I was sent an advanced readers copy of Notes From a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider from Nelson Books. It was a suggested read based off of the content that I regularly blog about here on Domestic Geek Girl.
At first glance, I agreed this book and I seemed like a good match. Another Christian mommy writing about travel, food, natural living and simplicity? Sign me up! I set aside this book as one of the “read while on your road trip” time wasters and Jonathan and I devoured it while on the way to California.
More About This Book:
Book description from Amazon.com:
Life is chaotic. But we can choose to live it differently.
It doesn’t always feel like it, but we do have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions.
The popular blogger and founder of the internationally recognized Simple Mom online community tells the story of her family’s ongoing quest to live more simply, fully, and intentionally.
Part memoir, part travelogue, part practical guide, Notes from a Blue Bike takes you from a hillside in Kosovo to a Turkish high-rise to the congested city of Austin to a small town in Oregon. It chronicles schooling quandaries and dinnertime dilemmas, as well as entrepreneurial adventures and family excursions via plane, train, automobile, and blue cruiser bike.
Entertaining and compelling—but never shrill or dogmatic—Notes from a Blue Bike invites you to climb on your own bike, pay attention to who you are and what your family needs, and make some important choices.
It’s a risky ride, but it’s worth it—living your life according to who you really are simply takes a little intention. It’s never too late.
My Thoughts On The Book
This book really is not what it presents itself to be.
While I expected the book to focus on “The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World”, instead I found what turned out to be an autobiographical read about a woman with a very unintentional and chaotic life.
Now don’t get me wrong. Oxenreider is a great writer. She has a way with words, and has a conversational and entertaining wordflow that makes being bored while reading near impossible. So I want to be clear that this book, for the most part, was an enjoyable read.
I agree with Oxenreider on almost every major point she covers in her book, from the importance of buying Fair Trade to the benefits of eating whole foods, to prioritizing traveling as a way of life. It’s easy to enjoy a book that is self-affirming and essentially reading out your own thoughts in a new voice, so I was surprised to find that I.. well.. I didn’t really like this book all that much.
Because frankly, she doesn’t really seem all that qualified to write on this topic. Oxenreider appears to live a dizzingly chaotic life, and yet claims to have captured the art of simplicity in day to day living. All the while, as each chapter unfolds, she proves that she herself lives anything BUT a simple life, that is anything but intentional.
Despite the book description Oxenreider often comes across as both shrill and dogmatic, and displays a wishy washy attitude in her personal convictions and lifestyle choices, wavering between choices like living in the States versus living overseas, and how she chooses to raise and educate her children.
I pretty much lost respect for the author when she spent a solid chapter detailing how homeschool education is best for children, how she tried homeschooling and it worked splendidly for her children, but then sent them back to school when it ultimately interferred with her hobbies and blogging. She spends quite a lot of text bragging about how she and her husband can afford to both be stay at home and work from home parents – and yet they can’t manage to school their children in the method they claim to know is the best for them? REALLY?!?!
There were other things she mentions that just rub me the wrong way. Like romanticising a walk along the Irish landscape, finding an antique bench on what was most likely private property, and then carving her name into the bench. Carving. Her. Name. Into. A. Bench. Who does that?! I mean, aside from wanna be gang bangers and teenagers who were never taught manners and respect for things that don’t belong to them?
Oh, and then there was the time she was visiting a third world country and a little old lady who was living in severe poverty kept sharing her meagre possessions with Oxenreider and poured her a cup of local home brewed coffee. Oxenreider waxes poetic about how giving, and selfless and compassionate people are that aren’t living in hurried, greedy and chaotic America – and then she POURS OUT THE COFFEE because it tastes bad. Like.. seriously. W.T.F. I couldn’t make this ish up if I tried.
Then, in trying to “prove” her devotion to travel, she talks flippantly about taking her kids out of public school so they can do their school curriculum while catching red eyes and taking road trips for upwards of two to three weeks, and even breast feeding her child in a moving vehicle – which is dangerous and irresponsible to say the least. I kept finding myself shaking my head marveling at how selfish some of her stories were. They smacked more of a selfish, spoiled, entitled child and less like an enlightened, wise and thoughtful woman at times.
With a contempt for American culture and an off-putting air of superiority, overall I found that there is more pride than humility, lust for more than craving for less, and aimless rambling than purposeful intention in this book on navigating through a chaotic world and living intentionally.
Sooooo, I hate to say it, but this is a one star book to me. While Oxenreider is a great writer, her book ultimately reads like a series of disjointed blog posts, and while they are loosely organized by topic – Food, Work, Education, Travel – it’s mostly a bunch of random monologues, many of them self-centered and not very helpful.
She repeats herself frequently and unnecesarily (yes, yes, we KNOW you lived in Turkey for a few years and hated it but now you’re obsessed over it) and she constantly strives to remind the reader that she is not quite like you.
The most entertaining and helpful portion of the book were the “discussion questions” in the back of the book, which my husband and I went over while on our road trip driving from Florida to California. And even then, the questions were biased and worded in such a way as to lead the reader to agree with her viewpoints.
So, yeah, I hate to say it, but this book soooo rubbed me the wrong way. I wouldn’t recommend it to others. Sorry Tsh.