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Some of my earliest memories involve my mother losing patience with me, and admonishing me strongly to “get your nose out of that book and go outside!”. Let’s face it – I was a bookworm. Reading was my escape, my solitude, my possibility and my solace throughout my teen years. But I lost the energy for and enjoyment in it, I think, when I joined the workforce. Lots of things got in the way – drinking, at times, more often the Internet, and more recently, crafting, because I struggle with guilt when I’m doing but one thing at a time.

Lately, though, reading has come back into my life with verve, and I’m welcoming the return of those fanciful journeys and plotting my path through the extensive “to-read” list. I wanted to share my current and recently-finished adventures with you.

As mentioned in my last post, I just finished Down To Earth by Rhonda Hetzel, and it was all I could to to stop myself from turning it right over and starting again from page one immediately. What a remarkable book! Rhonda is Australian, and while that fact struck a deeper chord with me and made me more invested in her story and philosophy than I would have been had she been from the US or UK, it is by no means a bar to someone from outside Australia getting a whole lot out of the book. Her willingness to frame her life in philosophical words moved me, and her unpatronising, open-hearted tone warned my heart. I feel like I’ve known her for years, and her book inspired me so deeply to renew my efforts at simplifying my own life that Chez Chester has been a flurry of activity over the last week, and my mind churns with possibility and impatience.

Currently never far from my elbow is the enchantingly titled The Unexpected Houseplant, by (apparently) renowned US-ian gardening authority and author Tovah Martin. This is one stunner of a book, I’m here to tell you. Kindra Clineff’s masterful photographs elevate the tone of the subject matter to epiphanic levels, and Martin’s humorous, winding prose makes it feel like home. I was overcome by a feeling like I’ve never had before. I felt the need to keep houseplants. There’s a whole world down that rabbit hole, and while I don’t know if I’m ready to embrace all of it, I’m sure as hell gonna step inside the front door.

The mainstay on my bedside table for some months now has been the towering epic of fibre-love that is Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius’ magnum opus, The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. This astonishing tome (word has it, the first in a series!!!!) discusses, in loving detail, various facts pertaining to hundreds of fibre-producing animals found throughout the world. The preponderance of sheep within its pages isn’t a problem for me, as I adore wool – spinning with it, knitting with it, rolling in it… – but there are other animals found in there too, particularly the camelids. The amount and details of information presented varies between the breeds; the rarer breeds and those whose history is obfuscated see less real estate but what’s there is quality, first-hand information. The large-format, glossy book with hundreds of meticulously chosen and styled photos cost me about $40. Even if you’re not a fibre-artist, if you’re interested in sheep, the history of livestock, or the textile industry at all, this book will capture your heart.

Finally, for a little light relief and in an attempt to round out the information-dense books above, I’m ploughing through The Lost City of Z by David Grann. I’m much less impressed with this book than with all the rest, and much less impressed than I thought I’d be. Unfortunately, the book suffers (like so many biographies aimed at the popular and sensationalist public) from the author’s desire to show off just how much research he’s done, and from some desire to flesh out the actual story (you know, the one implied in the title?) with completely irrelevant and distracting rubbish. I’m losing momentum. I really want to be enthralled by this tale of relatively modern-day exploration, morbidly fascinated by the details of disease and privation suffered at the hands of the mighty Amazon forest, and desperate to reach the end of the book so as to find out the answer – did Fawcett find his El Dorado, or not? Instead, I’m considering giving up halfway in and op-shopping the bloody thing. You could say, I’m not recommending this one.

What are you reading? Please tell!

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