I’ve learned more in the last four months than possibly my whole life. It’s like I’m getting a second college degree, except only in things that interest me. And it’s because of the library.
When I was young, my mom would take me every single week to get a teetering stack of books that I would burn through. Once I reached high school, the library became less of a place of magic and more of a place for hiding (that’s another story). College? Forget about reading. Other than devouring the small house movement whole online and burning through all three Twilight books in two days, I didn’t do a lot of free-time reading. Probably something to do with the 18-23 hour semesters I was cramming into my days.
But then came 2012. After we banished our smartphones and iPod touches, I was reading more than I had in years. I read something like 10 books in three weeks. Summer came, work picked up, the heat wore me down and the reading waned. Then I started going to the library. I half-joke that I hope that library records aren’t part of my FBI file. The books I’ve checked out to read pretty much fall into two categories: 1) Small-scale farming and 2) Secular humanism. Two extremely subversive things.
Back to learning. Here are just a handful of things that I know now, thanks to reading:
That climate change is real and has been proven to be accelerated by human causes.
That waste that could be composted instead of placed in a landfill accounts for 36% of greenhouse gases (aka, something entirely preventable that does not require anyone to make huge changes to their lifestyles).
That desertification is also real and terrifying and accelerating.
That desertification can be turned around with seed bombs and human attention.
That small-scale agriculture will save us all.
That topsoil is disappearing faster than Kim Kardashian’s marriage did.
That our food system is FRAKKED. Royally and utterly frakked.
That space is AMAZING, that science is wondrous beyond imagination, and when we give up fantasy and magic and fairy tales we discover a real world around us of actual things that seem impossible but clearly exist.
Thanks to books like these:
You Can Farm by Joel Salatin
Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin
Apocalyptic Planet by Craig Childs
Sowing Seeds in the Desert by Masanobu Fukuoka
Seed Revolution by Janisse Ray
Long Way on a Little by Shannon Hays
These are books that are changing my view of the world, one page at a time. I’m passionate about so many things that I don’t talk about online, but that’s about to change. I feel we need a tremendous revolution to keep humans alive on this planet. This isn’t about hugging trees. This is about responsible stewardship so we as people can survive. There is no great balance in the universe that will guarantee our survival. This is on US as a species, as individuals united for a common cause.
In case anyone’s interested, here is a list of secular humanist books I’ve read, which have turned my worldview on its head more than the ones above:
God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan (also the source of a brilliant chapter discussing how we are destroying our chances for extended survival on this planet)
The Portable Atheist by Christopher Hitchens (just tucked into this one, savouring each delicious essay as I can)