(Jacqueline Potter found out about the bookfrom my father-in-law, Beryl Kingsbury, who is a Methodist minister and who spoke about the book and the values it portrays in one of his Sunday sermons. Jaqueline is also a poet, and her son runs New Renaissance Books in Portland Oregon. I was particularly moved by this review because some people have mistakenly thought that a book like mine would appeal only to Left Coast alternative types.)
I don't know when I have enjoyed and savored a book as much as "A Different Kind of Luxury." I didn't want it to end. The people Couturier chose to interview, stay with and eat with in their remote mountain homes over a period of years are each so different and all so fascinating. My husband read it first, and he loved it as much as I did. The book itself is beautifully designed with wonderful photographs of the subjects, their homes and their works.
The title and subtitle actually do not do the book justice. I wouldn't say the lessons learned are Japanese lessons, because they are not common to the current Japanese culture and civilization. It's just that most of the people are Japanese and have fled from Japan's hurried get-ahead-fast culture. Most of them have lived in India or Nepal for a time and have been deeply influenced by what they have learned there.
I usually am reading three or four books at a time, as well as several magazines and newspapers. When I read Andy Couturier's book, though, I quickly decided I didn't want to read anything else. Every night before bed, I would settle into my warm bath to read, reread some passages and enjoy it. Of course, I would steal a few paragraphs now and then through the day, too. Andy is an excellent writer with a finely-tuned ability to describe the environment and life each of these subjects have created and why each one has done it, including the philosophy behind their thinking. He ferrets out these unusual viewpoints and makes us understand them. The people he profiles are unique, usually multi-faceted and almost all produce some kind of art, written words or music, in addition to various other activities. Most grow and preserve their own food with their own labor, too. One cannot read this book without being deeply affected by it.
As for me, I am a writer myself who has published two novels for Jove under a pen name.(Take a look at my newest book "By Surf and By Stream, Illustrated Poems, Stories and Reflections" on Amazon. My husband, an artist who did all the pen-and-ink illustrations, including the cover, spent some time in Japan himself. So did our son and his family.) I grow many herbs, a couple of container tomato plants and countless varieties of flowering plants, wildflowers, shrubs and trees. I enjoy cooking all kinds of ethnic foods and live with my husband on a bluff overlooking a creek in the southern part of the midwest surrounded by many animals, some of which seem to think our home is their home, and all sorts of birds, including wild turkeys, hawks, owls and Great Blue Herons.