Book Review: “Tiny Homes on the Move”


In 1968, Lloyd Kahn worked as Shelter editor for the “Whole Earth Catalog”. In 1973 he published the oversized book “Shelter”, which eventually sold 250,000 copies. Ten years ago he published “Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter”, the sequel, and in 2008, “Builders of the Pacific Coast”. Recently, Kahn published “Tiny Homes on the Move”, and we received a copy.

The 224-page book is rich with color, and not just the Roy G. Biv kind—nomadic life in the 21st century looks mildly familiar in a Lord of the Rings sort of way. The book features 90 ‘tiny’ homes, either floating in the water or rolling on the road. We felt a sort of kinship coming off our recent ‘Chasing Grins’ issue, and devoured the 1,100 color photos and rich descriptions of the families and individuals who’ve decided to live a rather unconventional—but intriguing—life away from the cliche. Bicycling is about freedom, and “Tiny Homes on the Move” takes freedom to a whole new level.

These are people who, either permanently or temporarily, have chosen to build and inhabit homes that move. People and structures in the book include:

  • A 72-year-old Swedish sailor who is building a 10-foot sailboat and plans to circumnavigate the globe. He’s already sailed around the world solo.
  • Further adventures of Swedish welder Henrik Linstrom (in “Tiny Homes”), sailing with his girlfriend from Baja, California to the South Seas and then to New Zealand.
  • A high-speed asymmetrical catamaran, a “Proa,” that recently crossed the Pacific, from San Francisco to the Marquesas Islands.
  • The Vaka Moana sailing canoes from the South Pacific. Three of these 66-foot catamarans sailed into our bay here in 2011, and our local fishermen visited them, and learned of their mission with the Pacific Ocean. They’re navigating by the stars.
  • A French circus wagon home on the road.
  • Two ski bums (a couple) and their winter camper/home.
  • The Moron Brothers, two good-ole-boy Kentucky bluegrass musicians who drift along the Kentucky River in a shanty boat, fishing, eating, telling jokes, and playing some really good bluegrass.
  • Sisters on the Fly, a group of over 1,000 women who have vintage trailers and go fly fishing and horseback riding and sit around campfires in camp-outs, ‘just us girls’.
  • Bruce Baillie’s 23,000-mile trip from British Columbia to South America and back on a 1969 Moto Guzzi motorcycle;
  • A beautifully crafted shanty boat moored on a wooded waterfront in the U.K.
  • Drew and Deb McVittie’s 35-year-old, 58-foot long tugboat home in British Columbia.

From Lloyd Kahn, editor-in-chief at Shelter Publications in Bolinas, California, which has been producing books on owner-built homes for over 40 years:

It took us about four years to get each of our previous three books together. Not working on the books full time, but gathering material and then eventually doing production. We got this new book done in two years, and it took its toll. I pretty much collapsed after doing the press check in Hong Kong and spent a nightmarish week completely out of energy. Chi flatline.

However, I got home, recharged, and then a few days ago, our advance copies of “Tiny Homes on the Move” arrived via FedEx and it was like, ‘holy shit’! The book just about danced out of my hands. It was colorful, joyous, happy, positive. Smiling people. A spirit of creativity, innovation, and excitement: these homes move. Someone said ‘It’s your trippiest book ever.’

We put it together two pages at a time, and it only coalesced into an organized whole towards the end. I’m a great believer in just starting—with whatever project. Sure, it’s best to be well prepared, to have a clear idea, but whether it’s building a house or a book, I need the impetus of immediacy to get rolling. I’ve never had a book surprise me like this one. I’m thrilled, OK? Yes, yes, rampant over-enthusiasm.

Book Tour

Kahn has been on a national book tour, having already appeared at the Maker Faire in San Mateo, California, in mid-May. Upcoming events include Vancouver, Victoria, and Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada in late (or early-TBD) September; The Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, September 12-14, 2014; and The Tiny House Fair in Austin, Texas, October 10-12, 2014.

Click here to get a sneak preview.



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