How to Go Off Grid: A Book Review

How to Go Off Grid: A Book Review

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Many dream of going “off-grid” – moving toward a self-reliant lifestyle in the wilderness. They want to disconnect from the daily grind. Ron Melchiore has done it, and his book “Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness” offers an inside peek into what that life is like.

This book was the casual summer read for our Homesteaders’ Book Club and got many of us thinking about simple living. Whether you are on your way to the off-grid lifestyle or just curious what it might offer, this book can help you decide just how far you might want to venture toward the wilderness.

Our Review

Off-Grid and Free: My Life in the Wilderness follows Ron Melchiore’s (and his wife Johanna’s) path as they venture further into the off-grid wilderness. Starting with Ron’s discovery of the possibility of going off-grid, and following a few versions of getting there, the book gives both an overview of the big decisions that Ron and Johanna made and detailed descriptions of moments in their life.

It is those detailed descriptions that will capture the readers attention. Whether Ron is trying to figure out how to heat his home, or whether and how to log his land, his storytelling shines through. While some readers might find the details of a logging operation tedious, this book is meant for the reader who really wants to learn how you might do that, and Ron delivers. His stories are detailed, compelling, and full of lessons.

Ron’s humor also shines through in the book. He brings just the right amount of sarcasm and self-awareness that is truly required to live this type of lifestyle. He is honest about his challenges, frank about the assumptions that had to be left at the door, and truly funny when it comes to detailing some of the things he did wrong.

Is this Book for You?

I’ll be honest, I’m pretty half-way when it comes to the off-grid lifestyle. I am not headed toward the wilderness that can only be accessed by a plane! Yet, I enjoyed this book regardless of my own hesitation to follow this path to it’s fulled.

Some of our book club members read it cover-to-cover with an anxious desire to learn more. Others, like me, read it part-by-part over the course of the summer, enjoying Ron’s stories and picking up a few lessons along the way. While his story is not necessarily a page-turning mystery, that’s fine with me. It’s a ramble into the wilderness on which I enjoyed tagging along a few times a week.

This book is not for the city-dweller who thinks the wilderness is just full of bugs and hard work. It is for anyone who imagines that life could be simpler and that we could be providing more of our own necessities. It is for the person who wants to get to know an off-gridder – someone who is 100% willing to share everything he has learned.

From a how-to perspective, the book works on two levels. One one level, it helps you see how one person became and off-gridder and what you might consider if you want to follow in their footsteps. On the other level, it contains a plethora of great stories about how these off-gridders solves certain challenges in creating their lifestyle – you can grab these take-aways no matter where you are on the journey.

Thus, we are happy to recommend Off-Grid and Free to homesteaders and aspiring homesteaders alike, and we encourage you to get to know Ron through this articles on Mother Earth News as well. Not to ruin the surprise or anything, but Ron is currently adventuring on a new chapter and you can read about what comes after Off-Grid and Free, too!

Cover photo by Ron Melciore.

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Carrie Williams Howe
Blogger & Homesteader at The Happy Hive
Carrie Williams Howe is an educational leader by day and an aspiring homesteader by night and weekend. She lives on a small homestead in Vermont with her husband, two children, and a rambunctious border collie. She is a Founder and Editor of Homestead How-To and also blogs about her family's homestead life at The Happy Hive.


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