So, I have been on a reading binge. That's the good thing about the Woodsman also being the Librarian - connections. I send him my list, he retrieves books. So far, it is awesome.
This means I not only have a tonne of reading, I also have books to review. I decided to start with Urban Homesteading - Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living for a few reasons. I'll get into the adult and logical ones after I tell you about the reason this one leapt to the front of the pack.
So, I'm on Amazon (no link - I'm still not sure about the affiliate thing) looking up books that I think I might like and of course, came across that one. Well, I start reading the reviews and some of them were so vitriolic, I couldn't help myself - I had to read it. Personally, those were some of the best reviews because they drove me right to the book. They complained about the political agenda of the book or something. There were comments about how this was supposed to be a homesteading book and about skills, not a political commentary.
Well, I was hooked. Not only because there was a political component but because of the nasty reviews.
The other reasons for review this book were much more staid and predictable -looked like some good skills, good stories from real people, and good information. You know, the usual. Nothing as good as the controversy on the Amazon page.
There are complaints about the "new age clap trap" in the book and GASP! There's a section devoted to art because, right, we don't need art in our lives! And I think (though I may have it wrong) that this was linked to witchcraft or something.
The funniest part though, is the debate that ensues. Someone recommends the Idiot's Guide to Homesteading or some such and someone takes offence that people are being called idiots. Oh my goodness people. Really. Even if someone did call someone an idiot, who cares. It's the internet. Put your computer away and chill (maybe take some time in the garden?).
Anyway with all of that hilarity, how could I not read Urban Homesteading first?
So, without further ado, enter Urban Homesteading.
For me, the good was most of the book. I loved much of the authors' perspectives on the current state of the environment, how we got here, and what we can do about it.
The information on Peak Oil was interesting and, while I've read a little that's tied into Peak Oil, I've not read much so maybe if I had this wouldn't have been new.
I really appreciated the summary on Permaculture - again something I've dabbled in but haven't extensively explored. I definitely felt I left that section better understanding the concepts. I suspect you will as well.
There are lots of clever container garden options and suggestions. These should be useful not only to people with smaller garden spaces but also those with larger ones but who need some specialized soil or have other factors that make container gardening a useful option. There are also some options for creating a community garden that tie nicely into the container concepts.
The book is full of real life experiences - including before and after shots of normal houses (not show pieces created for the photo-op). They've also included the layouts of yards that are living this lifestyle.
I absolutely love emphasis on the importance of dirt because they're right - without dirt you've got nothing.
And of course, there were some arty things. I, for one, loved them. I loved the use of clay and plaster not only for practical projects but also to make things beautiful. Yes, I understand that people looking for a practical skills kind of book might not like that but it's a small portion of the book and I think there are few of us who don't try for some beauty in our lives.
I found it slightly missed the mark for me because I live in a polar (no pun intended though we do have an Arctic Outflow warning today) opposite garden zone and so have different challenges.
The one thing I would urge the publisher/authors to change for a future edition would be to add a table of contents. I found the lack of one a challenge when I wanted to go back to find something.
Overall, I'd recommend this book for a beginner or even mid-level Homesteader. I thought it covered a very broad range of topics, had a lot of useful information, and a warm, approachable voice.
I did find it heavy on the political but that didn't bother me. If it bothers you, consider yourself forewarned.