Books in English are sometimes in short supply here in Tokyo, or at least a bit difficult to track down, and so I've got a running list of books that sound intriguing, useful, fun, and enlightening. Since I also know that as a booklover my list will only continue to grow (much like the pumpkin, pictured at left and even bigger now, now taking over my Tokyo garden) it's time to jot a few down.
Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter, 2009
Carpenter echoed many of my own thoughts and feelings about urban farming during this interview with Grist and this interview over at the kitchn. I loved living in the country, but she's dead-on about it's "dirty little secret" of driving everywhere. I love living in the city, and I absolutely love every moment I get to spend on the Takashi Farm harvesting tomatoes and getting by mosquitoes in the bean patch. This combination of city and country is ideal. And, paraphrasing from Simply Recipes, if you like Will Allen and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle then this would probably be a good choice for you, too.
Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell, 2009
If it wasn't for The New York Times Book Review I would probably miss out on a ton of great books. The same quite possibly holds true for this one. Shell, a corredspondent for The Atlantic, examines the culture of and our addiction to inexpensive goods. For a long time now my shopping credo is to avoid big box stores whenever possible, and shop the smaller and most likely more expensive local place. Sure, I pay more, but the service and quality tend to be better, and I like to think that by keeping my dollars/yen in my local community that I'm doing that community a service. Shell confirms this idea and it looks like she gives me some good information to continue making my case to others. I'm looking forward to this one. (There's a great, albeit rather long, roundtable discussion of Shell's book, too, that is also quite thought-provoking.)
The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan, 2009
Reviewed along with a bundle of other great books, this one made my list because it just sounds like so much fun. It's not exactly new, but it got reviewed because it's out in paperback now. I would still just love to read it, and carry on with my little fantasty farming schemes. Madigan, avid forager as well as homesteader, covers everything from creating the garden space - including container gardens - to puting up preserves. (I'm deeply disapointed to have missed the free give-away, but such is life.) This interview with Madigan, Kleindienst, and Hemenway, offers even more inspiration!