May Reading Review

Being ill, giving up social media, and my workplace being closed to the public has had one big benefit: more time to read. In January, I outlined my goals and a short curated list, but as avid readers may know, to follow the whims of one’s TBR list means you end up in an entirely different place. I’ve completed just one book on that list, but am ahead of schedule towards my goal of 52 books this year. Beans, on the other hand, started 1000 Books before Kindergarten in March, and has just passed 600.

Here is a short selection of books I have read in the last month, and why you may like them too.

Be My Guest: Reflections on Food, Community, and the Meaning of Generosity
Priya Basil
Canongate Books, 2019
Goodreads | Hoopla | Bibliocommons

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I mentioned this book in my last post, and do suggest that folks who live by reciprocity give it a listen, especially to see how principles of *ghosti- are expressed in the life of someone who is not following an Indo-European path. How can we take Priya Basil’s reflections and questions and apply them to our own paths? What does generosity look like in our families, our religious groups, our relationships? Where are we guests, hosts, and strangers? In her book, she reflects on how reading Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save affected her, and how she changed her giving habits accordingly. I’ve added this book to my TBR.

Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times
Elizabeth Wayland Barber
Tantor Media, 2019 (audiobook), originally published 1995
Goodreads | Hoopla

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bringing together threads of women’s history and society, this book highlights the contribution of women through textile arts. Surprisingly emotional for me, I found myself proud, empowered, empathetic, and saddened to hear the stories of women and their work throughout time.

This is going to be one of my most important books of 2021, as many things are dovetailing to show me an illuminated path I didn’t think I would walk; ancestral connection, societal role, and the importance of the hearth were found within these words, perhaps not intended by the author, but intended in this time for myself. Magical connections only hinted at are explained here in their technical terms, and rich imagery abounds for someone who wishes to use it in their spiritual path.

About halfway through, I had a strange moment of déjà vu, and I realized that I had heard this narrator before; Donna Postel also narrated Susan Pinker’s The Village Effect, possibly one of my most important books of 2020, which I finished just before the pandemic and was a big contributor to my abandonment of social media.

To read next: Weaving on a Little Loom

Think Like A Commoner: A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons
David Bollier
New Society Publishers, 2014
Goodreads | CloudLibrary

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As a library professional, I am often interested to see how we can apply library thinking to other areas of life, and Bollier’s introduction to the commons was helpful in doing so. There are few places we can now go for free, and I do not want to spend my life giving to and interacting with corporations whose sole motivation is profit. A 2014 publication date means some of Bollier’s thoughts on digital commons are showing their age, and the term “sharing economy” also has a sinister aspect to it when considering the treatment of “gig/sharing economy” workers by their employers.

The triad of commons, government, and corporations perhaps might be wishful thinking, but it is as reasonable a suggestion as there is. The charts in the back are incredibly helpful as reference. There’s also a thoughtful Goodreads review that reminds us of the importance of direct democracy; this review also showed me that Goodreads is owned by Amazon. Sigh.

Tiny Victory Gardens
Acadia Tucker
Stone Pier Press, 2021
Goodreads | Bibliocommons

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My friend chose this book for me because I have a small townhouse backyard and not a lot of space to grow. Acadia Tucker has written a lovely book teaching both container gardening basics and more detailed information about companion planting to maximize the amount we can grow in our limited space. As permaculture and gardening grow in my life, this was incredibly helpful to see what can be done in any space. This is her third book, and I plan on reading the others also.

All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother
Danielle Teller
HarperAudio, 2018
Goodreads | Hoopla | Bibliocommons

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Perhaps surprisingly, I do read fiction 🙂 I picked this audiobook quickly during a large inventory project at work, and I was expecting something YA/teen and a light read. Instead, this is a well-crafted and believable story that touches on race, class, beauty, love, and how we treat each other. If you like fairytale retellings, do check this out.

Going Up!
Sherry J. Lee
Kids Can Press, 2020

Sophie and her father are invited to a birthday party on the tenth floor of their apartment building, and they meet all their diverse neighbours in the elevator on the way. Two detailed spreads, including a fold-out page, make the end of this book extra fun.

Pitter Pattern
Joyce Hesselberth
Greenwillow, 2020

Follow Lu throughout her week and see all the patterns she finds — in sports, music, nature, textiles, and more. A good “looking book” as you can find patterns that Lu doesn’t point out. Supplemental information in the back for older or curious children.

I Am Otter
Sam Garton
Balzer + Bray, 2014

Sam Garton’s Otter series is enjoyable as Otter applies toddler-esque logic to her adventures as a very independent otter. Beans wants to go to her house and share a snack, and then visit the library with her. Our introduction to Otter was Otter in Space, but if you can, start with I Am Otter.

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