Book Review: Trading Paces

Michael Kelly is an Irishman looking for what really matters. Trading Paces follows his path from a high paid job in IT sales, to a low paid job in freelance writing. Along the way, he finds himself falling in love with a life filled with vegetables, hens, pigs, and a leaky roof cottage out in the country. Realizing you don't need to be a voracious consumer to be happy, Kelly artfully recounts his ongoing adventure in making the transition to a more sustainable, thoughtful way of living.

Kelly's style is conversational, thoughtful, and always lighthearted. If you enjoy Animal, Vegetable, Miracle or Omnivore's Dillema, Trading Paces offers a refreshing everyman perspective, Homer Simpson quotes included.When other writers might get preachy or drag on, Kelly becomes amusingly and pointedly insane - in the way only the Irish really can. For example when he begins to talk about the issue of giving up his BMW he splits into the dual personalities of 'Downsizer' and 'Capitalist'. His dual personalities capture the real life challenges we all face when giving up objects that fuel our identity. He kept me entertained through brilliant little outbursts, like this on directed at Downsizer from Capitalist after entertaining the idea of getting a Vespa:


"We're thirty-three years old, not sixteen. It's bad enough that you make us use a pre-paid phone. We're not buying this piece of shit! Come on, let's go for a latte."

I'm particularly fond of the fact that he is totally honest and irrepressibly amateurish in his approach to living a sustainable life, much to his wife's chagrin. His antics may get him into trouble with Mrs. Kelly, but his eagerness to try harebrained schemes keeps the entire book, and his life, moving at a good clip. I could often picture Kelly recounting these same stories at the local pub.

Trading Paces provides a hopeful perspective to taking chances, and making those life altering changes that really matter. It may also give hope to all those novice gardeners, or tinkerers out there looking for a more sustainable lifestyle - you are not alone. Lastly, Trading Paces is fun read, good for the beach or with a home-brew on your back porch. Because, in the end, the book is really about slowing down and finding balance in this crazy modern life. I'm fully looking forward to Mr. Kelly's next book.

:: Trading Paces : From Rat Race to Hen Run

Tags: Agriculture | Ireland