I started this “Top Books” list last year, and decided to do it again this year! This eclectic twelve-book collection moved and shook us in 2015.
1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo (Ten Speed Press, 2014)
This book made waves here, getting me to re-think my clutter and leading to a lot of runs to our local charity donation center. It’s amazing what kind of stuff I found around the house that I’d forgotten I had—my favorite was one of those under-the-bed organizers…under the bed, and still in the original packaging!
2. How to Behave and Why by Munro Leaf (Universe Publishing, 2002)
This is a children’s book that was originally published in 1946. The advice the author gives is really applicable to adults, too. Great classic.
3. The Paleo Cure by Chris Kresser (Little, Brown and Company, 2013)
An excellent guide that walks you through the hows and whys of eating a nutritious, balanced diet (in light of the previous book on my list, I think this book could also be appropriately titled How to Eat and Why!) I liked that the author doesn’t stop at diet though, but progresses on with the book to cover all-important aspects such as stress-management, sleep, and play. All so much easier said than done, but I’m working on it. There are many more resources at the author's website, http://chriskresser.com/
4. The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life: The Four Essential Principles by Dr. Richard Wiseman (Hyperion, 2003)
This wonderful book is sadly out-of-print, but you can still track down used copies. I heard about this gem from Eric Barker’s awesome blog, Barking Up The Wrong Tree, which you can subscribe to and get weekly emails with the best book reviews and author interviews I’ve seen maybe ever! Having had a rather unlucky year myself (around here we were beginning to call 2015 my personal Annus Horribilis, to borrow from Queen Elizabeth II) this book was quite well-timed (might I call it lucky?) If you’ve had a less-than-lucky year, you’ll probably enjoy this book and the very practical exercises it contains to improve both mental state and life!
5. The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories by Barbara M. Walker (HarperCollins, 1979)
I loved the Little House stories growing up, and this was a fun foray into the recipes that pioneer women would have fed their families with on the frontier. It was interesting reading through their ingredients lists (not a lot of sugar, since it was really expensive back then), and also seeing how much wild game people ate back then (Stewed Jack Rabbit and Dumplings, anyone?)
6. The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters (Clarkson Potter, 2007)
Just noticed this was on last year’s list, too. Still love it. Beautifully-illustrated, with a great emphasis on local food.
7. The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming by Jean-Martin Fortier (New Society Publishers, 2014)
This is a must-read if you are at all thinking about going into farming with an eye to making a business out of it. Wonderful, practical resource on micro-farming, written by an accomplished farmer in Quebec.
8. 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask: With Answers From Top Brokers From Around the Country by Ilyce R. Glink (Three Rivers Press, 2005)
This is a fantastic resource if you’re getting into home-ownership! I will confess…I haven’t finished this tome yet. I read a couple pages, get completely overwhelmed, and put it down for a week! Jam-packed with information to keep you from making common home buying mistakes.
9. Gene Logsdon’s Practical Skills: A Revival of Forgotten Crafts, Techniques, and Traditions by Gene Logsdon (Rodale Press, 1985)
I found a used copy of this great book on Amazon and just love it! Sadly it is now out-of-print. It covers a wide variety of topics, everything from buying a wood stove to making buttons to raising sheep. All this is infused with Mr. Logsdon’s wry sense of humor, which makes for a great read. If these skills were forgotten back in the ‘80s, I’m thinking they are really forgotten now (I hadn’t even heard of some of the topics he covers!) The book is full of useful diagrams and illustrations as well if you want to try your hand at some of these forgotten (but hopefully not completely lost) arts.
10. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon (NewTrends Publishing, 2001)
This is a really wonderful cookbook, and definitely the one that had the biggest impact on my cooking style this year. Ms. Fallon (Mrs. Morell, now) got me bringing full-fat butter (and I was raised on margarine, so believe me, this was a step of faith), red meat, and full-fat dairy (the 90’s nemesis) into my kitchen. The recipes are really easy to follow, and the sidebars of the cookbook are full of useful tidbits about diet, nutrition, and lifestyle.
11. Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World by Sally Fallon Morell (Grand Central Life & Style, 2014)
Another gem from Mrs. Morell. This cookbook focuses on soups and stews (could you tell from the title?) and the first half of the book is a helpful overview of how eating the right foods for our bodies (and that’s such a fraught idea, what is the right food, after all??) helps prevent or reverse the ill effects of our modern diet and lifestyle. The recipes in the second half of the book are easy to prepare and delicious!
12. Finding & Buying Your Place In The Country by Les Scher and Carol Scher (Dearborn, 1992)
A fantastic resource that has gone out of print! This guide could also be called How To Avoid Buying Your Nightmare Place In The Country since Mr. Scher is a rural real estate attorney (or was a the time of publication) and points out the many potential pitfalls associated with navigating the rural real estate scene. Evidently there are many, from negotiating property lines to settling water and mineral rights. Probably the best resource we’ve found for learning about this topic! Practical and detailed.
And many thanks to the wonderful blogs and websites we’ve learned from this year, including:
Here's to a great year of new books in 2016!
Best of luck always,