Book Review: The Hobo Handbook
A handy collection of tips for life on the road.
The Hobo Handbook: A Field Guide to Living By Your Own Rules
The job market is dismal, the economy is stagnant—seems like as good a time as any to chuck off "real-world" constraints and...become a hobo? Ridin' the rails, livin' on a prayer, flyin' by the seat of your only pair of pants. "That's the life for me!" (some of) you are thinking.
Josh Mack's new book, The Hobo Handbook: A Field Guide to Living By Your Own Rules, might give you pause. Don't get me wrong, it's a great read—quick, entertaining, and full of sage advice. It just dutifully points out what every wannabe hobo needs to know: It ain't easy.
"Unless your life has been pretty traumatic already, you can't imagine how miserable you can be alone outside on a dark, rainy night," says Mack—a traveler, carpenter, and family man, among other things—via phone. "That whole romantic notion disappears." (Note: Hobo-ing is not to be confused with idle homelessness, perpetual drunkenness, or being a "bum." Hobos travel by choice. Also, they still exist).
If I've scared you off already, come back! The Handbook, which came out yesterday, is here to help. Starting off with his "Hobo Aptitude Test," Mack combines research with firsthand experience to give readers an explicit how-to on what to put on (lightweight, fast-drying underwear), what to eat (recipes for things like Dandelion salad; instructions for is-that-road-kill-fresh-ish? analysis), what to bring (as little as possible), how to get around (trains are good, although dodging security is a lot harder now than it was back in the day).