Reviews: Bothered by My Green Conscience

by Franke James

Bothered by My Green Conscience

Buy it on Amazon: Bothered by My Green Conscience

Winner of 2010 Green Book Festival Award for Graphic Novels

2010: Bothered by My Green Conscience is the winner of the 2010 Green Book Festival Award for Graphic Novels. The award honors books that, “… contribute to greater understanding, respect for and positive action on the changing worldwide environment.”

Book Reviews & Interviews

Lindsay Borthwick’s PopTech Review: “James pioneered a way of communicating about a cause…”

United States — June 29, 2011

lindsay borthwick poptechLindsay Borthwick’s review: “With this graphic novel, James pioneered a way of communicating about a cause that’s neither impersonal nor chronically negative—two words so often associated with the way we talk about the environment. The novel’s pages are a pastiche of colorful illustrations, photographs and script. In some ways, the visuals are just the supporting act. It’s James’ storytelling that most resonates, probably because she keeps them personal—humorously chronicling her own musings, misconceptions and moments of discovery.”

See: PopTech review: What’s bothering Franke James?

Author Sheril Kirshenbaum’s Discover Magazine Review: “This is no ordinary book…”

United States — October 7, 2010

Sheril Kirshenbaum, Unscientific AmericaSheril Kirshenbaum’s review: “…a unique read from artist Franke James entitled Bothered by My Green Conscience. This is no ordinary book. James uses colorful artwork and photography to convey her message and the result is an extremely successful convergence of images and ideas… I really enjoyed flipping through this creative account of climate change and personal decisions. I’m not alone either: Bothered by My Green Conscience recently won the 2010 Green Book Festival Award for Graphic Novels.

See: Sheril Kirshenbaum’s “Bothered By My Green Conscience” review

Bubbalon Video Review: “Cool message and artwork…”

United States — September 21, 2010

“The power of social media… After meeting award-winning author Franke James through twitter (@frankejames), we were lucky enough to receive her book “Bothered By My Green Conscience” in the mail today! After looking through her visual essays, we made this video thanking Franke for the book and telling all our users about her cool message and artwork…”

See: @Bubbalon video review

Thinking Without a Box: “Feel like giving to everyone so they can get the ‘green thing'”

Bangalore, India — July 24, 2010

Percy MonteiroP. A. Monteiro’s “Bothered” review: “Even though I had read all of the visual essays online, reading the essays in Bothered… was a totally different experience and the essays were easier to read. I also didn’t appreciate how much work goes into creating each visual essay until I saw the illustrations on the pages of the book. The visuals that Franke James uses with her words are way more powerful in conveying her experiences and thoughts than any book with only words could be.

As soon as I finished the book, I wanted to give it to my family members so that after reading it, they’d understand why I use baking soda for cleaning, why I segregate garbage, etc. In fact, Bothered… is one of those books that you feel like giving to everyone you know so that they can also get the “green thing”.

Bothered by my Green Conscience is a terrific read and unlike any book that I’ve ever read. I wish and hope that more people will read it.

See: P. A. Monteiro’s “Bothered” review

ForeWord Reviews: “James may just have landed on the perfect combination of earnestness and wit, gravity and self-effacing commentary.”

“This is not a bummer book. The author in question does not employ a preachy or apocalyptic tone. This is not another little book-as-accessory for the green chic elite. Instead, James has searched her conscience, taken stock of the problem, noted the contradictions in her own behavior, and dreamed up some doable first-steps. All of this is documented in her down-to-earth, kid- and adult-friendly artistic style which manages to be engaging and cool where others can be redundant or simply too sober to capture a general audience.

“The book was the winner of the 2010 Green Book Festival Award for the Graphic Novel and it’s easy to see why it caught the judges’ attention: James may just have landed on the perfect combination of earnestness and wit, gravity and self-effacing commentary. If an essay is, by definition, “an attempt” —not a guarantee or a promise that the problem will be resolved—then what better way to tangle with the subject of climate change. Her smart visual style is characterized by a hand-wrought whimsy that works swiftly and well to communicate even very big ideas.”

See: ForeWord Reviews: Bothered by My Green Conscience

Calgary Public Library: “Bothered by My Green Conscience is not only fun and thought-provoking, but illustrated with funky pictures”

“James decided to sell her SUV and rip up her driveway to plant a garden, and endures the reactions from family and friends, and even Toronto City Hall to her wild, green scheme. Along the way she discusses how social change happens: awareness versus action, empathy versus self-interest, and fines vs. social disapproval. The result is a whimsical look at one person’s efforts to do the hardest thing first to counter climate change in her personal life.”

See: Fun Green reads

Gazette: Toronto artist Franke James delivers a fun read on climate change

“I have a huge pile of recently-published environmental books on my desk, and most of them, quite frankly, are major downers. But I just picked up Bothered by My Green Conscience…and read it cover to cover in one 20-minute sitting. It is a funny, moving, and inspiring read even though it deals with a topic that usually depresses the hell out of me; climate change… This might be just the ticket for those of us who have read so much about the science, the dire predictions, and the politics of climate change that we just can’t stomach any more. Time for a little hope and humor on this issue.”
See: Montreal Gazette Blogs Green life

Green Living Magazine: There’s something about Franke

“Franke James is using her creativity to tackle climate change—armed with a paintbrush and a vivid imagination—and having dazzling results.”

Photo of Franke James by Kourosh Keshiri for Green Living Magazine

Franke James, artist, author and speaker, is profiled in the Fall 2009 issue of Green Living Magazine. The issue urges Canadians “to take a stand” and challenges them to become greener citizens. Read more…

Toronto Star: Green conscience inspires change

“Franke James knows it isn’t easy being green. And when people ask the Toronto-based artist and environmentalist what they can do to become greener, she gives them the hard truth, literally. “Do the hardest thing first while we are strong and before we change our minds,” she says…”
See: Green conscience inspires change Franke James: The Great Canadian Green Driveway Pioneer

“In a non-preachy and humorous fashion, Franke’s book explains how she made big decisions that were suitable to her lifestyle and in turn significantly reduced her personal contribution to environmental waste and damage. Franke’s advice: “do the hardest thing first.”…”
See more:

Flare Magazine: Green Read

“Sipping on cucumber water and organic beer, guests pondered their own green guilt at last night’s launch of Bothered by My Green Conscience a new book by Torontonian Franke James…”
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Kimberley D. Mok, Book Review Bothered By My Green Conscience by Franke James 07.10.09

Inspiring others to go green can be an uphill battle, judging from the blank looks of non-comprehension that one may receive at times. However, Toronto-based artist Franke James shows that this doesn’t have to be the case. With her delightfully quirky style, James has been chronicling her personal journey in going green through a series of illustrated online essays for some time now, and her latest book,Bothered By My Green Conscience, finally brings five essays together in one edition.

From her decision to “do the hardest thing first” by selling her SUV to de-paving her driveway to plant her own slice of Eden, James’ words and images allows us to enter her thought-stream. “Do the hardest thing first, before you change your mind,” she writes. But later on, she feels nostalgic and almost changes her mind, but reminds herself to “do the hardest thing first!” and pulls through, but not without a little pink (sigh) on the bottom of the page.

It’s part of her signature style that allows James to tackle serious issues (like taking on municipal officials to get a permit to un-pave her property), while delivering them in a (thankfully) disarming manner. Even a printing mistake by the publisher is transformed into a Twitter-fuelled treatise on the phrase “No one will know except you,” bringing home the fact that we are responsible only to ourselves for our actions…

In nurturing her green conscience, James artfully demonstrates that the process can be far from perfect, but her colourfully illustrated enthusiasm and verve is an infectious page-turner.


Rob Wittig, Book Review Drawing Softens the Blow; the Green Conscience of Franke James

We’ve admired her online visual/verbal narratives in these pages, and Franke James’ smart, fun, and only-seemingly-casually designed little book, Bothered by My Green Conscience is now making its way in the world.

Illustrated and designed in an easygoing way that blends photocollage and a range of illustration styles from scribbly to nearly classical, the book shows practical how-to’s of a green lifestyle for busy people.

The transition from illustration style to style keep the book surprising and active, page turn after page turn, but the contrasts are much more than just random. James selects her styles to subtly support and sometimes soften the rigor of what she’s asking of her readers in their lives.

It’s a great example of form following function in a discursive presentation, just as intonation and volume do for spoken communication . . . gently prodding, supporting, cajoling, humoring and making humor — because this is a piece that is often funny.

James has done a sensitive job of what could be a guilt-provoking subject. Credit also goes to her publishers for supporting her style and offering a serious — and seriously funny — alternative to running grey text.

BlogTalk Radio: Connecting Women

Faten Abdullah, Book Review Book Review: Bothered by My Green Conscience:
How an SUV-driving, imported-strawberry-eating urban dweller can go green

Going green is now the latest craze. Whatever the reasons why “going green” is the latest craze, the Earth benefits from the actions of people going green. Author Franke James wrote Bothered by My Green Conscience: How an SUV-driving, imported-strawberry-eating urban dweller can go green to show her experience of doing something “big”, not just small steps like changing to fluorescent light bulbs or recycling cans…

This is a must read because not only is this educational, it is written in a whimsical style–entertaining. I would highly recommend this book because it is edutainment for adults.

Greenpeace Canada

Anil Kanji, Book Review Bothered by My Green Conscience

Franke James, talking about how lasting change is often sparked by a combination of factors – legislation, social acceptance, and community initiative and desire:

What levers work best to change behaviours? Will we do something we hate to avoid a fine and social disapproval? People are pretty good about stooping and scooping. New York created the ‘Pooper Scooper’ law in 1978. The threat of a fine caused people to pick up, but a major factor was social pressure. Is everyone doing it? No, but now it causes shock if a dog owner fails to stoop and scoop. If people can be convinced to pick up dog shit, who knows what social change is possible?

Bothered by My Green Conscience describes Franke’s journey from an SUV-driving, imported-strawberry eating urban dweller into an inspiration for those of us looking to make green changes to our lives. The quote above doesn’t do justice to the book’s colourful illustrations and scrapbook-style text and photography. I’ve been a fan of the creative visual essays on Franke’s website for years, and it’s nice to see how she’s adapted them for book form. She tells the stories of letting go of her SUV, converting her front parking pad into a garden, considering the future she’s leaving for her grandchildren, and being inspired by a Malcolm Gladwell and Mark Kingwell talk.

What I like most about Franke’s approach is that she’s not really that radical, and isn’t preachy about the changes she’s making in her life. She readily acknowledges she’s not perfect, she’s just someone who started to listen to their “green conscience” and acted accordingly. I take to heart her advice for anyone who wants to make a change in their lives but feels overwhelmed by where to start: “Do the hardest thing first”.

In our fight against climate change, much of our work involves political action. But equally important is “walking our talk” – conserving energy, reducing waste, and decreasing our carbon footprints. What’s the hardest thing for you? And conversely, what do you see in daily life that would be easy to change? Franke shows that doing the right thing can be easy, and even fun.

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North York Mirror,

Fannie Sunshine, Interview North York resident pens environmental book:
Challenges others to think green

What’s bothering your green conscience? That’s a question North York resident Franke James likes to pose when discussing ways to help save the environment. James, who made headlines in 2007 when she became the first resident in the city to win approval to build a green driveway, recently released her first environmental book, Bothered By My Green Conscience: How an SUV-driving, imported-strawberry-eating urban dweller can go green. The book, printed entirely on reused paper, chronicles her decision to go green and the impact on future generations through drawings, photos and hand-drawn text.

James, who wrote and illustrated the book, started to really become environmentally aware after a 2005 energy audit on her Lawrence Avenue and Avenue Road home… “I’m looking to inspire people to do more than change the light bulb,” she said. “I can’t change the world but I can take personal responsibility. I have a lot of fun talking to people and asking what bothers your green conscience? It’s amazing that people have a green conscience and something has been nagging at them.”

Read more

The News Record, University of Cincinnati

Green Conscience activist sows seeds of sustainability
By Taylor Dungjen

She renovated her home, sold her SUV, fought city hall, planted grass where her driveway used to be and wrote a book.

Franke James – artist, writer and environmental activist – had to fight Toronto City Hall to remove her interlock driveway so she could green up her property. Upon inquiry of the driveway’s removal, the city sent out an official to say, not only could she not remove her driveway, but she could only have one tree in her front yard.

“That’s when I had an eye-opening moment,” James said. “I thought, ‘How can that be? That doesn’t make any sense at all. [The city of Toronto] is saying they’re green, that they want people to plant trees, but I can only plant one?’ It really bothered my green conscience.”

James will present “Paradise Unpaved: How Nurturing your Inner Alice-in-Wonderland Can Win Over City Hall,” Monday, May 18, to the University of Cincinnati community as the last installment of the Climate 101 Lecture Series for the current academic year.

Read more…


Michael McGee, Atmosphere Monthly Bothered by My Green Conscience | A book by artist Franke James

“The full name is Bothered by My Green Conscience: How an SUV-driving, imported strawberry-eating urban dweller can go green. It’s by Franke James of Toronto. This book of visual essays is engaging, beautiful, ingenious and an unusual pleasure to read. It is good for future generations, for frugal budgets and one’s own spirit.”

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Book review by Martin Edic: I’m not ‘Bothered By My Green Conscience’ (Franke James new book!)

Franke’s visual essays have been spreading virally over the past few years with mentions on major blog sites like Kottke and Treehugger. Now they are gathered together in a book, Bothered by My Green Conscience (New Society) and I think it gives us a very good reason to still value having a bound and printed object that we can share without peering into a screen.

Franke’s essays are illustrated guides to her process of changing internally and externally — we literally see into the conscious and unconscious thought process as she decides to take real action in dealing with the personal effects of climate change. Not content to simply change lightbulbs and stop drinking bottled water, Franke (with her husband) sells her SUV, rips up her driveway and plants a garden (battling a confused bureaucracy in the process) and writes a moving letter to her unborn grandchildren, a letter bemoaning in advance our pitiful lack of effort to improve a world we’re destroying. This essay, To My Future Grandkids in 2020, goes beyond the humor of the situational earlier essays and paints a poignant picture as Franke attempts to explain our collective failure to change things now when change is required — an explanation written for a generation yet to come.

The essays must be seen to be appreciated. Combining text, illustration and collage, they express the messiness of creativity and the beauty of action. This really is a book to give to your friends and family. Though we’ve never met in person, Franke and I are friends, separated by 80 miles of Lake Ontario water. We’ve been corresponding for several years now and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing these essays appear on her blog. When the book arrived in my mail I realized that they were deeper and more thought-provoking when revisited in this format.

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Jim Carroll, Innovation Expert & Author

Book review: I read a book today, oh boy! “Bothered by My Green Conscience”

Last night, I read Franke’s new book, “Bothered by My Green Conscience: How an SUV-driving, imported-strawberry-eating urban dweller can go green.

It’s an absolutely stunning, delightful, colorful, inspirational and thought provoking romp through Franke’s unique adventure to change her life to pay more respect to the environment. It’s artistic, creative, and unique. I don’t think I’ve quite ever read a book like this.

It’s not really a book that you read; it’s more of a colorful diagram that you work your mind through. Franke’s unique skill has always been her ability to draw her thinking. And that’s what she does in this book — it’s an absolutely fascinating display of what can be done when a truly unique, creative mind sets out to tell a story in a unique and innovative way.

You really need this book – both for the unique creative way in which she tells her story — and for the importance of the message that it provides. Inspirational!

Read full article

Montreal Gazette:

Interview by Monique Beaudin: Beyond the bags and bulbs

Franke James had made small steps in the pursuit of an eco-friendly lifestyle, but it was the selling of her SUV that started a giant leap toward greener pastures

Franke James has a message for people who want to make environmentally friendly changes in their lives: Do the hardest thing first

“It’s human nature to want to postpone hard things,” she said. “We need to face up to the fact that we need to tackle the hard stuff first while we’re strong enough to do it.” And that’s how she decided to do something big about climate change – by selling her family’s only vehicle, their SUV. “You can change a light bulb, but do you really feel good about that?” asked James, who will be in Montreal next month to take part in the 5th World Environmental Education Congress. “I wanted to do something that was a big statement that I would feel was a big lifestyle change… Selling the car was definitely the hardest thing,” she said. “Every day you get up, and you don’t have a car. So you have to live with that reality… In general, people are not aiming very high in terms of climate change,” she said. “They say, ‘I’m recycling, changing light bulbs, what more do you want me to do? I’ve got a life.’ ”

In her book, James writes to her future grandchildren, saying she imagines them “cursing us – yelling and stamping your feet that we were stupid and selfish and mean.” She says she wants them to know that she tried to do something about climate change. “Even if I’m one of the few who is actually taking personal responsibility and changing my lifestyle, at least I’ve done something,” she said. “My future grandkids are going to think, ‘She did try. She changed her lifestyle and she did write about it and communicate it.’ ”

Lest you think James is hectoring people who aren’t as green as she is, she says that’s the last thing she wants to do. Everyone can tackle global warming in their own way, James emphasizes.

“I would hope that each person would find their own thing that’s right for them to do,” she said. “If they could just raise the bar a little and do something ambitious, because we are seeing the changes all around us – the polar ice caps melting, we are having weird weather. Climate change is coming faster than anybody expected.”

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Lloyd Alter writes: No One Will Know Except You.

Franke James is an author, artist, photographer and writer who has been on TreeHugger and Planet Green before with her illustrated essays like MySUV and Me Say Goodbye. They were recently published in her book Bothered By My Green Conscience, where the printer made a mistake and didn’t print the inside covers red… The printer said sorry, but said “no one will know except you.” That got Franke thinking.

And when Franke gets thinking, she gets drawing and twittering, and the results are interesting and entertaining. Read about the resolution of the Mystery of the UnRed Page.

Read full article


Joshua Tusin reviews: Bothered by My Green Conscience

“Local artist Franke James is no stranger to interest in her endeavours to go green, but with Bothered By My Green Conscience Franke has made the jump to the hardcopy book world. Until now people have only been able to follow her stories through her vertically-oriented, online visual essays, a format that had be to re-worked to fit a book 5.75″ wide and 6.75″ tall.

Franke not only provided the book content but designed the book too, and thank goodness she did. Her visual aesthetic is as crucial to the stories as her compelling content, and if the design of the pages were left to somebody else I suspect the translation to paper would not have been so perfect. And that’s really the word here: perfect…

…a letter to her future (as yet unborn) grandchildren in 2020 was a touching and clever way to articulate the reason Franke has become a green crusader. Not that people need to justify why they sell their SUVs, install a green driveway or otherwise go green, but since Franke keeps making waves with the grand green gestures she makes, this essay gave her the freedom to express, in her own way, why it’s so important to her that she does her part for our planet.

And so whether it is for inspiration, admiration or discussion, this undersized book will become my new favourite coffee table book. Not only does it take up less space, it’s more important than whatever beautiful picture book I might have put out instead.” Read full article

Read longer excerpts

About the Author:
Franke James is an artist, photographer and writer focused on social change. An entertaining and persuasive advocate for the environment, she has a Masters degree in Fine Arts from the University of Victoria and lives in Toronto.
Bothered by My Green Conscience is available through booksellers and online retailers, including Amazon, as of April 21, 2009.

Amazon link:
Bothered by My Green Conscience: How an SUV-driving, imported-strawberry-eating urban dweller can go green

Franke James at book reading for Bothered by My Green Conscience, holding large copy of book for presentation; photo by Central Image Agency
Has Franke’s Green Conscience grown that BIG?? Franke holds a large copy of Bothered by My Green Conscience for her presentation.

Buy it on Amazon: Bothered by My Green Conscience

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