Book Briefs: Urban Camping and How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You

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Urban Camping: A Testament to Living Without a Vehicle – Peter and Andrea Tombrowski 2006 Blitzprint – http://www.urbancamping.ca

In 1998, married couple Peter and Andrea Tombrowski sold their pickup truck and began their journey as “urban campers” in Calgary, Alberta, a city with a population of (at the time) nearly one million. It was a conscious decision originally brought on by a lack of income, but the result was that the family’s “vehiclelessness” inspired them to further reduce consumerism in (nearly) all aspects of their lives – something we could all learn from. Hoofing it and using public transportation everywhere will do that to a person, particularly if you have two children to lug around as well.
I found the book’s layout a bit annoying, but I imagine anyone wanting to emulate the family’s experiences could really use the itemized lists of supplies and descriptions of useful tips and tricks (use cloth diapers…and a front loading washing machine…and make sure you really need that air conditioner before you drag it home!). That’s the point, anyway. I was just looking for a more writerly approach, I guess. There’s a chapter outlining several of the family’s favourite treks, which will offer advice and inspiration for anyone considering the lifestyle. (I was a bit surprised that given their ideas regarding consumerism, their walks seem to include a lot of eating out and take-out food. Then again, if you don’t have to pay for a vehicle, you have extra moolah to offload at Burger King. Plus, you burn a ton of calories if you walk everywhere).
Fast food aside, Urban Camping is an interesting examination of materialism and one family’s journey to buck the status quo. According to their website, they’re still going strong (and are even dabbling in a film documentary of their experiences) – good on them!

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How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You – The Oatmeal (Michael Inman) – (2012, Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, Missouri)

If you have a cat, or have ever known a cat, you’ll totally understand (and laugh your tush off at) this collection of slightly deranged comics by Internet sensation The Oatmeal. Not every offering in this book is as strong as the titular comic, but I giggled and guffawed throughout. Check out his work on his website to see if his brand of dark humour is your cup of tea.

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