Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mega Book Reviews

Even though I haven't written an official book review recently, I've been reading a lot of homesteading and conscious-living related literature, in addition to other fun books that aren't related to this blog.  So I'm gonna cram all the reviews in here at once.  Oh, and I have a new rating system for my book reviews, since I think ratings are fun.  Each book will be rated by number of eggs, four eggs being a perfect score.  (Maybe I'll even give a golden egg to a REALLY good one.)

Ready?  Set. Go.

Book: The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget by Josh Dorfman

I read this book in the wintertime.  I got it for Christmas and was really looking forward to it.  WHAT A LETDOWN.  I was hoping for good ideas on how to buy things consciously, but it was pretty much a catalog of "eco" products for the normal consumeristic American.  If you need a brand new car you should buy this one, if you need a brand new wardrobe, you should buy this stuff.  Well, since I'm one who tries to reduce the overall amount of my consumption, this book is virtually worthless to me.  Boo.  I'll keep it around just in case I come across a point when I need to buy new stuff.  This book gets one and a half eggs out of four.

Book: Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

On the other end of the spectrum, this book was super great.  It's a really in-depth look at how we modern western Americans eat, and how we choose what to eat.  He takes a really good look at corn and all the ways that it is manipulated and added into virtually any and all processed foods.  He visits a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation, aka COW HELL) and describes what he saw and how the feeding of corn to these cows adversely effects them.  He also writes about his visit to a polyculturally run farm and how well that system works both for the animals as well as environmentally.  He ends by talking about his quest to create a meal that he collected or grew on his own including learning how to hunt wild California pig and how to forage for mushrooms.  The book leaves you feeling more empowered to make more knowledgeable decisions about the food that you eat to keep both you and the environment healthy.  Four out of four eggs on this one.

Book: The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms by Amy Stewart

This was one I was really excited about.  You see, I've always said that if I had a spirit animal, it would be the earthworm.  These creatures are so amazing, I can't say enough about them.  They are the main line of cleaning our soils and making them fertile to allow us to grow our food.  Without them, the world would fall apart.  The book itself was a little science-y, and some of the info in it was a little boring, but overall there was some good info in it about the history of earthworms, how they came to the Americas, how in some cases they do more harm than good, and what Darwin has to do with it all.  The book just made me fall in love with the slimy creatures all over again. Three out of four eggs.

Book: Holy Shit by Gene Logsdon

The fourth book on this list is one my dad got for me because of, you guessed it, it's awesome title.  And yes, it's about poop.  The book starts off by discussing the benefits of manure in agriculture as well as mini homesteads and farms.  There was a whole chapter on manure spreaders and pitchforks which was kinda lame, but the rest of the book went through the varying manure sources by animal, including alternative creatures like bats, non-poultry birds, and humans.  The author is pretty convincing in saying that smart use of biosolids will be what change our mainstream agriculture to one that is sustainable and environmentally friendly rather than what we're doing now which is slowly making our valuable land useless and barren.  Now if only we can convince mainstream Americans into thinking it's a good idea...  Lets give this one three eggs.

Book: Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver

I'm including the book I'm reading now because I'm almost finished with it and it's already blown my pants off.  I think I've read nearly every book by Ms. Kingsolver, and they have never failed to leave me feeling good and empowered.  I still say one of my favorite book is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and her others top my list as well.  I didn't know what to expect with this one.  I knew it would be good, but not until I read several of the essays did I come to realize that this book touches on everything I feel strongly about.  There's an essay of conscious eating, consumerism, the unfortunate case of arrogant American syndrome, feminism...  I also feel like I'm reading it at the perfect point in my life.  Had I read it a few years ago, I don't think I would have responded so strongly.  Three and half out of four eggs for this Kingsolver piece.  (Gotta save the perfect scores for the really good ones.)

So there you go.  I'll try to stay up on the book reviews so I don't bombard you again.

Note:  I know for a fact that my reviews are not totally amazing and I may have left things out, especially from the ones that I read a while back.  Sorry.

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