Synopses & Reviews
Alfred Ryan Nerz is a Yale-educated author, journalist, and TV producer. Hes also a longtime marijuana enthusiast who has made it his mission to better understand Americas long-standing love-hate relationship with our favorite (sometimes) illegal drug. His cross-country investigation started out sensibly enough: taking classes at a cannabis college, hanging out with a man who gets three hundred pre-rolled joints per month from the federal government, and visiting the worlds largest medical marijuana dispensary. But after connecting with a mysterious friend of a friend, his journey took an unexpected turn and he found himself embedded with one of the largest growers and dealers on the West Coast. He quickly transformed from respectable journalist into an underworld apprentice—surrounded by pit bulls, exotic drugs, beanbags full of cash, and trunks full of weed. But while struggling to navigate the eccentric characters and rampant paranoia of the black market, he maintained enough equanimity to explore a number of vital questions: Is marijuana hurting or helping us? How is it affecting our lungs, our brains, and our ambitions? Is it truly addictive, and if so, are too many of us dependent on it? Should we legalize it? Does he need to quit? As entertaining as it is illuminating, Marijuanamerica
is one mans attempt to humanize the myriad hot-button topics surrounding the nations worst-kept secret—our obsession with weed—while learning something about himself along the way.
Advance praise for Marijuanamerica
“This book is so entertaining, I want to roll it up and smoke it. Ryan Nerz takes us on a delightfully weird and educational journey that includes crazed pharmacists, a guy named Buddha Cheese, and an interstate road trip with a trunk full of pot.”
—A. J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically
“Marijuanamerica has it all: danger, suspense, nuts-and-bolts reportage, laugh-out-loud dialogue, gritty characters, sociological dissection, and hella deep thoughts. Nerz has talent to burn; this is participatory journalism at its finest.”
—Davy Rothbart, author of My Heart Is an Idiot, creator of Found Magazine, frequent contributor to This American Life
“What a long, strange trip it's been for Ryan Nerz, whose wild tales and antics are the stuff stoner lore is made of. But in looking at how far Marijuana has come, he also poses the tough questions every stoner inevitably asks. Ryan's journey is one worth taking.”
—Shirley Halperin, author of Pot Culture
"Readers will cheer for this oddball who grows a beard, avoids wearing mixed-fiber clothes, and carries his own three-legged miniature seat onto the subway." Library Journal
"If he starts out sounding like an interminable Ira Glass monologue, smarmy and name-dropping, he becomes much less off-putting as the year progresses, for he develops a serious conscience about such quotidian failings as self-centeredness, lying, swearing, and disparaging others. He may not be, he may never become, a moral giant, but he certainly seems to be a nicer guy." Booklist
"The Year of Living Biblically is an extremely compelling book, appropriately irreverent and highly entertaining. More significantly, it is a tale of an intense and intelligent spiritual search that will speak powerfully and instructively to a generation of seekers." Rabbi David Ellenson, president of Hebrew Union College
"A.J. Jacobs has written a how else to put it? Good Book. Let me take my review from the original, Psalm 2, verse 4: 'He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh.' And let me suggest that readers, whether they know their Bible or not, get to know A.J. Jacobs. But not in a biblical sense, please." P.J. O'Rourke
"Seeing that most people violate at least three of the ten commandments on their way to work even people who work from home - says a lot about the scale of A. J.'s feat. The fact that you need to buy six copies of this book to unlock the code to save all humanity...well, that's just pure genius." Ben Karlin, co-creator of The Colbert Report" and co-author of America: The Book
"A biblical travelogue-and far funnier than your standard King James." Kirkus Reviews
Inspired by Thoreau, Ilgunas set out on a Spartan path to pay off $32,000 in undergraduate student loans by scrubbing toilets and making beds in Coldfoot, Alaska. Determined to graduate debt-free after enrolling in graduate school, he lived in an Econoline van in a campus parking lot, saving—and learning—much about the cost of education today.
In this frank and witty memoir, Ken Ilgunas lays bare the existential terror of graduating from the University of Buffalo with $32,000 of student debt. Ilgunas set himself an ambitious mission: get out of debt as quickly as possible. Inspired by the frugality and philosophy of Henry David Thoreau, Ilgunas undertook a 3-year transcontinental jour ney, working in Alaska as a tour guide, garbage picker, and night cook to pay off his student loans before hitchhiking home to New York.
Debt-free, Ilgunas then enrolled in a masters program at Duke University, determined not to borrow against his future again. He used the last of his savings to buy himself a used Econoline van and outfitted it as his new dorm. The van, stationed in a campus parking lot, would be more than an adventure—it would be his very own “Walden on Wheels.”
Freezing winters, near-discovery by campus police, and the constant challenge of living in a confined space would test Ilgunass limits and resolve in the two years that fol lowed. What had begun as a simple mission would become an enlightening and life-changing social experiment. Walden on Wheels offers a spirited and pointed perspective on the dilemma faced by those who seek an education but who also want to, as Thoreau wrote, “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”
About the Author
A.J. Jacobs is the author of The New York Times bestsellers The Year of Living Biblically, My Life as an Experiment and The Know-It-All. He has been called "inspired and inspiring" (Vanity Fair), "entertaining" (New York Times) and "hilarious" (Time). He is the editor at large of Esquire magazine, a contributor to NPR, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. He lives in New York City with his wife Julie and their children. Visit him at AJJacobs.com and follow him on Twitter @ajjacobs.