Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kingsolver Gives Us Wings

Flight BehaviorFlight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I charged through this book. It was strange, because I wouldn't say it was action packed, but the characters were so engaging and the plight of the butterflies so tenuous that I couldn't put it down. Kingsolver rarely fails me, and this is another triumph. Wonderful read, you should get it here:

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The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World HistoryThe Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History by Linda Colley
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I wanted to read this book because the life of Elizabeth Marsh sounded profoundly liberated and interesting, regardless of the time period in which she lived. She was a woman who had many adventures, traveled the world, flaunted conventions, and wrote about it. What's not to find interesting? How about this book, for a start?

I was under the impression that this book was Elizabeth's story, based largely on her own words. I read over 100 pages before I came upon anything substantial about Elizabeth herself. For a book about someone who should be a feminist icon, it concentrates heavily on the men around her. If you would like to know a lot about the life and business dealings of James Crisp, then this is the book for you. One of the reasons we know anything at all about Elizabeth Marsh is that she wrote books and diaries about her life and travels. Yet the meager sprinklings of quotation from these works were so light as to not be worth much at all. I wanted to hear what Elizabeth thought about things, not what author, Lind Colley thought about Marsh.

But editorializing seems to be Colley's objective in this book. She plucks this idea that Elizabeth Marsh's mother may not have been purely Caucasian from seeming thin air. No where does she provide proof of such an assertion, but because the woman grew up in the islands, she must be part African. Over and over again in this book, Colley bizarrely repeats the myth of Marsh's mother's lineage, as if it has any bearing on Elizabeth's world view. It happened so many times it became glaring and made me wonder what Colley's true agenda was.

I did not enjoy this book at all. In fact, it frustrated me to no end. But that isn’t Elizabeth Marsh’s fault. I don’t know how Colley managed to take such a fascinating, exciting life story, and turn it into such a mundane, boring, exposition on British business and politics. This book was a severe disappointment. I am just glad that Marsh isn’t around to read it.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Local Food Heals Communities

Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement Is Changing the Way We EatReclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement Is Changing the Way We Eat by Tanya Cobb Denckla
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

#Food #UrbanFarming #CommunityGardens #LocalFood

“Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement Is Changing the Way We Eat” by Tanya Cobb Denckla (@ReclaimingOurFood) is a textbook for anyone who wants to create social and community change through food. This is so much more than just a book about how to start a community garden, though if that is something you want to do, GO GET THIS BOOK! It’s a must read for anyone that wants to start a community garden or urban farm.

I am not looking to start a community garden or build an urban farm any time soon, but I am interested in how community gardens and the like affect the community. This book is full of examples of the restorative power that gardens and fresh food have on a community. It is amazing how something so small as a raised garden bed can transform the people that eat from it. From preserving cultural growing conditions and traditions, to healing superfund sites with raised beds, this book describes how to succeed. It covers everything from the practical details of starting a community garden, to how to build a permaculture farm. If you have ever wanted to start something green in your community but didn’t know where to start, this is the book for you. And if, like me, you are interested in the phenomenon of feeding communities more locally and sustainably, this book will open your eyes to far more possibilities than you knew were available. Furthermore, there is an excellent resources section in the back of the book to get you started on your project.

I recommend this book to anyone who has any interest at all in local food. Even if you have no desire to start your own urban farm or community garden, you will get tons of useful information and inspiration from this book. It will definitely give you hope for the future.

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Outlaw Marriages: The Hidden Histories of Fifteen Extraordinary Same-Sex CouplesOutlaw Marriages: The Hidden Histories of Fifteen Extraordinary Same-Sex Couples by Rodger Streitmatter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

#bookreview #nonfiction #history

“Outlaw Marriages: The Hidden Histories of Fifteen Extraordinary Same-Sex Couples” by Rodger Streitmatter caught my eye because it offered insight into the private life of Gertrude Stein, whom I have always been interested in. But this book is a whole lot more than just a few literary lives. It spotlights couples that were instrumental in social change, education, art, interior decorating, journalism, and a whole lot more. Aside from their outlaw marriages, the couples in this book are simply fascinating. I really enjoyed reading about how these people developed and became leaders in their fields.

Sadly, the partnerships that helped to create these amazing careers have gone unsung until now. A central theme to this book was that it took both members of the partnership to create amazing lives. Over and over again the book details how each partner encouraged, inspired, and enabled the other to accomplish great things. Truly, we all build our lives with the help of our friends, lovers, and families, and this book brings that lesson home.

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