Editor's Notebook: Books To Take Us Beyond Ourselves

February 8, 2013 08:42 PM
Editor's Notebook: Books To Take Us Beyond Ourselves

It feels like spring outside, but the days are still short and lend themselves to catching up on some reading.

Forever a bookworm, I’m always looking to stretch my time with the stack of books by my bed and on my Kindle. I have a bunch to read before spring, but there are two powerful books that I just finished that every farmer should read.

The first is "The Worst Hard Times" by Timothy Egan, a captivating historical account of the Dust Bowl. Brilliantly told through the eyes of a dozen farmers and their communities, the book brings the struggles to life so vividly that you can practically feel the biting grit of the dust blizzards as you read the accounts. The resilience of the farm families to survive crop failure, the devastation of livestock herds and the heartbreaking death of loved ones is staggering and inspiring. Egan delivers the narratives with authenticity and respect.

The second is the "The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change" by Roger Thurow. The book follows four smallholder farmers in western Kenya as they adopt new practices and technologies, working with the One Acre Fund. The chronicles provide a candid view of how farmers in Africa struggle to feed their families—and how a little help can make a big difference. By the end of the book, you feel like you know Rasoa, Leonida, Francis and Zipporah—and you’re cheering them on to success.

Both books put faces on historic struggles and help put our lives—and our blessings—in perspective.

If you have suggestions for other books I should add to my list, drop me an e-mail. I’d love to hear from you.

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