Modern City Living, Perhaps
The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the
Heart of the City by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen
$17 Process Books
This is a delightfully readable guide to front- and backyard vegetable
gardening, food foraging and preserving, and other useful skills for
anyone interested in taking an active role in growing the food they eat.
I learned about composting, self-watering containers, mulching, raised
bed gardens, and raising chickens by reading this info-dense book.
Unlike many self-sufficiency books, this one isn’t unrealistic,
preachy, or dogmatic. Instead, it’s honest and often humorous.
Coyne and Knutzen are wonderfully lucid and accessible writers
(Knutzen wrote a drip irrigation how-to on page 72). They also walk
the walk — I visited their Los Angeles home, touring their abundant
vegetable gardens and henhouse filled with clownish chickens —
plus they run a terrific blog at homegrownevolution.com. —MF
Stabs at Meaningful Living
Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life
by Jenna Woginrich
$21 Storey Publishing
Jenna Woginrich is a young web designer who wanted to meaningfully participate in the systems that keep her alive and well. Her book
is a humorous and useful account of her attempts to raise chickens,
grow vegetables, keep bees, raise rabbits, play mountain music, and
preserve food. She’s not always successful (varmints tore her beehive apart, for instance) but she doesn’t let mishaps discourage her
from experimenting with new ways to become more self-sufficient.
The end of the book has an appendix with resources for getting
started in modern homesteading. You can follow her continuing
experiences on her blog at coldantlerfarm.blogspot.com. —MF
Solar Tech History
A Golden Thread: 2,500 Years of Solar Architecture and Technology
by Ken Butti and John Perlin
Out of print Cheshire Books, Van Nostrand Reinhold
I’ll never forget the first image I saw when I picked up this book a few
years ago — a vista of Los Angeles circa 1900 looking shockingly
akin to a rural Swiss village, a number of roofs scattered with mysterious boxes soon explained to be solar water heaters.
In this magnificent book on the history of solar architecture and
technology dating as far back as ancient Greece, the authors offer
beautiful, often humbling technologies, city plans, and outlandish
ideas that were somehow replaced, abandoned, or just plain forgotten.
More than just a fun read on the focusing of resources, A Golden
Thread boldly challenges misconceptions that solar power is still in
its developmental stages, yet leaves you feeling like this is just the
beginning of something great. —Meara O’Reilly