Living Small: A Memoir?
September 5, 2010 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Memoir about small-house living for a Campus Read?

Last academic year, I asked this question about a environmentally-themed Campus Read. We chose Novella Carpenter's Farm City, the students loved the book, Novella came to campus, everyone raved about the Campus Read program, and - bam - it's already time to start planning 2010-2011.

Once again, I'm on the small committee that's choosing the theme and the book, and I'm planning to suggest small-house living - a la, the Tumbleweed Tiny House Co and Jay Shafer's The Small House Book. I'd like to get our students thinking and talking about space, stuff, and the connection between their future homes and their future communities. (I'm also working on a plan to bring a small house to campus for a few months during the Campus Read, but that's a separate AskMefi question!)

Since a memoir worked so well for our urban agriculture theme last year, I'd really like to go that route again. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble finding something. Greg Johnson's Put Your Life on a Diet sounded promising, but it was too focused on general life advice (e.g., you should try hang-drying your clothes!) and not enough on the philosophy and experience of small-house living. In the other direction, Shay Salomon's Little House on a Big Planet was long on philosophy but short on memoir. Amazon's recommended list is full of what I'm sure are excellent books on small-house design, construction and decoration, but I'm having a lot of trouble finding memoirs.

Any suggestions? Do you know of a small-house memoir that I'm missing?
posted by brozek to Education (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: A detail I forgot to explicitly put in the question - we're more interested in small-house living from an environmental perspective (broadly defined - treading lightly on the earth, being conscious about possessions, and that sort of thing) than an architectural perspective. I think Sarah Susanka's home designs are really fantastic, but The Not So Big House may not spark the kind of classroom discussion we're hoping for.
posted by brozek at 1:28 PM on September 5, 2010

How about Michael Pollan's A Place of My Own? This book seems extremely well suited to your goals.
posted by jayder at 2:13 PM on September 5, 2010

Don't know if this exactly fits the criteria of a small house memoir, but A Good House: Building a Life on the Land by Richard Manning is one of my favorite books and it's definitely a memoir. Describes in fascinating detail his process of building his own (relatively) small house in Montana.
posted by daikon at 6:19 PM on September 5, 2010

I don't have a memoir to recommend, but Mimi Zeiger, author of Tiny Houses, keeps a great blog on various interesting issues in architecture, including small-house living. Highly recommended. I don't know where your campus is located, but it's also possible that she'd be interested in speaking - she does a lot of teaching and lecturing, and would be a great resource as you plan a tiny house curriculum.
posted by judith at 7:39 PM on September 5, 2010

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