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Monkey See, Monkey Read
Booknotes from Monkey See, Monkey Read
Updated: 1 hour 27 min ago
Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
An inspired weaving of indigenous knowledge, plant science, and personal narrative from a distinguished professor of science and a Native American whose previous book, Gathering Moss, was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing.“There are times when a simple category doesn’t do a book justice. Saying that Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass is nature writing doesn’t quite capture what she does in this treasure of a book. It’s rare to find a book that teaches you scientifically and also nurtures you philosophically–but that’s what this is. Upon finishing I read the epilogue twice just to allow her wisdom and kindness and care for this world to soak in a little more.” —Hans Weyandt, Micawbers Books “Robin Wall Kimmerer has written an extraordinary book, showing how the factual, objective approach of science can be enriched by the ancient knowledge of the indigenous people. It is the way she captures beauty that I love the most–the images of giant cedars and wild strawberries, a forest in the rain and a meadow of fragrant sweetgrass will stay with you long after you read the last page.” —Jane Goodall, author of Seeds of Hope and My Life with the Chimpanzees As a botanist and professor of plant ecology, Robin Wall Kimmerer has spent a career learning how to ask questions of nature using the tools of science. As a Potawatomi woman, she learned from elders, family, and history that the Potawatomi, as well as a majority of other cultures indigenous to this land, consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowing together to reveal what it means to see humans as “the younger brothers of creation.” As she explores these themes she circles toward a central argument: the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the world. Once we begin to listen for the languages of other beings, we can begin to understand the innumerable life-giving gifts the world provides us and learn to offer our thanks, our care, and our own gifts in return.
Robin Kimmerer‘s writings have appeared in Orion, Whole Terrain, and Stone Canoe amongst many others. She lives in Fabius, NY where she is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology, and where she is also the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.
A tragic act of violence echoes through a small Minnesota town in this paperback edition of Maltman’s sleeper hit of the season.
“A complicated portrait of a prairie town, a meditation on violence, a fantasia of myth and folklore, and a knockout murder mystery, Little Wolves is haunting, at times terrifying, a gothic cousin to Kent Haruf’s Plainsong. I loved this book.” — Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon, The Wilding, and Refresh, Refresh
“Took my breath away…as rich in myth and metaphors as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.” — Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
“A work of nuance, craft, and tightly plotted narrative….Little Wolves is a portrait of two individuals seeking solace through religion and the law, and finding every opportunity thwarted by that most central tenet of Americana: nostalgia.” – Rain Taxi Review of Books
Set on a barren Minnesota prairie devastated by drought, Little Wolves is a close examination of tradition, in storytelling and faith, as well as the story of a town searching for answers after a young man commits a heinous crime. The boy’s father, now an outcast from the small community, finds an unlikely ally in his son’s former teacher, whom the boy mysteriously visited the day of the murder.
Local legends–crafted, just as in ancient times, to explain loss and change–deepen the sense of place that Maltman’s deep ties to the Minnesota prairies and Northwoods bring to the book. Above all, this is an elegiac love letter to Maltman’s home, even its darkest parts.
Thomas Maltman has an MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and lives in the Twin Cities. His first novel, The Night Birds, won an Alex Award, a Spur Award, the Friends of American Writers Literary Award, and was also chosen by the American Library Association as an “Outstanding Book for the College Bound.”
From the Top:
Brief Transmissions from Tent Show Radio
Brief Transmissions from Tent Show Radio
From the Top is 20% off in December
Fatherhood, wedding rings, used cars, dumpster therapy, logger clogs—in essays drawn from his appearances on the syndicated Tent Show Radio program, NYT bestselling author Michael Perry demonstrates his rare ability to touch both the funny bone and the heart.
“Bottom line is, I’m the kind of guy who’s happy to go to the opera, but I should like to be allowed to wear steel-toed boots with my evening suit. I like to read Harpers with a chaser of Varmint Hunter Magazine. Maybe that’s why I enjoy a good show under canvas. Here we sit, brain-deep in arts and culture, but we’re also just people hanging out in a tent, some of us wearing boots, a few of us wearing Birkenstocks, but best of all we’re breathing free fresh air filled with music.”
From Scandihoovian Spanglish to snickering chickens, New York Times bestselling author and humorist Michael Perry navigates a wide range of topics in this collection of brief essays drawn from his weekly appearances on the nationally syndicated Tent Show Radio program. Fatherhood, dumpster therapy, dangerous wedding rings, Christmas trees, used cars, why you should have bacon in your stock portfolio, loggers in clogs—whatever the subject, Perry has a rare ability to touch both the funny bone and the heart.
Michael Perry is the author of numerous books, including Population 485, Truck: A Love Story, and Visiting Tom. He lives in rural Wisconsin with his wife and daughters and is privileged to serve as a first responder with the local fire department.
John Barbour will read from his novel, Renunciation, Tuesday, December 3rd at 7:30pm.
Traveling in New Mexico in 1971, Will George converts to Bhakti Dharma, a new religious movement influenced by Hinduism and Sikh tradition. Returning to his home in Minnesota, he renounces his previous life, provoking a crisis for everyone in his family. Peter, Will’s older brother, is a graduate student at the University of Chicago who studies early Christian asceticism partly to understand his brother’s devotion. He gains insight into kundalini yoga, gender roles in the ashram, the guru’s charisma, and events such as Jonestown and controversies about Hare Krishna. In Thailand Peter has a profound encounter during a Buddhist meditation retreat. Meanwhile, Will’s religious search continues in India, where he dies in suspicious circumstances. Peter retraces his brother’s steps to investigate his death and wrestles with what it means to be his brother’s keeper.
The developing relationship between the two brothers dramatizes the theme of renunciation, as expressed both in explicit religious vows and in other choices they make. Acts of renunciation reveal a longing for sacrifice and self-transcendence, and sometimes also a dangerous and destructive urge. This novel explores how family relationships and religious commitments conflict, intertwine, and shape each other.
Essays about food by Midwestern writers, edited by Peggy Wolff.
With its corn by the acre, beef on the hoof, Quaker Oats, and Kraft Mac n’ Cheese, the Midwest eats pretty well and feeds the nation on the side. But there’s more to the Midwestern kitchen and palate than the farm food and sizable portions the region is best known for beyond its borders. It is to these heartland specialties, from the heartwarming to the downright weird, that Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie invites the reader.
“Fried biscuits, Creole-style spaghetti, carrot shavings in Jell-O, and perfect peach cobbler—this is the food that haunts midwesterners throughout their lives, and it’s inspired a collection of evocative essays by some of the region’s most appealing writers.” — Laura Shapiro, author of Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America
“Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie—what an eyeful! I so enjoyed reading these personal accounts of midwestern foods and the stories they tell, which is food plus people, place, and history. As Peggy Wolff says at the start, food is not just food; it’s the experience that counts—where you are and who you are with. And that is just what these stories are about: the bigger picture of food that makes its memory poignant and worth telling.” — Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy
The volume brings to the table an illustrious gathering of thirty midwestern writers with something to say about the gustatory pleasures and peculiarities of the region. In a meditation on comfort food, Elizabeth Berg recalls her aunt’s meatloaf. Stuart Dybek takes us on a school field trip to a slaughtering house, while Peter Sagal grapples with the ethics of paté. Parsing Cincinnati five-way chili, Robert Olmstead digresses into questions of Aztec culture. Harry Mark Petrakis reflects on owning a South Side Chicago lunchroom, while Bonnie Jo Campbell nurses a sweet tooth through a fudge recipe in the Joy of Cooking and Lorna Landvik nibbles her way through the Minnesota State Fair. These are just a sampling of what makes Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie—with its generous helpings of laughter, culinary confession, and information—an irresistible literary feast.
Peggy Wolff has written on food and food culture for publications including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, and Orlando Sentinel.
A cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas.
A timeless collection of globe-spanning recipes by a James Beard Award-winning author.
From one of America’s most prolific and beloved cookbook authors comes a compendium of unique recipes for a universally appealing subject. This broad collection of soups, broths, bisques, and chowders ranges from summer coolers and hearty, warming stews to smooth, creamy soups and fiery broths. Marked by their straightforward preparation, accessible ingredients, and original pairings, Ojakangas’s collection not only taps into her Scandinavian heritage but into flavorful soups from around the world—there’s Swedish Pea, Morroccan Vegetable, Borscht, and Chicken and Dumplings to Feijoida, French Onion, Italian Meatball, and Asian Lemon Ginger.
The bread recipes alone could fill a cookbook. Loaves, buns, sticks, and flatbreads are here, along with pretzels, pitas, toasts and focaccias. Organized by season and complemented by evocative photographs, The Soup & Bread Cookbook is an ideal volume for anyone who takes comfort in the essential pleasures of a bowl of soup and warm bread.
Beatrice Ojakangas is a James Beard hall of fame member and award-winning author who has written 28 cookbooks, including The Finnish Cookbook, which is in its 38th printing. One of America’s most trusted home cooks, she has written for many of the nation’s leading magazines including Bon Appetit, Country Living, Southern Living, and Eating Well. She lives in Duluth, MN.
A cookbook by Amy Thielen. “The Midwest is rising,” writes Amy Thielen, and her appealing, fiercely American debut cookbook, which heralds a fresh take on authentic heartland cuisine with recipes, is delicious proof.
“Thielen has done the impossible, breaking new ground on a well-worn food meme. Like finding the perfect new leather coat that looks like gramps wore it for decades, she has channeled a seemingly brilliant incongruity. In hybridizing her northern prairie-übercool grandma meets modernist-craftsman gastronaut, she has defined the food of our ‘place’ in a way that’s never been done before. Beautifully written, culturally meaningful, and loaded with brilliant cookery, The New Midwestern Table dances on a wire with one foot in the twenty-first century and the other in the nineteenth.” — Andrew Zimmern
“The New Midwestern Table is a book to get excited about. Being more accustomed to regional Italian myself, it is simply wonderful to discover and become engaged in regional American cuisine. Amy’s Midwestern table is a richly woven tapestry of nature’s bounty, and a tale of the passionate love and gentle care that goes into its preparation. Finding yourself lost in the folds of this culinary story-filled with delicious recipes-is an exciting journey, and one I most certainly recommend.” — Lidia Bastianich
Thielen applies her professionally honed cooking skills to the classic Midwestern dishes that she grew up with in northern Minnesota while also unearthing local gems across the region. In a warm, impassioned voice, she reveals how the Midwest is responsible for much of what we consider our American food heritage. The cuisine is generous, thrifty, intuitive, seasonal, and intimate: “Each cook here is a pioneer of sorts, hitched to a food history of plain talk and salted butter.
“Living here tastes pretty good,” says Thielen, and by following her sure and steady lead home cooks can fall in love with America’s captivating, local flavors.
Amy Thielen grew up a few miles from the headwaters of the Mississippi River in rural Minnesota. She spent the early 2000s cooking professionally in New York under David Bouley, Daniel Boulud, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Shea Gallante. Since returning to Minnesota in 2008, she has written for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Men’s Journal, and Babble. She is a freelance recipe developer and teaches cooking classes in her home kitchen and at schools in the Twin Cities. She lives in Park Rapids, Minnesota, with her husband and their young son.