Tuesday 11 November 2014

Nonfiction November Week 2: Become/Ask the Expert

cork w books

So far Nonfiction November has been absolutely incredible - I'm on my third book of the month which is totally unheard of for me lately. Although I've been reading, I've been barely finishing one a month so I'm absolutely astounded! It's really helping me to get my blogging mojo back as well, and of course greatly expanding my TBR! I'm helping that by organising a nonfiction book swap which you can still sign up for till midnight tomorrow, details are here.

This weeks topic is Be/Become/Ask the Expert and is hosted by Leslie of Regular Rumination so head over there to find out more!

I thought for quite a long time about what to post about this week and came to the conclusion that I don't really read enough nonfiction to be the expert in anything. I read quite a bit about fairytales for my dissertation, but that was a while ago now and to be honest I don't remember a lot of the nonfiction sources I used. If it were fiction we were after the list would be endless! Aside from that, my nonfiction is quite memoir - based and fairly scattered in terms of subject, so I thought I'd go for an area I'd like to become much  more knowledgeable about and also ask if anybody has any recommendations for me in this area. The only problem is that I don't really know what to call it...

After we moved to the countryside from London four years ago I became very interested in the concept of self-sufficiency and am very interested in the idea of growing our own fruit and veg, keeping hens, bees, etc and also knowing exactly where our food comes from. I love to eat local produce as much as we can afford, which is definitely not as much as I'd like! My list is inspired by Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which really just kickstarted the whole dream again for me. So I don't know what you'd call that becoming the expert on... food roots? self sufficiency? Anyway, here's my list!

The Onmivore's Dilemma: a Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

This sounds fascinating as it's about the provenance of our food and what is good for us and what isn't. Exactly my cup of tea.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Looks at the stories we tell ourselves in order to justify eating meat. I'm a big believer in being honest with yourself about why you're doing things so I think this will be great.I got it from the library a little while ago but was really not in a nonfiction mood and ended up taking it back having only read a few pages. I've heard great things about it though so I'm looking forward to it!

Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally by Alisa Smith and J.B Mackinnon

This is about living for a year on food which is produced within a 100 mile radius of where you live and it sounds like it would really inspire me. Being from the UK I'm more likely to think of 'local produce' as being from within a 20-30 mile radius, but either way it sounds fun!

The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason

A look at the ethics behind the food we eat, this sounds like an interesting read and addresses a lot of concepts I feel strongly about, for example that animals should not have to suffer because we want to eat meat. Just for the record, I am a meat eater but try to be a discerning one.

Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly by James E. McWilliams

Examines the myth and misinformation surrounding eating locally. This sounds like it would be a good book to counterbalance some of the other titles on this list and make sure I don't get too carried away in seeing things in black and white when they aren't necessarily.

Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture by Shannon Hayes

I'm quite a domestic person, in as much as, I do a lot of other stuff and have a lot of other hobbies but at the end of the day I really enjoy homemaking and domesticity and yes I do often feel guilty about it which is stupid. I feel like being good at or enjoying domesticity shouldn't be something you need to apologise for,whether you're a man or a woman, as long as it's your choice and not something you're pushed into and I think this book will be right up my street. It sounds fantastic.

So that's my list. Please throw recommendations at me if you have any however loosely related to the topic!


  1. I really enjoy "foodie" books -- I've read all of Michael Pollan's and thought they were terrific. Do cookbooks count as nonfiction? I love reading cookbooks! Have you read Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking and More Home Cooking, or any of Ruth Reichl's memoirs? All delightful -- a little different from your topic of self-sufficiency, but wonderful.

  2. My coworker just gave me Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, about her year of eating only homegrown or locally grown food. I haven't read it yet, but it comes highly recommended and sounds really interesting.

  3. This is very interesting.... I haven't read any of these books, but it's a topic that seems hot right now. Where I live (NJ), eating locally and the "farm to table" concept at restaurants is currently very much in vogue. I hadn't heard of McWilliams' book--I didn't know there was a critic of the "locavores" (that's a good term!) but I'd like to hear more about that.

  4. All of Pollan's books have been fascinating. And I loved Carl Honore's In Praise of Slow.

    I'll pop back to see what else gets recommended as I'm very interested in this topic too :-)