On a snowy night in 2000, Daniel Suelo, a 39-year-old resident of Moab, Utah, left his last $30 in a phone booth. It was a grand gesture to free himself from what he called “the servitude of money.” Among the many disquieting surprises of The Man Who Quit Money (Riverhead, $15), Outside correspondent Mark Sundeen’s account of Suelo’s life, is how well it worked out. For more than a decade, Suelo has dumpster-dived, couch-surfed, and scavenged America’s excess. And this being 21st-century America, he has blogged about it. Sundeen deftly portrays him as a likable, oddly sage guy (albeit with bad teeth) who finds happiness in radical simplicity. Does he make us want to ditch our Volvos and Völkls? Not entirely, but Suelo personifies a critique that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt remorse on the treadmill of getting and spending.
Required Reading: Wild
Eat, pray, hike
Author Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Knopf, $26) is getting a 100,000-copy print run, which means somebody thinks this finding-myself-in-the-woods memoir can sell. Strayed writes with a strong voice, and her account of her mother’s death, impetus for the hike she embarks on, is brutally effective. On the down side, the main subject is still backpacking, and there’s only so much that personal flashbacks and free-spirited fellow hikers can do to liven up all those hours on the march.
Nice Get: The Competition Bicycle
Jan Heine’s The Competition Bicycle (Rizzoli, $50) is a gorgeous homage to the rides used by everyone from Gino Bartali (the 1949 Bartali) to Greg LeMond (the Gitane).