Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutsen. Kelly and Erik are the LA couple behind the terrific Root Simple blog. If you haven't come across it you should definitely check it out. They have an engaging, no-nonsense approach to urban sustainable living that we find incredibly appealing. They just get on with it and show others how they can too.
The book is a collection of sustainable do-it-yourself projects, ranging from very simple ones to more complex. To give you an idea of the scope of the book, the table of contents is shown below.
Written in a clear and engaging way, the projects are inexpensive and very do-able. They will also give you new skills while saving you lots of money. What's not to like about that? We're already doing some of the things covered - such as growing food, bread baking, brewing, preserving, soap-making, making some of our own cleaning products and keeping bees, but the book is full of heaps and heaps of other projects that we'd love to have a go at.
Honeybee Democracy by Thomas D. Seeley. This is a fascinating book. Thomas D. Seeley, a world renowned animal behaviourist, has spent decades studying bees. Bees reproduce by swarming. The swarm of bees leaves the original colony and finds a temporary spot to alight, such as a tree branch, while it searches for a permanent home. The survival of the swarm depends upon being able to find a suitable new home within a limited time frame. In this book Seeley brings together all the research to describe the collective and democratic process in which bees choose and travel to a new home. He describes the fact-finding process, the debate and the consensus process that the bees undergo to find a new home, as well as the navigation process that takes them there. Seeley also considers the similarities between bee swarms and how primate brains work and how this pertains to effective decision making.
The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower's handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming by Jean-Martin Fortier. Jean and his wife run a productive and profitable micro-farm consisting of 1.5 acres in Quebec. Using a low-tech strategy and a focus on growing better, not bigger, their market garden now produces enough vegetables to feed over 200 families (that's not a typo!) and generates enough income to support them. In this book he outlines how they have achieved this.
While we're not planning to start our own CSA, this book is a great insight on how to get high productivity on a small piece of land in a way that minimises costs. We're reading with a view to increasing the productivity of our suburban plot.
Any good books you've read lately that you'd like to share?