Reading Books

I enjoy seeing what books people are reading.  I’m a fan of the what-I-read-last-year blog posts that show up in January.  So much so that I kept track of my reading in 2014 and put up a list of my own.

Selka at Permaculture Grin just finished reading 100 books in a year (in about 10 months actually), and she published the list of books read on her blog. Having read a mere 32 books in 2014, I’m impressed.

I try to spend an hour a day with a good book, usually just before bedtime and preferably accompanied by a glass of wine. So far in 2015 I’ve read 13 books, and I’ve enjoyed all of them.  At this pace I should end up reading about the same number of books I read last year–not bad, even if well shy of a hundred.

I know that lots of folks who read this blog are book-lovers.  I’d wager that a lot of you spend time in a book or two everyday, as we do.  And I think it’s very cool that so many readers of this blog are published authors.  Those that I’m aware of have been added to my list of books I intend to read.  It may take awhile, but it will happen.

On the advice of one of you (Dawn from Sailorsmallfarm, I think), I’m reading Ben Falk’s Resilient Farm and Homestead now and it is rocking my world. Permaculture is still new to me. I read Mark Shephard’s Restoration Agriculture earlier this year (on the advice of either Dawn or Farmer Khaiti). I wish I’d been aware of this philosophy when we were establishing this farm. I’m already making plans for some changes around here, incorporating permaculture principles.

Just before starting Ben Falk’s book I read frequent-commenter Curt’s book The Bush Devil Ate Sam, a delightfully entertaining (and informative) memoir of his time in the Peace Corps in Liberia in the 1960s. The book is a page-turner, and I highly recommend it.  Curt enrolled at UC-Berkeley just in time for the beginnings of the student rebellion there, putting him on the frontlines at the beginning of one of the world’s greatest movements for social justice. Some of that story is told in his book, and a fascinating story it is. Most of the book tells the story of the time he and his wife spent in Liberia.  I laughed out loud and I learned a lot, which only happens with good books. The story of his dog Do Your Part crashing the grand opening of the community’s first mosque (Curt having been mistaken for “the international media”) is alone worth the price of the book.

The book closes with some insightful thoughts about Liberia’s tragic history of the past few decades.  It caused me to think of a Liberian woman who was a classmate of mine in seminary, a kind and gentle person who lived through the horrors of the civil war there.  Whenever she tried to talk about it, she cried. Something she said about Americans has stuck with me.  She said that here when we say grace before a meal (if we bother), it just seems perfunctory. In Liberia, she said, people are truly grateful for every meal and they offer thanks with joy at the miracle that food is.  I wish I could recall her exact words, because I’m not doing them justice.  Suffice it to say that Curt’s concern for Liberia and the Liberian people resonated with me, even though I’ve never been there.

By the way, Curt is also one of the rock-stars of the blogosphere. Go check out his blog (HERE). You can buy his book from Amazon, but I recommend you contact him directly for a copy.


23 comments on “Reading Books

  1. Bill, yeah, books. I would come in dead last on book reading competition. I’m currently reading Scott and Helen Nearing’s book called “The Good Life” and their sequel called “Continuing the Good Life.” Both these books are combined into one edition and are about a couple that decided to live as simply as they could and try to bring the community together in a self reliant way that Falk was talking about. They started in Vermont and finished life in Maine. Their move was prompted by civilization invading their established life style in Vermont. It’s about a 400 page read and I’m at about page 300. My reading time is before bed as well but I could hardly last an entire hour. My reading time is about 5 pages and then I’m nodding off. If you do the math at 5 pages a day for 400 pages, that’s about 3 months for one book. Ah, yeah, dead last in the book reading competition. 🙂

    Now YouTube personal gardening Vlogs are indeed a favorite of mine. It’s fascinating to see how others are successful at gardening techniques. The British have mastered the art of most labor intensive gardening on the planet. It’s almost as if they want to make it as difficult as they can. Their rented allotment areas have waiting lists. Totally foreign to me as my city begs people to garden vacant lots so they don’t have to do weed control. Very different cultures for sure.

    Have a great reading books day.


    • Bill says:

      I’ve never read the Nearings’ book, but of course it is a classic and very influential in the movement. Cherie is a big fan of theirs.

      Out here in the boonies we don’t have high-speed internet so watching videos isn’t much of an option. They take forever to load. Maybe that will change someday. I’ve noticed a trend among farms to have a youtube channel along with their other social media presences.

      Our friends who are establishing an urban garden in a food desert hit a major snag this week when they were told zoning doesn’t permit the land to be used for an agricultural purpose (contradicting what they’d been told before). Now they have to navigate the channels of city government to try to get a variance or a change to the ordinance. It’s going to delay them for a while, which is a shame. Still I’m confident they’ll eventually get the approvals they need.


      • Bill, so far my city actually encourages vacant lot gardening in urban and inner city areas. We actually have some chickens in the back yard just a few houses down the street. I guess farm mentality still exists in Nebraska cities. I feel pretty fortunate when I read about the laws of other cities.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Leigh says:

      Ha! I’m reading these right now too.


  2. avwalters says:

    We’re big readers, too, Rick even more than me. (I’m an excitable sort and if I read anything too good, it will keep me up all night!) I think it’s easier to be dedicated readers when one lives without television. I’ll check out your recommendations.


    • Bill says:

      And in your case you’re not just a reader. I have your novels on my to-read list, but I still haven’t gotten to them. I read once that a person can’t be a reader and a writer, they have to choose one. You seem to proof that isn’t true (the statement never rang true to me).

      I think you’re right about the television. Step one towards having a good reading-life is probably to get rid of the TV.

      As for staying up late, that used to be more of a problem for me. Nowadays my mind starts shutting down when I hit my normal bedtime. But that may because of the wine. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • avwalters says:

        Can’t be a reader and a writer? Seems the opposite to me. I don’t know of any writers who didn’t start as avid readers. Being a reader makes you fall in love with language, with character and with story. It all starts from there. Maybe I should give the wine a go.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. barnraised says:

    Yes, everyday at bedtime. Also with wine or tea:) Never thought to keep track of how many. Maybe I’ll do that. Right now it’s Anne Lamotts “Grace (eventually”.


    • Bill says:

      Sometimes tea instead of wine for us too. As I get older I don’t seem to mind a nice cup of tea instead.

      I haven’t read any of Anne Lamott’s books, but once on a long trip we listened to one of them on tape. I like her style. I think she once said there are only two basic prayers, “Help me, help me, help me” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” That makes sense to me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Selka says:

    Indeed! Life without television helps.
    I feel like a celebrity now:) Thx for commenting, and now mentioning me in your post.
    I’ve been tracking my reading since ’09 and “trying” to hit the 100 mark as a sort of arbitrary goal. The reward is not the number, but the discovery of great writing and knowledge, sometimes even sweeter then you chance unexpectedly upon it. There’s dross in my list-reading can be many things besides educational, but dabbling into anything you’re attracted to pick up can lead to being surprised by greatness. After all, a great book should leave you a different person at the end of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I agree. Life with television has lots of advantages, one of them being more time for books.

      My wife has a journal where she keeps track of every book she’s read since the 80s. And she’s a voracious reader, like you. I only started keeping track of mine last year, after reading several posts like yours with year-end reading lists.

      I read mostly nonfiction and tend toward “serious” things. My wife mixes it up, and has suggested I ought to do that too. She especially likes historical fiction and fiction set in other places/cultures as a way to be entertained and educated at the same time.

      Thanks again for sharing your list. I hope you’ll do it again next year. 🙂


  5. BeeHappee says:

    Thanks, Bill, great recommends! Wine and books sound good, once a week or so, after a pile of picture books I still have a bit of energy to get some wine and open an adult book. 🙂


  6. What would you suggest for the best start on permaculture? I read the Nearings’ book — way back when– and I’ve read Berry and Fukuoka. But I’m old and I’m not sure how much energy I have😀 I need some planning for our 3 acres. Right now a fence to keep the deer away is bogging me down. I’d much rather read than put up a fence… Thanks for any suggestions.


    • Bill says:

      I’m new to permaculture myself, so other readers are better suited to answer that. The two books I’ve read are both fairly technical (more so than I need). I’d like to find one that focuses more on the philosophy behind permaculture. I’ll get back to you if I later have any ideas.


  7. Leigh says:

    I love book recommendations by other bloggers. Most of what I read now comes from someone else’s recommendation. I’m a slow reader, however, I think mostly because I spend my free time writing instead. Still, I read some almost every evening, even if it is only a page or two.


    • Bill says:

      Your book has been near the top of my list for quite a while now! I have got to make reading it a priority. You’re doing a fantastic job of spreading the homesteading message.

      I spent a lot of last year writing a book that will be coming out later this year, so I understand that it’s hard to both read and write. That was the author’s point when he said that you can’t be a reader and a writer (meaning at the same time). But even when I was at my busiest writing, I still tried to make time every day for a little reading. Like you, even if just a page or two.


  8. How truly nice of you Bill. I can’t believe I missed this since I try to catch all of your blogs. Thanks so much. I will reblog it tomorrow on my blog. I did catch your review on Amazon and commented to Peggy that I wondered if the writer was you. –Curt


  9. EllaDee says:

    I love book lists and recommendations, from real people, not necessarily those via the media, and so I’ve downloaded Bush Devil Ate Sam… because another of my loves is people’s stories and journeys, and Indie authors. WordPress is great for that. As for the other books you mention… I’ll bookmark them for future reference. My to-read list is out of control!


    • Bill says:

      Based on your interests, I’m pretty sure you’re going to enjoy the book. 🙂
      I know what you mean about to-read lists. Mine is as long as my arm.


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