Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Challenge Yourself: Be a Bookworm


As I closed the back cover of my latest read, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet, I realized how much I'd learned from this book: how closely our fates are tied with those half a world away, how poverty and unrest in one place creates instability and environmental destruction in another, how important the Olympics are (that's right!), and a million other things that surprisingly tie in tightly to climate change, species extinction, ecosystem destruction, and resource depletion.

My experience with Common Wealth was not unusual. In the past year, I have read many books that have forever altered my life, my lifestyle and my thought process. I eat differently thanks to The Omnivore's Dilemma, Plenty and Animal Vegetable Miracle. I raise my children differently due to Last Child in the Woods. I shop differently courtesy of Affluenza. I will vote differently because of Common Wealth.

Books affect us like nothing else. They provide depth unlike any blog post or magazine article. They persuade unlike a conversation over coffee. They open our minds, answer our questions and pose new ones of their own.

My appreciation of books leads me to launch my (likely one and only) challenge: BE A BOOKWORM. I challenge you to read a single, ecologically relevant book during the month of May. Post a comment if you'd like to participate so that I can add you to my sidebar. Once you have selected your book, post another comment. I'll keep a running tab of books being read. At the end of the month, I will post a Reading Roundup soliciting your comments on the book you read, whether you'd recommend it and what you learned.

Later this month, I will post a list of recommended books and ask for recommendations from you. Then, look for posts throughout May about how particular books influenced certain aspects of my life.

The blog world is a busy place. There are many great challenges this May. You may plan on throwing it down for Crunchy. Chile may still have you clearing clutter. You may be growing things for Melinda or the folks at Path to Freedom. However you plan on spending your May, I hope at least some of it will be devoted to a good book. Be a Bookworm.



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89 comments:

Donna said...

Here's a challenge right up my alley! Count me IN! I'll decide on a book when I see which new book I have on library reserve becomes available next.

I can totally relate as to how reading certain books can change your life. My focus on eating local & real foods all began when I happened to pick up "Fast Food Nation." After that, I read anything I could get my hands on.

Joyce said...

I'll do this one too, though not sure of the book yet.
I started "Last Child in the Wood" last year but I think I didn't finish because mine are all grown.

Burbanmom said...

I am so in. Sitting on the desk next to me are the following books on loan from the library:

Common Wealth
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Six Degrees
The End of Nature

I gotta be able to finish at least one of 'em before the month is over!

PS.. my recommendation of the day: Deep Economy by Bill McKibben. Good stuff.

Going Crunchy said...

Ooohhhhh yeah. You know I'm in. I'll update with the logo later tonight. Shannon

Green Bean said...

Donna: So glad you are in. Isn't it amazing what a good book will do?

Joyce: Excellent! Can't wait to see what you pick (or what I pick for that matter).

Burbs: My green book club is meeting tonight and I'm going to offer Deep Economy as one of our choices for next book - based on your rec. Thanks.

Shannon: I knew you couldn't pass this one up. :)

arduous said...

Green Bean, it is like you are reading my MIND. I have been meaning to ask for book recommendations on my blog for a week now!! I am SO in, that the other in people are like on the outskirts of in-ville. Yeah, that made sense.

Ellen said...

I would like to join! I am currently reading "Affluenza" but would like to read "Last Child in the Woods" for the challenge. Is that eco though? Otherwise I'll read "Fast Food Nation". "Farewell, My Subaru" ROCKS. Fabulous book!!!!

lauren said...

I'm in. I started Omnivore's Dilemma months ago and never finished it because I got sidetracked by reading way too many eco-blogs every day. :)

DramaMama said...

I'd like to join, too! I just put Last Child in the Woods on hold at the library - I'm #2 on the list and they have 6 copies, so it should come around soon! The hubs said he's interested too...wow! Nice. Thanks for the challenge!

badhuman said...

I can't wait to see the recommendations. Lately I've been hitting up Amazon to see what people are buying that bought books I've read and loved.

Melissa said...

also getting the uncomfortable feeling that you can read minds...I was working on a book post today! I was actually going to read Common Wealth as soon as my brother is done with it - I think that should be in time for this challenge, so I'll go with that for now. What a great challenge!

Sue in the Western Great Basin said...

Me too! Like others, I'll need to wait to see what requested books show up on Inter Library Loan -- I know I have "Cradle to Cradle" on request, plus others I can't think of at the moment. And if nothing good comes from the library, I have McKibbens' "End of Nature" on my shelf at home but have never read it! I'm also in the midst of reading "Second Nature" by Michael Pollan -- it was written quite a while ago, before he got so well known, but it's about him learning to garden (at least the first part is, that's as far as I am right now) and it's a good read!

Thanks, Green Bean, for a challenge that is worthwhile but not hugely overwhelming! I'm just getting settled into a new house, looking for more work, and just haven't felt up to the extreme challenges others are holding at the moment. I'm glad for a challenge that I can do too!

Green Bean said...

Arduous: you're too cool for words . . . or sense! but soo in. ;-)

Ellen: I'd consider Last Child in the Woods eco enough. I think anything about how to raise our kids to be more respectful, engaged, better people counts. Never heard of Farewell, My Subaru but am headed over to check it out after this. Thanks for joining.

Lauren: Great to have you. I do understand where you are at with OD. It is one of those books you have to force yourself to finish - but so worth it in the end.

Dramamama: Sweet! You might actually get your hubby to read the book too. You rock.

Badhuman: So happy you are in. I'll put up a list in the next week that will also include recommendations that people have been leaving or I've seen here and there. I sometimes feel at a lost what to read next and then it hits. And when it rains, it pours. I've got a giant stack of overdue books I need to read.

Melissa: Hm, maybe feeling a bit psychic. ;-) Common Wealth was great. Touched on a lot of issues that I'd never given much thought to. Glad you can participate.

Sue: Never heard of Second Nature. I'll need to look into that one too. See, already I'm learning stuff! And thank you for joining. I'm so glad you can. For me, anyway, a books has been as powerful an instrument for change as any.

CindyW said...

Big Sigh. I honestly did not finish even one book in the last year. Embarrassing! I used to read 3 at a time! But I think I will try very hard to read Break Through by Shellenberger and Nordhaus. Can't promise that I can finish it...

Wild Orchids for Trotsky said...

What a great challenge! Can I participate by reading Symbiotic Planet by Lynn Margulis? Thanks! Rachel

Beany said...

I'm joining too. Love the banner! I am going to read Going Local by Michael Shuman but I also have checked out the following books:
Not buying it by Judith Levine
Rubbish! : the archaeology of garbage by William L. Rathje
Hope, human and wild by Bill McKibben

organicneedle said...

I am in. I have half the books you mentioned on hold at the library already. (Someone is being a book piggie and keeping them out past due!)I also have Better Basics for the Home on hold which was recommended by TheGreenCat for its great do-it-yourself organic home and beauty products.

Heather said...

Fun! I'm in! Great mind must think alike. I have been prepping a library post for later this week! I'll be sure to mention your blog and challenge!

The next book on my list is "Radical Simplicity: small footprints on a finite earth." I'm currently reading Don't eat this book" by Morgan Spurlock (the guy who did Supersize Me). It's pretty funny!

Jennifer said...

I will join... I'll go and see what my library has in stock tomorrow!

Rev. Sweet said...

Love the idea and have read, affluenza, and Animal Vegetable Mineral. I'm not going to commit until I think I can make it stick but I'll be checking back.

I really enjoyed "Better Off" by Eric Bender(?) as well though it's kind of old now it still works.

I'm going to check out Deep Economy - sounds interesting

Kellie & Marc said...

I'm in, but not sure on the book yet. I'm thinking Common Wealth or Omvivor's Dilemna since I've had them on my list for awhile.

kale for sale said...

Good idea. I'm there and will figure out the book as soon as I finish McKibben's Deep Economy, which I recommend. I'm just starting the part on durable goods and his description of the Chinese manufacturers showcase warehouses has changed the way I'll look at store merchandise forever. I can't wait to hear what other people are reading. Thanks for doing this.

Green Bean said...

Cindy: giving it the old college try! you go, girl.

Rachel: I think Symbiotic Planet should count. We need to understand how the planet works in order to save it, right? Sounds good anyway. Glad you are in.

Beany: Wow, all of those books are on my to-read list. I can't wait to see which you read and hear about it. Yeah!

Organicneedle: I'm not sure if you actually like to be called Orgie? Anyway, love to have you participate. Shhh, I pay my fines! Oink.

Heather: Great. Both of those books sound great - I'm not familiar with either. Part of my motivation for this challenge was to find out about other books out there that I should be adding to my reading list. Already achieving that. Thank you!

Jennifer: So glad you are joining in this one. I'm sure you'll find something good at your library - unless your library has someone like me who hoards all the eco books. ;-)

Rev Sweet: Thanks for the book rec. Better Off sounds really good. Check back in if you think you can participate. Would love to have you.

Kellie & Marc: Yeah. Thanks for participating. I look forward to checking out your blog more. FYI, Common Wealth talks a bit about Africa and her challenges which might be on interest to you.

Green Bean said...

Katrina: I knew I could count on you! :) I keep hearing great things about Deep Economy. It may have to be my read this month.

ruralaspirations said...

I will definitely join in!

I was also strongly influenced by The Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

If anyone's interested I have a Book List on my blog, with short reviews. Click on the Book List tab next to the About Me tab.

ruralaspirations said...

FYI: I was having trouble with the button code. I added a ".jpg" at the end of the "img src" link info and then it worked. Not sure if this is just a Wordpress thing or not...

Wild Orchids for Trotsky said...

Great! I agree with you - I think understanding the planet, especially as a living system, really lends inspiration for action.

Carla said...

Bean! A wonderful challenge!! I'm in - currently I'm reading The Omnivore's Dilemma & will be finished by May. I gave my daughter "Last Child in the Wilderness" for her birthday in Feb - maybe I'll borrow it to read for May. I also have "Affluenza" on my 'To Read' list.
Great idea!
Carla

Debbie said...

I love this challenge! I just finished 'Fast Food Nation' which truly did make a difference in the way I cook, in the way I shop and in the way I eat. AHHH, the power of a book. A LONG time ago I read 'Silent Spring' by Rachel Carson. It was written in 1962 and it facilitated the ban on DDT. It is an oldie but a goodie and definitely worth reading. Off to the library I go!

Green Bean said...

ruralaspirations: great book list. i've read many of those and forgotten about them. i'll link back to it when i post a book list. so glad you are doing this challenge.

Rachel: how can we save what we do not understand? great insight.

Carla: I look forward to seeing what you'll read. All great choices. :)

Debbie: I have to admit to having read neither of those books. The former is on my book shelf, staring at me right now, and the latter, I've heard so much about it. A real break through. Wonderful news that you will be participating!

Jenna said...

An easy one for me at last (I spun out BIG on crunchy's challenge... I might possibly have bought a Wii this weekend)!

I've got a line as long as my arm of books I've been wanting to make sure to get to, and as the hammock is getting strung up in the backyard this weekend I'll be ready to go. Sign me up.

Joyce said...

Okay, I've found one to read: Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber. She's an intellectual descendant of Rachel Carson, and writes with an Illinois perspective. I'll elaborate over on my blog.

gregra&gar said...

Count me in. I have just begun Pathway Through Infinity's Rainbow and it may take me all of May to digest all the connections he makes. I'll be back.

Green Bean said...

Jenna: "might possibly". oops! looking forward to hearing what you'll be reading out on the ole hammock. sounds wonderful.

Joyce: Interesting. I'll have to come take a peek.

gregar&gar: Hmm, another interesting read. I can't wait to hear more about it.

Blue Collar Crunch said...

Ooh...a challenge involving books? Love it!

Think I'll jump on the "Deep Economy" bandwagon to start, but will hopefully tackle more than one before the end of the month.

Melinda said...

I'm in - great idea! I plan to be lots more reading in our new city life, as I ride public transportation.

I second Katrina's great praise for Deep Economy. Green Bean, I think you'll really like it. I'm just finishing it and it's already one of my favorites. I think in some way it has altered how I've thought about this move....

It may be a week or more before I decide on my book, but I can't wait!

Chile said...

Ok, ok, I'll do this. The problem will be deciding what to read. Should it be one of the library books I still haven't gotten around to reading? Or should it be Last Light, the scary peak oil thriller I just picked up at the used bookstore? Or maybe I should just grab a fun Highlander romance novel...

Green Bean said...

Blue Collar: Yeah, dueling challenges. ;-) I really want to read Deep Economy too. I've got a few others that I might need to get through first though before the library police come for me.

Melinda: Ahh, I've missed you! Great to have you back. Public transit will be so great for reading books and what a turn around in your lifestyle. Such an adventure. I'm looking forward to reading all about it.

Chile: I knew I'd win you over. Go for the book with the hot Scottish Laird wielding a broadsword and holding a high naked 90 lb girl on the cover. It's got to have at least some tips on simple living!

Lori said...

I'm excited about joining the challenge. "Animal Vegetable Mineral" now ranks as one of my alltime favorites, so I'm looking forward to moving on to "Omnivore's Dilemma" and based on all the comments here, perhaps "Deep Economy" too.

Green Bean said...

Lori: welcome to the challenge! Omnivore's Dilemma is a great choice but, I'm with you, this Deep Economy train is becoming hard to resist.

Maggie said...

Am I too late to join? I found you via Melinda's site. As a few book lover this is a challenge I can do :)
As for what to read, I took a looksie on my shelves (that way not tempted to buy anything, or increase my library fines) I have the following book Rescue the Earth!: Conversations with the Green Crusaders by Farley Mowat copyright 1990. would this suffice?
thanks!
Maggie

Green Bean said...

Maggie: Never too late to join! Well, at least not until June. ;-) I'll add you and your book - looking forward to hearing what the namesake of Sea Shepherd's ship has to say.

Margo said...

Hey~ twist my arm, right? hm...what shall I read that I haven't already...a great justification to go looking around on that freeswap you recommended... hey that's a twofer, don't you think?
see you in May! Great idea, and thanks!

Christy said...

I'll play. I love to read and always have an eco book of some sort going. The challenge may be finding one I haven't read yet.

Green Bean said...

Margo and Christy - thanks for joining! I've added you to the sidebar. :)

Gray Matters said...

Count me in. I've got "Farewell, My Subaru"on my bedside table patiently waiting to be read . Thank you.

Wendy said...

Please include me in the challenge. I'll add the link ... right now :).

Em said...

What a great challenge -- count me in! I've just picked up the old standby "Walden", but hope to find a copy of either "Affluenza" or "In Defence of Food" at my local library for May.

Going Crunchy said...

O.k. I picked my books. I'm going to do not one, but TWO because one is shorter and I think I'll want to read both anyway.

I'm reading:

1) The Revenge of Gaia: Earth's Climate Crisis and the Fate of Humanity by James Lovelock.

2) Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress by Carla Pope.

What fun! Shannon

Green Bean said...

Gray Matters: Gotcha! Thanks for joining. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on the book. Ellen from Daily Grind loved it.

Wendy: Awesome. Look forward to reading what you'll read.

Em: You are in. Whichever you end up reading should be wonderful.

Shannon: Thanks for the book report. Love to hear your thoughts on both! Leave it to the librarian, though, to be competitive. ;-)

kendra said...

Count me in! I'll definately read "In Defense of Food" and hopefully if the library has it 'Affluenza'. Did you ever see that PBS special called Affluence years ago, by chance? I taped it and still have it, it affected me so much.

Green Bean said...

Great, Kendra. Glad you can participate. I have not seen the Affluenza PBS special. I read the book and was very affected by it and then rented the DVD but could never find the time to watch it. I may have to give it another go.

Margo said...

Ookay! I haven't yet read:
Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet by Alisa Smith
so I've added it tomy LibraryThing, and will seek it out in my library or used bookstore -
thanks!

Green Bean said...

Margo: If you havent done so already, sign up for my book drawing. It is for PLENTY! And I'll mail it out on Monday, May 5.

julie said...

This is a perfect challenge for me. I just started Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I am so inspired! It comes at a great time since we just planted our garden. With two kids under the age of 4 it's been challenging to get books finished timely but this one will be no problem. I even busted out my headlamp so I can read in bed and not wake the husband or baby. Love the challenge.

Julia Haskin said...

I've read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," loved "The Omnivore's Dilemma," disliked "Affluenza" so much that I returned it to the library without even finishing it (I almost never don't finish a book) and am almost done with my favorite of the bunch, "Breakthrough," as well as working my way through "Suburban Nation."

Currently I'm waiting for two books from the library, and I'll pledge to read at least those two in this month.

1.) "Not Buying It" by Judith Levine
2.) "Common Wealth" (based on your recommendation)

Yay for reading!

Green Bean said...

Julie: AVM is great. You're like me - I stay up too late reading but when else do we get the time?

Julia: Interesting reaction on Affluenza. Well, I hope you like Common Wealth - if that ends up being your read. I'm reading Break Through, among others, this month so I'm glad to hear you liked it.

Okay, off on vacay.

Erikka said...

i will join and hold my may book blog on Farewell, Subaru, from a commenter's recommendation.

leslie said...

Hi GBD,
I went to the library to find Last Child in the Woods, and came away with "Not a Drop To Drink: America's Water Crisis (and what you can do)" by Ken Midkiff.

I'm in on the challenge. Came by here via Going Green, Burbanmom.

leslie said...

Two really fabulous "back to the land movement" books that influenced me are "Diet for a Small Planet" by Frances Moore Lappe, and "Living the Good Life" by Helen and Scott Nearing.
And of course, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson...

Domestic Accident said...

I'm in. I just got Animal Vegetable Miracle. I'll put up the logo tomorrow.

Sunshine Alternative Mama said...

I'm in. I'm hoping to read Pollan's "In Defense of Food", but if I can't get that I have "Car Sick" to finish and "Simple Prosperity" to read.

Hit Pay Dirt said...

Sign me up!! I'm going to do my darndest to start and finish Common Wealth. Great challenge!

abuddhistperspective said...

Great timing! I just ordered some books and reserved some others at the library. Hmmm, at the top of the list are Blessed Unrest, The Plain Reader, The Oil Depletion Protocol, and In Defense of Food.

Decision made - I'll start with Blessed Unrest. Thanks for a great challenge!

Jen said...

I don't know if it counts- I was already planning to read while recovering from an operation- but I'll be a (even bigger) bookworm too.

Deanna said...

I'm reading "In Defense of Food" and enjoying it immensely. This will be an easy challenge for me and maybe I can even work in another book for this challenge (in addition to my usual reading). I have posted about your challenge in my blog, "Tea With Dee".

Deena said...

I just read "Dead Heat" by Joel C. Rosenberg. It is the last of a series of 5...I've not read the others. It is a fictional take on possible 'end times' events but with with current news flare. Better than the "Left Behind Series" but not as good as the "Christ Clone Trilogy".

Green Bean said...

Erikka: Great! I'm wanting to read this book too, now, based on Ellen at Daily Grind's rec. Look forward to reading what you write about it.

Leslie: Thanks for the recs! Looks like you ended up with a good book. Water is turning out to be such a HUGE issue. Glad you've joined the challenge.

Domestic Accident: Sweet! Great book. I think you'll love it.

Sunshine: So glad you are in. I'm just finishing up Simple Prosperity which I'm enjoying. Whichever book you end up with, it will be a good one. Too many good books, too little time!

Hit Pay Dirt: Great! Good read. Best of luck getting through it - worth it, I think.

Buddhist: I look forward to reading your thoughts on Blessed Unrest. I've heard wonderful things about it. Thanks for joining.

Jen: It counts. Nothing helps recovery better than a book. :-)

Deanna: Thanks for participating - and for spreading the word. Glad you are enjoying IDF. There are so many great books out there. This challenge is partially selfish - I'm swimming in recs for great books! ;-)

Deena: Oh no! More good recs! ;-)

biomegreen said...

barbara kingsolver fan
living in Germany
cautiously stepping into the green
would like hardcover info
also an avid reader
tips on finding books?
other than outright ordering
being on a budget and trying to go green harries the hausfrau

Kellie & Marc said...

Okey-doke, I'm still 4th on the waiting list at the library for Common Wealth, so I'm officially reading Last Child in the Woods instead.

Green Bean said...

Got it Kellie, thanks!

Biomegreen: not sure what to advise for Germany. Do you have access to libraries that carry English books? Check out Paper Back Swap, Book Mooch or Swaptree. Worst case scenerio, I guess, look for it used on Abe's Books, Amazon or Ebay. Good luck!

Sarah said...

I am looking forward to reading The Botany of Desire. Please count me in if it's not too late.
Thanks!

Green Bean said...

Sarah, got you! I'll add you and Botany to the list. Thanks for joining - never too late.

sfordinarygirl said...

I'm very much signing up!

I'm going to read Plenty and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Green Bean said...

Great, sfordinarygirl. Wonderful books!

Robin said...

I'd like to join in...I am reading Henry David Thoreau's Walden and re-reading Garbage Land:On the Secret Trail of Trash.

Green Bean said...

Wonderful. Welcome, Robin! :)

Nadine said...

OK, I'm a little late to the game, but I'm jumping in the ring. I started Last Child in the Woods last fall but had to put it down to concentrate on school. I hope to finish it now!

gregra&gar said...

I have finally struggled through Path Through Infinity's Rainbow and posted my review on my website. Is there somewhere else it should be?

Christy said...

I decided to read Plenty for the challenge. I finally broke down and bought it since our library doesn't have it.

Green Bean said...

Nadine & Christy, got your books. Thanks! Look forward to reading your thoughts on them.

GG&G: I've linked to your review in the side bar. It's wonderful to be able to sift through everyone's thoughts on a book without actually having to read the book. ;-)

leslie said...

I finished two books, "Not a Drop to Drink", by Ken Midkiff, and "Better for all the World" by Harry Bruinius.
I wrote a post about these books.
Not a Drop To Drink

sfordinarygirl said...

I finished "plenty" but couldn't finish "my year without buying nothing" by judith levine.

the latter book was too difficult to follow - i read about 70% of the book.

im starting on animal, vegetable, miracle.

Green Bean said...

Got it, Leslie. Thanks.

SFOrdinary girl, thanks for the heads up. Mixed reviews coming in on Not Buying It. AVM should be great.

Mama said...

I will be reviewing It's Easy Being Green by Crissy Trask. Thanks for a fun challenge!

Mama said...

I have reviewed the book It's Easy Being Green, here is the link: http://mamagoesgreen.blogspot.com/2008/05/its-easy-being-green-handbook-for-earth.html

Green Teen said...

I'll be reviewing "Serve God, Save the Planet"

~Green Teen

Green Bean said...

Green Teen: Gotcha! A couple of you are reading that book this month and one of my favorite bloggers, Donna, raves about it. I hope it is a good read.

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