I think it's interesting how certain books are marketed to Canadian and American readers differently.
Almost Green: How I Saved 1/6th of a Billionth of the Planet is the title of the book read in the States, and Almost Green: How I Built an Eco-shed, Ditched My SUV, Alienated the In-laws, and Changed My Life Forever is the Canadian edition that Charlene reviewed:
The cover of the book would lead one to expect a series of comically absurd situations that some quirky but loveable characters get into along the way to becoming more environmentally friendly. This is somewhat misleading it is, actually, just what it says. The story is a first-person tale of how James Glave built an eco-shed. While the back cover displays a quote from “Padre” (the author’s father-in-law) recommending against buying the book, the character Padre is not so over-emphasized as one would think. In fact, the in-laws are never really alienated in the book, Glave dismantles a car port, a gift from Padre, and worries that Padre will be upset, but he isn’t really.
The book contains a lot of discussion regarding building materials and their assembly, energy ratings and the companies that have them, and green building methods to reduce energy consumption. Glave is a journalist, and this book is a report but a somewhat funny report. The situations he gets himself into are realistic (I assume they are situations he actually found himself in while constructing an eco-shed); the humour is in how he describes them, often using plays on words and other such high-brow humour, other times pointing out little quirky tendencies of humanity in general (like how men working in construction eventually learn to speak solely in sexual innuendos).
I don’t know if I’m the intended reader of this book. Perhaps I will be in 20 years. At times, however, I couldn’t relate to Glave’s suburban problems. For instance, the book makes much of the idea of being green on a budget, but this budget is by no means as low as most families would have (Glave’s eco-shed budget was $75,000, which he extended by about $15,000 by the end, I believe). I did, however, enjoy playing voyeur to his adventures.
* 4 stars *