Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rainy Summer Reading

Much needed summer rain is falling, and I’m trapped inside waiting for a repair guy, so here are some gatherings from around the blogosphere that I’ve enjoyed lately. . . .

Anyone interested in environmental education will want to visit the fifth edition of Learning in the Great Outdoors, a carnival hosted this month by Miss Rumphius Effect. Miss R, aka Tricia, blogs often and well about children’s literature, and her carnival edition includes links to posts recommending books to enrich a homeschool garden lesson, instructions on making a nature journal, and thoughts on using a classic, early 20th century environmental education volume, Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Botsford Comstock, also for homeschooling. Has anyone else observed that homeschoolers seem to be at the forefront of outdoor ed & getting kids outside these days?

Our friends at 10,000 Birds have posted another item after PAS’s heart, “Keep Every Cog and Wheel.” Mike’s essay is a plea for saving parts of the natural world not currently recognized as commercially valuable, e.g., spotted owls. He likens our natural commons to a precarious Jenga game tower, with spotted owls as vital, if unappreciated, building blocks. Then he turns to Aldo Leopold for his game playing philosophy, quoting from A Sand County Almanac, “The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: “What good is it?” If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” I suspect that if we all played by Aldo Leopold’s rules, we’d all win.

There’s an ecstatic review of Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods over at Natural Patriot, calling it “a seminal work in environmentalism”. Also check out Natural Patriot’s Essential Reading list. A Sand County Almanac’s on it, so NP is going on my blogroll today.

Another intriguing list of green books can be found at Ideal Bite. I have mixed feelings about this site, which sends out daily emails if you subscribe, with tips on “light green” living. Many are useful and fun, but many more seem to be pushing products--$150 designer handbags that happen to be made of hemp, $40 bamboo tshirts, etc. But I like this book list, especially if you can get the titles at the library. I hadn’t heard of Ignition, described as “a collection of personal essays by writers, scholars, and activists who have worked to stop global warming.” And I haven’t yet read Plenty, “a memoir about what happens when two people decide to eat only food produced within a 100-mile radius for a year.” But I can second the nomination of Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a book that has literally changed my family’s eating life.

Wishing you some refreshing rain so you can enjoy a day of late summer reading.


Natural Patriot said...

Thanks for the link to the The Natural Patriot. For those who like a blue tinge to their nature reading, may I also suggest:

Charles Darwin. The Voyage of the Beagle.

John Steinbeck. The Log from the Sea of Cortez.

Both inspiring nature writing and ripping yarns. Keep up the good work!

pinenut said...

Hi Natural Patriot,

Thanks for the recommendations. I'm on a Steinbeck kick right now, reading Tortilla Flat. Log from the Sea of Cortez is next. And Voyage of the Beagle is one of my favorite books.

We'll look forward to hearing more about your reading and activism--and how they work together. You have lots of good ideas.