The Season of Learning: 6000 pages and Bildung

I love Winter.  I know I am getting ahead of myself here by a month or so, but I am getting stoked about the coming season.  Why?  Winter is the Time of Reading.  Starting in late March I am elbow deep in the soil, and the way things are going I will be equally committed to local energy projects to boot. In that time it takes me months to finish a book – I work until sundown leaving only about 15 minutes of reading before I pass out.  But from November to March my brain stretches as I read at least a book a week- and right now I is really damn ready.

Part of this is certainly the ebullience of the post election season (for the first time EVER I backed a winner!).  Part of the optimism is that maybe, just maybe I won’t be swimming up stream for once.  Regardless I am buying books at a staggering pace.  I devoured Greg Pahl’s Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook in under a week, and next in the queue: Alcohol Can be a Gas, by David Blume.  We are less than 3 months away from breaking ground on our CSE project and I was nominated to be the Ethanol Expert.  Expect posts soon – the book is flippin Insanely Full of Information, taking permaculture to All New Heights.  

Placed a $100 order at Chelsea Green today (they are having a wicked sale) including Perennial Vegetables (I’ve wanted it for ages), Commonsense Forestry (I own 20 acres “up north, eh” that I need to manage better now that I am into biomass energy), The Transition Handbook (lifeboats writ large), and Gaia Girls for the little ‘uns (my 6yr old is reading at 4th grade level…) as well as Good Spirits (I love Gene Logsdon) and Start Making Sense (it’s $2 and marketing is huge).

bildung-resizeThat should get me through the end of the year at least.  That got me thinking.  I think I might be able to polish off 3000 pages by April.  At dinner I delcared my goal, and my wife Mia took it up a level by making it a family challenge.  My kiddos are just embarking on their Reading Journeys.  Sprout (1st Grade) is completely smitten with the Magic Tree House series – he has been known to read one a night (they’re about 80 pages… he’s on book 14) and Bird (our kindergartner) is all about Fancy Nancy and is just starting chapter books (reading mid second grade level, 2 months into kindergarten – I guess all those night reading to them sunk in!).  All told we should be able to polish off 6000 pages as a family -roughly 3k for me, 2k for Mia, and 1k for the kids.  Sound like alot for 2 early grade schoolers?  Sprout’s at 250 pages for November already… the boy’s a machine.

I love reading and am thrilled that the love of it that I built in college (Philosophy/history major) never left me -which is only topped by the fact that we have so far passed it on to our children.  To that end, I have a new favorite word: bildung.  Its German and one translation (its notoriously hard to pin down German words and bildung is nigh untranslatable) is the enjoyment derived from the constant pursuit of education & development.  Anyhow its cooler than saying “I like to learn stuff, yo!”

May your seasonal bildung be fruitful,

Be the Change.


4 Responses

  1. tru dat

    thanks for the tip on chelsea green, I need to start compiling my winter list. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, if you have the time, throw Dune by Frank Herbert in there. Science Fiction centered on dry land ecology and hydraulic despotism.

    Good luck to you on the German, I took a class on Heidegger in college from a professor who spoke German as one of his 50 some odd languages he was fluent in, the rest of the students did not, what a nightmare. Interesting to be sure, but exceedingly difficult to break the language barrier.

  2. I was slightly disappointed with Perennial Vegetables- I just wasn’t excited about growing or eating many of the plants. I’m still looking forward to reading Tosenmier’s Forest Gardening books.

    While the Chelsea Green sale is on I would recommend picking up Seeing Nature by Paul Krafel. The book outlines a lifetime of observation of Nature and the collapse of the Anazasi civilization. I carried the questions posed by the book in my heart for years, until I realized the answers were found in permaculture.

    I don’t recommend reading Joel Salatin’s You Can Farm- it will make you quit your day job😉

  3. Ooh, that sounds like a lovely way to while away the winter! I don’t read enough. You’re inspiring me to line up some winter reading.

  4. Thanks for the great book recommendations Rob. Have you ever tried “Island” by Aldous Huxley?


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