August 2, 2004

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects--Life 2.0

By: Jack @ 8:05 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

I really like this book!
Life 2.0: How People Across America Are Transforming Their Lives by Finding the Where of Their Happiness by Rich Karlgaard, Crown Business, 290 pages, $24.95 Hardcover, August 2004, ISBN 1400046076
Obviously I get tons of books to review. As a regular reader of my reviews you will notice I dont write a negative review. I review only books I truly recommend. When the galley of this book came across my desk, I was impressed with the blurbs and the idea that people will move to small town America to get away from the frenzied lifestyle issues the coasts have developed. The post 9/11 economy and stock market crash obviously also played an important part in making people decide to find a quieter and more affordable town to settle in.
The author, who is the publisher of Forbes, has a semi mid-life crisis, buys a small airplane and spends the summer of 2002 flying around the country. He meets people who have left the grind of the coasts and have moved back to small and midsized towns. He visits Green Bay, WI, Fargo, ND and Bozeman, MT where he meets with people who have moved to the area. He investigates how they are adjusting and why they left the grind of their previous existence. He also looks at the cultural differences between small towns and the coasts. As he states:
Are we still living in the era of the Green Acres television showsophisticated New Yorkers and San Franciscans versus redneck hicks of rural America? No. If my trip is any indication, the gap is overstated, and narrowing at the speed of a cable modem.
Rich Karlgaard paints a vivid picture of how different life is for these people, both economically and culturally. On the galley the publisher compared the book to a cross between Charles Kuralt and Po Bronson. I disagree; I compare it more with Bill Bryson. This book describes not only the journey of the people and how they have adapted to small town life, it is also a fun story about a pilots journey traveling the country, and encountering the rigors of the Midwests afternoon thunderstorms and morning fog.
The layout of the book is also entertaining. Each chapter starts with the story of the journey and then the story of the featured person. What is really nice are the letters of some of the people, explaining why they moved and how they are getting so much more value both financially and emotionally from their decision. This adds an authentic flavor to the book and we gain insight about people who felt the need to reclaim a quieter lifestyle and adapt to the changing economy.
Like I said at the beginning, I really liked this book.