My personal, virtual librarian, Leslie, and a few other friends are chatting about books today.
I’ve been working on hand quilting a queen-size quilt, so the books I’m reading this week are both audio books. My son tells me that I don’t really pay attention to the books when I’m quilting, but it’s a chance to get lost in a story and in my hand quilting. Maybe it’s that I just don’t pay attention in general.
I typically get into a history book rut. However, I do get a little distracted between what I think I want to read and what I actually decide to read. I shook things up a little bit this week and used two of my Audible credits to download books I’ve been talking about with my kids. My son is a fan of stories with an adventure in them, and my daughter has strong opinions about food, politics, the environment, and sustainability. So my two choices this week were based on finding things I could share with each of them.
The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke
I just got my copy of this book, and I haven’t seen the movie, so I’ll just give you the publisher’s details on this one:
A thrilling tale of betrayal and revenge set against the nineteenth-century American frontier, the astonishing story of real-life trapper and frontiersman Hugh Glass
The year is 1823, and the trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company live a brutal frontier life. Hugh Glass is among the company’s finest men, an experienced frontiersman and an expert tracker. But when a scouting mission puts him face-to-face with a grizzly bear, he is viciously mauled and not expected to survive. Two company men are dispatched to stay behind and tend to Glass before he dies. When the men abandon him instead, Glass is driven to survive by one desire: revenge. With shocking grit and determination, Glass sets out, crawling at first, across hundreds of miles of uncharted American frontier.
Based on a true story, The Revenant is a remarkable tale of obsession, the human will stretched to its limits, and the lengths that one man will go to for retribution.
The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food by Dan Barber
Barber explores the evolution of American food from the ‘first plate,’ or industrially-produced, meat-heavy dishes, to the ‘second plate’ of grass-fed meat and organic greens, and says that both of these approaches are ultimately neither sustainable nor healthy. Instead, Barber proposes Americans should move to the ‘third plate,’ a cuisine rooted in seasonal productivity, natural livestock rhythms, whole-grains, and small portions of free-range meat.
My kids (and anyone who really knows me well) would agree that I could probably survive on a limited diet of coffee, buttermilk biscuits, jam, and salted butter. I stumbled across a Wall Street Journal review of The Third Plate a couple years back and tucked the title away as a book I’d like to read.
The Third Plate caught my eye because it approaches the discussion about sustainable food with emphasis on food production and farming, as opposed to discussion of how we eat.
The published reviews for this book run the gamut, but as with any text that discusses the politics of food, there are a number of varying opinions. I saw mention of “elitist,” “food trends,” “poor science,” “biased,” and “pretentious.” As I listen to this book, I can hear some of the bases for such opinions when I hear the author refer to “McMansion,” but I’ve just started the book, and I’d like to think I wasn’t closed-minded about learning more.
I’ve always enjoyed learning about seed banks and seed breeders, especially heirloom varieties. When I was a teenager, I worked on a project raising Coho salmon and tried to pay more attention to food choices and sustainability, even before I really understood much about mega-corporations, politics, lobbyists, and big business. I studied anthropology, sociology, and Native American studies in college, and loved learning about cultures and food traditions all over the world. Maybe I could just sum that up by saying: I’m just food-motivated.
The focus on seasonal foods is something that is a very natural inclination, especially when I’d love to serve my family fresh, delicious food, and put up food for the more dreary winter months. The discussion of free-range meat and livestock production is not anything I’ve ever learned too much about, so I’m looking forward to finishing up this book.
If you’ve got the time, I’d encourage you to stop by and see what everyone else has on their summer reading list today.