I have always been an avid reader, and cannot really think of a time when I did not have a half-dozen books with bookmarks strewn around. I read an eclectic mix of fantasy, science fiction, green living, nature and gardening books with the odd history or memoir thrown into the pile. I am the bookstore's resident guru for homesteading books, and can suggest many great books that we don't always have on the shelf for just about any homesteading need.
This book blew my mind! One of the best introductory books for temperate-zone gardeners interested in Permaculture, Hemenway does an amazing job of laying out the basics, and opening your eyes to the possibilities of an integrated garden system. This is my go-to book when someone asks about permaculture! --Jessica
I've grown up with poultry of all types and have my own mixed flock of chickens, ducks and geese. I've read most of the big names out there for backyard poultry, and this one is a class all of it's own. Ussery bucks the trend of many husbandry books by advocating for the most natural management possible. He looks at poultry keeping from an integrative viewpoint, noting the many ways in which poultry can earn their keep aside from providing meat and eggs for the table. Poultry can provide pest management when combined correctly with crops, composting services when given access to compost heaps or deep bedding, and of course fertilizer from their droppings. He corrects some common errors (which mostly come from anthropomorphizing) like the tendency to make chicken coops insulated, when really all they need is protection from wind and damp and the more fresh air the better. --Jessica
If you have ever nursed even the most faint hope of having a patch of land to homestead on this book is for you. A memoir of the enigmatic Jenna Woginrich as she makes the move cross-country from one rental homestead to another, and slowly builds her dream. Written in a no-nonsense tone with exultation at her successes and sorrow at her follies, Barnheart is a book that will inspire you to tackle your dreams in whatever small steps you can. Highly recommended (and check out her ongoing adventures via her blog at coldantlerfarm.com)! --Jessica
I love this book for is attitude. Joel Salatin isn't afraid to call it like he sees it, whether he's talking about farm policy, food policy, or any other type of policy. Here he tackles those subjects and more while he rants about everything from children's allowances to inheritance tax and makes some very good points in the bargain. He is opinionated and unapologetic about his stances, so this book isn't for the faint of heart, but if you want a book that makes you take a good hard look at our current culture check this one out. --Jessica
This awesome essay collection is a moving look at the history and future of the north cascades. The essays come from many people who have been touched by the mountains and their moving prose makes you want to take to the mountains yourself. Topics range from the ancient geologic history of the range to the historical use of the range from Native Americans to gold diggers and loggers. It then proceeds to current issues, dams, recreation and logging, and ends with a look into what the future may hold for these majestic mountains. --Jessica
This was an amazing book that didn't conform to any of my initial expectations, but was fantastic nonetheless. I was expecting a book that really focused om the natural history of the coast redwood, with an emphasis on the biology of the crowns and a peek into the amazing world of tree research. I did get a peek into that world, but in a manner that I wasn't anticipating. This book tells the story of the trees more indirectly, through the stories of the people who explore them. Let me give you a hint, the title refers to a tree that has never been climbed before. In a nutshell this book is about climbing trees...really big ones. Packed with the personal stories of the people that pioneered climbing super tall trees for study this book will have your heart in your throat as you follow the footsteps of discovery of this amazing world. Highly recommended for anyone who loves trees or climbing, this book is a jaw-dropper. --Jessica
This is a fantastic historical critique of the western US and the handling (or lack thereof) of its water crisis.The book has a huge scope, telling the story of the southwest region, the high plateaus of the inland and the arid western plains, and their fanatical efforts to secure water at all costs. The actions of the politicians are base, the water councils horrid, and the only thing worse than what they accomplished was what they thought they could. Extensively researched over 10 years before publication this book is a storehouse of amazement. I never realized that history could be so interesting, and it's only made better by the witty, and at time acerbic writing style the author uses. I found myself laughing at his portrayals of the bureaucracies, fuming at the actions of congress, and cheering the sheer relentlessness of nature. I don't think I can fully articulate just how much I enjoyed this book. A great read, and an essential education for anyone who lives in the west. --Jessica
A book both inspiring and frightening, Astyk talks in detail about what she has termed 'adapting in place.' Making your home a place of comfort and refuge and support should the worst happen, whether that is a week-long power outage or a total collapse of the economy. Powerfully written in a clear, no-nonsense voice Astyke outlines steps that can be taken now, plans that can be made, practiced and enacted and the difficult conversations that need to be had. This will certainly be a book that I return to. --Jessica
An amazingly inspirational read for anyone who cooks or aspires to cook. Follows the project of the author to determine what kinds of things keep people out of their own kitchens and how they can be inspired to get cooking. She talks about the volunteers and some of their stories as well as covering each class that she taught and the main pointers (plus recipes) from them. Reading this has inspired me to try a few new things in my kitchen and I think this is a perfect book for anyone at all who would like to cook more, regardless of current skill level. --Jessica
What can you say about Game of Thrones? If you haven't read it yet, READ IT!
I don't usually go for the 'undead' genre of zombies and horror, but after picking up WWZ I was hard-pressed to put it down again. This book is written as a fictional account of the happenings during the zombie wars, and is eerily realistic. Beginning with the 'discovery' of the zombie plague and following some of the routes by which it spread. The story goes on to reveal the 'Great Panic' and the desperate defense of various nations against losing their whole population before revealing how humanity finally began to fight back and reclaim territory. Each chapter is presented as a recollection by someone involved, and the descriptions of how people and nations reacted are chillingly real. A wonderful book unlike anything I've ever read before. --Jessica
Not a ground-breaking fantasy in terms of substance this is nonetheless high fantasy at it's finest, with snarky unicorns, immortal dragons, incomprehensible elven traditions, and knight-mages sweeping you into an epic tale.
This was the first book I ever read by Robin Hobb, and I was immediately swept into her fantastic world of mystery of marvel. Hobb balances an impressive number of characters throughout this trilogy, and everything is not as it seems. --Jessica
THIS IS THE BEST NEW FANTASY I'VE READ IN A WHILE!! I had heard good things about this one and only recently got around to reading it. It's amazing.
The first book in a series of 6 with some very cool world building. Most inhabitants of Alera come into their 'powers' at puberty, gaining the aid of one or more 'furies' - elemental beings tied to the earth. These furies help with multitudes of chores in day to day life and also can be used as a weapon. The political undercurrent is dangerous however, as a rival lord tries to wrest power for himself. The actions of a boy, most unusually absent of any fury-crafting, might just be the best hope for the realm. This book has great suspense, good storytelling, and a unique world.