Five Books Worth Adding to your Shelves

For years, my plant bible has been the Sunset Western Garden Book. Filled with listings of specific plants (over 8,000 in the 2011 edition) that detail plant characteristics, growth habits, and zone requirements, this is a must-have if you garden in the west. The book includes information about both edible and ornamental plants and trees. Of course, this is region specific and works for me; if you’re east of the Rockies I’d love to hear about your favorite regional reference book.

In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Barbara Kingsolver chronicles her family’s year of eating only homegrown food (supplemented by locally grown products, on occasion). It’s an inspiring look at the possibilities of living self-sufficiently. I particularly loved reading that even though this was her idea, even though she wanted to live this way, it was hard for her to actually begin. She worried that the spring months would offer spare produce for her family’s table, and she was right. I found reading about her choices in sustainable living to be an education in itself.

Hungry Planet may seem like an odd choice for a sustainability site, but the images in the book are a visual reminder that the way we eat in industrialized nations is far from sustainable. The book features photos of families from around the world in their kitchen or eating area, surrounded by the food they will eat in a week’s time. Compare an image of an American family seated amid takeout pizza, potato chips, and Coffee Mate with that of a family from Chad sitting proudly with bowls of grain, freshly butchered chickens, fruit and vegetables, and milk from the family cow. The sustainability and nutritional value of food eaten in our wealthy nation pales in comparison to the food served in some of the third world countries pictured. How did we become so far removed from our food?? Some of the photos from the book are featured in this TIME magazine photo essay, What the World Eats.

I love The Harrowsmith Reader. Sadly, it’s out of print and not one that’s easily found, but if you’re a fan of scouring used bookstores for bargains, this is one to watch for. It’s an anthology of articles from Canada’s Journal of Country Living and it’s chock-full of information about independent living. I have the second anthology, covering raising poultry, wind power, ponds, bread making, raising cattle, and more.

I’ve had The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies on my shelf for years. My kids call it my “woo-woo” book. It’s filled with alternative remedies for all kinds of ailments. From insomnia to athlete’s foot, the book suggests treatments from herbalism and aromatherapy to homeopathy and vitamins. When we have a non-emergency health problem, it’s a great resource.

Those are the books on my shelves that I recommend. Just for fun, let me share a few of the books that are on my wish list:

Your turn. What’s the must-have sustainability book on your shelf? What book would you like to add to your shelf?

 

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  • Anjuli ,

    I see you are like me…it is so hard to stick to just ‘five’ when it comes to books :) Great job though- I have the last book and love it!

    Glad to see you are in the blogathon- keep up the great blogging!

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      Oh, gosh. I could go on and on!

  • Today has been such a great day browsing everyone in the Blogathon’s bookshelf! Lots of nostalgia, too. I live in an apartment and only do some container gardening (would like to do more!) but I gardened with my parents a lot as a kid. Mom loved the Sunset Western Garden Book and Dad subscribed to Harrowsmith for years — I think every issue is still at a family cottage!

    Love Attainable Sustainable, Kris and will definitely keep reading.

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      I would LOVE to see that Harrowsmith collection. I love that book. A friend gave it to me years ago.

  • Your book list is fantastic! We had the Guide to Country Living when we lived in Michigan, but it seemed a bit much to bring to Tokyo. I’ve managed, though, to fill our shelves here with a ton of gardening and canning books. I’m dreaming up a batch of rhubarb butter at the moment, and dreaming of making zucchini pickles from the plants we put in yesterday. Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      I have a great zucchini relish recipe – it’s kind of like old-fashioned hamburger relish. Happy to share, if that sounds good to you.

  • Your blog made my list of five today! So glad I discovered it through the blogothon.

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      Thanks so much Veronica.

  • sarah henry ,

    Can recommend Novella Carpenter’s Farm City for an alternative, urban guerrila gardener take on growing greens.

  • Great list. I love the Barbara Kingsolver one!

  • My all-time favorite is Slow Death by Rubber Duck. Why? Because it taught me so much and provided the impetus for me to adapt the type of life you describe here on this blog. The book is written by two Canadian fathers who set out to explore whether or not body burden exists. They exposed themselves to various chemicals in the environment, after trying to stay away for a couple days, getting their blood tested before and after. They convinced me that we are destroying not only our planet, but ourselves. That book turned me into an activist against toxic chemicals in the environment. When the American Chemical Council says pooh-pooh to a risk of BPA, I know they are full of hot air. When the American Cancer Society comes out with a statement putting down the President’s Cancer Panel Report the day after its publication, I realize and confirm that the chemical industry is one of its biggest funders. When our utility company says it plans to spray up to five herbicides under Cape Cod power lines to remove vegetation and claims science says there’s no risk of contaminating our sole-source aquifer, I know the execs are full of hot air. I wish everyone would read this book.

  • Tammy Rockwell ,

    I used to have Where There Is No Doctor on my book wishlist. Then I accidentally stumbled upon the free PDF on the internet. Sadly, it is definitely NOT what I thought it was.

    weblife.org/pdf/where_there_is_no_doctor.pdf

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      Thanks for sharing this – that’s a book I’ve had on my list, too. Off to check it out to see what it’s like!

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