I was a HUGE! Ramona fan when I was a kid, and this was my first and still favorite. Please, please, please do your kid a favor and get them these boo...moreI was a HUGE! Ramona fan when I was a kid, and this was my first and still favorite. Please, please, please do your kid a favor and get them these books. Some of my clearest early reading memories are of curling up with this book on a cozy fall day, not to mention the indelible image of Ramona with that crown of burdock stuck in her hair. One of my favorite things about Beverly Cleary's series of books about the kids from Klickita(less)
In the interest of full disclosure, I should start by saying that I did not actually read this book. I listened to it. I listened to it on many, many...moreIn the interest of full disclosure, I should start by saying that I did not actually read this book. I listened to it. I listened to it on many, many compact discs while puttering around my kitchen, which, given the subject matter, seems entirely appropriate.
I know it's dippy, but I REALLY love audiobooks.
I discovered them a couple of years ago when I was by myself a lot, and reading at a mad clip as a way of feeling connected to the world. This is all well and good, except I wasn't getting anything done during the day, because I would spend the whole thing with my nose in a book. I was listening to NPR when I got the idea that I could listen to books too, and then I could "read" a book and STILL get my house clean, or work on a project, or whatever.
I have a friend who thinks this is cheating. And I suppose that argument might hold water if I never read another paper book again and committed entirely to audiobooks, or if I listened to books because I didn't know how to read. But I have read and do read enough that I feel pretty secure in my commitment to the written page. And I've found that the pleasures of an audiobook are as nuanced as those of a paper book.
For instance, the reader makes a big difference. Some of them suck, and make the words themselves seem hackneyed and dull. Some are amazing, and actually enhance the experience. (The first audiobook I ever "read" was The Bell Jar, read by Maggie Gyllenhal, who was phenomenal.)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was read by Barbara Kingsolver herself, who is a fine reader. (Her daughter, Camille, and her husband, Stephen L. Hopp, read the parts that they wrote) Kingsolver has the dulcet cadence of a favorite Kindergarten teacher, which mostly works for the content of the book, but I suspect makes some of the jokes a little less crisp than they might be on the page. She's a little to earnest to verbally deliver a real zinger, even when she's the one who wrote it.
I've never read any of Kingsolver's fiction, and never really been that interested, honestly. But after an interview I heard on NPR, I was really intrigued by the subject matter AVM deals with.
I checked it out on audiobook because I was afraid it might be a boring read.
I was in no way prepared for how totally thrilled I was by this book. The prose is straightforward and crisp, but unabashedly rapturous when describing the delights of the Kingsolvers' home garden/mini farm. Besides getting me all jazzed up for next year's garden (I had my first ever vegetable garden this year), and filling my head with all sorts of exciting ideas for ways to use my own produce, it even made me rethink my lifelong hatred of chickens. I found myself saying to my husband, "Hey, if we ever get old and move to the country, let's raise chickens! They're SO cool!"
Those who know me and my chicken phobia know that this is saying a lot.
I went vegetarian back in 1996 as a commitment to my environmentalist beliefs. This book made me rethink my position as a vegetarian in the global food market and ask myself what parts of my veggie lifestyle are really helping our ecology and which parts need to be tweaked. Maybe it IS better to eat a chicken than it is to eat tofu, if that chicken was raised on a small farm nearby and the soybeans used to make the tofu were grown a thousand miles and many gallons of fossil fuel away.
I now seem to be on something of a kick. I'm reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, which seems to be a perfect companion to AVM. OD is VERY good so far, but also far more depressing, and I would say that therein lies the great strength of AVM... it highlights and critiques our current, broken industrial food system, but not by dwelling on the failures so much as by presenting a hopeful, and joyful alternative. (less)