What I’m Reading

Reading is one of the my greatest passions but sometimes finding good books can be difficult and uninspiring - there are so many out there!  Below is a (rather abridged) list of books I think are worth checking out…Admittedly, its a little light on fiction right now but I’ll keep adding…I’ve organized them by Food and Living, Natural History, Other Nonfiction (because clearly life is divided by food, natural history, and ‘other’ right?) , Fiction, and Skyla’s Favorites (little kids books).

Food and Living

All Your Worth (Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi) - a mother and daughter team talk about how to balance your money.  Its written in a very conversational manner so is interesting as well as useful!

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant (edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler) - reflections from various writers and foodies on what they eat when they are cooking for one

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver) - one of my favorite fiction authors tries to grow her own food for a year.  What she doesn’t grow she buys locally.  The stories and relationships that grow from this experience are inspiring.

Coming Home to Eat (Gary Paul Nahban) - anything by this prof from U of AZ is amazing.  Here he describes his year eating within a few hundred mile radius of his desert home and weaves stories of lost food traditions to boot.

Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert) - No matter where you are in life, there is a message for you in this book..

Farm City (Novella Carpenter) - an often times hilarious book about a woman homesteading in inner-city Oakland.

Living Simply with Children (Marie Sherlock) - a guide to more meaningful and joyful interactions with your children.

My Life in France (Julia Child) - A great insight into the life of a kitchen goddess and the world before, during, and after WWII.

Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan) - an amazingly book not written for foodies and scientists, not ‘preaching to the choir’.  The author traces the origins 4 meals from hunting and gathering to industrially produced fast food — truly eye-opening.

Your Money or Your Life (Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez, Monique Tilford) - make a life instead of a living.  The book doesn’t preach about not consuming but teaches you how to look at what you are spending your money on and comparing it to the life energy you are actually spending to make that money…is it worth it?

Natural History

A Sand County Almanac (Aldo Leopold) - a classic book from the man who pioneered wildlife and environmental ethics

Last Chance to See (Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine) - an author and a zoologist travel the world in search of exotic, endangered species.

The Forgotten Pollinators (Stephen Buchmann and Gary Paul Nabhan) -  explores the world of plants and the animals on which they depend are linked to our food sources and how human-related changes in the environment are leading to extinction of vital species.

The Moon by Whalelight (Diane Ackerman) - the author travels around the world and meets with the experts on different animals, goes out in the field with them, etc

Other Nonfiction

Come Back (Claire and Mia Fontaine) - told mostly from the perspective of the mom about her daughters drug addiction and the programs she went through.  What I got out of it the most was comments about communication and how we communicate with each other and how we are not really saying what we mean to say when we speak.

Sweetness in the Belly (Camilla Gibb) - I love books with strong women characters.  This one is about a woman’s attempt to assimilate into cultures and find herself.

The Girls from Ames (Jeffery Zaslowa) - a journalist spends a weekend with 11 women who have been friends for a lifetime - is a great reinforcement about the importance of friendships  and how our friendship can show our kids (especially our daughters) the importance of maintaining friendships.

Walking with the Wind (John Lewis) - a memoir of a leading figure in the civil rights movement.  True confession:  I almost baked him some bread as the only way I could say a heartfelt thank you for all the amazing things he has done for humanity.  Sorry Congressman Lewis, I never did but I may still…


The Last Chinese Chef: A Novel (Nicole Mones) - a great story about food and culture in China…will make you want to buy a plane ticket just to go experience the meals.

The School of Essential Ingredients (Erica Bauermeister) - a wonderful tale weaving multiple peoples lives around a restaurant’s cooking school.

Joy for Beginners (Erica Bauermeister) - I loved the above book so looked up more by her.  This is a great story of female friendships and really, truly living.

Barbara Kingsolver - I love all her fiction books!

James Michener’s Chesapeake, Mexico, Texas, Hawaii, Alaska - these are very long but very intriguing books.  The kind that you remember years after reading.

Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) - a classic, philosophical novel about capitalistic society

Dragonriders of Pern series (Anne McCaffrey) - I would not generally say I love to read science fiction but these books are great and you can draw many parallels to our real life society.

The Belgariad (David Eddings) - another great series of series (no thats not a typo).   More science fiction.  A coming of age story with many side stories.

The Birth House (Ami McKay) - with a strong focus on the bond between women, this book explores the changes in maternal medicine from midwives to the male-dominated care model.

The Year She Fell (Alicia Rasley) -  The story is a family drama but the author very effectively uses different characters points of view as a storytelling technique.

Skyla’s Favorites (preschoolish age)

The Crown on Your Head (Nancy Tillman) - all of Nancy Tillman’s books are beautifully written and illustrated.  I often have tears in my eyes after reading them.

Hillside Lullaby (Hope Vestergaard) - the illustrations in this book are phenomenal and despite mulitple (100+) readings, I still love to read it!

Betsy and Tacy series (Maud Hart Lovelace) - I read these when I was a young kid (6 or 7) and have read the first 3 in the series to Skyla as nighttime chapter books.  They were written in the 1940s but are a timeless story about friendship.

Little House on the Prairie series (Laura Ingles Wilder) - we started with the My First Little House Book Series.  They are great books to demonstrate the importance of the ‘simple’ things.

Out of the Ocean (Debra Frasier) - celebrates the wonders of the ocean and remembering to notice the beauty of everyday things.

2 comments on “What I’m Reading

  1. Ruth Loiacano on said:

    Hi, I saw the Atlantic article: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods/2013/05/scientific-search-most-remote-places-united-states/5591/

    And was intrigued…and excited to find you hear…and thinking about home schooling too! My husband and I home school our daughter, and I think your current approach is spot on! Best to follow their joy and curiosity, it’s so hard for little ones to find that in formal education.

    Also, as you are a biologist, and have such access to all of these fantastic places…surely you’ve heard of Jean Craighead George? I was kind of surprised not to find her listed in here. She has so many wonderful books about nature, and animals, and led such an amazing life. You kind of ‘sound’ like her to me.

    • Rebecca on said:

      Thanks for the compliment Ruth! Yes I have heard of Jean Craighead George, I should definitely add her books to our list…

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