A smattering of books (aka Recent Reads)

Here is some of the books that I have recently read …

  • The Wonderful Future That Never Was: Flying Cars, Mail Delivery by Parachute, and Other Predictions from the Past – An entertaining look at the various predictions that have appeared in Popular Mechanics, including both the ridiculous and the nearly true.  For the historian of science, these predictions are a useful tool and a fun parlor game; for everyone else, they are just a laugh!
  • Timeless Landscape Design  – This is not a details book!  This book is about design philosophy and is full of photos of high-end Southern (mainly) gardens.  I enjoyed the author’s design philosophy and some of the visuals provided me with inspiration, but little in this book was immediately practical for our new house and yard.  The few things practical ideas (suggestions like drawing the plan out or the relationship between interior rooms and the garden) were not new or unique to this volume.  Worth a gander because of visuals, but not very groundbreaking!
  • Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef – A wonderful memoir from a great writer who happens to be an accomplished chef that has lived a very interesting life.  What book can bring your from a bohemian upbringing to small-town France through catering kitchens and opening a restaurant to the stress of cooking in an Italian mother-in-laws country retreat’s kitchen?  For someone interested in food and the life of those who make it, I would recommend this book.
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals – Okay, I admit that I should have read this before, but I never got around to it!  Yes, it is a good book and Pollan is a writer that makes things easy to understand.  Yes, I would recommend it to anyone interested in food and health.
  • Wildflowers and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont: A Naturalist’s Guide to the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia – Okay, I admit that the title of this book hints at it not being a page-turner!  Yet, this is one of the more educational and useful books that I have recently read.  I read a lot of books and many of them are interesting or fun, but few of them I finish and want to add to my bookshelf.  This is one of those books.  This book is useful for anyone who lives in the area that it covers and spends time outside.  It is useful for the gardener trying to recreate a woodland area, the hiker identifying plants, the budding naturalist, and the hunter-gatherer.  This is one that is going on my wishlist!
  • Driveways, Paths and Patios – Quite a detailed book, but written for a British audience (which makes it odd that it was at the Martha Washington Library in Alexandria, VA).  It includes everything from a history of paving to the construction of patios to the pricing of materials.  If you want to DIY hardscaping, check it out.
  • Cast Iron Skillet Big Flavors – Okay little cookbook with a couple of interesting recipes and some helpful tips about cleaning and curing your cast iron.  Unfortunately, not very new or creative.
  • The Tree Book : A Practical Guide to Selecting and Maintaining the Best Trees for Your Yard and Garden – I read this book because of The Man Who Planted Trees.  This book was written by Jeff Meyer who is (or, was, at the time of writing) the director of the Famous and Historic Tree program of American Forests.  While I enjoyed reading the book, it does have some repetitive parts (such as the repeated installation and care instructions) but overall, is a well-written and useful book.