With the start of the summer reading season on us, here are some green reading suggestions.
■ “Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology” by Eric Brende
Why Read? This page-turner shows the value of the natural world by following a couple who experimented by giving up every convenience of the built world and then brought their insights back to society.
Why Skip? Don’t skip this book.
■ “The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love” by Kristin Kimball
Why Read? Like “Better Off,” this story cultivates a love for food and its natural sources, including the labor of human cultivation.
Why Skip? As the title indicates, though the book is inspiring, it is also a bit dirty.
■ “The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost his Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden” by William Alexander
Why Read? In contrast to the successes celebrated in “Better Off” and “The Dirty Life,” this is a picture of the dead ends that the “Joneses” find when they try to buy gardens and not build lives.
Why Skip? As a picture of dead ends, the book drags its reader across failures to a hopeless, impoverished ending.
■ “Fathers of Botany: The Discovery of Chinese Plants by European Missionaries” by Jane Kilpatrick
Why Read? If you work at it, this book can teach you about history and botany and a lesson on ecological globalism.
Why Skip? Unfortunately, this book comes in a coffee-table format—who reads unwieldy coffee-table books? Also, the book reads as accessibly as a textbook or a jargonized industry manual.
■ “Detour to Heaven: One Man’s True Journey” by Dale Reppert
Why Read? After nearly dying, Reppert discovers other-than-financial wealth.
Why Skip? Don’t. Get rich right.
■ “The Field Guide to Fields: Hidden Treasures of Meadows, Prairies, and Pastures” by Bill Laws
Why Read? This book will open up your eyes to the history and variety of cultivated land and natural land that is not forest.
Why Skip? Though it’s not a page-turner, don’t skip it.
■ “Fandex Family Field Guides: Trees” by Steven Aronson
Learn your basic trees the easy way. Read one tree card per day.
■ “ECHO News Magazine”
10,000 people per year visit this Christian demonstration farm near Fort Myers, Florida. Filled with stories, recipes and plant data, this quarterly magazine will inspire you with the potential of smart agriculture to elevate millions of people from the hunger and poverty of subsistence farming. And you will be inspired to bring part of that wealth to your own world.
■ “Mother Earth News: The Original Guide to Living Wisely.”
From raising goats or asparagus to drilling backyard wells, this bimonthly magazine may be just what you need to remember the joy of building and cultivation. So, it might inspire you to return from your beach chair.
Joshua Arp is an ISA-certified municipal specialist, Clarks Summit’s municipal arborist and an operator of an organic lawn and landscape maintenance business. Reach him at email@example.com.