (see Chapter 10) affectionately refer to her as The Thistle. It has stuck.
Thank you for writing such a thoughtful and wonderful review.
What a great review. I'll put this on my to-read list, with the blog!
Thanks for the review, Ruchi. I've been meaning to read it, because I started in a very similar way - your first few paragraphs could describe me 2 years ago as well! So strange - I wonder what it was that made us all freak out and go super eco....
I got Vanessa to try the no poo thing... for a couple of weeks. It seems the beauties with beautiful hair aren't cut out for going that one step further into potential hippiedom (Deanna didn't like it either). : ) We all do have our limits. Mine is in the cloth wipe dept I suppose. They have one up on me there!
Anyway, it is awesome to think about how we have all grown from who we were and what we were willing to do 2 years ago!
Whoops - I wrote that before I read the comments (der). Didn't mean to talk about you two as if you weren't in the room, so to speak! ; )
I'll never read much of her blog at all (I mostly read science blogs), and I still literally read the book in one sitting. I loved it to pieces.
I think that your words are very pleasant for Vanessa when she reads them. And you managed to convince me to find and read this book.
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