BOOK REVIEW BY FATIMA KHUZEM
This is my fourth attempt at reviewing Isabel Losada’s book, The Joyful Environmentalist – How to practice without preaching.
Attempt 1: Is the environmental battle in the UK a joyful endeavour just for the privileged?
I only made it through the first four chapters of the book in sequence and rushed to write a dismissive review of it because I felt alienated as a reader and as a person that may be concerned about the environment in any shape or form.
As I began reading Isabel Losada’s ‘joyful’ book I had a repetitive feeling of ‘this is a book for the privileged, and any joy felt is because the reader is privileged’. Why? you might think. Well because for starters having the financial stability to shop at Whole Foods or take days off to volunteer planting trees is well beyond what an unemployed immigrant mother like me can even fantasise about.
I volunteered to read this book because I was looking for positive and joyful inspiration to begin a much contemplated journey to living more sustainably and being environmentally conscious, so after attempt one the book found itself in a basket under my bed sadly waiting to be returned to its much deserving owner.
Attempt 2: Overwhelming anxieties about not contributing to the cause or doing enough.
The book did make it out of the basket, phew! After some internal venting I decided I wasn’t being fair, I must give the book a full read and a good chance. Isabel Losada to her credit does get straight to the solutions without fussing much over who is to blame or how we have got to where we are with the planet in the first place.
A few more chapters were read still in sequence but now I started researching topics I found interesting or curious, pages on good energy in our homes and why we must be vegan have been dog eared for my attention in the future.
So, the read was now taking much longer, and the longer it took the more anxiety I felt because here was a book with so many ways to be an environmentalist, so many accessible ways to be responsible and make good choices. And I was lagging far far behind.
My mild attempts at recycling and saying ‘no’ to the odd holiday overseas or to cling-wrap felt like I wasn’t even scratching the surface. With an overload of anxiety the book got thrown into a dark drawer again with me typing furiously about how I was struggling to see the joy in being constantly reminded about how little people like me are doing. In my defence I just didn’t have the time or support at home to turn my life upside down for the planet.
Attempt 3: Is being an environmentalist a ‘you’re either in or out’ endeavour?
As I sat shamefully on a pack of disposable nappies amidst a pandemic with blue masks and multiple bottles of hand sanitiser littering the place, the book begged my attention again. I couldn’t help but read on to see if someone like me who isn’t an environmentalist, for whom anonymity is a place of comfort, could enjoy the process of helping heal the planet?
Or perhaps I could only shamefully trail behind because, well placed as my intentions might be, I was in a panic of the pandemic, ‘Amazoning’ everything!
A few more chapters were read. By now I was jumping chapters, picking ones I either thought I was totally averse to because I felt envious about Isabel Losada’s unrealistic holistic approach to finding every way to love the planet, or the ones where I was happy I was on top of my game.
Another attempt was made at writing a review with lukewarm feeling towards the book. There is a lot to love about many of her joyful endeavours but some of them still had me a sceptic.
Attempt 4: Take it or leave it, get on it or dog ear it – the genius of Isabel Losada’s book
I have now read most of the book, not all of it, but that’s just how I want it. The moment it dawned on me that this book is ideal to be sat on a shelf to be pulled out whenever you are ready for inspiration, to reference during an evening chit chat with friends, or for some quiet positive reinforcement that there is hope in so many ways, the joyfulness as promised by Isabel Losada does start to seep in.
I have now bought my own copy of the book so I have it for keeps after I’ve returned the one I have borrowed. The book doesn’t beg for total agreement of the reader, rather it lets you have a dialogue with it, which I realised was exactly what was happening with attempt 1, 2 and 3. Her writing is accessible so you feel free to feel the joy she feels, whether you agree, disagree, investigate or feel inspired.
Glad I persisted, glad I own it. A shame if it’s borrowed to be returned because this one is a happy keeper for the bookshelf.