Sunday, August 2, 2015

June - July Reading

Somehow last month's list didn't get finished: in fact, barely started, so here's some of what I've read over the last couple of months.

Fiction

One Small Drop by Liz Constable
This is a tiny book about sadness, disconnection and love. Liz says in her TradeMe listing: " The idea was conceived by Liz who wanted to produce a bedtime storybook for adults. One that offers comfort and encouragement, just like a good bedtime story ought to. It is suitable for children too." Liz is one of my favourite New Zealand bookbinders and easily my favourite NZ workshop tutor. You can read more about her, and her work on her website and on her Facebook page.
The book may seem expensive, but given this is a very small run, hand produced, and a delightful book, it is good value, I think. It comes in the post as a treasure package to sit down, with plenty of time and a cup of tea, to open with ceremony and delight.


After my Ann Cleeves binge in May, I was still in the mood for easy read fiction and found the following three books fitted the bill nicely, but in quite different ways.

Darkening Skies by Bronwyn Parry
Set in a small Australian country town and surrounding district, this is a mystery / romance which pushes the bounds of credibility a bit. However it  is fast-moving enough for the creepiness to be manageable and was a satisfying light read.

Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
An interesting mystery which is really about people - how well do we really know the people in our lives, even our nearest and dearest, and also, how well do we know ourselves. The setting and basic story line is somewhat shallow and unrealistic, but I enjoyed the characters and their development.

8th Confession by James Patterson
Pretty brutal with a nastiness that means I won't read Patterson again until summer: life is a constant battle against the Black Dog in winter and reading dark fiction, however well written, is not advisable. I will come back to him again though.

Non-Fiction

The Nourishing Homestead: one back-to-the-land family's plan for cultivating soil, skills, and spirit by Ben Hewitt with Penny Hewitt
I really don't want to give this book back - I'm seriously considering buying it, and I don't usually buy books these day if they are available from the library. It is a beautifully presented (that top photo on the front cover of their son with his face buried in a bucketful of blue berries has to be one of my all time favourites) and extremely well written book. It is full of practical information, but there is also a lot about the Hewitts' philosophy of life - from life in general to homesteading, parenting, education, soil and animal care and more. I have to admit that I skipped most of the section on animal raising, slaughter, and use of parts, though I found it interesting that these one-time vegetarians have thought through their stance and changed to eating (and growing and slaughtering and respecting) animals. I love that this book resonates so deeply with my own beliefs - I just wish I'd 'got there' as young as Ben and Penny did. As you will see from the photo, I marked too many special paragraphs to fit into a review, but I'll offer a few.
On the value of homegrown food: "The labor to produce nourishing food is itself of value. I have to admit, I did not always see it this way. But over the years, I have come to understand that the value of the foods we produce is only partly found in the foods themselves. Indeed, I now understand that the labor itself holds a deep and intrinsic value; it maintains our physical health, it connects us to the land and nature, it fosters our intellect with new skills, and it develops the spirit. The sense of labor's role in feeding my family's body and spirit is so profound that it occasionally seems to me as if the food itself is merely a byproduct."

On improving soil: "Our habit of fertilizing our garden with compost we proudly made from vegetation and animal manure originating from plants grown in depleted soil only magnified soil imbalances, as the depleted compost was incorporated into the soil from which it came."

On the loss of celebration of season and ritual: The first strawberry in June is no longer cause for celebration: it is no longer brought to the house in the grubby palm of a child and quartered so that every member of the family can experience it's brief, particular sweetness and the anticipation of the berries that are slowly ripening on the plants. Why? Because, of course, we can have strawberries year-round, now, enough for everyone to have heaping handfuls and more. Who can resist that?"

On unschooling children on a homestead: "....we believe that the resourcefulness and confidence their hands-on capabilities engender - along with the inevitable failures along the path toward attaining these skills - will provide the foundation necessary to support them no matter what career or lifestyle they choose."

And the concluding paragraph: "We are still working on all of this. We do not have it all figured out. We never will have it all figured out. Every day, we are learning new ways and unlearning old ones. Every morning, we wake up and we walk outside to see what the day holds."

Magazines

Organic NZ July/August 2015 issue
There's always interesting things to read in this magazine, although there is frequently some articles which are full of unsubstantiated woo as well. But best of all, in this issue there was a recipe using five limes - my limes have been going to waste - that was also raw, gluten free, and dairy free. It was also really yummy once you got used to the unusual flavours. Sublime Tart. Try it. At least three slices before you decide.

Permaculture No84 Summer 2015
My favourite magazine. I could read many of the articles online and the website, but I love having this magazine lying around to pick up and browse - even the advertisements are fascinating. There's always a wonderful mix of the practical and the theoretical. Unlike many publications which address ecological, social and environment issues, this magazine always contains abundant positivity.






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