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Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture

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Mother Nature has shown her hand. Faced with climate change, dwindling resources, and species extinctions, most Americans understand the fundamental steps necessary to solve our global crises-drive less, consume less, increase self-reliance, buy locally, eat locally, rebuild our local communities. In essence, the great work we face requires rekindling the home fires. Radica Mother Nature has shown her hand. Faced with climate change, dwindling resources, and species extinctions, most Americans understand the fundamental steps necessary to solve our global crises-drive less, consume less, increase self-reliance, buy locally, eat locally, rebuild our local communities. In essence, the great work we face requires rekindling the home fires. Radical Homemakers is about men and women across the U.S. who focus on home and hearth as a political and ecological act, and who have centered their lives around family and community for personal fulfillment and cultural change. It explores what domesticity looks like in an era that has benefited from feminism, where domination and oppression are cast aside and where the choice to stay home is no longer equated with mind-numbing drudgery, economic insecurity, or relentless servitude. Radical Homemakers nationwide speak about empowerment, transformation, happiness, and casting aside the pressures of a consumer culture to live in a world where money loses its power to relationships, independent thought, and creativity. If you ever considered quitting a job to plant tomatoes, read to a child, pursue creative work, can green beans and heal the planet, this is your book.


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Mother Nature has shown her hand. Faced with climate change, dwindling resources, and species extinctions, most Americans understand the fundamental steps necessary to solve our global crises-drive less, consume less, increase self-reliance, buy locally, eat locally, rebuild our local communities. In essence, the great work we face requires rekindling the home fires. Radica Mother Nature has shown her hand. Faced with climate change, dwindling resources, and species extinctions, most Americans understand the fundamental steps necessary to solve our global crises-drive less, consume less, increase self-reliance, buy locally, eat locally, rebuild our local communities. In essence, the great work we face requires rekindling the home fires. Radical Homemakers is about men and women across the U.S. who focus on home and hearth as a political and ecological act, and who have centered their lives around family and community for personal fulfillment and cultural change. It explores what domesticity looks like in an era that has benefited from feminism, where domination and oppression are cast aside and where the choice to stay home is no longer equated with mind-numbing drudgery, economic insecurity, or relentless servitude. Radical Homemakers nationwide speak about empowerment, transformation, happiness, and casting aside the pressures of a consumer culture to live in a world where money loses its power to relationships, independent thought, and creativity. If you ever considered quitting a job to plant tomatoes, read to a child, pursue creative work, can green beans and heal the planet, this is your book.

30 review for Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    I really expected to like this book, but it had so many glaring flaws I just couldn't. For one thing, it needs a different title. As others have already pointed out, it should be called Radical Homesteading because that is what the book is really about (although the "radical" is extraneous since it's pretty much exactly what homesteaders do, not just the "radical" ones). If your parents don't already have a farm you can live on and/or you have no interest in rural life, there's nothing here for I really expected to like this book, but it had so many glaring flaws I just couldn't. For one thing, it needs a different title. As others have already pointed out, it should be called Radical Homesteading because that is what the book is really about (although the "radical" is extraneous since it's pretty much exactly what homesteaders do, not just the "radical" ones). If your parents don't already have a farm you can live on and/or you have no interest in rural life, there's nothing here for you. Even if you buy into what she is saying and want this life for yourself and your family, the book offers no practical suggestions for achieving it--again, unless you come from a family who will give you land, or is willing to pay your bills while you remove yourself from the "extractive economy". The book is divided into two parts. Part one is entitled "Why" and part two is entitled "How", but Hayes never actually delivers on the how. She, and most of the people she interviewed either live on land provided to them by their parents from a family farm or are having some portion of their bills paid by their families (student loans, health insurance, etc.). She makes some good points here and there--in fact I'd say overall I agree with of her core ideas-- but the historical interpretation is questionable at best, the whole thing is poorly researched and written, and in the end it really never offers any practical advice. The good points she does make have all been made before--by far better writers. Additionally, it comes off as preachy and privileged with it's all-or-nothing stance. Hayes seems completely blind to her own privilege. The vast majority of the people in the book, Hayes included, have college degrees and come from solidly middle class backgrounds. There is a lot of talk about how unimportant income is to them, yet most of the people in the book have household incomes which put them in the third income quintile in the US (based on the figures from 2005) and some are in the fourth quintile or higher. (Interestingly, the income from the family in which one parent is a medical doctor is not given.) Nearly all are well above the poverty line. There is a complete lack of recognition for the fact it is much easier to be unconcerned about income when your income is large enough to sustain yourself and your family. Hayes is correct our culture is overrun by consumerism and far too many people fail to understand the real cost of what they own (or even want to own). However, she misses the opportunity to educated people about making better, more life-sustaining choices by presenting the options as a strict either/or. Although she backpedals a bit at the very end of the book, her philosophy is largely presented as an all-or-nothing proposition. If you aren't growing all your own food on your family farm while homeschooling your children, you and your spouse must be working a 60+ hour a week at jobs you hate so together you can earn the six figure income it requires to afford a McMansion in the suburbs and two brand new cars while sticking your kids in daycare and eating all of your meals out of take-out bags in front of the tv. She blatantly ignores the fact, statistically speaking, very few people are actually living that life. I also found it interesting Hayes encouraged readers to turn their backs on the "extractive economy" and live off the land, but she was fine with people taking money from family members who worked at jobs which were part of the same system they were eschewing. I was also a bit baffled by the rationalizations of the families who turned their backs on the "extractive economy" to become self-sustaining units of production, but then sought out and accepted government aid. I won't take the time to point out all of the nonsense (asthma caused by working parents, homeschooling to avoid E. coli, pre-industrial life re-envisioned as utopia, etc.), since several other reviewers have already done so. I was surprised by how much I disliked this book. When it was suggested for our book group I was really excited to read it. But unfortunately it just didn't deliver. Even if you are already a true believer, there isn't much here for you. The core ideas behind this book are important and certainly ripe for discussion in our current culture. But, they need to be supported by adequate research and practical solutions which can be implemented by those who aren't living on their family's farm.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I expected to like this book more than I did. While the author's imperious tone irritated me from the first page, I mostly agree with the principles behind so-called "radical homemaking" and aspire to do much of the stuff the people described in this book do. But there are a number of problems with this book, and unfortunately they marred the whole thing. First there's the phenomenon I refer to as "I accidentally a homestead!" I read books like this and I'm thinking alright, cool, yeah, I'd love I expected to like this book more than I did. While the author's imperious tone irritated me from the first page, I mostly agree with the principles behind so-called "radical homemaking" and aspire to do much of the stuff the people described in this book do. But there are a number of problems with this book, and unfortunately they marred the whole thing. First there's the phenomenon I refer to as "I accidentally a homestead!" I read books like this and I'm thinking alright, cool, yeah, I'd love to do this, I'd love to do that. Goats, chickens, sure, yeah, I could do that. Now. The land. How on earth did you get all that land? I mean that stuff's expensive and you don't work a regular job. So. The land? Hello? And inevitably the answer comes back, in a sort of muttered sotto voce, "oh yeah I uh well I own my house and land outright because I got a little bit of an inheritance." A little bit, eh? Or "uh well actually I live on my parents' vast land holdings." Ahhhh. I see. And because you don't make a lot of money you say you're just an average Joe. Except that the average Joe does not come from land-owning gentry. This is related to another disturbing trend in this book in particular. While working for "the man" is to be eschewed by the (typically female) radical homemaker and perhaps even her spouse, time and time again people speak of relying upon the resources of friends and family who ARE working for "the man." Like someone's parents bought her corporate health insurance (which many of the other radicals, alarmingly, are "boycotting.") A lot of people were gifted large sums or parcels of land, or receive free childcare and other perks from families. A few spoke of not needing insurance because their "network" of people is their insurance. What on earth could that mean except that "if Sally gets in an accident, we'll all have to bail her out"? Between those two problems, I started to see this whole trend as a kind of back-to-the-land trustifarianism, a 30-something way of "slumming." Finally, while much is made of the environmental and societal advantages the author purports shall come of more and more people living this lifestyle (it seems the ideal is for everyone to be a radical homesteader of some sort) and how it will combat narcissistic individualism and save the planet, I think just the opposite could sadly be true. It is not sustainable for every small family to have its own piece of land, sufficient for livestock and a sustenance garden. There is just not enough appropriate land for this to be done. Not to mention, living in the sticks means a lot of driving--I noticed none of the families were able to go completely car-free, yet cars are one of the greatest banes of the environment, and any New Yorker, San Franciscan, Seattlite, or urban Portlander can easily live a full and hearty 90 years without ever once sitting behind the wheel. Many experts say that better urban planning is the way to go, rather than everyone going "back to the land," and I would have to agree.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    In a way I hate to say it, since I agree with about 70% of the practices mentioned, but this book is deeply problematic and intellectually questionable. I expected this to fall into the how-to genre, discussing various practices people use when trying to construct a life outside US cultural norms. When it turned out to be more of a sociological study of twenty individuals (note: that's your sample size?), I was a little disconcerted, but, you know, ok. Let's read it and see how it goes. Well, it In a way I hate to say it, since I agree with about 70% of the practices mentioned, but this book is deeply problematic and intellectually questionable. I expected this to fall into the how-to genre, discussing various practices people use when trying to construct a life outside US cultural norms. When it turned out to be more of a sociological study of twenty individuals (note: that's your sample size?), I was a little disconcerted, but, you know, ok. Let's read it and see how it goes. Well, it goes poorly. Like Wile E. Coyote, the author strings along an underlying bias, constantly undermining her argument through obvious personal involvement. When, at the very end, she exhorts others to join in the radical homemaking way of life, she pushes the trigger, and the book explodes. The author has complained online about the critical response to her book, citing "the internet" as the problem. Now, ok. Certainly people are more able and likely to communicate opinions through the internet than they were even ten years ago. (We can discuss the irony of her internet-based response later.) However, I can't imagine that the intellectual community--which she does not seem to be part of, especially since the book was published on her family's independent press--would be any less harsh when putting this book up to a real peer review. Flatly, you cannot expect your conclusions to be taken seriously when your analysis has such a pervasive bias. A few points re subject matter: - A great amount of meticulous research went into this book. I do want to know what other people are doing to change their lives and their communities in the contemporary US, and this book tries to answer that question. Though you clearly have to keep a constant eye out for bias, the findings can be interesting, and there are plenty of them. - Of the book's two main sections, the first ("Why," i.e. historical background) appears less biased, and the second ("How," i.e. people's current experience) seems more so. This makes the book less valuable to me overall, as I already have a reasonable grasp on western social development, but hey! Maybe you weren't a history major. - While it's great to examine how people are using traditional practices, reordering their lives to escape consumer culture, etc., I have to draw a line at health care. I find it astoundingly irresponsible to present the concept of eschewing health insurance as a positive. Dude, we live in the US. The health care system is bad and we all know it. People go broke paying for insurance, and extra broke when they get sick. Yes, the system needs a big change, but don't chirp about homeopathy and folk remedies as viable alternatives. Just don't. It's dangerous. - The prose occasionally has a creepy religious or conversion-oriented tone. Language like this sets off alarms in my head. For instance, the author often repeats the phrase, "honor[s] the four tenets of ecological sustainability, social justice, family and community." (Just try to ignore the missing serial comma.) While eventually it becomes clear that these four points are based on the UN-spawned Earth Charter of 2000, the language is far more in line with ritual. How about this one: "Home is where the great change will begin." Where is Karl Marx when you need him? More specifically, how do you want to be convincing? Do you want to present a clear argument using evidence to convince readers of your point, or do you want to appeal to emotion, identity, and politics? Ugh. With all these problems, I can't take the book seriously. Not recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joy Lanzendorfer

    I expected to like this book because it is very much along the lines of how I think and live my life. However, this book is awful. I would go so far as to question whether Shannon Hayes should be writing books. She doesn't know how to research and she doesn't know how to write, and as such, the book is repetitive and reads like a PhD thesis. I don't know how anyone can take such a passionate subject and make it so dry and unpleasant. Radical Homemakers is riddled with errors and assumptions. I ha I expected to like this book because it is very much along the lines of how I think and live my life. However, this book is awful. I would go so far as to question whether Shannon Hayes should be writing books. She doesn't know how to research and she doesn't know how to write, and as such, the book is repetitive and reads like a PhD thesis. I don't know how anyone can take such a passionate subject and make it so dry and unpleasant. Radical Homemakers is riddled with errors and assumptions. I have never read a book with so many false statements presented as fact. Random examples: she quotes people saying that doctors don't care about patients eating nutritional diets. False. She says that most of the progress in technology leads to more work for the consumer, using the example that the mass production of cotton makes more work (rather than weaving your own fabric) because you have to wash it more often. Huh? She makes a long bizarre argument that housewives in the 1400s were somehow free because they shared the labor with their husbands. No, sorry, re-check your history of mankind, and also, where do these people live? What culture are you even talking about? Not only does she make these statements, she repeats everything, sometimes in the next sentences. We should be homemakers because it develops relationships, and also, in the next sentence, homemaking develops relationships. Oh wait, does homemaking develop relationships? I am not clear. This book gives you the impression that despite her impressive education, Hayes lives in a little bubble that is set up to constantly reinforce her world view. Which is weird for me because I agree with a lot of what she says and have a similar world view. One thing this book did do for me: it made me want to read “Your Money or Your Life.”

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anita Dalton

    Overall, I found this to be a pretty interesting look at a counter-cultural approach to living. Downshifters are nothing new, as this topic has been discussed in depth in many different books ever since the back to the land movement in the 1960s, but this updated look at this movement is definitely relevant. There are a couple of issues I don't think the author dealt with. One is that it would appear that most of those interviewed, as well as the author, live in rural New England. I think the bo Overall, I found this to be a pretty interesting look at a counter-cultural approach to living. Downshifters are nothing new, as this topic has been discussed in depth in many different books ever since the back to the land movement in the 1960s, but this updated look at this movement is definitely relevant. There are a couple of issues I don't think the author dealt with. One is that it would appear that most of those interviewed, as well as the author, live in rural New England. I think the book would have benefited had folks from the Southwest and South in general been interviewed because there are vast difference in rents, cost of living, and public transport availability between New England and places like Texas and Oklahoma. Second, I was a bit taken aback with the author's dismissal for the need for health insurance. No doubt there are problems with the American health care system and no doubt health care insurance is prohibitive in cost for many families. The author's sense that obtaining exercise and eating very healthy food can eliminate many needs for health care makes sense on one level. Americans often live very unhealthy lives and eating better and obtaining proper exercise can eliminate some needs for medical care. Families that homeschool will also reduce the number of bugs brought into the home. I also appreciate the sort of fearlessness it takes to make such a decision. But it is troublesome to realize that the cost of being a radical home maker may mean exposing one's self to dreadful harm. Good food won't prevent genetically-linked cancers. Exercise won't make people bullet-proof, nor will it reduce the damage a human body receives if it is hit by a car. I really wish more attention had been paid to the idea that radical homemaking can leave families open to financial catastrophe or the very real possibility a family member could not afford life-saving medical care. This is a hard reality of living outside the realm of traditional paid work and it needs exploration. I would have given this book five stars had the author talked to a family whose child had cancer or kidney failure and showed how they managed or did not manage.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

    "Success, in our country, is now defined by money earned, by promotions, by continuous servitude to an employer... Our gauge of success and personal worth has become so reliant on external validation that women and men now find it difficult to believe that a life centered around the home can satisfy their needs for personal fulfillment and genuine achievement." Or, as written in 1870: "Bright women should aspire, and drudges should keep the home fires burning." Yo. "Our actual needs are so much l "Success, in our country, is now defined by money earned, by promotions, by continuous servitude to an employer... Our gauge of success and personal worth has become so reliant on external validation that women and men now find it difficult to believe that a life centered around the home can satisfy their needs for personal fulfillment and genuine achievement." Or, as written in 1870: "Bright women should aspire, and drudges should keep the home fires burning." Yo. "Our actual needs are so much larger emotionally and so much smaller materially." Yes. But for every eloquent statement like that, or for every disturbing fact about the insanity of six companies controlling 98% of world seed sales, there was also a morally righteous quote from one of the radical homemaking interviewees about their neighbors' lives of quiet misery and desperation. Everyone makes their own choices, you know? It's tough to think that most of the rest of the United States is living in a crazy way that will ultimately not lead to a satisfying, happy life, but there is a medium ground between working 60 hours with an insane commute and eating fast food every day and, say, living on the farm and bartering for dental care. I had a strong reaction to the lines of thinking espoused in this book, and at the end I was left with a lot of ambivalence. For every argument that I found interesting, there was one that was poorly thought through and that relied on generalizations. Criticisms: The author relies on too few sources. The people she interviews are predominantly white people from New England who have families that support them through donations of money and land. The author tries to argue that parents who commute to an office job directly cause their children's allergies and asthma because their commuting and office jobs take focus away from the health of their families. (p. 120) Relatedly, saying that "we buy prescription drugs when we no longer have time to take care of our health and get ample rest" (p. 61) is a gross generalization and denies the existence of actual illnesses that can't be cured with fresh air and local foods and exercise. I buy into the argument that individuals should structure their decisions about how to live by thinking about what's best for their family and community, and what contributes to social justice and the health of the planet. The more you delve into what that means, however, the more it becomes clear that it is a radical choice in this culture (hence the book title). It means trading away what we think of as our security, whether that is dual incomes, health insurance, or a hefty retirement fund. What you trade that security in for is time and attention and focus. And trust, really, the trust that your needs will be met and that you won't end up living on the streets when you're old.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Flat

    Hayes has a B.A. in creative writing and advanced degrees in sustainable agriculture, so I guess you can't be too surprised to find that she isn't that great a writer and has a weak grasp of economics. She never examines the singular reason why the nuclear family is often no longer able to subsist with just one breadwinner: namely, the government spending that leads to rising taxation and inflation. Consumerism and feminism have certainly impacted women's decisions to enter the workforce, but I Hayes has a B.A. in creative writing and advanced degrees in sustainable agriculture, so I guess you can't be too surprised to find that she isn't that great a writer and has a weak grasp of economics. She never examines the singular reason why the nuclear family is often no longer able to subsist with just one breadwinner: namely, the government spending that leads to rising taxation and inflation. Consumerism and feminism have certainly impacted women's decisions to enter the workforce, but I doubt that either trend alone has been as elemental as Hayes suggests. Also, a number of the families described in the book make far more money than I would have expected--some as much as 60K annually. This particular information isn't found in the case studies that make up most of the book, but in the appendix. I am not an environmentalist as the term is commonly used today, so I found the constant refrain of "healing the planet" annoying, not to mention the order in which she put its importance: planet first, family last, even though the book is supposed to be about homemaking. Enough grousing, though: I find Hayes more coherent than most of her detractors, who usually call for turning childcare over to someone, anyone but the children's own parents (see the responses to her essay at The Boston Review, http://bostonreview.net/BR35.4/ndf_mo...). I liked the call to become more self-sufficient generalists instead of relentless specialists. I was intrigued by the brief attention paid to conscientious boycotting of corporate health insurance, which I suppose will be rendered moot by Obama's healthcare "reform." I enjoyed the profiles of secular homeschoolers, which are hard to come by. Basically I admire Hayes' resistance to the increasing workplace domination over family and community life, which sadly all too many feminists are willing to embrace.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The beginning of this book is a case for why we need to bring back the homemaker and return to being a culture of people who create rather than consume. That part had me cheering and phoning up friends to read quotes to them. But then she got into the "hows" and . . . I loved that less. Many of the people she holds up as examples have taken themselves much farther off the grid than I could go (especially if I wanted my husband to come with me). We're talking not having health insurance, not havi The beginning of this book is a case for why we need to bring back the homemaker and return to being a culture of people who create rather than consume. That part had me cheering and phoning up friends to read quotes to them. But then she got into the "hows" and . . . I loved that less. Many of the people she holds up as examples have taken themselves much farther off the grid than I could go (especially if I wanted my husband to come with me). We're talking not having health insurance, not having cars, living on rural homesteads, homeschooling their kids, etc. This is great for them but doesn't help me as much because my own family compound is still a few years away. (I call chickens!) And don't get me started on the few who believe that relying on monthly government assistance = self-sustaining . . . But there was a lot in there to motivate and inspire, so I would recommend it to anyone who needs to be reminded that being a homemaker can be much more noble and fulfilling than simply being a full-time chauffeur & babysitter.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gail Williams

    I loved this book. It wasn't a how-to book as in how to go live off the grid with your chickens and homemade soap (although admittedly I'd love to do exactly that). It was more the stories of various people, single and married, with and without children, who are bucking against the Western culture of consumerism and individualism. The first half of the book consisted of author Shannon Hayes explaining how our culture got this way via the Industrial Revolution, and then later as advertising becam I loved this book. It wasn't a how-to book as in how to go live off the grid with your chickens and homemade soap (although admittedly I'd love to do exactly that). It was more the stories of various people, single and married, with and without children, who are bucking against the Western culture of consumerism and individualism. The first half of the book consisted of author Shannon Hayes explaining how our culture got this way via the Industrial Revolution, and then later as advertising became directed toward the housewife. In the aecond half, Hayes gives the reader snapshots of Radical Homemakers at various points along their paths, such as the reasoning behind dropping out of mainstream culture, and how they deal with family and coworkers who don't understand this lifestyle choice. It was well-researched and well-organized, but I would like to have seen some sort of appendix containing at least a preliminary list of resources (althoygh that would be easy enough to find online). Something that has really given me pause for thought when Hayes made a comment something along these lines (sorry, don't have the book with me at the moment): how can a person be truly free if one has to depend on the monetary system to getbasic needs met? Why does being independent typically mean 'financial independence'? As a huge proponent of personal and political freedom, these are quite valid questions to ponder. Thanks Ms. Hayes for presenting them in this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Someone described this book as one for "validation" rather than "inspiration," and that certainly is the case. Hayes is arguing for an alternative lifestyle choice in which homemaking skills (gardening, cooking, sewing, knitting, raising small livestock, etc) and living simply are paramount. However, she also argues strongly against anything that does not conform to her ideal. For example, Hayes frequently asserts that Radical Homemakers eschew six-figure incomes, arguing that people who earn mo Someone described this book as one for "validation" rather than "inspiration," and that certainly is the case. Hayes is arguing for an alternative lifestyle choice in which homemaking skills (gardening, cooking, sewing, knitting, raising small livestock, etc) and living simply are paramount. However, she also argues strongly against anything that does not conform to her ideal. For example, Hayes frequently asserts that Radical Homemakers eschew six-figure incomes, arguing that people who earn more spend more. While it is often true that people with large incomes spend more money, she does not acknowledge that it is possible to be in a higher income bracket and still pursue a more sustainable lifestyle through gardening, home cooking, and frugality. It is not clear if a balance between say, a part-time job and homemaking isn't radical enough, or if Hayes views the lifestyle as an all-or-nothing proposition. She also seems to exaggerate the argument, because families with six-figure incomes are not nearly as common as she seems to indicate in her book. In addition, rather than advocate for her radical homemaking ideal as a good lifestyle choice, she insists that it is the only lifestyle choice that is "good," because, as she sees it, "those who achieve their wealth and success 'independently' through the conventions of the extractive economy are ultimately reliant upon someone's labors or have exploited some other resource" (206). And yet, some of the Radical Homemakers have spouses who work a conventional full-time job or rely on money from family members who, in most cases, made that money through conventional full-time jobs. It would seem that some Radical Homemakers were "ultimately reliant upon someone's labors" too--but somehow Hayes considers that good. Apparently it's ok to exploit another resource second-hand, so long as one doesn't do it directly. Another serious shortcoming is that much of the book presents opinion as fact. Her first section presents a reasonably well-researched discussion of historical homemaking, but her second section relies heavily on quotes from informants that are in turn used to support some point she wants to make. If she wants to demonstrate how unusual and alternative she believes this lifestyle to be, she quotes people who say their neighbors or family thought they were weird for growing a large garden. (I continue to find this ironic, because nearly all my friends and family have grown large gardens, canned food, and many people in my suburban Denver neighborhood also have gardens. There's nothing unusual about it.) Another section on education goes on at length about education but presents no statistical data to back up her claims. Her evidence consists almost entirely of quotes from her informants. In addition, she frequently mistakes correlation for causation. For example, one informant comments that his brother works a lot of hours at a high-level job, but that two of his brother's children have asthma and allergies. The implication is that the family doesn't eat well, though what the family did eat is left to the imagination. Besides which, even if one member of a household works long hours, that doesn't necessarily translate into a poor diet. Even more importantly, a poor diet does not cause allergies, and a good diet doesn't necessarily prevent allergies. Likewise, being in a larger income bracket does not mean that one cannot live frugally or engage in the homemaking activities Hayes promotes. The Brain, Child review of this book, published in their March 2010 issue, suggests this is a good read if you're interested in understanding the perspective. It's an equally good read if you believe you are living this lifestyle and are looking for validation. However, if you're looking for inspiration about living more sustainably or urban homesteading and don't want to feel judged if you say, send your kids to public school or own two cars or make more than $40k or any number of other things which Hayes criticizes, definitely pick a different book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I'm reading this book right now, very slowly, and struggling through it. I have a creative life, but it's an urban life, and oh, I happen to need health insurance. No, I mean, I have conditions, and I really, really need big corporate health insurance. But the stories here make me feel somehow my efforts aren't quite enough, and it won't be unless I get family buy-in. We have backyard chickens, and garden, make our own laundry detergent and dry solely by the clothesline 5 months out of the year. I'm reading this book right now, very slowly, and struggling through it. I have a creative life, but it's an urban life, and oh, I happen to need health insurance. No, I mean, I have conditions, and I really, really need big corporate health insurance. But the stories here make me feel somehow my efforts aren't quite enough, and it won't be unless I get family buy-in. We have backyard chickens, and garden, make our own laundry detergent and dry solely by the clothesline 5 months out of the year. But. My guys are techies, and we are very urban. I don't grow enough food, and really, I'll never be a pioneer woman, because yes, J. Crew is seductive, even if I buy it second-hand. And I love my Volvo, and I'm willing to pay a family-owned business to keep it in good shape. The book is seductive but sometimes disheartening, as if what I do isn't- can't possibly be- enough. Why do I feel defensive? Why don't I feel encouraged to do more? This book makes me want to do more, but I feel somewhat despondent that I can't move to a farm (oh, wait, I HAVE done that and hated how isolated I felt) and have a home-grown community. Except that I do have that community in my life now, it's just no where near self-sufficient. Doing the best I can. It's a tough book, and while it is worth while, I'm struggling with it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    missy jean

    Well, this was a strange experience. I agree with virtually all of the critiques in this book, and with many of the solutions, but was so put off by the strident tone, lack of privilege-checking, poor reporting of qualitative findings, and total dearth of intersectional analysis that I pretty much hated my way through it. The narrative of exclusively personal solutions to structural problems (and "solutions" that can really only be enacted by people with class privilege that they can levy as col Well, this was a strange experience. I agree with virtually all of the critiques in this book, and with many of the solutions, but was so put off by the strident tone, lack of privilege-checking, poor reporting of qualitative findings, and total dearth of intersectional analysis that I pretty much hated my way through it. The narrative of exclusively personal solutions to structural problems (and "solutions" that can really only be enacted by people with class privilege that they can levy as collateral), and the constant "only one right way" drone were super-irritating to me. I mean, honestly, this was like anti-persuasive writing; I ended the book feeling LESS open to the idea that homesteading is a key solution to the world's problems than I felt before I started. I could write a pretty long rant about the methodological and epistemological problems with this book, but that sounds boring for both me and you, so I'll skip it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    My boss asked me to read this. Otherwise, I never would have picked it up off the shelf. It is a miracle I never threw it across the room. I was reading this at the same time I was reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. If I thought Barbara Kingsolver was slightly preachy, then Shannon Hayes qualifies as a cult leader. The goal of 'Radical Homemaking,' repeated at least once per chapter, is to "make family, community, social justice, and the health of the planet the governing principles of their li My boss asked me to read this. Otherwise, I never would have picked it up off the shelf. It is a miracle I never threw it across the room. I was reading this at the same time I was reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. If I thought Barbara Kingsolver was slightly preachy, then Shannon Hayes qualifies as a cult leader. The goal of 'Radical Homemaking,' repeated at least once per chapter, is to "make family, community, social justice, and the health of the planet the governing principles of their lives." What does that mean? I'm not really sure. She spent 255 pages (excluding the biographies at the end) talking about how money is bad, nobody needs nice things, and implying that only 'Radical Homemakers' know how to cook a meal. She was continuously harping on how bad corporate health care is. Yes, it is expensive and we all know the system needs improvement. However, considering how many people would give anything to have health care, if you can afford it and are passing it up because they hurt your feelings, that's simply irresponsible. And don't get me started on her love affair with home schooling. My favorite part was the paragraph where Hayes pretty much admitted most of the people in her study are hardly 'RH's' per her definition. "The Honeywells, the Simmons and the Ianellis all had extended families with significant land resources. The Jansens'...family helped them make the downpayment on their home. Penelope and John Sloan received an early inheritance from his parents...Maryann Heslier's husband is a salaried college professor. David Peterson and Michael Mills have wives with well-paid jobs. Nance Klehm's parents have picked up her health insurance tab." I can understand some of what is discussed in the book. After all, I left a high paying job for one I enjoy, I ride my bike as often as I can, and avoid fast food as much as possible. But there is a fine line between being radical and being a freak show. Hayes is dangerously close to crossing, if she has not already.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aleah

    Families nationwide are struggling with how to manage a growing sense of powerlessness as our world undergoes climate change, our economy flounders and public health worsens. Shannon Hayes, author of the manifesto “Radical Homemakers,” is not alone in her decision to return to the home – the foundation on which a healthy community is built. But this is not a call to return to well-coiffed housewives who wear heels as they keep house and bake pies. Not at all. Hayes is talking about turning homes Families nationwide are struggling with how to manage a growing sense of powerlessness as our world undergoes climate change, our economy flounders and public health worsens. Shannon Hayes, author of the manifesto “Radical Homemakers,” is not alone in her decision to return to the home – the foundation on which a healthy community is built. But this is not a call to return to well-coiffed housewives who wear heels as they keep house and bake pies. Not at all. Hayes is talking about turning homes back into net producers, about turning our backs on the corporate culture that has morphed us into the net consumers that keeps the corporations thriving even as the rest of us struggle to get by. While researching this book Hayes did extensive research. And it shows. Her passion for the cause is punctuated by well thought out arguments and cold, hard facts. You won't know how to can tomatoes or milk a goat after reading this book. “Radical Homemakers” isn't a how-to back-to-the-land manual. This is an overview of how the radical homemaker movement came about and how it has manifested itself in diverse households. It's a rallying cry for anyone who has been tip-toeing their way toward this way of life. I don't often read works of non-fiction from cover to cover. “Radical Homemakers” was an exception, once I started I couldn't put it down.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Aspen Junge

    Radical homemaking is what happens when Your Money or Your Life meets Mother Earth News. It's the journey of families who decide that rather than earning lots of money so they can outsource the labor of their lives, want to bring it back inside the family; thus regaining control over their expenses, nutrition, cleaning, child care, community life, etc. The reward is that you spend more time and effort on the things important to you, whatever they may be (as long as they're not too expensive). Ha Radical homemaking is what happens when Your Money or Your Life meets Mother Earth News. It's the journey of families who decide that rather than earning lots of money so they can outsource the labor of their lives, want to bring it back inside the family; thus regaining control over their expenses, nutrition, cleaning, child care, community life, etc. The reward is that you spend more time and effort on the things important to you, whatever they may be (as long as they're not too expensive). Hayes is the first I've seen who makes the critical point that this is not a journey one or two people can do alone-- the most critical skill is that of community building; being able to create and maintain a network of helpers and allies with whom to share labor and resources. Also, the lifestyle runs the risk of being made meaningless (as in the Feminine Mystique) if, once you've remastered the domestic skills, you don't also engage in the wider civic discourse. She also points out that once you've disengaged from the workforce, it can be extremely difficult to get back into it. In some ways this is a one-way trip.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    Ideas from it that I liked - - from Old English husband means "house-bonded" - bonded to the home rather than to a lord. The idea of the home as woman's domain did not come about until the industrial revolution. - the home shifted from a place of production to a place of consumption. This resulted in 1950's discontent at women being expected to shop and cart around kids, rather than being producers. - we often think of the conflict between self-fulfilment and need to nurture as solely a female is Ideas from it that I liked - - from Old English husband means "house-bonded" - bonded to the home rather than to a lord. The idea of the home as woman's domain did not come about until the industrial revolution. - the home shifted from a place of production to a place of consumption. This resulted in 1950's discontent at women being expected to shop and cart around kids, rather than being producers. - we often think of the conflict between self-fulfilment and need to nurture as solely a female issue - early Neolithic cultures - men and women worked together as partners - see Riane Eisler - and worked cooperatively until nomadic tribes invaded the agricultural settlements and dominated. - radical homemaking honours ecological sustainability, social justice, family, and community - corporations are the ultimate dominators - and their primary duty is to make money for shareholders. When women entered the workforce, the corporations' duty was to figure out a way to profit from this, not to create personal fulfillment for women. - David Korten - a true, living economy should be about making a living for everyone, rather than making a killing fro a few lucky winners - frequent feminist concern is that women are enabled to have self-determination and independence. But this is often only framed in the context of participation in the market economy, where personal economic power is the only security. - Western civilisation only gives human reality and value to life outside the home. However, a home is still needed, and domestic labor just gets transferred to lower socioeconomic classes. If we despise housework, we are letting corporations manipulate the nature of homes and housework. For social justice, the work of keeping a home must be valued for its contribution to the welfare of all. - neighbours used to have economic relationships with each other. - GPI - genuine progress indicator - rather than GDP. It's stayed stagnant since the 1970's - if we want to build a life-serving economy, we must accept that the basic foundation of our wealth is sunshine and water, not fossil fuels or other nonrenewable resources. - the word economy is taken from Greek "oikonomia" - which refers to private household management - corporations believed they would face fewer strikes if workers no longer lived in close quarters in the cities - so corporations encouraged home ownership in the suburbs. - for each daily need that we re-learn to provide within our homes and communities, we strengthen our independence from an extractive and parasitic economy - going against our social instincts takes a powerful toll on human society - our fragmented society has forgotten how to be civically engaged - if our freedom is tied to the ability to buy what we need, then we are not independent at all - we are reliant on our employers. If we embrace interdependence, in a sense of communal self-reliance, our personal freedom will be more genuine. - interdependence allows people of all levels of social status and income and intellect to be of use to other people - every dollar spent locally has 3x the economic return to the community than each one given to absentee retailers. - committing her life's energy to an employer has not made a truly liberated woman. - money only has value because we believe it does and so we exchange it for things with real value. Radical homemaking involves obtaining things of real value, without being distracted by the intermediary of money. - lending money within families keeps it out of the hands of institutions that profit from debt - if you purchase land - have the approach of inviting others to share and help out, to help cut housing costs - there is a double standard at work in our culture - parents with spouses who have high salaries and are fully entitled to stay at home to raise kids. Families that opt to earn less in order to stay at home are stigmatized as a burden on the system - healing remedies were once standard knowledge, up till the industrial revolution. Check old cookbooks for herbs. - our consumer culture is more interested in selling products to divert people from their pain, rather than actually healing it. - the biggest fear any of us can have is that no one will care enough to be with us in our time of need. - kids are able to learn to be more self-directed in the home environment, without the constant line up of activities at day care - "the quest for normalcy is one of the great breeders of neuroses" - the word education means "to rear" - education now is a commodity-something you can obtain that will make you more money - currently, universities prepare students for their role in extending human dominance over the natural world - we don't have control over the financial system. we do have control over the quality of our relationships and the ability of our communities to be self sufficient. That builds security. Comfort comes less from ownership than from membership. - the opportunity to offer social support is more important to longevity than receiving it. - the extractive economy benefits greatly when people can't learn to get along together - when people live in subdivisions, it makes cooperation more difficult - trading food and yard and garden consultations for other services - encourage children to operate in the life-giving economy - include your kids' name on your bank accounts and assets if you trust them implicitly? - the act of producing is creative and joyful - buying excessive goods costs time and effort to acquire, maintain, and replace them. - to DIY, you have to have a high tolerance for failure - your family is better served by a stay at home mother than a stay at home martyr - by not devoting your life solely to your children's needs and agendas - a citizen is someone who is self-actualized, who can do things themselves - our culture shames those who appear to be nonproductive or inefficient. - it is so much healthier for a child to see parents recognizing that their way of living is wrong and seeking a remedy rather than continuing to rationalize unhappiness, thereby encouraging the child to follow the same pattern. -people often only function with a "socialized consciousness" - they are in a trance induced by the prevailing cultural norms - you can't influence national politics as an individual, but you CAN have a profound influence on your neighborhood and community by getting involved. Rebuild social capital. - the mission to live well and sustainably does not keep Radical Homemakers confined to a small domestic sphere - the greatest happiness comes from absorbing yourself in some goal outside yourself. Prod any happy person and you will find a project.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    High praise for this one just because it has got me thinking about so many things and turned some of my thinking around which I love when a book does that. Many times I was like, 'yes, yes, yes!' and other times I was like 'I don't think I ever want to be THAT radical.' ;) The first half is worth reading again. The second half was interesting but I felt the first half really stuck through on how we got to our consumer culture and the stigmas stay at home moms or dads get. I loved learning about High praise for this one just because it has got me thinking about so many things and turned some of my thinking around which I love when a book does that. Many times I was like, 'yes, yes, yes!' and other times I was like 'I don't think I ever want to be THAT radical.' ;) The first half is worth reading again. The second half was interesting but I felt the first half really stuck through on how we got to our consumer culture and the stigmas stay at home moms or dads get. I loved learning about the historical aspect of things. And it made me realize how much of a radical homemaker my husband is. :) Some favorite quotes: "It is possible to be a feminist and to can tomatoes." "Why is it that people assume that the paid work is inherently more valuable?" "Radical Homemaker is increasingly aware of the illusory happiness of a consumer society." "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to the job that you need so you can pay for the clothes, car and the house that you leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it." "When we regain connection with all that sustains us, we regain creative spirit." "Many families and personal lives are falling apart, owing to three major home wreckers-the compulsion to overwork, the reckless pursuit of affluence, and the credo of individualism." "These people are producing their life, not buying it." "In the spirit of Mark Twain's famous advice, these homemakers never let their schooling get in the way of their education."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marilee

    I wasn't sure when I picked up this book what I would think of it. I could tell that I was already on board with some of the things that the author talks about, but overall would this seem to radical for me? Shannon Hayes explored a lot of things that I already embrace: self reliance, the importance of family, continuous learning, community support. I can't say that I agree with going without health insurance. I know that is a big issue with this lifestyle, but I have to have health insurance. H I wasn't sure when I picked up this book what I would think of it. I could tell that I was already on board with some of the things that the author talks about, but overall would this seem to radical for me? Shannon Hayes explored a lot of things that I already embrace: self reliance, the importance of family, continuous learning, community support. I can't say that I agree with going without health insurance. I know that is a big issue with this lifestyle, but I have to have health insurance. Herbal home remedies would not cover my medical needs, nor the needs of my family. I liked the book's anti-consumerism views. I am leaning more and more that way, and I can see how you can live a rich, fulfilling life without the emphasis on having things. Overall, I thought this was a great book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pumpkinbear

    Radical Homemakers, while readable, isn't really about homemaking, in my opinion. Homemaking as a defiance to consumer culture would absolutely include gardening, home canning, thrifting, etc., as Hayes describes it, but living without a J.O.B, homeschooling the kiddos, forgoing health insurance, raising cows for meat--yeah, that's homesteading, right? Of course the very fact that the book is "radical" means that it's likely going to be read as judgmental towards the vast swathes of humanity who Radical Homemakers, while readable, isn't really about homemaking, in my opinion. Homemaking as a defiance to consumer culture would absolutely include gardening, home canning, thrifting, etc., as Hayes describes it, but living without a J.O.B, homeschooling the kiddos, forgoing health insurance, raising cows for meat--yeah, that's homesteading, right? Of course the very fact that the book is "radical" means that it's likely going to be read as judgmental towards the vast swathes of humanity who aren't homesteaders, but I'm cool with that. I'm not a homesteader (although I would consider myself a radical homemaker, if anyone wants to write a book actually about that...), but I can happily read about the lifestyle. And the book was mostly readable. A few facts, a few suppositions, lots of anecdotes--it wasn't exactly a page-turner, but I was happy doing my time with it. As a resource, I think Radical Homemakers would have been more valuable if the author had chosen to be either more analytical or more anecdotal. Frankly, there wasn't the depth of critical analysis present to make me buy especially the more "radical" assumptions, such as forgoing health insurance, or to understand the reasoning behind many of these homesteaders' choices to accept government health insurance or food aid. A bigger focus on anecdotes and interviews could have filled that gap by giving a better understanding of these homesteaders' perspectives. Alas...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karen Hipson

    LOVED the first part of the book. She took everything that we (well, some of us) already know about the vital importance of the home and the homemaker, spelled it out, backed it up with facts and figures, and just generally did a great job. It was so loaded with quotables that I didn't even try... just get the book. It's worth it just for the first third, even if you don't read the rest. Unfortunately the rest of the book got more than a little long-winded, repetitive and lost my interest more th LOVED the first part of the book. She took everything that we (well, some of us) already know about the vital importance of the home and the homemaker, spelled it out, backed it up with facts and figures, and just generally did a great job. It was so loaded with quotables that I didn't even try... just get the book. It's worth it just for the first third, even if you don't read the rest. Unfortunately the rest of the book got more than a little long-winded, repetitive and lost my interest more than once. It was all right, but just got to be too long. The personal stories were nice, and to be sure there were interesting bits and pieces throughout. There was more emphasis on the Earth and environment than I expected to see, and the serious over-use of the phrase "Radical Homemaker" got to be a bit much. Then it wrapped up with a great close. So, all in all, I call this one a good bit of encouragement for the homemaker or wannabe. She writes from a non-religious point of view which for some will make the book more inviting - but don't think for a minute that it's completely devoid of personal philosophies and beliefs. It's all there, she just has a different point of view.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Keely Shaw

    So, other than some marginally circular and undergraduate sounding research, the theoretical/historical section was an interesting take on the history of the household. The biggest issue I had was that the "how" section was all anecdotal and didn't actually say how anybody did anything. It was more "these people that are trying to eschew the traditional wage-model exist, so listen to them reflect (and in some instances get very judgey on those that don't do as they do). I was able to glean nugget So, other than some marginally circular and undergraduate sounding research, the theoretical/historical section was an interesting take on the history of the household. The biggest issue I had was that the "how" section was all anecdotal and didn't actually say how anybody did anything. It was more "these people that are trying to eschew the traditional wage-model exist, so listen to them reflect (and in some instances get very judgey on those that don't do as they do). I was able to glean nuggets of confidence in things I already wanted to do/was doing, but nothing in terms of practical advice on turning the household from a place of consumption to a place of production. At least I know where to go for that help, and I will, but I was disappointed in how much flash and fluff were in place of substance. Kind of a strange irony given the thesis. If you are in search of validation on your journey to radical homemaking, this is your book. If you actually want the map to get there, look elsewhere.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Loeb

    For the most part I enjoyed reading this book, mostly because I agree with her very strong opinion on lifestyle choice, as I'm currently living a "radical homemaker" like life myself. It validated my choices in a lot of ways, and gave me inspiration to try to do even more myself and to feel okay that I am not pursuing a traditional career path. I love the critique of the modern American lifestyle and think it's valuable for everyone to look at, although I imagine many would be offended or turned For the most part I enjoyed reading this book, mostly because I agree with her very strong opinion on lifestyle choice, as I'm currently living a "radical homemaker" like life myself. It validated my choices in a lot of ways, and gave me inspiration to try to do even more myself and to feel okay that I am not pursuing a traditional career path. I love the critique of the modern American lifestyle and think it's valuable for everyone to look at, although I imagine many would be offended or turned off by her pretty absolutist stance. I found it fell a little short in envisioning how these personal choices would work on a large scale, or addressing accessibility issues as well as race and urban issues. In the second part where she references the different families she interviewed it was very choppy; I would have preferred for her to talk about each separately so it wouldn't be so confusing. I would recommend this book if you are considering adopting this lifestyle or just open to looking at how your lifestyle might not be best serving your family or yourself.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    This is it. This is the book I've been searching for ever since I became a "homemaker" and began wandering the aisles of Target wondering, "Is this it? The best of what I've got?" Hayes is an impeccable writer, and the first half of the book, especially the chapter on feminism and homemaking, is absolutely fabulous. (I even emailed to tell her how much I enjoyed her book, and how I wrote about it for the Des News. She wrote a gracious reply, so it appears now we're BFFs.) My only beef about the bo This is it. This is the book I've been searching for ever since I became a "homemaker" and began wandering the aisles of Target wondering, "Is this it? The best of what I've got?" Hayes is an impeccable writer, and the first half of the book, especially the chapter on feminism and homemaking, is absolutely fabulous. (I even emailed to tell her how much I enjoyed her book, and how I wrote about it for the Des News. She wrote a gracious reply, so it appears now we're BFFs.) My only beef about the book was the way the second half was structured. Hayes used case studies of families who are succeeding at radical homemaking, which was great, but after the stunning first half of the book, the second half seemed disorganized and lost some of its steam. Still, a fabulous book, and one that should be read by everyone.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kristina Seleshanko

    I really wanted to like this book. But instead, it just makes me sad. The author's historical research is highly dubious, and the whole thing reads like a screeching feminist repeating herself over and over. And does she ever realize that the feminism she so loves actually caused society to look upon creating a home as unworthy? Nope.

  25. 5 out of 5

    T.

    "If you ever considered quitting a job to plant tomatoes, read to a child, pursue creative work, can green beans[,] and heal the planet, this is your book." –Shannon Hayes In brief: A feminist defends a robust vision of homemaking, of choosing the life-giving economy over the extractive economy. As someone who was raised on a farm, took the PhD route, and returned to the farm, Hayes lives what she writes. Her prehistory is wonky, but her historical overview of the industrial revolution(s) and of "If you ever considered quitting a job to plant tomatoes, read to a child, pursue creative work, can green beans[,] and heal the planet, this is your book." –Shannon Hayes In brief: A feminist defends a robust vision of homemaking, of choosing the life-giving economy over the extractive economy. As someone who was raised on a farm, took the PhD route, and returned to the farm, Hayes lives what she writes. Her prehistory is wonky, but her historical overview of the industrial revolution(s) and of society's ironic, in some ways tragic, response to Betty Friedan's articulation of the "problem that has no name" is fairly solid and helpful. But the best part of the book comprises the stories of twenty inspiring "radical homemakers" and how they go against the individualist/consumerist grain in their multifarious ways. Shannon Hayes is a refreshing, sane voice, someone who argues from a desire to love our neighbors, human and nonhuman alike, rather than from a desire for power and control under the guise of "freedom" and "equality." She's unapologetic about rooting herself in things that matter—home, family, community, land. Recommended follow-up reading: Patrick Deneen, Wendell Berry, and Dorothy Day. Appendix: Patrick Deneen mentions Radical Homemakers in the bibliography of Why Liberalism Failed. Here is an excerpt from near the end of Deneen's book: Liberal anticulture rests on three pillars: first, the wholesale conquest of nature, which consequently makes nature into an independent object requiring salvation by the notional elimination of humanity, second, a new experience of time as a pastless present in which the future is a foreign land; and third, an order that renders place fungible and bereft of definitional meaning. These three cornerstones of human experience–nature, time and place–form the basis of culture, and liberalism’s success is premised upon their uprooting and replacement with facsimiles that bear the same names. ... The building up of practices of care, patience, humility, reverence, respect, and modesty is also evident among people of no particular religious belief, homesteaders and “radical homemakers” who–like their religious counterparts–are seeking within households and local communities and marketplaces to rediscover old practices, and create new ones, that foster new forms of culture that liberalism otherwise seeks to eviscerate. Often called a counterculture, such efforts should better understand themselves as a counter-anticulture . . . A counter-anticulture also requires developing economic practices centered on “household economics,” namely, economic habits that are developed to support the flourishing of households but which in turn seek to transform the household into a small economy. Utility and ease must be rejected in preference to practices of local knowledge and virtuosity. The ability to do and make things for oneself–to provision one’s own household through the work of one’s own and one’s children’s hands–should be prized above consumption and waste. The skills of building, fixing, cooking, planting, preserving, and composting not only undergird the independence and integrity of the home but develop practices and skills that are the basic sources of culture and a shared civic life. They teach each generation the demands, gifts and limits of nature; human participation in and celebration of natural rhythms and patterns; and independence from the culture-destroying ignorance and laziness induced by the ersatz freedom of the modern market.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sarah D'Amato

    Started off good but the second half seemed primarily preachy and pretentious. Read the first half to inspire you towards homesteading and homemaking as a lifestyle, but find other sources to help you do it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    sleeps9hours

    Borrowed a lot from previous writers I’ve liked. Repeats the simple living message under a new label. Still a good message to get out there. Some fuzzy thinking in the theory section was annoying, and as a nonfiction book it didn't show the quality of research that I expect, but provides good fodder for discussion. Drew from many popular previous books and then supplemented with info gained from interviewing 20 people or couples the author identified as Radical Homemakers. If you've read these, y Borrowed a lot from previous writers I’ve liked. Repeats the simple living message under a new label. Still a good message to get out there. Some fuzzy thinking in the theory section was annoying, and as a nonfiction book it didn't show the quality of research that I expect, but provides good fodder for discussion. Drew from many popular previous books and then supplemented with info gained from interviewing 20 people or couples the author identified as Radical Homemakers. If you've read these, you already know most of the ideas: Your money or your life, The two-income trap, Born to buy, Authentic happiness. She didn't acknowledge the simplicity movement AT ALL, but her interviewees could've easily been drawn from Voluntary simplicity, Choosing simplicity, or any popular simplicity book. Notions from the book worth being reminded of: Spend more time thinking about what we can do, not what we can acquire. Our actual needs are so much larger emotionally and so much smaller materially than we have come to describe them in American society. Tips for becoming a self-learner: think independently, embrace general knowledge, work with what you have, make mistakes, find your own teachers, and muster the courage to start from wherever you are. p. 123 Radical Homemakers gauge their “wealth” by their ability to include in their lives such incalculable values as good relationships, good food, or self-determination. p. 149 A sound home-based health insurance policy requires living a joyous, fulfilling and consequential life. p. 164 Bruce Levine, “healthy societies should be made of voluntary cooperation among non-standardized personalities." [in contrast to conformity or anarchy] p. 186 The personal attributes most likely to predict life satisfaction are interpersonal skills. .. People who care about other people are on average happier than those who are preoccupied with themselves. Thoreau, “my greatest skill has been to want but little” p. 221 Anyone who seeks to do things for themselves must have fortitude and a high tolerance for failure. Emerson, “A house kept to the end of display is impossible to all but a few, and their success is dearly bought.” p. 230 True pleasure comes from creative fulfillment, self-expression, self-realization, discovery, and growth. p. 234 Our national confusion over what constitutes pleasurable activity contributes to our unhappiness. Most of the homemakers talked about the joy of recreation outside the consumer culture—--camping, canoeing, hiking, ice skating on a back pond, attending contra dances, listening to public radio programs, going to concerts, observing nature, listening to music, creating artwork, devouring books, huddling by a fire in the winter while putting together puzzles with family members, or reading stories aloud to each other.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    By page 13 I was sure that I was going to love this book because of the following quotes, "...Radical Homemakers are men and women who have chosen to make family, community, social justice, and the health of the planet the governing principles of their lives. They reject any form of labor or the expenditure of any resource that does not honor these tenets." Further down the page, discussing the hold that money and those who control money, Hayes writes, "By contrast, Radical Homemakers use life s By page 13 I was sure that I was going to love this book because of the following quotes, "...Radical Homemakers are men and women who have chosen to make family, community, social justice, and the health of the planet the governing principles of their lives. They reject any form of labor or the expenditure of any resource that does not honor these tenets." Further down the page, discussing the hold that money and those who control money, Hayes writes, "By contrast, Radical Homemakers use life skills and relationships as a replacement for gold, on the premise that he or she who doesn't need the gold can change the rules. The greater our domestic skills, be they to plant a garden, grow tomatoes on an apartment balcony, mend a shirt, repair an appliance, provide for our own entertainment, cook and preserve a local harvest or care for our children and loved ones, the less dependent we are on the gold." There are some fabulous thoughts within this inspiring book. It does a great job of pointing out the emptiness of consumerist culture, of pointing out the myriad of benefits in increasing self reliance, and the richness of developing authentic community, and describing many of the problems found within the health care system and also corporate culture. However, I felt that the book suffered from some dubious scholarship, a bit of dragging, repetition of ideas that lead to feelings of deja vu, and a lack of advice on how to approach a style of radical homemaking. I feel like the book also suffers from the implication that the reader needs to jump into the deep end of Radical Homemaking: quitting your job, neglecting to have health care insurance, buying a farm and becoming nearly completely self sufficient, and homeschooling your children. That's obviously not feasible for most people, or at least requires a level of commitment to the idea that many would lack. It would have been nice to have seen a description of gradual steps that can been taken towards such a lifestyle, such as starting with a small balcony garden and canning local produce. The book rambled a bit in parts too. I was wondering whether to give it three or four stars and decided on four, feeling that the notable strengths of the book outweighed the weaknesses.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    Hayes Quotes: "If you ever considered quitting a job to plant tomatoes, read to a child, pursue creative work, can green beans, and heal the planet, this is your book." "While most count wealth as the presence of surplus money, [others] count their wealth as the ability to live well without it." This was an inspiring book looking at families who live home-based lives, relying on themselves, their skills, their families, their neighborhoods, and their communities, and relying less on money. Hayes Hayes Quotes: "If you ever considered quitting a job to plant tomatoes, read to a child, pursue creative work, can green beans, and heal the planet, this is your book." "While most count wealth as the presence of surplus money, [others] count their wealth as the ability to live well without it." This was an inspiring book looking at families who live home-based lives, relying on themselves, their skills, their families, their neighborhoods, and their communities, and relying less on money. Hayes covers a lot of ideas in 255 pages. This books sparks a lot of intellectual directions you might pursue after. Fairly well-referenced, but at times I wish some facts had had references when none were listed. But really, what I liked about this book is that it makes you feel that you can be a homemaker anywhere, no matter where you lived or what you are doing (even grad school). Sure some people she interviewed live on organic farms in Vermont and upstate NY, but other people live in downtown NYC, Chicago, or Los Angeles and are still gardening and composting and advocating for the right to have chickens and building community connections. Hayes talks about 3 steps in the process. 1. Renouncing the concept of depending on money to supply all of your needs, 2. Reclaiming, learning and developing the skills that will help you to supply for yourself (whether gardening, canning, knitting, art, furniture-making, self-education, etc.), and 3. Rebuilding, reaching out to help make the world more relationship-based instead of money-based. Unfortunately I need to return this book to the library now, and unfortunately the intense time I've spent with it shows wear on an almost-new book, but it's one of those books that seems like a good one to return to on occasion to remember the things that are so easy to forget. That life is community, not having a career. That money doesn't have to be the middle man - we can supply for ourselves and barter for many things we can't. That it is ridiculous how many Americans (including me) don't know our neighbors.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    This book seemed like an interesting outgrowth of the voluntary simplicity movement. I liked her writing style and the first two thirds of the book was devoted to a history portion of the overall loss of the view of homemaking that involved both genders prior to the industrial revolution. The final third focused on themes emergent from the 20 plus interviews she conducted with the individuals and couples who left the traditional corporate America or academic tracks to live lifestyles centered on This book seemed like an interesting outgrowth of the voluntary simplicity movement. I liked her writing style and the first two thirds of the book was devoted to a history portion of the overall loss of the view of homemaking that involved both genders prior to the industrial revolution. The final third focused on themes emergent from the 20 plus interviews she conducted with the individuals and couples who left the traditional corporate America or academic tracks to live lifestyles centered on family and home. I've actually read several of the books Hayes uses as her major sources for the history of housewifery. I was disappointed that she would quote primary material from these secondary sources rather than go after the secondary sources themselves (I tell my students not to do that). The interviews were okay, but not too revelatory (I wish there was a list of the questions she asked). The author was occasionally repetitive in her information (some phrases and sentences were almost verbatim in different chapters) and I wish she had devoted greater attention to the feelings of men versus women as they leave traditional careers (no use of Susan Faludi's seminal work _Stiffed_ to discuss men's disillusionment with over identification with professions?) I thought it was interesting that the hottest topic appeared to be health care insurance but most of these families would now be covered by the new national health insurance since their income brackets were quite low, rendering this chapter obsolete even as the book was just published. So why four stars? This book breaks new ground in the area of voluntary simplicity and I think provides a prediction of more books like it to come. Hayes is a visionary to see this micro movement as a future national trend and to begin laying the foundation for future scholarship. I think it deserves

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