Friday, April 23, 2010

Fat Friday

Hello, my name is Librarian Who, and I have a cookbook addiction. Well, actually, I have a cookbook and food book addiction. I like to eat and I like to cook and I like to read about food. There are worse habits one can have. At any rate, this is the inspiration for another reoccurring feature on this blog, Fat Friday. Once a month I am going to profile a book that deals in some way with food.

First up is Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobson. This in not a book I would have chosen to read on my own, but it was selected for my book club and so I gave it a shot. I was initially apprehensive about reading it because I thought it would be all doom and gloom and depress the hell out of me. After all, the subtitle is "the collapse of the honeybee and the coming agricultural crisis." And to be fair, there is a certain amount of that in here and it is well deserved. Awareness of what humans are doing in the pursuit of more, more, more and the almighty dollar is extremely important.

However, the majority of the book is not a sermon. It is filled with information about bees, honey, and the pollination of plants, all presented in a manner in which the average person can understand. Most importantly, it was not dry or boring. Additionally, the author gives information about good things that are happening as well as the information and resources for how the average person can help, such as bee friendly plants and flowers to plant.

For our club's meeting that month we had a local non-commercial beekeeper come and speak to us about the book and keeping bees in general. In some ways, the pests that can lead to colony collapse can be a good thing, as it weeds out sick and unproductive bees and leaves you with the hardiest of your stock. Unfortunately, so much of the commercial pollination of plants is dependent on the activities of commercial beekeeper's bees that for them it is a horrible disaster. I have learned to buy only local honey as it tastes better, costs less, doesn't support the trucking of bees, and will help with allergies if you eat some everyday. Oh yes, you are also assured that it is, in fact, honey and not some sort of imitation product from China.

I've learned to not purchase beeswax products* as the bees have to work extremely hard to produce even a little bit of wax. I have also learned why almonds are so darn expensive. Almond trees are prima donnas when it comes to pollination, and thus commercial almond growers have to go through this ridiculous planting and pollination scheme every year. I've also learned that honey can be used effectively for a number of home remedies including as a cough syrup. After reading this book I have a new found respect for honey bees, and a renewed commitment to being as much of a localvore as I possibly can.

I highly recommend Fruitless Fall to any and all. And the next Fat Friday will have a much happier topic.

*I admit that I still buy beeswax lip balms, but that is because I am trying to eliminate petroleum based products from my life. I figure they are the lesser of the two evils.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dusty Shelf

So this is an idea I snagged from the online version of Library Journal. One Thursday a month I will dust off an older book that I have read and give it its day in the sun. This month's books is Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns.

Here is the description of the book from
"On July 5, 1906, scandal breaks in the small town of Cold Sassy, Georgia, when the proprietor of the general store, E. Rucker Blakeslee, elopes with Miss Love Simpson. He is barely three weeks a widower, and she is only half his age and a Yankee to boot. As their marriage inspires a whirlwind of local gossip, fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy suddenly finds himself eyewitness to a family scandal, and that’s where his adventures begin."

I first read this book in the ninth grade and absolutely loved it. I re-read this book in eleventh grade and I liked it just as much, if not more, the second time around. So many authors who write Southern fiction tend to make their characters so off the wall or eccentric that they go beyond being colorful and into the realm of completely unbelievable. Frequently I want to ask them 1) if they realize that they have reinforced a lot of the stereotypes about the South, and 2) who they knew in real life who came anywhere close to the characters they've written about. This is not the case with Cold Sassy Tree. While the characters in this book are certainly unique and the events are mostly humorous, you never get the feeling that the author is trying to make fun of them. Or that she was trying to win first place in "craziest Southern family" contest. This is an easy read, but with more substance to it than what would be classified as a "beach read." Highly enjoyable.

If you are looking for a pleasant, fun read, I highly recommend Cold Sassy Tree.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

w.w.w. Wednesdays

One thing about reading these other book blogs is that I can steal all sorts of fun ideas. I have no problem in admitting that I am enhancing my own creativity with inspiration from others. Why try to reinvent the wheel? Anyway, here is the first one. I took it from Should Be Reading

What did you just finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What do you think you will read next?

I just finished reading The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn.
I am currently reading The Lost City of Z by David Grann. This is for book club and I really like it, although I do get a sense of dread and claustrophobia during the descriptions of the perils of the Amazon rain forest.
I will finish reading Educating Alice by Alice Steinbach once I am done with Lost City of Z as it was usurped by the book club book.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I used to think I was a serious book nerd

now, I'm not so sure. You see, while I still love to read, and certainly read more per year than the average person, I have run across some great book blogs by women who put my reading tally to shame. Two of them do a Sunday round up each week and recap all they have read that week. One of them missed a Sunday so she had two weeks worth today. Seven books which for her is super, super low.
I realize that I shouldn't compare myself to these lovely literary ladies, but I can't help it. On the one hand, they inspired me to start blogging again and reading more, but sadly I haven't been able to keep up with the second part of that inspiration. I fully understand that all our lives are very different and I'm doing and/or experiencing things that they aren't. But still. My reading tally for the whole year is woeful compared to theirs. Poo.
They also seem to have access to this reading fanatic community where they participate in all sorts of day to day reading challenges and two 24 hour read-a-thons. Mon dieu. I am simultaneously filled with a mixture of envy and wistfulness as well as a huge sense of relief that I am not consumed by any one passion to that extreme. I would share the links to their blogs but don't want anyone else to feel they are as an inadequate reader as yours truly.