When Spring comes around (you ARE coming around, right Spring?), my thoughts turn to dirt. Plants. Flowers. Vegetables and fruits. Manure. Yes, even manure.
My thoughts turn to gardening! And every Spring, I try to read a few books with the feel of Spring to them, so this topic suits me perfectly! Here are some of the books I hope to read this Spring.
1. The Curious Gardener by Anna Pavord – sounds so good!
In The Curious Gardener, Anna Pavord brings together in 12 chapters – one from each month of the year – 72 pieces on all aspects of gardening.
From what to do in each month and how to get the best from flowers, plants, herbs, fruit and vegetables, through reflections on the weather, soil, the English landscape and favourite old gardening clothes, to office greenery, spring in New York, waterfalls, Derek Jarman and garden design, Anna Pavord always has something interesting to say and says it with great style and candour.
The perfect book to guide you through the gardening year and, on days when the weather keeps the most courageous gardener indoors, the perfect book to curl up with beside the fire.
2. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver – I reread this every couple of years. I’m due.
Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life–vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” is an enthralling narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.
3. The Garden of Reading edited by Michele Slung – My dear friend Debi gave me this ages ago. It sounds so awesome; not sure why I haven’t read it yet! Except the usual reasons.
With selections grown from the fertile imaginations of the twentieth century’s most remarkable authors, editor and writer Michele Slung has assembled an enchanting and evocative anthology—the word itself comes from the Greek terms for “flower” and “to gather”—of short stories about gardens and all that grow in them.
The gardeners here are young and old, male and female, and the gardens themselves are a delightful mix of the formal and the wild. The twenty-four stories in The Garden of Reading comprise a diverse and unexpected collection but one that stays true to its central and harmonious theme. Included are Colette’s sensuous “Grape Harvest,” David Guterson’s poignant “The Flower Garden,” Stephen King’s sinister “The Lawnmower Man,” J. G. Ballard’s lovely and otherworldy “The Garden of Time,” the ominous “Green Thoughts” by John Collier, Rosamunde Pilcher’s touching and simply titled “The Tree,” and the splendid “The Fig Tree,” by V. S. Pritchett—as well as classics from such masters as Saki, Robert Graves, and Eudora Welty, and contemporary writing from the likes of Sandra Cisneros and Garrison Keillor.
If you’ve ever nurtured a flower, a tomato plant, or a gleam of imagination, there’s something in The Garden of Reading that is sure to delight.
4. A Farm Dies Once a Year by Arlo Crawford – Came home from Texas to find this beauty on my porch. Yep, I’m a happy girl!
An intimate, gorgeously observed memoir about family and farming that forms a powerful lesson in the hard-earned risks that make life worth living
The summer he was thirty-one, Arlo Crawford returned home for the summer harvest at New Morning Farm—seventy-five acres tucked in a hollow in south-central Pennsylvania where his parents had been growing organic vegetables for almost forty years.
Like many summers before, Arlo returned to the family farm’s familiar rhythms—rise, eat, bend, pick, sort, sweat, sleep. But this time he was also there to change his direction, like his father years ago. In the 1970s, well before the explosion of the farm-to-table and slow food movement, Arlo’s father, Jim, left behind law school and Vietnam, and decided to give farming a try. Arlo’s return also prompts a reexamination of a past tragedy: the murder of a neighboring farmer twenty years before. A chronicle of one full season on a farm, with all its small triumphs and inevitable setbacks, A Farm Dies Once a Year is a meditation on work—the true nature of it, and on taking pride in it—and a son’s reckoning with a father’s legacy. Above all, it is a striking portrait of how one man builds, sows, and harvests his way into a new understanding of the risks necessary to a life well-lived
5. Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler – I’m totally cheating here because yes, I’m reading this now. But one of the characters is a farmer, so I made it fit. Becaus I can do that.
Hank, Leland, Kip and Ronny were all born and raised in the same Wisconsin town — Little Wing — and are now coming into their own (or not) as husbands and fathers. One of them never left, still farming the family’s land that’s been tilled for generations. Others did leave, went farther afield to make good, with varying degrees of success; as a rock star, commodities trader, rodeo stud. And seamlessly woven into their patchwork is Beth, whose presence among them—both then and now—fuels the kind of passion one comes to expect of love songs and rivalries.
Now all four are home, in hopes of finding what could be real purchase in the world. The result is a shared memory only half-recreated, riddled with culture clashes between people who desperately wish to see themselves as the unified tribe they remember, but are confronted with how things have, in fact, changed.
There is conflict here between longtime buddies, between husbands and wives — told with writing that is, frankly, gut-wrenching, and even heartbreaking. But there is also hope, healing, and at times, even heroism. It is strong, American stuff, not at all afraid of showing that we can be good, too — not just fallible and compromising. Shotgun Lovesongs is a remarkable and uncompromising saga that explores the age-old question of whether or not you can ever truly come home again — and the kind of steely faith and love returning requires
6. Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart – Just read the description. Doesn’t it sound awesome?
A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war. In “Wicked Plants,” Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature s most appalling creations. It s an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. You ll learn which plants to avoid (like exploding shrubs), which plants make themselves exceedingly unwelcome (like the vine that ate the South), and which ones have been killing for centuries (like the weed that killed Abraham Lincoln’s mother).
Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, alarm, and enlighten even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.
7. Elizabeth and her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim – I’ve been slacking off on my classic reading. I need to fix this.
Elizabeth and Her German Garden was the first book published by author Elizabeth Von Arnim. Originally published in 1898, the semi-autobiographical novel written about a rural idyll became a highly successful book which was subsequently reprinted twenty-one times within its first year. This witty and sarcastic novel has kept the attention of readers for over a century, and once you read this title for the first time, you will be unable to stop rereading it for many years to come.
8. Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen - This is just on here because I really want to read it.
Jobless with a PhD, Lee Lien returns home to her Chicago suburb from grad school, only to find herself contending with issues she’s evaded since college. But when her brother disappears, he leaves behind an
object from their mother’s Vietnam past that stirs up a forgotten childhood dream: a gold-leaf brooch, abandoned by an American reporter in Saigon back in 1965, that might be an heirloom belonging to Laura Ingalls Wilder. As Lee explores the tenuous facts of this connection, she unearths more than expected—a trail of clues and enticements that lead her from the dusty stacks of library archives to hilarious prairie life reenactments and ultimately to San Francisco, where her findings will transform strangers’ lives as well as her own.
A dazzling literary mystery about the true origins of a time-tested classic, Pioneer Girl is also the deeply moving tale of a second-generation Vietnamese daughter, the parents she struggles to honor, the missing brother she is expected to bring home—even as her discoveries yield dramatic insights that will free her to live her own life to its full potential.
9. Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One’s Own by Jenna Woginrich –
Whether they’re about raising chickens or herding sheep, the tales of Jenna Woginrich have caught the imagination of thousands of young homesteaders. As she learns traditional farming skills by trial and error, Woginrich records her offbeat observations and poignant moments with honesty, humility, and humor.
In BarnHeart, she lands at a small rented farm and struggles to find her place in a reserved rural community filled with working farmers who are scraping by and wealthy vacation-home owners with fancy barns that never house livestock. Although her barnheart — a term Woginrich coins to describe her state of longing for a farm of her own — never subsides, she makes do on her rented farmstead, caring for her sheep, chickens, geese, ducks, rabbits, a goat, and a turkey, until relationships sour and she’s abruptly forced to leave. Where will she and her animals go? Will she finally be able to afford the farm she’s always dreamed of?
Even when dealing with cranky neighbors, small-town politics, and the loneliness that comes with running a farm on her own, Woginrich never loses her sense of humor. Readers will recognize themselves and find inspiration in this appealing story of longing and striving for a more authentic life.
10. At Home on Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball – Well huh. I just found out this is a sequel. I gues I need to get A Year on Ladybug Farm first!
From the award-winning author of A Year on Ladybug Farm comes the continuing story of three women who learn what it takes to turn a house into a home.
A year after taking the chance of a lifetime, Cici, Lindsay, and Bridget are still trying to make a home for themselves on the newly-renovated Ladybug Farm. Life in the Shenandoah Valley is picturesque, but filled with unexpected trials? such as the introduction of two young people into the ordered life the women have tried to build for themselves.
As the walls of the old house reveal their secrets and the lives of those who have gone before begin to unfold, the cobbled-together household starts to disintegrate into chaos. And when one of their members is threatened by a real crisis, they must all come together to fight for the roots they’ve laid down, the hopes they share, and the family they’ve become.
What are you planning to read this Spring?
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