BOOKS IN BRIEF
Eckhart Tolle Penguin, UK, 2005, £14.99
Eight years after his ground-breaking book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle presents us with another thought-provoking and inspirational tome. However, thought-provoking as this book undoubtedly is, according to Tolle it is ‘thought’ itself that is currently the problem for society, embedded as it is in ego, fear and illusion. Tolle teaches us how to recognise the ego at work in our internal conversations, and gives us the tools to live beyond ego, enabling us to appreciate the profoundly still and joyful presence that is our true Being. In subtle ways, the teachings in the book transform our daily lives: we find ourselves able to practise non-judgemental ‘deep-
listening’; we can acknowledge when our actions are motivated by our ‘pain-body’ and we can simply feel more blissful and enthused by life. The meaningfulness of this book deepens over time. Highly recommended.
THE PUBLIC VALUE
James Wilsdon et al.
Demos, UK, 2005, £10.00
Science really matters - it impacts our lives at every level, and yet the public has little say in shaping the future of scientific research and development. This readable booklet sets out the case for public engagement and dialogue in scientific decision-making. At times, this involvement has been forced upon the scientific community, as with the debate about genetic modification. Unfortunately, much of the debate was based on misinformation and fear-mongering. Nevertheless, we have learned an important lesson: that the public can be engaged in the debate about what kind of science we want - and the public deserves to be accurately informed by the science community itself, not by a partisan media. This booklet looks at how we can reach a situation where scientific ‘excellence’ is automatically taken to include reflection and wider engagement on social and ethical dimensions. It concludes that we should establish a commission that brings together all the stakeholders in the debate, so that we get the science we want.
A GOOD LIFE
Farming Books and Videos, UK, 2005, £10.00
This book is a celebration of the life and times of ‘self-sufficiency guru’ John Seymour. His daughter Anne sums up his life beautifully in the eulogy she gave at his funeral: “John had a lot of wives and children. He treated them all badly and loved them. They were all devoted to him and still are. He inspired millions without really knowing why, but cared passionately about the important things in life, like looking after our planet - and having a good time doing it. He was a raconteur, friend, enemy, lover, drunkard, philosopher, poet and adventurer. He was hopelessly romantic but a master of common sense and wisdom. He roared through life with the heart of an elephant and the courage of a lion. He lived enormously - and had a beautiful death.” Despite some factual inconsistencies, this book gives a fascinating insight into the personal philosophy of a larger-than-life man, whose ultimate legacy - which lives on through his forty books - is his abiding generosity of spirit and love of humanity.
THE BEDSIDE BOOK
Bloomsbury, UK, 2005, £20.00
A splendid collection of stories, poems, paintings and illustrations, forming an extraordinary tribute to the relationship between birds and humans. Gibson proffers myths and legends from many cultures; why Noah chose the raven to look for dry land - and why it did not return; the tree sparrow’s reputation for lechery; and my favourite, Samuel Johnson’s explanation of where swallows go in winter: “A number of them conglobulate together by flying round and round, and then all in a heap throw themselves under water and lye in the bed of a river.” The poems are eclectic and evocative: Margaret Atwood’s ‘Vultures’ are “frowzy old saints that hang in the thermal whiteout of noon, dark ash in the chimney’s updraft”. The illustrations, both ancient and modern, are exquisite, though the enjoyment of those by Audubon are tempered somewhat by the knowledge that he “felt incomplete if he didn’t kill one hundred birds a day.” He was one of the first bird artists to use ‘fresh’ models and discarded many before he found the perfect specimen.
Green Books, UK, 2005, £9.95
This beautifully produced book sets out to inform the organic gardener about all aspects of fruit, herb and vegetable growing. Yet it is not just another gardening book: it has a down-to-earth, practical quality to it that sets it apart from the gardening glossies. This book can be pocketed, along with the secateurs! Sensibly, the author gives comprehensive information not only on when, how and what to plant, but also how to cook the end result, making it a truly complete guide: having harvested the kohlrabi, it is good to know what to do with it! It is aimed at those who have not had a vegetable garden before, so advice on planning a site, tools, crop rotation and common problems is included, but for those of us who have some experience in the art of growing, this book contains neat tips and ideas to enhance even an established plot.
Books reviewed in Resurgence are available from Schumacher Book Service/GreenSpirit Books.
Tel: + 44 (0)1985 215679.