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Home Economics

4.2  ·  Rating details ·  569 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
"My work has been motivated," Wendell Berry has written, "by a desire to make myself responsibly at home in this world and in my native and chosen place." In "Home Economics," a collection of fourteen essays, Berry explores this process and continues to discuss what it means to make oneself "responsibly at home."
His title reminds us that the very root of economics is stew
Paperback, 192 pages
Published December 3rd 2005 by North Point Press (first published June 1st 1987)
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Everyone should own a book of essays to read when novels and textbooks become to tedious.
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Interesting topic. His assertion of the relationship between community and economy are what interested me the most. Berry poses the question of whether communities have a value other than emotional value because, according to him, community is a concept no one bothers to quarrel with. He asserts the modern thought is that we are better off with corporate industries, therefore communities are run under the assumption they have no real value. Berry, however, believes otherwise. Using the experienc ...more
Feb 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: current-events
Amazing, Berry will change the way you look at the world.
Maureen E

I recently read Home Economics by Wendell Berry for either the second or third time. I am a Berry fan and this is one of his best books, in my opinion. It contains fourteen essays on a variety of subjects including national defense, higher education, and the family farm. He speaks from where he is: a farmer dedicated to the preservation of sustainable agriculture. This does not mean that he speaks only to those like him. In fact I see his wide appeal as on
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
These essays were written by Wendell Berry in the 80's, but are even more relevant today. My favorite essays were "Two Economies", "Men and Women in Search of Common Ground", and "Preserving Wildness". The book is dedicated to Wes Jackson - these two wise men are great friends and constantly throw their ideas back and forth in an attempt to make sense of the world. I am delighted to learn that Wendell Berry is again going to be one of the speakers at this years Prairie Festival at The Land Insti ...more
Dec 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
Written in the early to mid-80s, the relevance of this book of essays to America today is astounding. Berry does not fit any category in today's political scene - thinking and acting locally, at once conservative and pro-environment, anti-government and anti-corporation, he is an old guard American of the best kind. This book will change the way you think and, more importantly, will make you think about issues you've never thought about before (the ignored relevance of topsoil to agriculture and ...more
Feb 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Like a lot of books of essays or short stories, some of the pieces in this were better than others. I’ve always heard good things about Wendell Berry, who seems to have a pretty dedicated following. As someone originally from Alaska, my idea of nature is more on the wilderness side than the farming side, but it is hard not to respect Berry and his way of viewing the world. I was particularly struck by his embrace of the value of community, and by his criticism of the shoddiness of the industrial ...more
May 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Melissa by: Mia
Oh I did love this book, am still mulling over, every day, these ideas, a month later. One thing I love about the organization is how the same concept will get returned to throughout, an idea reworked, fine-tuned. I want to find in these words a rebuttal to my brother's "But that's so inefficient!" I know it is there.

One wants to say "inspiring" and "life-changing."
Nov 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If I kill myself in a tractor accident, blame Wendell Berry. And thank him.
Humans, like all other creatures, must make a difference; otherwise, they cannot live. But unlike other creatures, humans must make a choice as to the kind and scale of the difference they make. If they choose to make too small a difference, they diminish their humanity. If they choose to make too great a difference, they diminish nature, and narrow their subsequent choices; ultimately, they diminish or destroy themselves. Nature, then, is not only our source but also our limit and measure.
Brian P.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A collection of essays that a lot of people could learn a lot from.
Ruth Feathers
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
As powerful and important now as it was 30 years ago.
The term economics originally referred to household management, and to Wendell Berry, that's what it should remain still. Home Economics collects essays on the meaning and relation of economy to human life. In it, he deplores the cancerous growth of massive, unwieldy structures like agribusiness, globalization, and the state which destroy culture, communities, and the land, reducing the human experience to economic inputs. He ruminates thoughtfully on the value of more traditional ways of life, ...more
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Whenever I pick up a Wendell Berry collection, I think, "How come I don't read more Wendell Berry? This stuff is good for my soul."

Home Economics gave me that experience once again. These fourteen essays are fairly far-removed from my experience. A suburban pastor knows little about farming or topsoil or breeds of sheep. Still Berry's scope is broad enough--or perhaps deep enough would be better put--that he reaches even me.

In my suburban lot of the Northern Prairie, I'm still colonized by the
Preston Stell
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps my favorite collection of essays thus far. Between all the training in the free market economy, which Berry references so often, and all the thinking and reading I've done on local economies and community, this has really brought many of my thoughts to the surface. A good summation of the entire book is in his last paragraph of the last essay, "The only preventive and the only remedy is for people to choose one another and their place, over the rewards offered them by outside investors.. ...more
Stephen Hicks
May 07, 2016 rated it liked it
This collection of essays falls in line with several of the other compilations out there including "Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community" and "Citizenship Papers". All of these essays were written in the 80s, but, as usual with the subjects Berry takes up, their importance has only increased in the last 30 years. Overall, I enjoyed reading through these pieces even though they seem repetitive from other works. My personal favorites were:

-The Loss of the University
-Letter to Wes Jackson
-A Defense
Literary Mama
Sep 25, 2015 added it
Shelves: essays
From "Now Reading" by Literary Mama staff:

Only a month after moving back to my home state of Georgia, I was excited to be able to attend the Decatur Book Festival, the largest independent book festival in the US. As a volunteer at this great event, I was given the opportunity to select books from a used book tent for free! I happily snagged A Lost Lady, Willa Cather's novel about an unconventional woman, Home Economics, Wendell Berry's collection of essays on our stewardship responsibility, and
Steve Duong
Mar 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: big-picture-201
I loved this collection of essays.
Each and every essay had such great ideas that tied in so well with the arching theme of this book.
Home Economics is a homage on the place we call home- our world as a collective civilization and a collective community. He addresses a wide range of issues that are so deeply embedded in our culture today. Wendell Berry understands what it takes to define a Home and has a profound insight on our Countries' lack of interest in their own people. To sum up the philos
May 04, 2012 rated it liked it
I keep seeing references to the writing of Wendell Berry, so I thought I'd read the primary source. I found this collection of his essays from the early 1980's. Those on the relationship of people to the land and on community were quite interesting.

Berry writes thoughtfully about hot topics today, such as small family farms and shopping locally. He articulates the false economies of industries that remove resources from the land or damage it, and pass those costs along to others to address.

Aug 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
In the essay, The Loss of the University, he writes "The thing being made in a university is humanity.... If the proper work of the university is only to equip people to fulfill private ambitions, then how do we justify public support? If it is only to prepare citizens to fulfill public responsibilities, then how do we justify the teaching of arts and sciences? The common denominator has to be larger than either career preparation or preparation for citizenship." It is wonderful to hear him thin ...more
Dec 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: environment
Great collection of essays from an icon in the environmental field. Berry has many insightful thoughts that he expresses brilliantly through his writing. This is a recommended read for any environmentalist. It is interesting to read an essay from the 80's that warned of the negative impact the country would see from agribusiness, yet we still have done nothing about it. Some of the writing makes you pity the lack of respect we now have for small farms and our inability to form communities is dep ...more
Feb 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
Okay, love Wendell . Love his ideas, love his life, love his faith, love his heart, love his art. I mean, he's petty much right about everything: industrialism, "value," agriculture, community, etc. But I just find his writing style to be so stodgy and BORING. There's no change in pace or tone. It's like sitting in a lecture. I know the disappearance of the family farm in the eighties was a tragic thing and all, but do you have to be so formal, dude, so sour and grumpy all the time? Blaaaaah.
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The most thought-provoking book I've read in a long time. Wendell Barry has so many wise comments to make on community and economy, on farming and on society. He makes some very adept judgments of our culture and how it could or should be. At length, he provides a model for life that I would build my life around.
Cathy Whaley
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Berry's best individual collection of essays, including "The Idea of the University" and "Does Community Have a Value." A collected volume of essays is desperately needed, especially considering many of his books have been unavailable and many essays uncollected for years. He's idealistic, scattered in his thoughts, but passionate and always makes the reader think...
Jun 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
I need to re-read regularly. Specifically, the key essays to me were: Two Economies, The Loss of the University, Preserving Wildness, A Good Farmer of the Old School (it was here or maybe as I read Jayber Crow that the whole Farm School idea was first starting to birth itself), A Defense of the Family Farm, and Does Community Have a Value?
Benjamin Sigrist
Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
Super boring. I liked some of the concepts, but his writing was so dull, it put me to sleep or confused me... and I actually like these concepts! Someone who was new to this material would really be turned off I think. Maybe this isn't representative of Berry, I don't know. And I did like his essay on the University.

I'll try Berry again, but this one was not fun for me.
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Wendell Berry writes about change, how economic paradigms have adversely affected our country's idea of itself, how change from a people centered economy to an industrial economy has lowered the value of community and family.
Oct 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It's Wisconsin Book Festival time, and I've got tickets to hear Wendell Berry. Since I'd only read a couple of short items by him, I thought I should dig a little deeper. I'm *loving* this book. Expect to finish by Oct. 11, so I'll post more as soon as I can.
Nov 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Before "green" became a marketing scheme ... if we had all been paying attention, we might not now regard the culmination of our centuries-long campaign of global destruction as an "economic crisis."
Sep 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
His best.
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Wendell Berry is a conservationist, farmer, essayist, novelist, professor of English and poet. He was born August 5, 1934 in Henry County, Kentucky where he now lives on a farm. The New York Times has called Berry the "prophet of rural America."
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