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January 3, 2011 / Maleesha Kovnesky

How To Get Out of the Rat Race

How To Get Out of the Rat Race and Live on $10 a Month was the name of a 1965 book my dad had on his shelf ever since I could remember.  The book stood out to me, maybe because it was the same silver as aluminum foil.  One fine day I decided I was going to get that book and see what was in it.  Good things come in shiny packages, I figured, so I was not about to let this shiny package pass me by.

How to Get Out of The Rat Race and Live on $10 A Month  by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter

How to Get Out of The Rat Race and Live on $10 A Month by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter

Before there was the Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook…there was this book.

From the moment I saw it’s first poorly-drawn dogsled, I was hooked.  Even the story was good.  I had no idea we were under such stress from pollution, life at a desk, crime, and other small things like atomic bombs pointed at our country right now.  I kept reading, for this book told me what to do under ANY possible situation I could run into…shark attacks, rattlesnake bites, falling rocks and logs, muggings, extremely low temperatures, and food shortages.  I spend countless hours of my youth reading this book, sucking all that information in.  To be fair, I read everything.  I read phone books, cereal boxes, receipts, installation instructions…this book was just another thing to read.  And somehow I grew older, left home, and that was that.  I figured that my dad would always have the book on his shelf.

Later as an adult I got a nostalgic hankering to read about some shelter types.  I couldn’t find the book.  I looked everywhere, tore up both my parent’s homes in search of the familiar foil-backed masterpiece.  Surely they wouldn’t have sold it.  But for a long time, I couldn’t find the book.

After months of longing and searching, a copy turned up on, an online bookstore that specializes on rare, out of print books.  I bought it.  It arrived in the mail and I was in heaven.  I remembered the silly diagrams and sentences written to scare, and smiled.

About two weeks after it arrived, I found the other one.  Now I can get out of the rat race twice.

I am a proud owner of two copies.


How To Get Out of the Rat Race and Live on $10 a Month is like any other guide book.  You just have to read it and do what it suggests.  You get to decide on where to uproot your life to though.  So start thinking…somewhere cold, or somewhere tropical?  Both climes have pros and cons, and George goes over all that in the book.

But…but…where to go?

Don’t worry.  George mentions many areas of the world as potential homes, but focuses on Alaska, Canada, Mexico, and Africa as places to “start over.”  In the pages below, a sample from “Alaska” we the readers are shown some important incentives and potential jobs to find once we get there.


Alaska...let's start there

Are you a single woman?  Don’t miss the fine print.


Lots of berries in Alaska, we will just have to fight off a couple of bears

How will I make money?

That’s all covered in the book too.  Besides listing all of the current 1965 General Contracting associations, there are many of George’s personal suggestions of career changes.  Remember the salmon berries from the photo above?  George suggests making  native wines to sell to tourists.  Tourists just love wine made of native berries.

Raising leopards is another possible direction you could take:

Quote from the page: "You can make far more money raising leopards than you think."





What about survival skills?

Even if you are just a beginner survivalist, George’s handy step by step guide to everything will have your dodging icicles and badgers in no time.  Look how easy it is to use crampons!


It's so EASY. Just practice on the pointy mountain peak.

Food storage is also covered in depth.  You don’t want those pesky wolves to get your stash.

Diagrams and simple directions for “bear cannons” like the one pictured below will probably come in helpful when you encounter danger.  Looks like a real piece of cake to set up, don’t you think?  Just try to remember it’s there if you get up in the late night hours to pee.

Homemade bear gun traps. Just do it.


As far as keeping out dysenteria-teeming tummies full, no problem.  Look at this accurate map of rabbits!


Range of Cottontail - never go hungry again - Notice the top heading..."A" bombs will not bother them

I hope you like rabbit.


Tell me about the danger.

Old stripes is not as dangerous as India's liquor.

Danger lurks everywhere, my friend, but you may not be aware.  If you choose to live your wilderness life in India, avoid the drink.  Typical dangers like tigers pale in comparison to alcohol with little leper-pieces inside.


And don’t get yourself stuck in this situation:


This image and the accompanying story haunted my nightmares.  Stupid book.

That George Herter was quite a character.  I read his Wiki entry and it sounds like he was the pioneer of shops that are popular today such as Cabelas and Bass Pro.  He must have hit some rough patches along the way, because it’s Cabela’s and not Herter’s.  At least he had the wilderness to listen to his tears fall.

But even the remote wilds of the world couldn’t save George forever.  In 1969, he wrote yet another step-by-step guide:  How to Live with a Bitch

Do you remember finding a book on your parent’s shelf that you still remember today?

Is there a story behind it?

You should write about it and link here…in return, I will append this story with links to your wayward reads!



Leave a Comment
  1. Gerald Lawson / Jul 10 2012 11:21 am

    I too read the book, “How To Get Out Of The Rat Race And Live On $10 A Month” when I was a young man in my mid-thirties. I had borrowed it from a friend at work. I was fully enthralled with the book and kept if for nearly a year reading it over and over. I had no plans to give up the rat race but I was impressed by the detail of which the author presented survivor techniques. Many years later…in 2009…I was able to buy a copy of the book on line for $14. That was quite a bargain considering it’s well over twice that price today, just three years later. I suppose that the focus today on survival techniques has caused the book to be more popular as a leading authority on surviving in the wilderness.
    Nonetheless, I still enjoy reading from the pages of that book from time to time and still recommend it to others when the subject of surviving in the wilderness is being discussed.

  2. teacher / Jan 7 2011 10:05 pm

    I LOVE all the pages you included with this book. In fact, I’ve now ordered my own copy on Amazon. I got the last used copy for $35; other used copies are priced at $75 and up.

    I’m glad you get to experience this book for yourself! I noticed that the few copies floating around out there are pricey. Glad to see you got a deal! Let me know what you think.

  3. bluesuit12 / Jan 5 2011 9:37 pm

    This find is fantastic! Every so often you should post installments from this book.

  4. David / Jan 5 2011 7:47 pm

    Oh your daddy’s bookshelf! This is amazing stuff. I want to stop the world and get off too. I want to raise baboons, but I like it here in New Hampshire. I can’t even grow eggplants here.

    I wonder if your dad had the book about the acceleratingly expanding universe. Gravity is an illusion created by that expansion. We don’t notice the expansion because we’re expanding too. How long can that continue before we get to the speed of light?

  5. KayDee / Jan 5 2011 6:27 am

    This is fabulous! I laughed “out loud” several times too!! This guy’s my hero! My parent’s didn’t have cool books like this in our library… mostly the classics, various encyclopedia sets, and every National Geographic mag volume printed in my step-dad’s life time I believe. Nothing whatsoever as useful or interesting as this kind of guide or How to Live with a Bitch… Love it! 🙂

  6. wpm1955 / Jan 4 2011 7:15 pm

    Wow, what a great book. I found your post just before going off to bed, but will be back to actually read all the pages you posted. They are super-interesting!

    Madame Monet in Marrakesh

    Thanks! Good to see you here.

  7. Allison / Jan 4 2011 6:59 pm

    Loved this line (of yours): “He must have hit some rough patches along the way, because it’s Cabela’s and not Herter’s.”

    Hmmmm. I’m not sure if my parents had any weird books, unless you count all my mom’s romance novels with Fabio on the cover. Blech!

    Oh this makes me want to write about the babysitting experience I had with stacks of dusty Fabio covers. I sympathize. My dad had all kinds of awesome book/reading material (none of it normal) and this was my favorite-est-est.

  8. territerri / Jan 4 2011 5:59 pm

    And here I’ve been worrying about the stability of my own employment recently, and all I had to do was start working on my leopard raising skills! Dang!

    This looks like a fun and entertaining book, though maybe it wasn’t intended for entertainment purposes.

    I was a major reader as a kid too, including cereal boxes and my dad’s Catholic magazines when I got really bored. Ironically, my parents never had a bookshelf, but I did really love to read my mom’s old books from her childhood. My very favorite is a rare one she still has, and is probably quite valuable by now, “The Golliwog’s Christmas” by Florence Kate Upton.

  9. Oregon Sunshine / Jan 4 2011 1:25 pm

    I love this book! So much so that I want my own copy now! Must have!

    Small corrections to the Alaska section though, seeing as how things have changed in the last oh, 40 years:

    The ratio of men to women is now 50/50 per capita in the state. However, to find a higher ratio of men, you need to visit some of the small bush villages like Talkeetna. When I would visit a friend there, I made up 1/3 the single female population. And yes, I received marriage proposals from strangers. They would go something like, “I have hot water, I have money, will you marry me?” No joke.

    Oh, and I think candy is made out of Alaskan berries now.

    We had a copy of Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills by Abigail R Gehring. I swear the first edition was co-wrote with a man, or maybe I only remember it reading like it was wrote by a man? I bought a copy as an adult, had it grow legs and not move home from Camp Pendleton with my (now ex)husband and had to buy another copy later on. I think it has been the main motivation and inspiration behind our farm and future farm dreams. I read that book cover to cover so very many times!

    Well clearly all of these things changed in Alaska because of this book! I love books like these. Okay…this one is a little over the top. I highly recommend it for HOURS of amusement!

  10. fawnahareo / Jan 3 2011 10:46 pm

    Ahahahaha! This made me laugh out loud! Several times, even. Dang, I don’t remember any weird books of my parents’, although there must have been some. I read Brave New World at my Oma’s house when I was about 7 (a bit young for that, yathink?!) and I remember finding a soft porn mag of my dad’s and totally not realizing it… but can’t think of anything weirder than that. And that’s not so weird at all, I’m afraid.

    I think we were meant to be friends. I read Beowulf at about 7 or 8. Clearly we are both advanced in the literary department. So what’s the best month to come visit the Yukon?

  11. Simone Benedict / Jan 3 2011 10:25 pm

    Your post is too, too funny. I am so going to buy all the books you referenced! I just posted on a book someone gave me for My Most Unusual Christmas Gift so far, How to Prepare Wild Game. As if I would really serve “smothered bunny” or “squirrel brunswick stew” !!!

    It’s interesting that you asked about books from our childhood. My parents had tons of bizarre books that I read as a child. There was one in particular about remedies for the home and farm from the early 1900s. I too had to buy my own copy because my parents refused to give me theirs! I will write about it on my blog. It’s a hoot, too.

  12. HaleyWhitehall / Jan 3 2011 10:24 pm

    Your post was fun to read. Thanks for posting all the illustrations. I really enjoyed them. I’ll have to think about what book I want to write about.

    Thanks for stopping by! The book has so many I wish I could scan them all.

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