See You in a Hundred Years (Paperback)
Discover One Young Family's Search for a Simpler Life . . . Four Seasons of Living in the Year 1900
Delta, 9780385342681, 272pp.
Publication Date: December 30, 2008
Logan Ward and his wife, Heather, were prototypical New Yorkers circa 2000: their lives steeped in ambition, work, and stress. Feeling their souls grow numb, wanting their toddler son to see the stars at night, the Wards made a plan. They would return to their native South, find a farm, and for one year live exactly as people did in 1900 Virginia: without a car or electricity–and with only the food they could grow themselves. It was a project that would push their relationship to the brink–and illuminate stunning hardships and equally remarkable surprises.
From Logan’s emotionally charged battles with Belle, the family workhorse, to Heather’s daily trials with a wood-fired cooking stove and a constant siege of garden pests and cantankerous animals, the Wards were soon overwhelmed by their new life. At the same time as Logan and Heather struggled with their increasingly fragile relationship, as their son relished simple joys, the couple discovered something else: within their self-imposed time warp, they had found a community, a sense of belonging, and an appreciation both for what we’ve lost–and what we’ve gained–across a century of change.
Praise For See You in a Hundred Years: Discover One Young Family's Search for a Simpler Life . . . Four Seasons of Living in the Year 1900…
"Logan Ward shares his family's brave adventure in this memorable and heartwarming memoir. With fetching candor, he describes his family's escape from the stress of modern living. I found myself completely involved with their experiment. You will find much in this book to think about. It's as valuable as a how-not-to endeavor as it is a how-to inspiration."—Mildred Armstrong Kalish, author of Little Heathens
“A meditation on the value of modern living.” –Birmingham News
“Ward has crafted a thoughtful, sweet-natured book–one to read s-l-o-w-l-y, by candlelight if possible, with a still mind and a settled heart.” –Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder and Americana
“A lively tale, told with admirable honesty.” –Raleigh (NC) News & Observer
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- What did you think of Logan's plan to reinvent his family's life as that of a 1900s dirt farmer? Did you expect that his experiment would be a success? More, that he would emerge being glad he did it?
- The book opens with two quotations, one from Wendell Berry and the other from Ian Frazier. Discuss what each means in the context of Logan Ward's story. Why do you think he chose these particular quotes?
- As much as See You in a Hundred Years is a story of an adventure, it's also an intimate portrait of a marriage. How are Logan and his wife Heather alike and different? Did you think that marriage would survive all the upheaval associated with their project?
- "Living in the wealthiest city in the wealthiest nation at the wealthiest moment in history, Heather and I should be happy. We aren't," (page 3). What do you think was at the heart of Logan and Heather's unhappiness in New York?
- What modern convenience or object could you easily live without? What facet of modern life could you never give up?
- The author's descriptions of life on his farm are rich and evocative, from tilling the soil in his garden and harvesting its bounty in the fall, to the life (and death) cycle of a farm. Which images or scenes stood out for you? Why?
- Before reading See You in a Hundred Years, did you know anything about the life of a 1900s dirt farmer? What did you learn? Could you be a farmer?
- In "Old Years Eve," the author asks himself whether he's embarking on this adventure as a way to escape reality. What do you think? Was he running away from real life in some way?
- If you had the opportunity to go back in time, which era would you choose to live in, and where would you go? What about the period and place you chose makes it appealing to you?
- The Wards were living on the farm when the September 11th attacks took place. What do you think of Logan's observation that the attacks "helped crystallize the importance of our 1900 project?" (page 138).
- In "Back to the Future," Logan poses this question to a friend: "Why should we care about the past?" (page 228) How would you answer this question?
- Consider what Logan writes in the book's afterword, as he describes his sadness about leaving the farm for good: "To survive in this world you have to leave some of the past behind." Do you agree with this sentiment?
- Having read See You in One Hundred Years, are you inspired to try an experiment like the Wards'? What would it be?