12 Books for Every Sustainability Nut

Note: I'm way behind on my 31 books resolution - I'll have to hurry to catch up. In the meantime, will you count these 12? I bet you don't own them!

Worms Eat my Laundry by Alcea Grovestock - Worms are hot - in-house domestic composting is everywhere. But have you considered the way red wigglers could augment your laundry routine? After all, so many of us, taken up with homestead and farm work, garden and family chores have developed that layer of laundry that never seems to get washed, composting at the bottom of the hamper. With the addition of red worms and regular contributions to the pile, your laundry worries can be over, and you can build up a healthy layer of topsoil to be added to your garden! A must-read.

Holy Fuck! by Gene Logsdon. Building the tremendous success of his book Holy Shit which revealed the ways we waste valuable fertiity and contaminate land and waterways with our wasteful relationship to human and animal manures, Logsdon turns his attention to sex, and the millions of barrel equivalents of oil wasted in heating fuel by human beings' unfortunate aversion to just having sex all the time. Logsdon proves that we could virtually solve our ecological crisis if we'd just stop avoiding sex and concentrate on doing it more or less all the time.

Peak Brew by Richard Heinberg. The man who brought us knowledge of Peak Oil (The Party's Over), Peak Coal (Blackout), Peak Everything (Peak Everything) and more has now turned his focus to the deepest of all our depletion crises - the end of beer as we know it. Heinberg carefully draws a picture of our international brewing crisis, and paints a bleak picture of a world without beer. If no other ecological and environmental crisis could move the American mainstream, this one will!

Why Your Neighbor Should Definitely Use Less Energy by Jason H. Thidwicke Millions of climate activists have tried, and largely failed, to get the developed world public to take Climate Change seriously, and begin to consume less and conserve more. Thidwicke makes a compelling argument that books that focus on what you can do to save the earth are seriously mistaken in focus, and don't appeal to our real interests - which are to make other people do the work. Cunningly crafted, Thidwicke makes a compelling case that we can only change our life when we get to enjoy making other people miserable. His strategies include lying, cheating, manipulation and if all else fails, enslaving populations, and will be an eye-opener for every environmentalist who wants to make real and lasting change.

Where There Is No Plastic Surgeon by the Hepzibah Foundation. There's a new, passionate, engaged back to the land movement - not young folks going to the country, but the affluent and middleaged, convinced that we're all doomed, and ready to build the perfect sustainable doomstead where they and their families can comfortably live out an apocalypse with plenty of servants. They recognize that the end of the world will be inconvenient. But there is no need tor one to accept a lack of attractiveness or a dimunation of standards of beauty and youthfulness (especially since no one actually young will be able to afford to live there) in the face of disaster. This critical text on home plasic surgery, the culture of botulism toxin in canning jars for wrinkle removal and other strategies for making sure your husband doesn't take a fifth wife into the bunker will have a place on every shelf.

Collapse II: How Dave in Human Resources Chooses to Succeed or Fail by Jared Diamond Not content to rest on his laurels after the stunning success of the first volume of _Collapse_ which cast a wide ranging look over societies that underwent ecological disaster, this time Diamond takes a micro-look at collapse, choosing as his subject, not Easter Island or Greenland, but Dave in Human Resources. Watch how Dave's decisions about his personal ecology - his habit of consuming vending machine products wildly in excess of the carrying capacity of his abdomen leads towards collapse, while the emergent strain in his marriage from staying up and playing World of Warcraft until 3am every night and the hordes of barbarians (his two children) mass on his borders. Diamond makes the compelling case that Dave chooses his destiny.

Bend Over and Kiss Your Ass Goodbye: Strategies for Suriving Peak Oil, Climate Change, Economic Collapse and Plagues of Rabid Musk Oxen by R. S. Albert. The territory of explaining how we are totally fucked is old hat for most of my readers, but Albert offers a new, two step approach that conveniently breaks down the strategy necessary to prepare the coming disasters, which he describes in equisite detail and definitely involve your children being eaten by Musk Oxen if you don't buy his book - a purchase of one copy for each person you hope not to be devoured is recommended by the author. Even the dedicated doomer will learn something new from this book, which offers a host of suggestions for the stiff who has trouble bending over far enough to reach their buttocks, and for those made nervous by the idea of kissing their own asses.

Radical Pantywaists by James Haroldd Biederman In this book, we see an emergent critique of works by Shannon Hayes and other writers who have argued that true sustainability emerges from diverse egalitarian family structures that take traditional "women's work" and domesticity seriously. Biederman argues that those who believe that the lower-energy future belongs to men and women who take equity and domestic life seriously are completely out of their minds, and probably gay. The future, he contests, will be a future of manly, heterosexual men with no need to change diapers or make pickles, because they are off riding horses and fighting communism or something.

Storey's Guide to Raising Common Carnivores by Randi Heller. Have you ever considered adding a flock of major carnivore's to your small farm or homestead? Besides filling an important ecological niche controlling the overpopulation of deer, rats, pigeons and neighbors, Carnivore's can provide many benefits to the sustainable homesteader including pelts, meat and exercise running away from them. Heller covers all the major species, from Mountain Lions to Cheetahs, Grizzly Bears (actually omnivores but covered in the material) and also exotic, like re-introduced Smilodons, bred from fragments of DNA. She suggest appropriate housing, diet (think 'UPS Guy') and a host of otheri mportant issues, necessary before you introduce your new predators to your backyard.

You Can Make It Rot! by Helene Nurdwinger. Have you mastered pressure canning? Bored with lactofermentation and filled up your root cellar? Nurdwinger introduces you into the exciting realm of home food decomposition, and offers hundreds of exciting recipes for rotting food. She discusses traditional ways of prompting decomposition including "forgetting it in the back of the fridge" "leaving it in the sun for three days" and "I'll definitely get to those tomatoes tomorrow when it isn't so hot." Her recipe for hyper-emesis sauce was just one of the odiferous delicacies she offers!

Finally, there's my own newest book You Can Be Exactly Like Sharon by Sharon Astyk. Building on other models of farm women who have cashed in on their beautiful, elegant, sustainable farmgirl lives, I offer a book with thousands of totally undoctored, not at all fake pictures of my gorgeous, perfect life, with my perfect children, my perfectly sustainable farm where I get it all done every day, my clean house and my own total awesomeness. This honest, revealing book tells you everything from how I grow all my own food, including bananas and mangoes in upstate New York, blacksmith my own pedal-powered automobiles, sew my children beautiful clothing that they never get dirty, distill biogas from my shit that doesn't stink and otherwise, do all the things that you wish you could do, only better and more graciously than you ever could. Buy my book, and your life will magically too become just like mine.

Ok, I feel better now that I'm caught up on my book reviews!



More like this

What a fresh perspective. I don't know why I've missed these titles. You know you could get a person in a lot of trouble. My 9-5 job requires sitting at a computer taking calls from those with mental health illness and assessing them for type and urgency of need. This means that when I answer the same question for the 151st time for the day, I get a little bored and take a quick peek at what's happening in the blogging world. Do you have any idea how people look at you when you suddenly start laughing your ass off for no apparent reason in this type of setting? Hoo Boy! You have to be fast talker to avoid a Lamictal or Haldol Rx, b/c everyone automatically assumes, you're listening to those voices in your head.

Okay, so where can I get a team of Smilodon fatalis? I want them for pulling my war chariot. Heck with just being the guy on the horse with the shotgun, overseeing the hoers (slack off & I dock you 200 calories). I will be EMPEROR of the post-apocalyptic wastelands! Muah!!

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 24 Jan 2011 #permalink

Gene Logsdon is now encouraging all of us to have sex all of the time, without considering the ramifications that might have on the population crisis???!!!!

Holy Astyk, Batgirl! You're channeling Martha? I need to read WTINPS, though; no telling who Beloved will drag home next...

Hi Sharon,
I've read some of these books and am surprised you would review them, let alone recommend them. Sure, these books are a good way to store carbon, but I've adopted a peak reading philosophy and to prepare for the post-crisis world I'm teaching myself to unlearn reading--then I'll be ready to use my library for starting fires once they stop printing newspapers. Nothing like being warm and smug when your neighbors are neither.

Too funny - love it, and love you!

Obviously, I'm way behind on my reading.........DEE

By Diana Smith (not verified) on 25 Jan 2011 #permalink

Hi Sharon:

I can't seem to find any of these titles on AbeBooks - do you have a supplier? I assume you will sell me the last one from your own personal stash, autographed please.


Considering that a mountain lion sighting has now been confirmed in our highly urban (most populous in the state of Missouri) county, the Storey's Guide to Raising Common Carnivores should be on my reading list. I could raise cougars and feed them with the squirrels that have been eating my apples and peaches. Hmm, squirrel-fed cougar BBQ ... might be good.

Oh my goodness! Thank you. My company published or distributed many of these titles. May we all remember to take ourselves less seriously! :)

By Jennifer McCharen (not verified) on 26 Jan 2011 #permalink


What am I doing wrong? The link to your 'Sharon' book didn't work. The link to Gene Logsdon's book did not work, either.



You might be interested in Billll's Idle Mind blog post on his squirrel gun episode. Billll (yes, four 'L's) was intrigued by a story of a high-pressure air powered arrangement that coaxed rats infesting a factory into entering a baited length of largish PVC pipe - that would then tip and trigger a blast of air, propelling the offending rodent, forcerfully, into a nearby wall. Left set up one weekend, the next Monday there were three splats on the wall, and fewer rats.

Billll's endeavors devolved. What he ended up with was four foot of four inch (maybe three inch?) PVC pipe, set in a bucket of water, leaning against a nearby wood fence. Bait was a bit of peanut butter about elbow-length down the pipe from the top, on the inside of the pipe. When he discovered a squirrel dead in the bucket, he deposited it at the base of a nearby tree, intending to dispose of it later that day. One of the neighbor's dogs solved the disposal issue first. Thus, this Billll defended his peach tree from the local squirrels, and without any annoying noises that might alert a nearby neighbor with a squirrel feeder. And no moving mechanical parts to adjust or calibrate.

The end of the story of the squirrel gun ends with successful reduction of the squirrel population, and defense of the peach tree. The sad part of the story is that the lack of projectiles, lack of explosions, and lack of any other loud noises made the success sort of anti-climactic for a devoted gun nut. Read about his pumpkin cannon. I forget the range, but it had a couple of compressed air tanks and a 20 foot or longer barrel.