This is a condensed and clarified transcript of a video Bob made six years ago
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Books have had a tremendously powerful impact on my life. Nearly everything I believe, can be summarized in a book. I want to share some of these books with you and am focusing on a few I think nomads should read.
1. Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom, by Ken Ilgunas
Ilgunas went to Duke University and did not want to have built up debt doing so. Part of the story is that he lived in a van while studying for his degree. Since then, Duke has cracked down, and I do not believe he could do this again. I think he could do it well and easily because he was the first. I am mentioned briefly in this book. He wrote me, and we exchanged emails about living in vans.
This is about living a life of adventure as much as a vandwelling book. For example, he went to Alaska and worked for the summer to pay for his schooling. He tells about how he got through school without going into debt for it. I think you would enjoy this book because it’s well-written, about living in a van and adopting a life of adventure.
2. American Nomads: Travels with Lost Conquistadors, Mountain Men, Cowboys, Indians, Hoboes, Truckers, and Bullriders, by Richard Grant
Grant is a British guy who came to live in America and was fascinated by the mobility of Americans and the fact that we move so much. He studied it and was drawn in so much that he became a nomad in America. This book is a bunch of examples of different stories, beginning back with the American Natives as nomads and moving on to the modern day. He meets and interviews everyone he can, from hoboes living in jungles and riding the rails to cowboys and rodeo stars.
He talks about one of the really standard American Native beliefs that the land is shaped by the humans that live in it, and the humans that live in it are shaped by the land. When you die, and generation after generation, live and die, the blood and bones of the people become part of the earth and meld together.
So, it is part of living in the soil of America that you become a nomad. Think about the people who immigrated to America. They are natural-born movers. When they were somewhere awful, they said, “Let’s move.” It was just a readiness they had that they could move, and away they went. I found this to be an extremely interesting book.
3. Travels with Charley in Search of America, by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck went on a road trip in his truck camper with his dog Charlie. He traveled across America and told the stories of his travels. Steinbeck is a beloved American author who also wrote The Grapes of Wrath, about nomads who picked up and moved because of their circumstances. So he did his own journey in his truck with his dog.
You can still learn tips from him now, such as doing your laundry by putting your clothing in a five-gallon bucket with a sealed lid and driving down the road, letting it agitate along the way. It’s interesting to find a “normal” and, in this case, a very rich person who adopted our lifestyle and wrote about it.
4. Blue Highways: A Journey into America, by William Least Heat Moon
Least Heat Moon decided to go on a road trip also. He piled everything into his van and drove around the country.
This is a very celebrated book among nomads. If you haven’t read it, you really should. On maps at the time, blue highways were small, minor ones reflected in blue. He took the blue highways, meaning he avoided the freeways. He met people, got to know them, and talked about his interactions in the book.
What books have you read that inspire you to live a better life? Please share them with us in the comments.