dances with flowers

because life is a garden, and compost happens

Jen’s Reading List June 27, 2009

  • Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet Of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology by Lawrence Weschler  Note: “Utterly fascinating. I got sucked in before I realized it, and have had a hard time putting it down. Sometimes it feels totally unreal, as though it MUST be fiction… and I have this crawly feeling that there’s some puzzle I’m supposed to be solving… loving this strange and wonderful book about an apparently even more strange and wonderful place.”
  • The Unsavvy Traveler: Women’s Comic Tales of Catastrophe by Rosemary Caperton, Anne Mathews, Lucie Ocenas  Note: “Wry, hysterical, and cautionary all at once… the perfect mix for the housebound mother of a 4yo who wishes she could travel nine months of the year but realizes it’s more likely to be nine months out of the next 20 years…”
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez  Note: “Because I’m one of three people on the planet that haven’t read it yet, it seemed like time…”
  • This Is for You by Rob Ryan  Note: “I’m absolutely in love with Ryan’s work and would really like to find out more about his inner world…”
  • Tony Duquette by Wendy Goodman, Hutton Wilkinson, Dominick Dunne  Note: “It would be hard to find anyone who was more creative than this designer! He was completely over-the-top, even operatic, in his designs, but they remain compellling and I think there’s a lot to be learned from his approach. If he couldn’t find what he wanted for a particular project, he made it – from the simplest, often “trashy” materials… waaaay ahead of his time! Fascinating man, fascinating designs, and I’m betting it will be an equally fascinating book.”
  • High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never by Barbara Kingsolver  Note: Listing Kingsolver’s more recent Animal, Vegetable, Miracle reminded me that I want to recommend this one as a terrific read with lasting value. I think that the reviewer from School Library Journal said it best:

    “Displaying a diverse background and multiple interests, Kingsolver has written about subjects as varied as the biological clock of hermit crabs, tourist wanderings in Benin, and visiting an obsolete Titan missile site. The recurring themes here are the wonder and excitement of parenting; the respect for all creatures, religions, and points of view; and the importance of the natural world in our lives. She weaves these themes throughout her essays and presents readers with a vision of beliefs too often undervalued in our modern world. The author, a skilled observer of both people and nature, claims “to want to know and to write about the places where disparate points of view rub together – the spaces between.” These essays are her attempts to open the doors for her readers to see into those spaces. –Penny Stevens, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

  • Planthropology: The Myths, Mysteries, and Miracles of My Garden Favorites by Ken Druse  Note: “I have all of Druse’s books and consider him to have been one of my greatest teachers. Few gardeners combine his amazing observational skills, willingness to do any amount of scientific research in order to understand what he’s seeing, artistic abilities, and just general joie de vivre. He’s a master, and as far as I’m concerned every one of his previous books is foundational to truly becoming a master yourself. I have no doubt this one will be more of the same!”
  • Life List: A Woman’s Quest for the World’s Most Amazing Birds by Olivia Gentile  Note: “Wow, here’s a gal who slipped societal and generational chains and lived fully and vibrantly – because she thought she was going to die. Ironic, huh? Not just the story of her personal growth, it also documents the development of one of the world’s most highly-acclaimed birders. Can’t wait to work my way down through the pile to it!”
  • Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time: My Life Doing Dumb Stuff with Animals by Richard Conniff  Note: “Conniff’s exploits give me a tummy ache (fear) but it’s funny and informative at the same time. Fun read!”
  • A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World’s Extinct Animals by Tim Flannery, Peter Schouten  Note: “Stunning artwork, thoughtful and timely commentary. Worth re-reading periodically, and a great gift.”
  • The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real by Lisa Sonora Beam
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, Camille Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp Note: “Kingsolver is always a good read – I can honestly say that I’ve never been disappointed in any of her books. I have come to prefer her essays, even though her fiction is fantastic. This one is getting lots of buzz and I’m going to have to track down a copy pretty soon…”
  • Down to Earth With Helen Dillon by Helen Dillon  Note: “She’s one of the best living gardeners in the world. Is there anything else to be said?”
  • Around America: A Tour of Our Magnificent Coastline by Walter Cronkite, David Canright  Note: “I miss him. I’ve been missing him for a really long time. His was the reassuring voice that I heard every evening at dinner time when I was little, telling us about horrible things like Watergate and Kent State and Vietnam and the Zodiac Killer… but he was always calm, measured, reasonable. I believed him, believed IN him. He was probably the last institution I felt that way about… anyhow, when I saw this book I picked it up just because, and I’m finding I’m enjoying it for a whole different set of reasons. He’s a great storyteller, combining historical tidbits with the geography of our continental coastline in a very readable form.”
  • The Truth About Organic Gardening: Benefits, Drawbacks, and the Bottom Line by Jeff Gillman  Note: “We want so desperately to believe that anything “natural” or “organic” MUST be better, that a whole lot of magical thinking has crept into the things we think we know about gardening. For instance, I’ve been challenging the one about ‘knocking aphids off roses with a strong spray of water’ for years… really? Really? Where do you think the aphids GO, exactly? Hmmm… onto OTHER plants? And what prevents them from going back to the roses if they so choose? They have WINGS, people. This kind of thing makes me wonder if anyone is paying any attention at all, and yet I’ve heard so many people solemnly repeating it to each other.  So I’m glad this guy wrote this book because otherwise I was going to have to, and he’s probably a lot nicer about it than I would have been! I’ll spare you my rant about “slugs and snails don’t like to crawl over sharp things”… REALLY? Where have you been during the aproximately 1,397,428 times Nat Geo’s shown that film of the snail crawling over the edge of the razor blade without being hurt? Their slime is specialized to allow them to do just that… Sheesh. I think I’d better go lie down now.”

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