Foraging for Words and Food: 2 New Book Recommendations

Your Writing Matters CoverI received two enjoyable books from the last batch of Library Thing Early Reviews, so I’m excited to share my thoughts. First, a craft book then a guidebook that may help fight food costs.

Why I picked it up:
I received a free e-book version of Your Writing Matters: 34 Quick Essays to Get Unstuck and Stay Inspired (amazon associate link) by Keiko O’Leary from the publisher through the Library Thing early reviewers program.

My Expectations:

I enjoy a good craft book. From the sub-title I expected tools and tips to get me motivated and inspired to write.

What I liked:
Let’s start with that beautiful cover: it has gorgeous artwork and a great layout. The sub-title tells the reader exactly what she’ll get: very short essays intended to motivate writers to finish every piece of writing. The essays use personal examples from the writers life and use an informal, conversational tone, bringing the reader into her process as if the reader is a member of her writing group, “Write to the End.” This makes the reader feel included in

What I didn’t like:

The essays read a little too much like blog posts. The book would benefit by some organization creating a progression toward a conclusion. Though I enjoyed the essays, the book overall could use more specific tips and clear steps. The random quotes taken from the essays themselves don’t add to the text, and seem like an awkward way to take up space.

Rating: ♦♦♦▴ 3.5 out of 5

Overall, I enjoyed the majority of the essays. I recommend this book for the beginning writer who feels motivated by knowing someone else is experiencing a similar journey.

foraging cover

Why I picked it up:
I received a free e-book version of Pacific Northwest Edible Plant Foraging & Mushroom Field Guide (amazon associate link) by Stephen Fleming from the author through the Library Thing early reviewers program.

My Expectations:

I have wanted to learn how to identify local, edible mushrooms, so I had high hopes to learn some tricks to separate the edible from the dangerous.

What I liked: I really liked that the book went beyond specific plant identification. It includes healthy harvesting techniques, preparation and preservation, and it even includes some recipes. There’s a seasonal calendar for local mushrooms, which shows me when to be on the lookout, and lists a surprising variety year round. There are also adorable “Identification Logbook” pages to print out and take on foraging adventures. I was especially surprised to learn that the entire Tiger Lily plant is edible, good in stir-fries, salads, and can be pickled. Now, I’m looking forward to next year’s Tiger Lilies.

What I didn’t like: I noticed right away that the writing could be repetitive. However, in a guidebook, that’s probably not the worst thing. I also found the online references for the images a bit off-putting. It would be nice to have the author take first-hand images for his guide. Or perhaps the photo references could be on a page at the back, to at least create the illusion of first-hand photos. The guide could also use more images of the different identifying details.

Rating: ♦♦♦♦ 4 out of 5

Overall, I’m excited to own this book. I recommend it to anyone living in the Pacific Northwest who enjoys exploring outdoors.

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