Review

The Slow Guides

"Live more, fret less" - slow living in Melbourne and Sydney

The Slow Guides

Product details

Product name: The Slow Guides

Reviewer: Jenny Blackford

Publisher: Affirm Press

Price: $29.95

Size: 224 pages

G Rating:

4

On the front cover of each of these books is the endearing motto "Live more, fret less", and the back covers hold a purported quotation from racing car driver Michael Schumacher: "Not really my speed."

The two Slow Guides - one for Melbourne, one for Sydney - contain a myriad of suggestions for how we can live up to these slow sentiments.

Many pages in the Slow Guides are reminiscent of the respected Lonely Planet guidebooks, with lists of worthy restaurants, sights and so on, and the publisher (and author of the Melbourne book), Martin Hughes, is a former Lonely Planet travel writer.

However, these guides are intended less as a resource for travellers, and more as an aid for living better and more mindfully in one's own city.

As Helen Hawkes writes in the introduction to the Sydney volume, they're "for people attracted to the idea of downshifting but who actually like where they work and live - who love the buzz and richness of the city, but want to take it at their own pace."

Although the books are not overtly 'green' in their approach, the slow living philosophy encourages an appreciation of and respect for the natural environment and offers an alternative to the hamster-wheel of consumerism and over-consumption.

These companion volumes share similar playful graphic design, with arty black-and-white photos and retro line drawings, and the text of each follows a similar format: first comes a celebration of the special character of the city, then advice on how to "Be - slow without effort" and "Do - in the pursuit of slow".

The suggestions the guides give for slow experiences are not limited to Slow Food.

These are also places to buy books, hand-made ties or art supplies, walking tours around the two cities, public art and architecture to explore, activities for kids, and destinations for weekends away.

Among these are scattered one- and two-page Essays, which rapidly became my favourite parts of the books.

Subjects vary, but many are touchingly personal accounts of experiences such as visiting the Sydney Observatory, having a pair of dancing shoes hand-made, hot-air ballooning at dawn through the canyons of the Melbourne CBD, or going bird-watching for the first time, then unexpectedly seeing two owls in inner Melbourne.

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