Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Favorite Reads: The Urban Hermit

My Favorite Reads is a meme hosted by At Home With Books, where each week I am featuring one of my favorite reads from the past. In February I am featuring books related to the current economy.

The Urban Hermit: A Memoir by Sam Macdonald

Summary (from the publisher):
Faced with the truth that his debts and his waistline had both ballooned out of control, Sam MacDonald devised a plan to change his life.

When Sam graduated from Yale in 1995, he watched a classmate make inroads as a head-office guy in professional baseball, another become a day-trading millionaire, and another develop connections at the Playboy Mansion. Struggling to make ends meet, he shrugged his shoulders at their success and raised a tall one to them. It wasn't until April 2000 that Sam got his wake-up call. He weighed 340 lbs. He was flat broke. And the IRS had caught up with him.

In a desperate attempt to save himself, Sam decided to limit himself to a budget of $8 a week and 800 calories a day. He called it "The Urban Hermit Plan." He thought he would do it for a month. Instead, he embarked on a bizarre year-long journey. He lost 160 pounds in the process, befriended rent-dodging trailer-park denizens, flew to Bosnia on assignment, traveled to a peace festival in a hippie van, had a run-in with Cooter from the Dukes of Hazzard, and met the woman who would later become his wife.
The Urban Hermit is a wildly hilarious story about backwoods living, as told by a man who should have known better.

Why I chose this book:
Okay, Sam MacDonald is probably a little bit crazy. But I get where he was (fat, broke, desperate) and while I've not exactly been there myself, I've been able to see there. I'm not sure I could've done what he did to get out of debt and to lose weight, but it was inspiring. Sticking to my budget is a lot easier when I'm thinking, I could just be living on tuna fish and lentils. Thankfully it's nonfiction, or else the part where Sam's life starts to fall into place just as he finally starts to take responsibility and work towards some resolutions, would be cheesy. But as that wasn't contrived, it's also inspiring. But in a sarcastic, funny way. On my worst day, I'm still not working in a fish warehouse. But I do pray every day for my transmission not to go out, as a lot of us are just one dead transmission away from our budgets going to hell. It's fun, funny, debt and life advice from a regular dude who drinks and is lazy and has crazy cats occasionally. It's nice to not be preached at. Great for the post-college crowd.


Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Wow! Sounds good. Somedays I think I should do something drastic (about the budget, at least!).

My favorite this week is here:


Alyce said...

I love memoirs, and this looks just like something that I would enjoy. I'll be adding this one to my wish list!

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Sounds like such a fun read and the fact that its a memoir makes it rather surprising to me, because the description itself sounds rather farcical in nature. Definitely a book that I will be on the look out for. Thanks!

Carin Siegfried said...

I promise, he really did just eat lentil soup and tune fish for a year! It sounds fairly crazy but he's a bit of an obsessive so he was just as obsessive about getting in shape physically and fiscally, as he was about getting out of it. I was tempted to try lentil soup after reading the book, but in the end he scared me off and I never did try it. It's a great book to rmeind you how nice your own life is!