Happy 40th Birthday, Living on the Earth


buy Living on the Earth

OK, birthday candles are in order. The 40th anniversary of the first edition of Living on the Earth (The Bookworks, Berkeley CA) was in September 2010. The 40th anniversary of the bestselling second edition of Living on the Earth (Vintage Books, Random House, NYC) was in April 2011. It’s still in print as a hardbound library edition. The 40th anniversary of  Mariko Fukamachi’s translation of Living on the Earth (Soshisha Ltd., Tokyo) was in April 2012. It’s still in print as a paperback book.

Living on the Earth sold somewhere in excess of 350,000 copies, and it’s still selling in English and Japanese, and maybe still in Korean. I heard a rumor that the Provos in Amsterdam made a bootleg translation back in the 1970s (I’ve never seen one of those either, but I would LOVE to have one if it exists!!)


LOTE’s illustration and design style was so revolutionary when it first came out that Publishers Weekly devoted two pages to acknowledging this with an article in handwriting, illustrated with drawings selected from LOTE. I scanned and posted the PW piece here.

LOTE’s illustration and book design begat The Massage Book (and the Random House/Bookworks series), The Moosewood Cookbook series, The Vegetarian Epicure series, Survival into the 21st Century, and numerous others. More recently, motivational writer/speaker SARK told me that Living on the Earth’s illustration and design had inspired her graphic style as well.

Soshisha, Ltd, in Tokyo released the Japanese translation in 1972, with a blurb on the cover from Japan’s poet laureate, Shuntaro Tanikawa. It says, “I want to do everything in this book. If I can’t do everything in this book, then I want to dream about it, because I know that if I do, I will be a better person to the marrow of my bones.”