If you've been a reader of this column for a while, you might recall the first installment of "What to Read This Summer" that appeared here last summer. But by now you've most likely worked your way through all of the books that I recommended at that time (you have, haven't you?), so here's another batch of 10 titles that will give you plenty of reading options for all of your downtime this summer. (What? You don't have any downtime in the summer on the farm? No worries! You can always save these to read in the winter instead.)
Some of the books on this list are newer titles, others are tried-and-true favorites; some mention country critters, others are farm-and-garden oriented; but they all have one thing in common: they're wonderful books and well worth reading.
Are you ready? Keep this list handy for your next trip to the library or bookstore:
Fifty Acres and a Poodle: A Story of Love, Livestock, and Finding Myself on a Farm by Jeanne Marie Laskas
It's a classic premise—city people move to the country—but Laskas tells her story in an enchanting, one-of-a-kind way that's engaging and entertaining. It's laugh-out-loud funny yet filled with poignant moments, and it's an honest and relatable look at the challenges and joys of starting out on a farm. The sequel –The Exact Same Moon: Fifty Acres and a Family—is equally endearing.
The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table: Recipes, Portraits, and History of the World's Most Beautiful Fruit by Amy Goldman
Love tomatoes? This book is 272 pages of sheer delight. The Heirloom Tomato is a big, brilliant, beautiful book that is jam-packed with gorgeous photography of heirloom tomatoes in an array of colors, shapes, and sizes, and Goldman shares the histories of these cherished heirloom varieties.
Sylvia's Farm: The Journey of an Improbable Shepherd by Sylvia Jorrin
If you appreciate the beauty of lyrical writing, you'll enjoy Sylvia Jorrin's exquisite collection of rural life vignettes. The book is warm and comforting and provides a glimpse into the lifestyle of a sheep farmer; it's a true gem that's well worth reading.
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Summer is the perfect time for reading aloud to your children, so why not choose a classic book that will appeal to the entire family? Farmer Boy takes place in the 1860s and is fascinating for its depiction of 19th century farm life in New York. Beware: this book contains some of the best food descriptions in any book ever written and, if you're anything like me, you'll have to snack the entire time you read it.
Tractor Superstars: The Greatest Tractors of All Time by Tharran E. Gaines
Confession: I don't typically sit down and read through books on machines, but this enthralling and beautiful volume is a notable exception. It's fascinating! If you love vintage tractors and appreciate the impact they've made on family farms throughout the United States, then you'll find much to love about this intriguing book.
Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms by Erin Benzakein and Julie Chai
Have you ever thought about being a flower farmer? This beautiful book provides ample inspiration to get started with a cut flower garden and offers advice, suggestions, and helpful tips for choosing the most appropriate varieties to grow. The photographs are lovely and the book is informative for beginners as well as more advanced gardeners.
Equine Color Genetics by D. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, PhD
If your brain is ready for a more technical read, then check out this informative textbook on equine color genetics. It's a treasure trove of information pertaining to the subject of coat colors and patterns in horses. You'll learn about basic coat colors like black, bay, and chestnut, along with other topics like eye color, white markings, and more.
The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses by Eliot Coleman
I know, I know—it's summer, right? Why read a book about harvesting in winter? Because this book provides, as the jacket explains, "a revolutionary guide to year-round, cold-climate harvests of fresh, organic produce—with little or no energy inputs." Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? Read it now so you can get started!
The Summer Book by Susan Branch
Here's the perfect book for anyone who loves summer! This charming volume overflows with Branch's delightful illustrations and is a cheerful compendium of all things summer, although the book focuses primarily on 100 recipes for delightful summertime fare.
The Encyclopedia of Country Living: The Original Manual for Living off the Land & Doing It Yourself by Carla Emery
The first thing you should know about this book is that it's a massive book with 928 pages. The second thing you should know about this book is that it's 928 pages of valuable information that will appeal to anyone with an interesting in small-scale farming and homesteading. Find out how to care for livestock, grow crops of all types, build a barn, and live a self-sufficient lifestyle. My copy of this book is a testament to its usefulness; the front cover has worn away over the years and there are notes scribbled in the margins. It's a keeper!
Happy summer—and happy reading!
Written by Samantha Johnson