Summary In the late seventies, at the age of eighteen and with a seventh-grade education, Dolly Freed wrote Possum Living about the five years she and her father lived off the land on a half-acre lot outside of Philadelphia. At the time of its publication in 1978, Possum Living became an instant classic, known for its plucky narration and no-nonsense practical advice on how to quit the rat race and live frugally. In her delightful, straightforward, and irreverent style, Freed guides readers on how to buy and maintain a home, dress well, cope with the law, stay healthy, save money, and be lazy, proud, miserly, and honest, all while enjoying leisure and keeping up a middle-class façade.
Thirty years later, Freed's philosophy is world-renowned andPossum Living remains as fascinating, inspirational, and pertinent as it was upon its original publication. This updated edition includes new reflections, insights, and life lessons from an older and wiser Dolly Freed, whose knowledge of how to live like a possum has given her financial security and the confidence to try new ventures.
8 out of 10 acorns on this. I personally think it is a pretty great book, but recognize that it won't be for everyone.
I don't recall what it was about this book that caught my eye. I'm normally not drawn to poorly spelled titles (rare though they are), but I do remember flipping through it at the bookstore. I found myself reading through the first bit of the book with great interest at the story of the young woman who had written it.
Having gotten the updated edition, it included a forward talking about how the book had been received originally and why it had been re-released. Reading through the book, I found that there was a wealth of useful information. I didn't always agree with the philosophies of the family, but there were a lot of admirable qualities to them.
One of the primary lessons of the book was that there are many ways to live comfortably without a full-time job. Brimming with tips on how to raise or find food, how to produce or find what you need, and how to find joy in a life lived for yourself rather than a day-job, the book grew on me. What struck me most was the added material at the end.
The now-grown Dolly talks about how her life has gone. Many of the lessons she learned when she was young and had penned the book have made a huge difference in her life. Some of what she once held up, she now regrets and she explains well the costs that those choices held. The most touching and somewhat painful was where she discusses what became of her father as the years passed.
It isn't a book for everyone, but it is a good book for some. I wouldn't remove it from my library, but at the same time I only revisit it once in a long while. Some of the tips are quite good and if you are interested in wild recipes, rabbit raising, living on a nearly literal dime, or even moon shining, this book will hold a lot of interesting moments for you. Just remember that her sense of ethics, when she wrote the book, may not always jive with what most of us consider acceptable.
If you just want to get caught up in an emotional transformation, then this might also be a good book. You get to know Dolly through her personal way of addressing the reader. You start to feel like you know her. When you get to the end and know how her life has gone, you feel like you are right there with her on the highs and lows. More importantly, you gain a perspective of years regarding how young philosophies can be tempered by experience.
I love this book and would give it 9 out of 10 acorns. Not only does it give the philosophy of what they did and why, it also includes useable instructions. As a person who works for a high school, I would love to see this and another book I like, Twelve by Twelve by William Powers be required reading for all high school students. Twelve by Twelve is kind of the country version, while Possum Living is the city version. I would give Twelve by Twelve 8 out of 10 acorns - very intelligently written, but not much practical advice.
It is often difficult to stop the cycle of thought that because one's parents did something, that's the way it has to go. We need to start our young people to be freethinkers again. Too many children are born of parents that are so busy putting food on the table, they don't have time to think of the "why". It's like the child who asked her mom why she cut the ends off the ham before putting it in the pan. Mom said, "That's what my mom taught me to do." So the little girl went to ask grandma, and grandma said, "I learned it from my mom." Well great grandmother was no longer alive, but she was able to contact a great uncle. When asked why great grandmother cut the ends off the ham he said, "Why because the pan was too short."
Here's the book that began my journey. I give it a 9 out of 10 acorns since perfection is a difficult standard to reach. Although it was dang near perfect for me. I was helping clean out the attic and found this book among my mom's book collection. I opened it because, well, I like old books. I like the way they look and smell, and I like the way their text is laid out (designer by day, illustrator woodland fairy by night) And then I was so enthralled by the content that I sat there in the attic for the rest of the afternoon and read the whole book cover to cover. Unfortunately the cover has since cracked but we keep it safe.
I've been eating oats for a long time and there's a chapter about how to source ingredients on the cheap-cheap including getting oats from feed stores instead of grocery stores and that just really excited me. It was the first crack in the system that mainstream society had ingrained in me. The first time I realized there were other ways of living that were very real and tangible routes. Nothing makes my heart swell like this thought does. We can choose to not be a part of a society that breaks people down.
It would take a few more years wading into the tiny house community forums before I eventually learned that what I was looking for was an off-grid lifestyle so I could pursue the joy that is running through the woods, growing my own food because the current food industrial complex is disgusting and wasteful, and building fairy homes. I'd joined some homesteading subreddits and eventually my feet led me to this website. And Possum Living was the book that started it all. Thought y'all might be curious to see it. About half a year ago I transitioned from the intention of tiny-house living to fully off-grid. Might as well fully go for it. Then one day my mom sprung on me that apparently my family owns some raw land in New Mexico with potable water sources. What a wild ride and this book will continue to be a guiding force.
What i loved about this book was it's personality and how realistic she wrote it. It's a fun read even for someone not interested in off-grid living.