Starting tomorrow, February 1, I will be reviewing 28 books in 28 days leading up to the release of my book, Year of Plenty, on March 1. Year of Plenty tells the story of our family's experience in 2008 consuming only what was local, used, homegrown, or homemade. Our four rules, scribbled on a Starbucks brochure in a fit of consumer fatigue, led us into wonderful conversations about locavores (people who eat local food), going green, farmers' markets, downshifters (people who intentionally seek to consume less), simple living, food not lawns, backyard chickens, and more.
There are already some great books on these topics. The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan is a wonderful expose of how our far-flung food system has gone awry, and Alisa Smith and J.B. McKinnon pioneered the year-long-food-experiment genre with their book The 100 Mile Diet. (If I use the Canadian title to the book, it will be less obvious that I borrowed a little inspiration from their American released book, Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100 Mile Diet, for the title to my blog and now book. I wanted to call the blog Consuming Passions, but Nancy thought it sounded too much like a cheap romance novel or daytime soap opera. Of course, she is almost always right.) Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle took it a step further by telling the tale of her family's year of eating local, and the beauty of her story is more than matched by the beauty of her prose. Colin Beavan firmly established the "bumbling eco-experimenter" genre with his book and movie, No-Impact Man, that tells the tale of seeking to live for a year with zero environmental impact in the middle of Manhattan. While Year of Plenty shares a literary eco-system with these books, it seeks to break new ground by offering a Christian reflection on these issues.
While Year of Plenty is based on a premise that there is a need for more Christian engagement with these important issues of the day, there certainly are other books that have already, in their own unique way, sought to flesh out an authentic Christian response. That's where the 28 books in 28 days project comes in. Earlier in the week I consulted the wisdom of my Tweeps and Facebook friends, and based on their counsel, I came up with a list of some of the most important contributions to date. I chose books that were overtly Christian in their perspective, with the exception of books by Wendell Berry and Bill McKibben. Their writings draw from the deep well of faith and their works are highly influential, so I thought it was important to include them. I tried to have a good representation of books in the areas of environmentalism, food, simple living, and redemptive consumption practices, which are the main themes covered in Year of Plenty. Most are more recently published but there are some classics in the mix. I picked one obscure book, titled MISSIONARY EARTHKEEPING (Modern Mission Era, 1792-1992: An Appraisal), that I found too intriguing to leave off. Some of the authors have more than one book on the topic so, in that case, I picked the one I thought to be the most important contribution.
Go here to see the full list on Springpad. The titles and authors are as follows in nor particular order:
- Simpler Living, Compassionate Life: A Christian Perspective, Michael Schut, Editor
- Farming As a Spiritual Discipline, Ragan Sutterfield
- The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World, Donald B. Kraybill
- Living More with Less, Doris Janzen Longacre
- Global Warming and the Risen LORD: Christian Discipleship and Climate Change, Jim Ball
- Planetwise: Dare to Care for God's World, Dave Bookless
- Earth-Wise: A Biblical Response to Environmental Issues [EARTH WISE 2/E], Calvin B. DeWitt
- Redeeming Creation: The Biblical Basis for Environmental Stewardship, Fred H. Van Dyke
- MISSIONARY EARTHKEEPING (Modern Mission Era, 1792-1992: An Appraisal), Calvin Dewitt
- For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care (Engaging Culture), Steven Bouma-Prediger
- Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, Bill McKibben
- The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age, Norman Wirzba
- The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture, Wendell Berry
- Food & Faith: Justice, Joy, and Daily Bread, Michael Schut, Editor
- Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible, Ellen F. Davis
- Bread for the World, Arthur Simon
- Natural Saints: How People of Faith are Working to Save God's Earth, Mallory McDuff
- Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food [Paperback], Lysa TerKeurst
- Enough: Contentment in an Age of Excess, Will Samson
- Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices, Julie Clawson
- A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, Katharine Hayhoe
- Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action, Matthew Sleeth M.D.
- Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity, Ronald J. Sider
- Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet, Jonathan Merritt
- The Consuming Passion: Christianity & the Consumer Culture, Rodney Clapp, Editor
- Saving God's Green Earth: Rediscovering the Church's Responsibility to Environmental Stewardship, Tri Robinson
- Tending to Eden: Environmental Stewardship for God's People, Scott C. Sabin
- The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting toward God, Leslie Leyland Fields, Editor
So what do you think? Does the list cover the most significant contributions or are there some that I've left off? You can lobby me to add books to the list but I'll only add them if you provide the blog post review along with the reason it is important to the conversation. I've read many of these books already, but there are many I haven't, so we'll see how it goes. I'll offer my perspectives on each book but will also reference The Englewood Review of Books for some of these titles. They are currently the go-to source for book reviews of books on these topics. If you're not following them already on Twitter or Facebook, you should be.