Book Review: Off-Grid & Free: My Path to the Wilderness

Reader Contribution by Carrie Williams Howe
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When Ron Melchiore decided he wanted to live a life different from the day-to-day routine he was beginning to fall into, he kicked off what he describes as a “fortuitous series of events” which eventually led him (and later his wife) to an off-grid homestead.  Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness if Ron’s book that charts their journey toward this way of life.  This book was the featured read for the Summer 2019 Homesteaders’ Book Club, and I’m pleased to share our review of this book by a fellow Mother Earth News Writer!

In my opinion, the most important thing to ask yourself if you are considering picking up this book is “Have I ever imagined what it would be like to live off the grid?”  If the answer to that question is “yes” then there is something for you in this book. 

That “something” might be the way that you can relate to Ron and Johanna’s story of trying to find their final destination.  Or maybe it’s the tips and tricks of the trade that Ron uncovers as he outlines his strategies for achieving an off-grid lifestyle.  It might just be the ability to read about someone who struggles with the same things you do, and brings a sense of humor to that lifestyle. 

Whatever you take from this book, it is going to relate a lot to where you are in life and what you want to get out of it.

Take me.  I am a part-time homesteader with a small plot of land but my husband and I both still work out of the house.  We have kids who are connected to their friends and community and wouldn’t be happy if we picked up and moved to the wilderness.  But our suburban homestead has echos of the off-grid lifestyle, like solar panels, composting, and a big garden that supplies most of our vegetables.  As we get more and more settled here, we are finding more ways to be self-reliant. 

Off Grid and Free helped me to confirm that I do not want to live on land accessible only by float plane, but it also inspired me to find ways that we could integrate more self-reliance and less “stuff” in our current way of life.  From how we heat to how we supply our wood, or just what we can live without, the book got me thinking about new ways to align our lifestyle with our values.

Members of the Homesteaders Book Club agreed, stating that the book was enjoyable to read, inspirational, and felt like talking to a friend.  

Melchiore has a friendly, next door neighbor, way of telling his story.  He is open, honest, and gives away all of his homesteading secrets, much like he does in real life!  If you are looking for a book that allows you to get to know the author (and an author who would gladly read your email and answer your questions), this is the book for you.

Join the Homesteaders Book Club by requesting membership in our Facebook Group.  Each season, we choose a book (sponsored by a publisher) and do a virtual discussion group as we read together, plus a giveaway of a free copy!

Carrie Williams Howe is a blogger at The Happy Hive Homestead and Homestead How-ToShe is the Executive Director of an educational nonprofit by day, and parent and aspiring homesteader by night and on weekends. She lives in Williston,Vermont, with her husband, two young children, and a rambunctious border collie. Carrie has a PhD in educational leadership and is passionate about learning collaboratively. Connect with Carrie on The Happy Hive Facebook page. Read all of Carrie’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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