My bookshelf

One of the benefits of my sabbatical was a budget for purchasing new books and more time to read! Here are some of the books I enjoyed during that time, plus a few more that I have discovered since. Some of my favourites are at the top. 

Second Nature: a gardener’s education by Michael Pollan, Bantam 1991. A fantastic book. Pollan connects the growing we do in our yards with global history, politics, theology and relationships. Although it is certainly not a quick read, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is so well written I know I will read it more than once.

Front Yard Gardens: Growing More than Grass by Liz Primeau, Firefly Books 2003. This is not only a Canadian author, but a woman with a long string of great publications to her name who lives in the GTA. An excellent book that includes the history of front yards, including how we came to have so much grass in suburbia. “It’s the way people grow grass that’s the problem: in great swaths, creating monocultures that don’t provide the biodiversity this world needs to survive”.

In a Unicorn’s Garden: Recreating the Mystery and Magic of Medieval Gardens by Judyth A. McLeod, Murdoch Books 2008. I really enjoyed this book! It’s full of history, folklore, and all kinds of things I didn’t know about the workings of the medieval church. Someday I dream of having the space to recreate some lovely gardens like the ones in the book.

The Art of Perennial Gardening: Creative Ways with Hardy Flowers by Patrick Lima (Author) and John Scanlan (Photographer) Firefly 1998. I have loved Patrick Lima’s books for years, since he is an Ontario gardener who grows both flowers and food. This book goes beyond the how-to and explores colour, texture, shape and creativity in the garden and I have returned to it recently to read it again.

Gardens: A Literary Companion by Merilyn Simonds, Greystone Books 2008. This is a terrific collection of essays and exerpts from some of the world’s best garden writers, including Gertrude Jekyll, Vita Sackville-West and Germaine Greer (her “Revolting Garden”, written while living in London Englad, is very funny). It touches on all kinds of themes one can’t help but think about in the garden–weeds, rootedness, competition among gardeners, urban sprawl.

Cook’s Garden: 100 Favourite Recipes and Expert Growing Advice from Canadian Gardening Magazine Canadian Gardening (Author), Liz Primeau (Editor)McArthur & Company 2003. This was a gift from my husband and is lovely to look at as well as to read. The photos are gorgeous and there is information on growing as well as cooking There are all kinds of recipes for the foods I grow in my garden, except maybe okra. I have never grown that!

The Spirituality of Gardening by Donna Sinclair, Northstone 2005 . This book, written by a Canadian author, was given to me as a sabbatical gift. It is a lovely series of meditative readings with lush photographs as well. It is a large, hardcover book that would like right at home on your coffee table.

The Art of Perennial Gardening: Creative Ways with Hardy Flowers by Patrick Lima (Author) and John Scanlan (Photographer) Firefly 1998. I have loved Patrick Lima’s books for years, since he is an Ontario gardener who grows both flowers and food. This book goes beyond the how-to and explores colour, texture, shape and creativity in the garden and I have returned to it recently to read it again.

A Sandbox of a Different Kind  by Mark Cullen, 2007. This is a collection of personal reflections on the Canadian Gardening Experience. It reads like a Christian devotional book but without the spiritual content.

Way Of A Gardener: A Life’s Journey by Des Kennedy, Greystone Books 2010. This is the life story of a man who left his training as a monk to become an activist, writer and gardener. The first half of the book was more enjoyable than the second, which delved more deeply into his personal philosphy and revealed a great deal about the Boomer generation.

Quiet Gardens: The Roots of Faith? by Susan Bowden-Pickstock, Continuum International Publishing 2009. I was very excited about this book that explores the people and gardens of the Quiet Garden Movement in Britain. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. It was poorly written which made it difficult to read, and the feeling of tranquility and beauty that the movement hopes to create has been lost. I can’t really recommend this one.

Edible Landscaping: Now you can have your gorgeous garden and eat it too! by Rosalind Creasy, Sierra Club/Counterpoint 2010. Although this is an American book, it has great ideas for how to make vegetables a beautiful part of any landscape. “Growing your own food allows you to take responsibility for your own piece of the Earth. It builds your soil and saves precious resources, even as the aesthetic component feeds your soul.”

Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn by Will Allen and Diana Balmori, Metropolis 201o. This book details the Edible Estates’ project and their regional prototype gardens. Most are in the U.S. (one is in England). “Food grown on our front lawns will connect us to the seasons, the organic cycles of the earth, and our neighbours.” –Fritz Haeg

Year of Plenty: One Suburban Family, Four Rules, and 365 Days of Homegrown Adventure in Pursuit of Christian Living by Craig Goodwin, Zondervan 2005. This was an easy, if a wee bit preachy, book to read. As Goodwin says, “These are the lessons we are learning: Think little and have faith. Plant a garden, set up a chicken coop in the laundy room, eat weeds, spend more time on visits to the farmer’s markety than on visits to the doctor, walk slowly, ask questions, make friends, consider the lilies, and let the big picture emerge one small adventure at a time”.

Food for life: The Spirituality and Ethics of Eating by L. Shannon Jung, Augsburg 2004. A book of theology about our hunger, our disordered relationship with food, and the church’s role in the redemption of our eating. Rather technical for minister-types.

Sharing Food: Christian Practices for Enjoyment by L. Shannon Jung, Augsburg 2006. A natural sequel to “Food for Life”. Since Vacation Bible School at Trafalgar PC this year is called “Taste and See” these are great background reading for leaders or teachers. 

2 Responses to My bookshelf

  1. Molly says:

    You have created a welcoming and wonderful blog. I look forward to the summer when I can learn some green hints about taking care of my garden. 🙂

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