Dearest readers,

Possum LivingYou know what an extraordinary book nerd I am. And the secret’s out: I know many of you are, too. That’s where the splendiferous new Ask Umbra’s Book Club comes in, because there’s just too much book love to keep all to myself.    

Here’s how it’ll work: I’ll announce a juicy eco-minded book at the beginning of each month, giving you a few weeks to track it down and drink it in. Then we’ll have a no-holds-barred, message-board-style discussion for four days at the beginning of the next month.  

This isn’t your standard, granola-snorting (ouch!) green book club; there’s absolutely no requirement for “green” or “eco” in the title. Sometimes a book’s author may not even have had an intentional eco-slant in mind.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

I’ll pose questions, interesting tidbits, and quotes from the book to help spark discussion and then open the floor to you. Bonus: You don’t even have to get out of your bathrobe. And if you have books you’d like to suggest for the club, shoot me an email. I’d love to hear from my bookish comrades.

For our inaugural Ask Umbra’s Book Club selection, I give you truly an oldie but a goodie, Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and With (Almost) No Money, originally published in 1978 — difficult to find for many years — and rereleased by Tin House Books in January 2010 with a foreword by David Gates and an afterword from the now 30-year-older author.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Read more about the book and pseudonymous author Dolly Freed below. And then, get reading! We’ll begin our Possum Living chat Tuesday, April 6.

Book synopsis from Possum Living website:

In the late ’70s, at the age of 18, and with a seventh-grade education, Dolly Freed wrote Possum Living about the five years she and her father lived off the land on a half-acre lot outside of Philadelphia. Known for its plucky narration and no-nonsense practical advice on how to live frugally while keeping up a middle class facade, at the time of its original publication, Possum Living became an instant classic.

About the author from Possum Living website:

Following her success as an author, Dolly Freed grew up to become a NASA aerospace engineer. She aced the SATs with an education she received from the public library and put herself through college. She’s been an environmental educator, business owner, and college professor. She now lives in Texas with her husband and two children.