Thursday, October 20, 2011

on the book stack

Armed with a library card last week, I promptly checked out my maximum number of books, which you see pictured here.  Sadly, my local branch doesn't have many books on the shelves and the enormous library downtown (which is totally awesome!!) is so massive that it's difficult to browse the shelves.  They've also sorted their books according to the Library of Congress, which makes no sense to me and means that I have to travel between the 4th and 6th floors to find the books I'm looking for.  I'm sure I'll learn, but in the mean time, I actually had trouble finding 5 books that I wanted - a very strange problem for me.

Cider by Proulx and Nichols was quite a useful book.  I read it before we made our hard cider.  In some ways though, it offers way more detail than you actually want unless you're brewing cider for real - as in, multiple gallons.  The back part of the book also strictly warns you about the penalties of attempting to distill any kind of alcohol from cider and even stays that it's not trying to encourage it, but then goes on to tell you how apple jack and apple brandy are made.  I'm not particularly tempted, however;  $10,000 and up to 5 years in prison just doesn't seem worth it.

A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove - it looked interesting and I have not read it.  I will likely return it without reading it but I picked it up because it talks about the history of women and what their life was like in relation to the hearth.

Easy, Green Living by Renee Loux.  I read this cover to cover over a year ago now and would consider it my primary education in environmental and other types of toxins and pollutants.  She also lists quite a few resources and ideas to reduce your exposure to such things and to protect the environment.  I do believe that we are responsible for our impact on this world and this books helps explain how the choices you make will either help or harm.  I make better decisions now, I think.  I got it out this time though, to help me modify some of the suggestions in Home Comforts, which extols the virtues of chlorine bleach.  I'm still undecided what role bleach will play in our life but it will likely be just a very, very small one.

Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard - I put this book to relatively good use just the other day.  Honestly, it wasn't quite the book I was looking for.  I was searching everywhere to get a hold of Ashley English's Homemade Living: Canning and Preserving, but the copy at my branch was checked out ... as were all 4 of the copies at Harold Washington (the big library) and they were also checked out at almost every other branch as well!  But I needed to get those apples into cans, so this is what I came up with.  Not bad.  Not as instructive as this beginner would have liked.

Another self-sufficiency book.  This book, Self-Sufficiency in the 21st Century, was clearly inspired by the same book that originally inspired me to start working in that direction - The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It, by John Seymour.  I was actually trying to check this book out of the library, but when I got to the self it had apparently already been taken, so I took the above book instead.  It's cool and tells you how to make your own energy and grow wildlife refuges and build eco-houses partially underground.  But John Seymour's book does most of that as well - with pretty drawings.  I'd still say that if you're looking for a book that will inspire you to live more in touch with the land and do your best to move towards self-sufficiency, The Self-Sufficient Life is what you're looking for.

I realize that Home Comforts is not in the picture, but that doesn't mean that I haven't been reading it!  I'm maybe close to halfway through now.  Just the other day I was getting ready to do laundry and thought to just read the chapters on laundry before I start ... 2 hours later, I actually started sorting my laundry.  Although that's an absurd amount of reading for just laundry, it covered absolutely everything I'd want to know (except in relation to the environment, hence Easy, Green Living) and I believe that my clothes and such came out much cleaner this time around.  Now I feel that if or when we get new clothes, I will be able to make the look good and last for much longer.

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