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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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I saw this book as the Daily Deal on 25th July, downloaded the free sample, bought it as a result and couldn't put it down. I finished it on 29th July.

I reckon this book just happened to hit the spot for me (I have no idea if it will for you). I found the combination of the beauty of Alaska, the quality of the author's prose and the story behind the van fascinating. It's enough to make you want to take a trip to the Arctic - but to work there, not to scratch the surface as a tourist.

I did question the authenticity of the story early on where the author goes for a hike alone, without basic supplies. It just sounded so foolish that I wondered how accurate it was. But I did not get that feeling again.

The same day as finishing the book, I started doing something that I have procrastinated about for ages - having a clear out. If you read the book, you will understand why (though that is not the point of the book - it is incidental). I just feel that my possessions own me.

This is one of just two books that I have read this year which have left me reflecting on them after reading them.

A few sample quotes, partly to give you an idea of the author's prose:

"...In the arctic, winter stands like a barbarian horde on the edge of town one day and ravages it the next. Winter moves in without warning, grabs summer by the belt loops of its cut-offs, and throws it out of the door.."

"...With chattering teeth and fingers as hard and stiff as icicles, I struggled to get a grip on my sleeping bag zipper. Within moments, though - now burritoed in my own body heat - a warmth radiated across my arms and legs and torso, as if my bag were stuffed with sunrays..."

"...As a country, we marched from one unpaid-for purchase to the next in a quest for fulfilment that fades long before the bill arrives..."

"...We need so little to be happy. Happiness does not come from things. Happiness comes from living a full and exciting life..."

P.S. When someone lavishes praise in an Amazon review, you should be suspicious. This book simply hit the spot for me.
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on 28 August 2014
I believe anyone could benefit from reading this book. I used to think our UK student loan system was problematic but have learnt that it's much worse for students in the US. I found the author an amiable and intelligent guide to his world and his worldview. I have learnt about Alaska and the Niagara Falls. I hope I have learnt to value freedom more and consumption less. All from a download costing pennies, how fitting!
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on 13 January 2016
I started this book thinking I would read just a few pages, but I was gripped from the start. We really have become money slaves, with the necessity to work at jobs we do not like or positively hate to pay our bills and reduce our debt. Not everyone could live as this young man did but he did manage to stay true to his ideals and managed his debt in a most original way.
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VINE VOICEon 25 September 2014
A fascinating account of Ken's journey, literally, from owing thousands of pounds of student debt to being debt free. His story of working jobs in the back of beyond that provided him with food and board so he could pay all his salary towards his debt is nothing less than inspirational. Although I probably wouldn't have the strength to work as a ranger in the mountains as he did! Then, as he wanted to go back to college, he lives in a van to avoid student rent. This seems like hell to me but he did it, and managed to get through without incurring any more debt.

A really good read.
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on 1 September 2013
I am writing as a slightly disabled (walk with a crutch) 72 year old grandmother who found this book grabbed my attention and held it until the end. I found myself smiling quite often as I read it. I loved the honesty, idealism and total dedication to the task. As this was something I would never have had the courage to do when I was young, it really fascinated me, especially living in Alaska. I keep thinking that I would like to visit there now but, as that probably won't happen, I feel that I saw it through Ken's eyes. So I thank him very much and look forward to any other book and adventure he might take me on.
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on 7 September 2014
I enjoyed the book and admire Ken's determination to both educate himself and live debt free. I didn't give it 5 stars though because my kindle registered 65% of the way through the book when Ken actually bought the van! I had almost given up by this stage - there was an awful lot of hitchhiking, low-pay jobbing and filler before getting to what I expected - vandwelling.
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on 22 April 2014
An incredible story about a disillusioned graduate who owes tens of thousands of dollars and wants to pay it off as quickly as possible even it means extreme saving or working in conditions that many of us would not.

He ends up working in Alaska cleaning and working in a diner, he also tells us of his experiences hitch hiking through the US and the people he meets along the way.

The last third or so of the book is about his life living in a van in a car park of a very expensive college he managed to get into, while he lives on less on less than $5 a day, he does not befriend any fellow students at the start in case he gets discovered and fights boredom and loneliness, he tells of how he'd play with a pile of leaves for an hour.

IIgunas is a very gifted young writer and spins great tales, I finished the book in a matter of days. The author and his story remind me of the excellent Into the Wild

A fantastic story - Highly Recommended.
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on 10 September 2014
At first, having read the sample, I was in two minds whether to go on but it did improve and I found it very interesting. However, why do men have to tell us about their intimate activities, i.e. masturbating? Is it just a macho thing? I, for one, think such information is totally unnecessary. Apart from that, Ken writes a good book!!!
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on 20 August 2013
Ken Ilgunas takes the dry subject matter of student debt and turns it into a page turner by the use of dry humour. I must admit to not understanding that the title refers to the work Walden by Henry David Thoreau but I’ll be adding it to my wish list. The story is based in the USA and its collegiate system however, it’s so skilfully written it will engage most readers.
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on 8 May 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was attracted to this book for a few different reasons; I love adventure travel writing, I'm interested in minimalist lifestyles, I (enviously) follow the 'tiny house' movement online and - most of all - I've harboured fleeting dreams of buying a campervan and hitting the open road for a life of off-grid freedom. Anyway... I loved this book.

The title "Walden on Wheels - On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom" is a slight misnomer. The "on wheels" section takes up perhaps a third of the book, with the preceding sections outlining how the author acrued his debt, his thoughts on the matter, a sea-change in attitudes about society and modern life, and a succession of adventurous-sounding jobs. I enjoyed these bits just as much as the "van-dwelling", and it all pleasingly came together as a coherent and intriguing story.

Ilgunas has a great writing style. He's generally engaging and amusing, but occasionally slips into quite a literary voice. With the sometimes deep and meaningful topics this book covers it fits perfectly, and has the feel of hard-fought wisdom. I've noticed some reviews complaining that he's in his 20's, as if that disqualifies his words as pretentious. It doesn't. He's walked the walk and is talented enough to describe his experiences in a diverse and expressive way.

Highly recommended.

I'll be keeping an eye out for his follow-up.
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