Spring is in the Air … and in the Books

At last — spring has sprung! The birds are singing (Birds of Michigan Field Guide, Second Edition by Stan Tekiela- $12.95), the sun is shining (The Healing Sun by Richard Hobday- $15.95) and a man’s heart turns to love (The Princess Bride by William Goldman, $8.95) his soul to nature (Walden, Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau, $3.50) and his attention to the emerald green diamonds of Comerica or Cooley Law School Stadium (Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball by George Will, $14.99). With spring and its rebirth comes spring cleaning and gardening. I got an early jump on spring cleaning by changing the cat litter (actually I got my son to do that) and cleaning the refrigerator of those last two pesky cans of Sam Adams Winter Ale (Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher, $16.95). As I type this, I’m making mental lists and taking inventory. I need to do a few things to get my house and office in order. Hopefully these books will help you with your spring cleaning routine — who am I kidding? Hopefully these books will help me! Recycling One of the many things that I love about Lansing is just how easy they’ve made it to recycle. Put all your recyclable stuff in a bin and set it beside the curb. Sometimes the hardest part about recycling is developing the habit. One of the most helpful books to get children into the routine is Why Should I Recycle by Jen Green, $6.99. Targeted to 4 to 8 year olds, this short and unassuming book has a simple message and bright and cheery pictures. Cleaning the Yard and Preparing the Garden There are approximately a gazillion books about gardening in the world (slightly fewer on the EVERYbody Reads’ shelves). There are not that many on yard work. Two books on yard work did catch my attention, though. The first title, How to Cheat at Gardening and Yard Work: Shameless Tricks for Growing Radically Simple Flowers, Veggies, Lawns, Landscaping, and More by Jeff Bredenberg, $18.95, seemed like the perfect book for someone who has both yard work to do AND the predisposition toward cheating. A book after my own heart! The second title, 20 Spiritual Practices That Yard Work Can Teach You by J. Bennett Guess, $6.95, seemed like the perfect book for a someone who sees a disconnect between all the grueling and sweaty hours of yard work and a yard that doesn’t provoke your kindest neighbors to call the health department on you. Gardening The Michigan Gardening Guide by Jerry Minnich, $19.95, addresses all the important stuff: the climate, the soil and growing flowers, plants, herbs and vegetables. That’s helpful, but honestly, it’s his wit and writing style that keeps this gardening book from becoming drier than a dust farmer’s bumper crop. Perennials for Michigan by Nancy Szerlag, $19.95 and Annuals for Michigan also by Nancy Szerlag, $18.95 are both worthwhile reads. Szerlag, a Certified Master Gardner (and gardening columnist for the Detroit News), offers a couple of books that are very well organized, handsomely illustrated and while beautifully written, are not too flowery. Finally, The Michigan Gardener’s Companion: An Insider’s Guide to Gardening in the Great Lakes State by Rita Henehan, $14.95, is a relatively inexpensive guide to growing stuff in Michigan. Henehan’s offering pays heed to the 450 different Michigan soils, the various climates and to the gardener’s experience (or in my case, total lack thereof). Housecleaning As a rule, I postpone my housecleaning not so much for hating it, but seeing the ultimate futility in it. I guess if we have to have clean houses, the least we could do is not muss-up the planet in the process. I love the trend toward earth-friendly products. A good and inexpensive place to start is with Nontoxic Housecleaning by Amy Kolb Noyes, $7.95. An acquaintance of mine loved the book. She claimed that the recipes are easy and the results are “kind of unbelievable.” She could not believe that a cheaper, easier way to clean would clean better and be less toxic. It is a great resource and well worth the money. Super Natural Home: Improve Your Health, Home, and Planet–One Room at a Time by Beth Greer, $15.95 is another excellent and useful book. Inside this book is well-founded information which can help us avoid many of the toxic chemicals we can’t see or taste, but are putting our health at risk for diseases and even death. Seems important enough. Ok, enough stalling. I’m off to start cleaning (maybe I’ll check the fridge again to make certain that I haven’t overlooked one of those space hogging beers. Vigilance, vigilance, vigilance!).

Tags: book review, gardening, spring cleaning


Scott Harris

Liberal, Jewish and vegan. Scott has six kitties, a dog, four kids and a wife who saves peoples' lives. He operates EVERYbody Reads bookstore, 2019 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing.

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