Friday, May 30, 2008

Be a Bookworm: Reading Round Up

This is it. The end of May. The end of the first month of book reading bookworms. Although some of you are continuing on with the bookworm challenge through June, I promised a Reading Roundup at the end of this month and here it is.

During May, I chomped through Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle by David Wann. I've posted about this book here and here. Although it was neither earth shattering nor eye opening, the book has impacted my life and my way of thinking more than I can calculate. It has buoyed my burgeoning feeling that, while all is not right with the world, all is right with this new way of living. David Wann focuses not on the negative, but on the positive - what we get instead of what we give up, why we embrace hope instead of fear, how we build community. If you feel afraid for the future, unhappy to be "cutting back", anxious that you or others are not doing enough, this is the book for you.

I'm also working through Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. I am on the fence, in many ways, with this book. While some of the authors' ideas are risky, many of them might be invaluable in retooling the environmental movement from a "special interest" into a tour de force. I'll post a review on this book as soon as I'm done reading.

Those are my thoughts, in a nutshell, on my books.

What about you? What did you read? How did it impact you? Would you recommend it and why?

Please check out my sidebar for Bookworms' Book Reviews and the comments to this post and this one to learn about books other participants have read during the challenge.

Thank you for participating. It has been a fun and fulfilling. If you want to continue inching along, please join me through the month of June while I'm Still a Bookworm.


Chile said...

Oh, I'm not sure you're ready for another review from me. I'm not sure I'm ready to review it, either.

Thanks to this challenge, and yes, it's all your fault, I've read two peak oil-type fiction books this month. The second one I only knew about as a direct result of this challenge because Christy mentioned it. (See? Your fault.)

So, now I'm losing sleep and all stressed out again. That's how it's impacted me. Thanks. Thanks a whole lot, Green Bean.

(Too bad you can't see me laughing my head off right now...)

CindyW said...

I have my second thought about Breakthrough. So I am ditching that for "Earth - the sequel" by Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn. It's likely going to take me a whole month to read it :) Will come back with my thoughts.

arduous said...

Twenty pages from being through with Rubbish. Will try to get my review of that up this week, and will get my review of AVM (still not up yet) up next week.

eco 'burban mom said...

I have started Affluenza and so far, it's pretty good reading. Pretty funny at times, but good information throughout. Though, nothing will compare to AVM I think.

BTW - I will be finishing my review of AVM over the weekend! I will let you know when it's up. Have a great weekend, I wish you wonderful gardening weather. 74 and sunny here, I might actually get some sun!

Heather @ SGF said...

I just got the call that my book is in at the library. I'll be reading Common Wealth: economics for a crowded planet. Everyone has said such good things about it. I'm looking forward to reading it for myself!

lauren said...

I finished Omnivore's Dilemma. It has had a huge impact on the food I eat as I search for more local alternatives to my meal staples.

His chapter on "The Ethics of Eating Animals" helped me to process my sometimes guilt for being an avowed meat lover. I will still eat meat, but I will be more diligent in finding responsible, sustainable sources.

Oh, and I'm still a Bookworm because I picked up my library copy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle yesterday.

Thanks for the great challenge!

MamaBird said...

I'm (still) reading How to Pick A Peach - I like it -- it's a sort of historical exploration of various produce combined with practical advice for finding the best-tasting (and thus, the author argues, most environmentally friendly and sustainable by default) fruits and veggies. I'm about halfway through and have high hopes for finishing this weekend. I'm definitely on for June as well. Thanks for making me prioritize reading (print in addition to blogs!).

Melissa said...

I posted my review of Fast Food Nation here:

and I'm in again for June...I'm going to read the No Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade. I'm actually not that psyched about it (it's a little dry so far), but I figure I should actually do the reading and not just buy fair trade all the time because I have a feeling/instinct it's the right thing to do - now I'll be giving myself some facts to back up my feelings.

Kim said...

Oy veigh. I wasn't a very good bookworm... at least not an eco-reading bookworm. I did a lot of reading, but never got to Omnivore's Dilema. I'll be starting that next week though...

So count me in for "I'll still be a bookworm"

Woman with a Hatchet said...

I read Freakonimics, AVM and am working through Affluenza.

One day I will have the time to post! Right now, I'm in a planting/setting up for planting frenzy. Tomatoes are ruling my life! Aiee!

Short review:
Freakonomics was interesting in a cocktail party sort of Hmmm! way.
AVM was AWESOME. I want to be her! Except for the moving to Virginia part. I'm happy right here. Just wish we had water that fell from the sky on a more regular basis.
Affluenza is fascinating but surprisingly keeps going back to talk about the lack of religion/spirituality in people's lives as the cause for buying stuff. Not sure how I feel about that.

I still have all of those other books on hold at the library, so I'll probably join you for more reading in June by default!

kale for sale said...

I'd already put Simple Prosperity on my list but you've made it sound even better. It's moved up a couple of notches. I posted a review of Uncertain Peril. It was a complete eye opener and timely to the way of current agriculture. I'm glad I read it and look forward to someone else's review of it too.

Joanna said...

I've just finished Affluenza. My review goes on today... maybe, its sunny out so my good intentions might turn into a cycle ride.
I'm starting Last Child in the Woods and my hubby is currently raving over Animal Vegitable Miracle- so I'll have to read tha sometime too.

Crunchy Chicken said...

I never did make it more than a few pages into Collapse. Or The End of Oil. But I did read all the other books I said I would plus most of Plenty (which I'm still working on).

Green Bean said...

Chile: Okay, okay. I take total responsibility for your stress over the peak oil books. Go eat a cookie, why don't ya! ;-)

Cindy: You sure? My review of Break Through (once I finish the damn book) might change your mind . . .

Arduous: Slacker!!

Eco'Burban: Nothing compares to AVM. Really. As to gardening, quite nice this weekend!

Heather: Can't wait to see what you think about it.

Lauren: Awesome. I completely agree with you about OD and the animal chapter. I'm a vegetarian but after reading that, relaxed a bit about my family eating meat provided it was from a sustainable source. Hope you enjoy AVM.

MamaBird: Ahh. That book title is so cute. Glad you are going to stay on. I love blogs (obviously) but think it is important to still read books, as you say.

Melissa: Great review on Fast Food Nation! Look forward to your review on the Fair Trade Guide - that way I can just mooch off of your knowledge. ;-)

Kim: Ah well, that's why it's nice to continue in June. :)

Hatchet: Good luck with the tomatoes. I need to get out into my garden pretty pronto. I liked Affluenza but understand where you are coming from. AVM, beautiful!

Katrina: I'm going to read Uncertain Peril soon based on your thoughts. I'm so glad you brought it to our attention. Look forward to what you think when you read Simple Prosperity. It wasn't one of those books that knocked me over but its positive vibrations have stayed with me for almost a month and positive is always good.

Joanna: You have your husband reading too!?! You rock.

Crunchy: See my comment for Arduous. Applies doubly to you. ;-)

Jennifer said...

I just got back from vacation and my reading of Affluenza... what a good book. I have to say that it really influenced me!

I'll have to get a review up on my website soon... when I have time to write it! It may be a few weeks, as we are planning huge house renovations this week in advance of grad school and summer band.

I started Consumed... I'm not sure about it, as it feels very preachy and accusatory (and hit a little close to home). So I should probably finish it. It will be good for me.

Robj98168 said...

I just finished Living like Ed and posted my review.. raining here so I finished early! Now i will start ther green book.
Review is HERE

Sue in the Western Great Basin said...

Here's my wrapup for the May Bookworm Challenge. Three books to report:

In May I finished reading The Forager’s Harvest, which I started in April, and then I read two other books: Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, and Plenty. Here are my reviews of these books:

The Forager’s Harvest, by Samuel Thayer. I didn’t read all the plant descriptions, only the ones I was familiar with or that I thought would be found in my area. However, the introduction is so powerful that it’s worth getting the book (at least from the library) just to read those few pages. He describes foraging for food in terms of its history – that is, the cultural path that has gone from foraging as the only option (originally) to the current time where not only do most people not forage for food, but it’s actually acquired a negative reputation: “only poor people forage” is the implication now. He also describes in rather blunt language what he thinks is wrong with other edible plant books, and which ones he thinks are worth having as references. He’s pretty persuasive in that area as well. Definitely worth a peruse!

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. They are talking about shifting manufacturing to be sustainable, ecologically. They emphasize the importance of manufactured items being designed to be deconstructable at the end of their lives, and the resulting pieces being used again and again, indefinitely. They divide all components of manufactured items into two categories: biological nutrients and technological nutrients. Biological nutrients are organic materials (animal, vegetable, mineral, water, etc). When they are not contaminated with technological nutrients, biological nutrients can be safely composted (ie discarded), returning their nutrients to the soil and becoming food for some other species in the ecosystem. Technological nutrients are processed metals or chemicals, toxins, fossil fuels, etc. When not contaminated with biological nutrients, technological nutrients can be retrieved at the end of a manufactured item’s life and re-used at an equally “high” level in another manufacturing process. In order to be able to 100% safely compost biological nutrients and 100% re-use technological nutrients, manufactured items must be made with this cyclical future in mind, and designed so that the biological and the technological can be completely separated. They also talk a bit, favorably, about shifting to a service economy, where the manufacturer maintains ownership of an item, and contracts with the customer for the service only. This is an idea that’s been tossed around for a few years now — for example, instead of buying a refrigerator (which you then have to discard at the end of its life, putting not only volume and toxins into the landfill, but “discarding” valuable materials that the fridge was made of, that now need to be mined/processed again to make more for the next fridge), you might instead buy “refrigeration services”. The company selling you this service will install a refrigerator in your home, but they maintain ownership of the machine. You are paying for the service the machine is providing. When the machine dies, the manufacturer will remove/replace the fridge, and it will be in their economic interest to retrieve and re-use the components of the fridge (metal, plastic, coolant, insulation, etc), instead of just taking it to the dump. I can see the benefits of this approach, but it’s not without its problems too. What they are describing in Cradle to Cradle makes complete sense to me in concept, but I did feel a sense of sadness as I read, in that I think it’s too late for the paths they are suggesting. I just don’t think we have the economic robustness or the resources available to shift/rebuild the infrastructure in the way that would be necessary to follow their route. One last note: the book is printed using the principles they espouse – the ‘paper’ it’s printed on is actually a form of plastic, that can be fully re-used at the end of its life as a book. A side benefit is that it’s waterproof! As someone who does much of her reading in the bathtub, I can tell you that I felt reassured by that, in case I dropped the book in the water (which I didn’t). :) On the downside, though, the book was heavy for its size, and bound in a way that made it hard to hold open with one hand. I suppose in the long run that’s a minor detail. This book was not a fast read, it’s a bit dense, but not overwhelmingly so. I heartily recommend it.

Plenty, by Alisa Smith and JB MacKinnon: Finished it tonight. Thanks again to Michelle and to Katrina at Kale for Sale for their generous drawing in which I won this book! I won’t review this book since others have, but I really enjoyed it! I’ll be offering it directly to a few friends, then when they are done with it, I’ll be donating it to my local library so others can enjoy it.

Jen said...

I did my "review" this morning on Simple Prosperity by David Wann.

Thanks for the challenge!

Green Bean said...

Jennifer: Yes, I agree. Affluenza was an eye opener in a really good kind of way. Consumed sounds . . . interesting. Wonder what you're final thoughts will be. It's hard, sometimes, to get through those kinds of books. Give me a shout out when you do do your reviews, no rush!

Rob: Speaking of no rush, gesh! You are one fast reader and reviewer. I expect 20 more of these this month! Great review.

Sue: Wow, I'll definitely pick up Forager's Harvest - especially since you said I can get away with only reading the intro! My book list is so long that it's nice to be able to glean something from a few pages.

Cradle sounds really interested. What a shame we did not adopt those ideas - which sound so common sense - several years back. We can still hold out hope that we can migrate in that direction as much as the money will allows.

Jen: Thank you for the review. I'm so glad you enjoyed Simple Prosperity and its positive tone.

Donna said...

GB, Thanks so much for adding my "Coming Home to Eat" review to your sidebar... but... I clicked on it to make sure it worked and I got to an Amazon listing for a book by John Muir. I've read the book and it's really great, especially "Stickeen," but it's not my review. :)

kale for sale said...

I've got my next book - Bottomfeeder - How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Fish. I've read five pages so far and had to reread three of them out loud to the guy as I went along because the information was so astounding. I've no idea if the book continues like that but it's a heck of a way for a book to begin.

Carla said...

Oh, well, Bean...I didn't do so good. I 'switched horses in mid-stream' & started reading The Long Emergency. I'm just about finished - the last chapter is, of course, the best. I will post a review when I've finally finished. All the gardening is cutting into the reading time.(smile) I'm still going to finish The Omnivore's Dilemma, but that will probably take more time . I can't seem to read that one in the evening - get too worked up for bedtime reading...
Carla in Idaho

Green Bean said...

Donna: OoopS! I'm sorry. Thank God someone is checking this stuff. Sorry 'bout that. All fixed now.

Katrina: Wow! Sounds like an amazing book. Can't wait to read your thought son it when you are finished.

Carla: Garden is a good think to get distracted with. Hey, it's kind of the point re Omnivore's Dilemma. Let me know if you review Long Emergency. Thank you!

Raz Godelnik said...

I decided to put 'This Place On Earth' back on the shelf and finish reading 'Green Babies, Sage Moms'. The main reason for that was that I just became a father to a little cute baby named Shira! So there were some issues I decide I need to learn about and fasttttt.. there's so much green aspects to becoming a parent. I'm just beginning to get it and this book is a great guide to start this green journey with..

I posted a review of the book on our blog:

Green Bean said...

Raz: Got it. Thanks for the link. Sounds like a great read for parents of very young children.

Wild Orchids for Trotsky said...

Hi Green Bean,
I finally finished my review of Symbiotic Planet! Thanks for hosting this challenge; it was really a great idea, and I Am Still a Bookworm!
Cheers, Rachel
My review

worldthrough1eye said...

For June's bookworm challenge, I changed my book choice from "So Big" by Edna Ferber to "On my Swedish Island" by Julie Catterson Lindahl.


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