Recommended Reading

Over the months and years, I have read shelfloads of fantastic books that are not only engaging, but enlightening. Many of them have been discussed with the Moving Towards Sustainability Book Club (look for the MTS logo). Below is a list of highly recommended books that will help you in your Homesteading endeavors as well as your continuing education on living in harmony with nature.

Edible Forest Gardens:
Ecological Vision, Theory For Temperate Climate Permaculture

by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier

Edible Forest Gardens is a groundbreaking two-volume work that spells out and explores the key concepts of forest ecology and applies them to the needs of natural gardeners in temperate climates. Volume I lays out the vision of the forest garden and explains the basic ecological principles that make it work. In Volume II, Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier move on to practical considerations:concrete ways to design, establish, and maintain your own forest garden. Along the way they present case studies and examples, as well as tables, illustrations, and a uniquely valuable "plant matrix" that lists hundreds of the best edible and useful species.

Taken together, the two volumes of Edible Forest Gardens offer an advanced course in ecological gardening--one that will forever change the way you look at plants and your environment.
Moving Towards Sustainability Book Club Selection
JAN 2012
The Urban Homestead:
Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City

by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen

This celebrated, essential handbook shows how to grow and preserve your own food, clean your house without toxins, raise chickens, gain energy independence, and more. Step-by-step projects, tips, and anecdotes will help get you started homesteading immediately. The Urban Homestead is also a guidebook to the larger movement and will point you to the best books and Internet resources on self-sufficiency topics.

Written by city dwellers for city dwellers, this copiously illustrated, two-color instruction book proposes a paradigm shift that will improve our lives, our community, and our planet. By growing our own food and harnessing natural energy, we are planting seeds for the future of our cities.

Learn how to: Grow food on a patio or balcony, Preserve or ferment food and make yogurt and cheese, Compost with worms, Keep city chickens, Divert your grey water to your garden, Clean your house without toxins, Guerilla garden in public spaces, Create the modern homestead of your dreams.
Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World
Moving Towards Sustainability Book Club Selection
DEC 2011
Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens,
Healthier People, and a Better World

by Joel Salatin

From farmer Joel Salatin's point of view, life in the 21st century just ain't normal. In FOLKS, THIS AIN'T NORMAL, he discusses how far removed we are from the simple, sustainable joy that comes from living close to the land and the people we love. Salatin has many thoughts on what normal is and shares practical and philosophical ideas for changing our lives in small ways that have big impact.

Salatin, hailed by the New York Times as "Virginia's most multifaceted agrarian since Thomas Jefferson [and] the high priest of the pasture" and profiled in the Academy Award nominated documentary Food, Inc. and the bestselling book The Omnivore's Dilemma, understands what food should be: Wholesome, seasonal, raised naturally, procured locally, prepared lovingly, and eaten with a profound reverence for the circle of life. And his message doesn't stop there. From child-rearing, to creating quality family time, to respecting the environment, Salatin writes with a wicked sense of humor and true storyteller's knack for the revealing anecdote.

Salatin's crucial message and distinctive voice-practical, provocative, scientific, and down-home philosophical in equal measure-make FOLKS, THIS AIN'T NORMAL a must-read book.

Moving Towards Sustainability Book Club Selection
NOV 2011
Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills (Second Edition)
by Reader's Digest

"Voluntary simplicity" has become a catch phrase for what seems to be a yearning for a simpler, more self-sufficient and economical way of living in the late 20th century. This book, first published in 1981 and recently updated, was probably many folks' first in-depth exposure to the idea of a simpler life, making things by hand, and enjoying a stronger sense of control over personal budgets, home projects, and lifestyles. Hundreds of projects are listed, illustrated in step-by-step diagrams and instructions: growing and preserving your own food, converting trees to lumber and building a home from it, traditional crafts and homesteading skills, and having fun with recreational activities like camping, fishing, and folk dancing without spending a lot of money. This book will have you dreaming and planning from the first page!
Moving Towards Sustainability Book Club Selection
NOV 2011
The Encyclopedia of Country Living
by Carla Emery

No home, whether in the country, the city, or somewhere in between, should be without this one-of-a-kind encyclopedia — the most complete source of information available about growing, processing, cooking, and preserving homegrown foods from the garden, orchard, field, or barnyard. For more than 30 years, people have relied on its practical, step-by-step advice on basic self-sufficiency skills such as how to cultivate a garden, buy land, bake bread, raise farm animals, make sausage, milk a goat, grow herbs, churn butter, build a chicken coop, cook on a wood stove, and much, much more. First written at the height of the 1960s back-to-the-land movement, the book has been continually revised, updated, and expanded, and has grown from a self-published, mimeographed document to an exhaustive reference of more than one million words, 2,000+ recipes, and over 1,500 mail order sources. Emery's personal advice, reflections, and anecdotes ensure that this incredibly detailed, diverse reference is as enjoyable as it is useful.
Moving Towards Sustainability Book Club Selection
OCT 2011
The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love
by Kristin Kimball

Kimball chucked life as a Manhattan journalist to start a cooperative farm in upstate New York with a self-taught New Paltz farmer she had interviewed for a story and later married. The Harvard-educated author, in her 30s, and Mark, also college educated and resolved to "live outside of the river of consumption," eventually found an arable 500-acre farm on Lake Champlain, first to lease then to buy. In this poignant, candid chronicle by season, Kimball writes how she and Mark infused new life into Essex Farm, and lost their hearts to it. By dint of hard work and smart planning--using draft horses rather than tractors to plow the five acres of vegetables, and raising dairy cows, and cattle, pigs, and hens for slaughter--they eventually produced a cooperative on the CSA model, in which members were able to buy a fully rounded diet. To create a self-sustaining farm was enormously ambitious, and neighbors, while well-meaning, expected them to fail. However, the couple, relying on Mark's belief in a "magic circle" of good luck, exhausted their savings and set to work. Once June hit, there was the 100-day growing season and an overabundance of vegetables to eat, and no end to the dirty, hard, fiercely satisfying tasks, winningly depicted by Kimball.
Moving Towards Sustainability Book Club Selection
SEP 2011
The Earth's Face - Landscape And Its Relation To The Health Of The Soil
by Ehrenfried Pfeiffer

Ehrenfried Pfeiffer was a pioneer of biodynamics, first in Switzerland and then in the USA in the pre- and post-war years. This wide-ranging book reflects his concern for the different landscapes of the earth, and the effects of industrialisation and mechanisation on our environment. He studies various landscapes, including plains, mountains and woods as well as urban centres, parks and gardens, and explores what factors - natural and artificial - lead to the maintenance or loss of soil fertility. He calls on all people to take responsibility for our landscapes. His opinions and vision for the future are remarkably relevant today, sixty years on from the original publication.

Moving Towards Sustainability Book Club Selection
JUL 2011
Oryx and Crake
by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.

Moving Towards Sustainability Book Club Selection
JUL 2011
The Year of the Flood
by Margaret Atwood

Set in the visionary future of Atwood’s acclaimed Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood is at once a moving tale of lasting friendship and a landmark work of speculative fiction. In this second book of the MaddAddam trilogy, the long-feared waterless flood has occurred, altering Earth as we know it and obliterating most human life. Among the survivors are Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, who is barricaded inside a luxurious spa. Amid shadowy, corrupt ruling powers and new, gene-spliced life forms, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move, but they can't stay locked away.


Moving Towards Sustainability Book Club Selection
JUN 2011
Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerges
by C Otto Scharmer

In this ground-breaking book, C. Otto Scharmer invites us to see the world in new ways.

What we pay attention to, and how we pay attention is the key to what we create. What often prevents us from 'being present, ' is what Scharmer calls our blind spot, the inner place from which each of us operates. Becoming aware of our blind spot is critical to bringing forth the profound systemic changes so needed in business and society today.

First introduced in Presence, the U methodology of leading profound change is expanded and deepened in Theory U. By moving through the "U" process we learn to connect to our essential Self in the realm of 'presencing' - a term coined by Scharmer. When 'presencing' we are able to see our own blind spot and pay attention in a way that allows us to experience the opening of our minds, our hearts, and our wills. Through this process we are able to shift our awareness to allow us to connect with our best future possibility--and to realize it.
Moving Towards Sustainability Book Club Selection
MAY 2011
Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World
by Charles HRH The Prince of Wales

For the first time, HRH The Prince of Wales shares his views on how our most pressing modern challenges—from climate change to poverty—are rooted in mankind's disharmony with nature, presenting a compelling case that the solution lies in our ability to regain a balance with the world around us. With its holistic approach, this provocative and well-reasoned book takes the discussion of sustainability and climate change in a new direction. Prince Charles shows how the solutions to problems like climate change lie not only in technology but in our ability to change the way we view the modern world.

For decades, the Prince of Wales has been studying a wide array of disciplines to understand every aspect of man's impact on the natural world, and in that time he has examined everything from architecture to organic farming to sustainable economics. Now, for the first time, he speaks out about his years of research, presenting a fascinating look at how modern industrialization has led us to a state of disharmony with nature, created climate change, and pushed us to the brink of disaster.

From the rice farms of India to the prairies of America's corn belt, from the temples of Ancient Egypt to the laboratories of industrial designers, Harmony spans the globe to identify the different ways that contemporary life has abandoned the hard-earned practices of our history, a shift that has spurred a host of social problems and accelerated climate change.

Drawing on cases from farming, healthcare, transportation, and design, the Prince of Wales also offers solutions for change, creating a new vision for our world, one that incorporates the traditional wisdom of our past with the modern science of our present to avert catastrophe. In the end, Harmony paints a holistic portrait of what we as a species have lost in the modern age, while outlining the steps we can take to regain the harmony of our ancestors.
Moving Towards Sustainability Book Club Selection
NOV 2010
The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Transition Guides)
by Rob Hopkins and Richard Heinberg

We live in an oil-dependent world, arriving at this level of dependency in a very short space of time by treating petroleum as if it were in infinite supply. Most of us avoid thinking about what happens when oil runs out (or becomes prohibitively expensive), but The Transition Handbook shows how the inevitable and profound changes ahead can have a positive outcome. These changes can lead to the rebirth of local communities that will grow more of their own food, generate their own power, and build their own houses using local materials. They can also encourage the development of local currencies to keep money in the local area.

There are now over 30 "transition towns" in the UK, Australia and New Zealand with more joining as the idea takes off. They provide valuable experience and lessons-learned for those of us on this side of the Atlantic. With little proactive thinking at the governmental level, communities are taking matters into their own hands and acting locally. If your town is not a transition town, this upbeat guide offers you the tools for starting the process.




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