Lifestyles: Walk on the wilder side
There’s something irresistible about a seasonal grouping of things, cyclical yet always promising something new. That’s part of the magic of former ad-exec turned nature crusader Celestine Maddy’s A Wilder Life, an exquisitely designed primer on infusing one’s everyday life with the gifts, utilities and sensualities of the natural world. Maddy instructs us in how to make elderflower champagne in spring, our own leather sandals in summer, dry shampoo in fall and kimchi in winter. Readers can also reclaim bygone skills and learn to read the stars, identify insects and foliage or build an outdoor shelter in a pinch. More of a pretty-picture gazer than a doer? This book can function well as an attractive and intriguing conversation piece with tidbits on healing stones, bioluminescence and common birds of the United States. But don’t be surprised if you’re seduced right into the kitchen to sauté scapes or whip up a Calendula Salve, or into the forests and meadows to hunt for butterflies and edible mushrooms.
FEMME TO FARM
For those seeking to connect with nature on a professional level, Lisa Kivirist’s Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers takes some guesswork out of forging a life from the land. Though women have had their hands in the dirt for eons, their contributions to and unique challenges on this difficult but rewarding path have remained relatively obscure. Kivirist, who runs her own farm in Wisconsin, offers a welcome corrective history in Soil Sisters, but she also provides plenty of practical advice and inspiration for a fast-growing clan of new female farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs. In the spirit of nurturing community, she shares stories and bits of wisdom from a diverse mix of women with farming acumen while breaking down the basics,
from funding to trends (specialty foods and agritourism, anyone?), livestock to licensing. Brief, useful resource lists and illuminating case studies pepper the main text, making Kivirist’s manual a thorough and fertile resource.
TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES
It’s safe to say we all want to be more creative, or to better harness the creativity we’ve got. No wonder, then, that creativity guides have crowded bestseller lists of late. But I’ve never seen anything quite like Jessa Crispin’s The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life, which helps newbies and seasoned tarot users alike employ the cards to meet creative goals, whether that means starting a project anew, clearing obstacles or breaking free from routine thought. An esteemed critic and founder of the literary blog Bookslut, Crispin might seem an unlikely choice to take on mystical subject matter, but don’t underestimate her range. She brings to the task not only a deep grasp of the history of tarot, but also prodigious cultural knowledge and a sharp, witty tone. Her explanations of the cards are rich with references to literature, history and art, making this book equal parts smorgasbord of intellectual delights and tool for better creative ventures.