Today I thought I’d share with you some of the wonderful books I have been reading lately. I’m pretty much a non fiction reader. To relax I look at book with amazing photography or artwork – the subject doesn’t really matter, I just have to like the art. The Art of Gardening by Susan Vinskofski is the most beautiful ebook I’ve ever seen. There are some ebooks that have beautiful photography but I’ve never seen an ebook with prints of oil paintings. This one does. And not just one or two. Almost every page has a print of an oil painting by Deborah Hamby. I marvel at that. You can see (and even order) the prints separately in Deborah’s Etsy store.
Ok, now that I’m done gushing over the artwork lets talk about the “meat” of the book. Susan starts the book where I think all gardeners should start, with the soil. In the first chapter she talks about composting (pile and sheet), soil testing, mulching and the over harvesting of peat moss. Chapter 2 is all about seeds, the difference between hybrid, heirloom (open pollinated) and GMO, how to start seeds – there’s even instructions to make your own pots out of newspaper, direct sowing, how to tell if seeds will germinate and how to save seeds. Choosing a site, mulch, watering, staking/trellising and pests are discussed in Chapter 3. There are also instructions on building a tomato trellis. Last but not least is an alphabetical guide to vegetables. But there’s not just how to grow the vegetables there’s also recipes and preservation tips.
I think this quote from the introduction sums up the book nicely.
“One of the things I learned as a Master Gardener is to always give research based answers to the gardening questions I’m asked. And I do. But to me gardening is not only research based, it’s also intuitive and creative. Yes, gardening is an art.” Susan Vinskofsi
A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson was an I just can’t put it down kind of book. It’s non fiction but it reads like fiction. The subtitle is Southern Stories of Faith, Family, and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon. Sophie does a great job of telling her family stories. Here’s the thing, she does it without making you think her family is perfect and without dishonoring her family. That’s a touch balance. But these aren’t just stories for the sake of stories. These are stories that bring her and her family closer to Christ. And you know what? I found myself thinking about those lessons she’s learned and about my own stories of learning some of those same lessons. I also found myself thinking about what kind of generational legacy am I leaving? Am I leaving one that includes honor and grace for those who are older and struggling to remember things? Or am I leaving a legacy of irritation and frustration with the elderly? I also found myself chuckling out loud at times and then on the verge of tears at times. Some of the humor is pretty Southern but honestly, I think it’s also just pretty basic. Sophie also writes a light hearted blog called BooMama.
Lena Corwin’s Made by Hand is a really fun book of crafts. There are 26 different projects by 13 different artisans. The projects include sewing, knitting, tie dying, painting fabric, origami, crocheting, jewelry making, and candle and soap making. Each of the projects are pretty simple but all are useful. I like that in a project book. I really like the tie-dying projects I think we’ll try some of those this summer. I also just bought some lye for a science experiment which means I now have all the supplies to make some homemade castile soap. But I think my favorite project in the book is the coiled basket making. I see endless possibilities of how these baskets can be used in our home. I also have a think for repetitive actions so I think I will like this craft. Each project has a background story, a materials list, detailed instructions and photos. There are also some illustrations of harder to explain concepts. A full set of patterns is in the back of the book. I haven’t actually done any of the projects yet but I’ve read through several of them and the instructions are written in and easy to understand way. You can see more of Lena Corwin’s work here.
What have you been reading lately? Leave your answers in the comments so we all can benefit from them.