Among my most cherished books, which sit stacked up on the nightstand next to my bed, the spines lined up so I can gaze at them all at once, sits Natalie Goldberg's classic, Writing Down the Bones.
Simply put, Writing Down the Bones taught me how to be a writer. Natalie's prose is simple, her tone accessible and advice comforting. I use it in all my classes to help students push past the fog of doubt and remind them they have a tool they can return to again and again.
A long, wonderful, and in-depth portrait of Alaska in the 1970's. I wasn't even particularly interested in Alaska when I picked it up, and now I practically want to move there. Politics, bears, oil, gold mining, it's all there.
The dramatic story of the shipping container and the innovation that made globalization possible, by economist Mark Levinson.
The first half is a friendly, readable manual for basic bike maintenance and repair. The second half is a compilation of a series of zines (called Chainbreaker) about all things bike. The zine was written by a (female) bike mechanic from New Orleans.
This engaging account traces the evolution of the former Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal, documenting the people, stories, and activities that populated the Williamsburg waterfront from the early nineties to the post-2000 development boom.
This book is a critical examination of recycling in the Unites States since the 1970s. MacBride argues that recycling has not achieved the goals of the environmental movement, but has instead shifted the responsibility of waste prevention from industry to consumers and municipalities. Required reading for anyone with a compelling interest in the subject.
A candid perspective on the situation.
What I consider the best read of all time. A game changer!
The definitive history of solid waste management in New York City, written by a former director of policy for the Department of Sanitation. An engaging account of the politics of garbage collection and waste disposal filled with insalubrious stories and controversial characters. Currently out of print.
The Japanese concept of wabi-sabi is intrinsic to everything I make, but especially kokedama. This book gives a beautifully detailed and thorough explanation of the very-hard-to-define concept, which is related to the appreciation of the imperfections of natural beauty.
The book is essentially split into two parts. The first discusses the politics of the Arab world, particularly those of autocratic Arab rulers and how they rule domestically. The second discusses the politics of Israel and how it acts both internally and with its neighbors. Though somewhat dated, it is a great introduction to the sociology of Israel and Arab countries and explains the trends and societal factors at play. The particular lens of the book is through the Lebanon civil war, which is fascinating in and of itself.
This is a great introductory book for concreting. The author takes you step by step through a whole range of projects and clearly explains all the basics of concreting, plus provides a range of different formulas for concrete mixes. I refer to it all the time!
An easy-to-read comprehensive history to the Middle East from the 1800s to today. Delves deeply yet understandably into the nuances of each country in the region, without bias. Provides all the necessary historical background to those who seek to understand the politics of the Middle East today.
Mary Lou Williams was singular. The most important woman in jazz history, though her contributions are almost completely overlooked. This biography digs deep into her personal and spiritual life and rescues her reputation as one of jazz's most important composers and arrangers.
This is a lovely color photo field guide to city weeds, or spontaneous urban plants, by botanist and lecturer Peter del Tredici, who argues in an inspiring and logical introduction that the plants ""naturally"" growing in a city are those requiring the least resources to maintain, the weeds. Del Tredici makes a case for cultivating beautiful, sustainable urban landscapes using the wildflowers already abundant around us, then curates an excellent field guide for identifying them.
Or you could use Michael Pollan's review below, which I copied from Amazon.com:
""Peter Del Tredici has written one of those rare books that completely overturns the way you look at the landscape—in this case, the landscape of the city's derelict cracks and corners, which in his hands becomes a place of unusual interest, value, and beauty. Though ostensibly a field guide, this book is much more than that—it offers a deep and wise reconsideration of our most cherished ideas about nature. You will never look at an 'invasive species' the same way again.""—Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore's Dilemma"
The definitive biography of Thelonious Monk is a bracing look at a 20th Century iconoclast and goes beyond jazz to focus on the great historical and cultural implications of Monk's work and jazz's tortuous relationship with mainstream culture and the civil rights movement. A penetrating look at an often mysterious figure whose music is still misunderstood.
Fantastic story about a fantastic teacher who gets burned out after a year or so. She has great alternative titles for major subject names, among many other great ideas intertwined in her story.
Great reference for those curious about architecture in NYC
So, this one is for all the Spanish speakers out there because there is unfortunately no English translation.
However, it is a great book about a journalist who traveled the world to examine educational systems in different countries (India, Israel, South Korea -- to name a few) in order to compare them to that of Latin American countries and figure out why L.A. is so behind when other countries with an equally large (or larger) population living in poverty are advancing.
Very well written and extremely interesting!
A great book about the amazing institution that is Russ & Daughters -- the Jewish appetizing store on the Lower East Side.
It talks about the history of the store, how the Lower East Side has changed with different populations moving in and out, and also includes recipes!
Consider this your primer for writing and editing in English. It's a quick read and still highly relevant.
Clark takes a great approach toward pesky grammar points. This is an engaging, interesting, and highly informative read.
A book about running, and writing. Murakami took up running and writing at the same time, and he puts the two activities side by side. A totally lovely read.
This is the book to buy if you are looking for an American English style guide and don't have one already dictated by your job or field. It has answers to every style question you'll have -- and online forums for new style needs that come up along the way.
I love everything I've made from here, especially the fudgesicles and pop tarts. Definitely chock full of good rainy day projects.