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OP: Living on the Earth

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by Alicia Bay Laurel

Bookworks, 1970. Paperback. Very Good. First printing.

Ever feel like disappearing into the woods and living off the grid forever? This book is for you!

Born in the back-to-the-land movement of American history, Living on the Earth (1970) is not only a recipe book but a DIY guide for living sustainably and safely outside of the rigid confines of “society.”

The book is not typeset but handwritten by author Alicia Bay Laurel and printed in an earthy brown ink. The idealistic, free-spirited vibes immediately transport you to the Wheeler Ranch commune in Sonoma, CA where the book was written and where clothing was optional—as is evident from the author’s illustrations.

You’ll learn to make your own tofu and soy milk, cheese from a freshly milked cow, nut butters, smoked fish, and a variety of international cuisines which take advantage of the produce foraged and harvested. But instructions for building shelter, digging a latrine, gardening, sewing, curing dandruff, giving birth, making toys, and even dying gracefully in the forest—and everything else required for spiritual, communal living—are where Laurel’s rose-colored perspective really shines. 

Endearing, quirky, and psychedelic, Living on the Earth has a meaningful place in a private or an institutional collection.

Ours is the scarce, self-published first printing—a printing of 10,000 copies, which sold out in two weeks before it was picked up by Random House Vintage. It is in very good condition with some soiling to the edges and covers and minor rubbing and creasing to the spine.

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