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List of best permaculture readings  RSS feed

 
MJ Solaro
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Location: Bellevue, WA
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Hey everybody,

I'm trying to come up to speed on permaculture, organic farming, composting, and a number of other related topics.

One thing that would be really helpful for me and other newbies in the forum would be to compile a list of the best reading on these subjects.

Here's what I'm reading right now:

The Omnivore's Dilemna by Michael Pollan
Following the food trails with Michael has been an inspiring read and definitely motivating to learn more about organic farming.

Permaculture: The Essence by David Holmgren (e-book)
Free online e-book with great summary of the 12 principles.
http://holmgren.eatthesuburbs.org/DLFiles/PDFs/Essence_of_PC_eBook.pdf

Permaculture: A Beginner's Guide by Graham Burnett
Recommended to me by a friend, this also covers permaculture basics, with a lot of humor sprinkled throughout. Has a focus on the urban side, which is of interest to me. Also touches on sustainability principles.

What are other books this community can recommend?
 
paul wheaton
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Gaia's Garden by toby hemenway.  It's the best intro and the best reference.  I read all of the permaculture books printed by late 2004 / early 2005 and this was the best at that time.  There have been some new books published since then that I haven't read.

 
                              
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You missed the best four-

#1 designing and maintaining your edible landscape naturally by Robert Kourik

#2 How to make a Forest Garden by Patrick Whitefield

#3 Plants for a Future, Edible and Useful Plants for a Healthier World, Ken Fern

#4West Coast Food Forest- A permaculture Guide by Rain Tenaqiya  ebook- http://www.scribd.com/doc/2029243/West-Coast-Food-Forestry

If you only  buy four these are the best!
 
paul wheaton
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I have heard a lot of raving about the two volume forest garden books.

And the earth care manual is excellent!

 
Susan Monroe
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Location: Western WA
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And don't forget Bill Mollison's books:

Introduction to Permaculture

Permaculture One:  A Perennial Agriculture for Human Settlements

Permaculture Two:  Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture

Permaculture:  A Designer's Manual

Sue
 
                            
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Location: FL
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I used to be turned off by how theoretical permaculture came off as. Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway broke this stereotype for me. Tried reading Holmgren's Beyond Sustainability and it was way too abstract for me. Now, I really like Mollison's writings and see why some in permaculture see Gaia's Garden as not really permaculture but a book on various gardening techniques; techniques that are only a small piece of the holism of permaculture, like how praying is only a small aspect of religion. Nevertheless, I still think the book is useful for illustrating those techniques.

Mollison's Introduction to Permaculture is very good and accessible. Also, I think the Designers' Manual and Design Course Pamphlets are good for getting into the nitty gritty of it. The pamphlets can be found in HTML or PDF form at:

http://nmag.soton.ac.uk/tf/permaculture/
http://www.barkingfrogspermaculture.org/PDC_ALL.pdf

I think the film "In Danger of Falling Food" is a good, concise summary of Mollison's ideas and examples of it in practice:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3162503821561656641&ei=gqkMSc-aKpKYrQKosuG_CA&q=danger+of+falling+food
 
paul wheaton
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If we're gonna wander into the world of films:  the best stuff is sepp holzer's videos.
 
Susan Monroe
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Has anyone read sepp holzer's book Rebel Farmer?  What did you think?

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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Is it in English?

Well, whatever language it is in, I've asked my local library to try and get a copy.

 
Susan Monroe
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I've ordered one through my library, too.

I couldn't find any indication that it is in anything other than English  http://www.permanent-publications.co.uk/press%20release%20pdfs/Sepp%20Holzer%20PR%20-%20Oct%202007.pdf

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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Another vote for "plants for a future"

I also really like "gardening when it counts" even though it is not a permaculture book it can certainly have its concepts applied in that arena.
 
Kelda Miller
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As far as readings, I'll also throw in some from the more radical/anarchist side that combine permaculture strongly with other social movements.

The Earth Path by Starhawk
and
Food Not Lawns by Heather Flores

(I have so many favorites though, these two are just lucky they popped out of me right away)
 
Susan Monroe
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+1 vote for Kourik's book.  I'm just reading it now.  Permaculture isn't mentioned much, but that's what it is.  Of course, I think the word was trademarked or something back then.

Sue
 
                            
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Location: Pittsburgh PA
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I'm developing a collection of bibliographies from all permaculture-related texts, video, and other media that I run into. Needless to say it contains hundreds of items. I also imagine others have already laid down some heavy lists on these boards elsewhere in response to the OP. But if I were starting from the beginning, I would probably get into permaculture like this:

The first bunch of media I'd find, would be:
- Bill Mollison, "Global Gardener" series of four videos
- sepp holzer's three main videos (often bundled with some articles by him)
- Burtynsky in "Manufactured Landscapes"
- Goldsworthy in "Rivers & Tides"
- "Waste = Food" and William McDonough's lecture at COA
- Proeneke in "alone in the wilderness"
- Agroinnovations Podcast, especially interviews with Mollison, Stamets, Savory, Marcin Jakubowski, Bowyer, and Mark Shepard.

As the basis for this wild adventure, I would have already experienced:
- Aldo Leopold, "Sand County Almanac" ("The Quality of Landscape", "A Taste for Country", and "The Upshot"
- Hayao Miyazaki, all movies, especially "Nausicaa" and "Castle in the Sky"
- Rachel Carson, "Silent Spring"
- Bradford Angier, "Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants" and many others
- Aldren A. Watson, all books
- Christopher Alexander et al, "A Pattern Language"

And then, once my brain is on fire from that above groups, I'd move on to:
- McDonough and Braungart's "Cradle to Cradle"
- Paul Hawken, "Growing a Business" (book and PBS videos)
- Helen and Scott Nearing, "Maple Sugar Book"
- Stewart Brand, "How Buildings Learn" (six videos)
- Lloyd Kahn, "Shelter" and especially "Home Work"

Then, the main body of densely-packed data for immediate use in redesigning your life:
- Bill Mollison, "1983 PDC" (47-hour lecture in Stanley Tasmania, Sept 1983) <-- nothing else like this one!
- Bill Mollison, "Aquaculture" (lecture in Perth, Dec 1985)
- paul stamets, "Mycelium Running"
- Blume, "Alcohol Can Be A Gas"

As with the items above, these two can be considered "Permaculture Bibles" -- truly the Old and New Testaments:
- Bill Mollison et al, "esigner's Manual"
- Jacke and Toensmeier, "Edible Forest Gardens" (includes exceptional bibliography)

And finally, the mythical works that join all of this together:
- Christopher Alexander, "Timeless Way of Building"
- Hayao Miyazaki, "Nausicaa" seven-volume manga... THIS IS THE KEY
- Rick Tarnas, "Prometheus the Awakener" (short)
- Rick Tarnas, "Cosmos and Psyche" (long)

And from there, we have a VERY large library of texts and other media that bring up the rear -- we'll probably never be able to read all of them:

- Online, the work at "Factor e Farm" with Jakubowski is intense!
- Fukuoka, "Natural Way" and "One Straw"
- Mollison, "Ferment and Human Nutrition" and "Travels in Dreams"
- Holzer, "Rebel Farmer"
- Paul Young, "Botany Coloring Book"
- Kapit et al, "Physiology Coloring Book"
- David Blume's short essay in defense of permaculture:
http://www.permaculture.com/drupal/node/141
- J. C. Smuts, "Holism and Evolution"
- J. Russell Smith, "Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture"
http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/smith/treecropsToC.html
- Videos of Emelia Hazelip, Joel Salatin, "King Corn", "Our Daily Bread", etc etc
- Videos of geoff lawton come closest to showing how exactly permie land is built up
- David Holmgren interviews and websites
- Works of Allan Savory and Holistic Management

Leafing through the "Edible Forest Gardens" appendixes alone will take years.

There are some videos of Mollison teaching PDCs, one from Texas in the mid-90s -- this is the gold mine that we on the outside of the $1200 PDC tuition have not yet tapped!

And one more cheer for the "Nausicaa" comics!
Good luck!  
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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well anything that had a website I bookmarked for reading or downloading when i have time..which isn't tonight..but I'm a bookworm and also very interested in reading more on the subject.
 
bunkie weir
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Location: eastern washington
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i'm not sure where to put this, but i am trying to get a copy of the video "Introduction to Permaculture Design", i found it on an Ausralian permaculture site,

http://permaculture.org.au/store/introduction_to_permaculture_design_dvd.htm

but the only offer for payment is through Paypal, and i would rather not do that.

is there any other place anyone knows of that's offering it? i have found several places that one can download for free, but, 12GBs is too much for our allowance.

i adore Zepp, but, also thought, this might be of interest to some of you... Permaculture Research Institute of Australia ...

Introducing the Permaculture Designers’ Manual, Chapter 1: Introduction to Permaculture

http://permaculture.org.au/2010/03/24/introducing-the-permaculture-designers-manual-chapter-1-introduction-to-permaculture/

This is the first in a series of fourteen introductory articles about permaculture — one for each chapter of Bill Mollison’s “Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual.” Through this series I will connect theory with practice, and share practical examples of permaculture in action......

Over the next thirteen months I will cover each chapter in the Permaculture Design Certificate and explore many ways to use this revolutionary system of design. I believe you will be inspired by the simplicity and the commonplace nature of the solutions to our incredibly complex set of political and environmental problems.

Check in again next month when I will cover chapter two “Concepts and Themes in Design.” This chapter looks into the nature of sustainable system, their principles and our directives as designers for positive change....
 
                                  
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The book "The Hand-Sculpted House - A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage" has been referenced so many times that I had to go out and buy it. Its a great book, getting you to think about how houses are situated, shaped, and designed. It also has allot of practical advice.
 
                              
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Location: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
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This site:

http://permaculturemedia.blogspot.com/

Has tons of links, e-books, videos, documentaries , etc. its updated often.

most stuff is down loadable,  there is a wealth of information at that web site.
 
                                    
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+1 vote for Kourik's book.  I'm just reading it now.  Permaculture isn't mentioned much, but that's what it is.  Of course, I think the word was trademarked or something back then.


This. ^  I can't recommend this book enough, especially for the urban permaculturist.  Kourik's other stuff is wonderful and accessable as well.  Some of what he's written makes it seem to me that trademark isn't the issue...he's deliberately avoiding the word "permaculture"...

I was surprised at first to see Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind on here, I always thought of it primarily as a brilliant humanist work, but don't permaculture and humanism go hand in hand?  Anyway, I can second the recommendation of the manga.  Well, if we're nominating works of philosophy I say check out Joseph Campbell's Myths to Live By.  Also, or course, Wendell Berry's The Unsettling of America, especially the chapter "Where are the People?".  Both books are dated now, but still highly relevant.

I just finished reading Carol Depp's Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties and enjoyed it thoroughly.  Even if you have no designs of intentionally breeding your own varieties this is a good book to check out.  As she points out, as soon as you start saving your own seeds, you are engaging in selection, and have become a plant breeder of the old school.    The book also encourages a lively sense of experimentation and observation in the garden and farm.  In addition, she gives good advice on obtaining germplasm, with lists of sources for both annual and perennial crops, and advice on obtaining stock from the USDA Germplasm system, which in my opinion is a vastly overlooked source (no doubt because people are astonished that the USDA actually does something useful).  On top of all it's other virtues, this book is a good seed saving reference.  It now occupies a place of honor on my shelf next to Seed to Seed.

I also re-read Plants, Man, and Life and Farmers of Fourty Centuries recently.  These books are old too, I guess they are more the ground permaculture sprang from than specifically permacultural readings.  Both are excellent, I particularly enjoy the former for elaborating on the theories of how we domesticated plants, and they domesticated us...  You may recognize a food forest being described in chapter 13.    The latter is likewise fascinating but I was a bit depressed to see someone writing in 1908 on the foolishness of westerners refusing to utilize humanure and realizing that nothing has changed on that front in 100 years.

 
Joshua Chambers
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It's been said in this thread already, and I must repeat:

The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka is incredibly inspiring for me.

Also, I have been seriously enjoying all of Joel Salatin's books!
 
                                            
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While not permaculture books, these are a couple books that I love and have given me some great tools to work with:

Traditional Nutrition by sally fallon
Real Food by Nina Planck

Where the Wild things were by William Stolzenburg
A Manager's Guide to Roadside Revegetation Using native plants by the DOT (a clunky title, but a great book on restorative practices and it's free to download)
Roadside Revegetation: An Integrated Approach to Establishing Native Plants by the DOT, also free


Not to mention all the amazing TED lectures out there by folks like Dan Barber, Paul Stamets, Michael Pollen, and Joel Salatin.  The Dan Barber ones, while about food, are especially interesting since they describe AG practices that are restorative of the lands they use.
 
James Koss
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New user here browsing around Cheers!

I must say that I'm doing reading around, and for inspiration and a way to look at things, The One Straw Revolution by Fukuoka is really great, so add me as well And it's also available online for free! Mollison in his books mentions Fukuoka quite naturally as related as well.

Thanks for listing things! This is quite nice! Just gotta finish the heavy reading of the PC Manual by Mollison first
 
Emil Spoerri
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OH OH OH OHHHHH


You guys need to do some heavy reading on Charles Walters IMO
he is a bit more into more "conventional organic agriculture" than the permaculture crowd is, but he is mainly a grass farmer and as you should know, grass farming can be a type of permaculture.

I strongly recommend

Weeds: control without poison

Grass the Forgiveness of Nature

Fertility from the Ocean Deep

Reproduction and Animal Health

Dung Beetles & A Cowman's Profits

Eco Farm

Hands on Agronomy

Unforgiven

and of course others!

as well as acres U.S.A. the magazine of course!
 
Daniel Zimmermann
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MJ,

  While not strictly a permaculture book, I do recommend an earlier book by Michael Pollan call The Botany of Desire.
 
                                            
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Antibubba wrote:
MJ,

   While not strictly a permaculture book, I do recommend an earlier book by Michael Pollan call The Botany of Desire.


i second this wholeheartedly.  It's a great book and really made me rethink how I looked at the landscape around me.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I'm currently reading "Small is Beautiful" by E. F. Schumacher.

It isn't permacultural exactly, but seems to go a long way toward constructing a theory of economics that values humanity, beauty, and (quite prominently) permanence.

I really enjoyed Schumacher's succinct demolition of mainstream ideas on fossil fuel use. Paraphrasing, he says "minerals are capital, stupid; you can't treat them like income."

That, and many other points, remind me a lot of the way permaculturists think. But it has an academic style that I believe would be really helpful for building coalitions with people unfamiliar with permaculture, and for addressing concerns framed in terms of mainstream economics.
 
                                  
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I would sure include Schumacher within permaculture.  The whole idea of appropriate technology, which he developed and popularized, I think goes right to the heart of it.
 
                              
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Love book list threads liek these, interesting to see what people say

I say, to start with

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

I'll be back with more, but I'm a firm believer in the heart has to be engaged before the head for real change.
 
Paula Edwards
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Bit by bit I want to buy some books about permaculture, gardening etc., because I think that the internet in its free form is something we won't have forever.
Which books could you recommend?
Is the Design Manual worthwhile, when I have already got introduction into permaculture? (It's a bit pricey)
And the next pricey book what I'm interested in is forest gardening vol1+2.

I myself love Discovering fruits and nuts by Susanna Lyle, and wilderness garden by Jackie French and other books by her like new plants from old or backyard self sufficiency. But these are all but the first Australian books and maybe not applicable to the US.
 
                                    
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i think i have seen a thread about this topic already.  but look at this list: 
http://patternliteracy.com/reading.html
 
Travis Philp
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If you'd be choosing one or the other, and your living in North America, I'd suggest buying either Gaia's Garden or David Jacke's Edible Forest Gardens over Mollisons Designers Manual. All of them are great IMO but since Mollison is covering pretty much the entire range of what permaculture is, and also covers many different climates, it might not be as focused on actual gardening techniques as you might like. If you want to get REALLY in depth and focus on forest gardening, Jacke's books are well worth it I say. If you want a more generalized book (which still covers forest gardening well) then go for Gaia's Garden.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I bought a copy of Toolbox for Sustainable City Living, and am extremely happy with it. I hope that Kellogg and Pettigrew publish more in a few years, because the current edition includes some pioneering work in developing disciplines, including intensive aquaculture and low-budget bioremediation. It also shares well-developed methods of urban permaculture, more than enough to justify its price in my opinion.
 
                            
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I saw Scott Kellogg earlier this year, presenting for his book. He was terrific and very inspiring. I think he will be continuing to give a lot of energy to his work.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I've found John Jeavon's book "How to Grow More Vegetables" very helpful.  I also like Eliot Coleman's "Four Season Harvest."  Anna Edey's book about gardening and living with and in greenhouses "Solviva" is inspiring. 
 
Paula Edwards
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Thanks for the replies! I have just ordered and read Sepp Holzers Permakultur and was not very amazed.
While the guy is very knowledgeable, it's simply no book you can work with because it lacks details. Lots of "work with nature" and "observe nature", yes I know this yet, for this I haven't spent that much money.
No we're not in North America, but in one of the few cool climates in Australia.
 
Paul Cereghino
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Steve Solomon's Soil and Health Library deserves mention...
http://www.soilandhealth.org/index.html

Wherein you can find Fukuoka's The Natural Way of Farming
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Ran Prieur mentioned the following book in a recent blog post:

http://www.caroldeppe.com/0-Resilient%20Gardener%20Contents%20&%20chapter%201.pdf

Everyone recommends Carol Deppe's book on breeding vegetable varieties, and I have yet to see a negative review of her more-general book on gardening in hard times. I think it's what the few negative reveiwers of Steve Solomon's recent book (which I own and think is useful) wanted.

I have a gift certificate, and intend to use it to get this book as soon as the local book store of the appropriate brand re-stocks.
 
Burra Maluca
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I just bought Carol Deppe's latest book, the Resilient Gardner, as a 'family' Christmas present and, although I've only sneaked a few quick reads of it before I had to wrap it up to stop it looking too dog-eared to use as a pressie, it did look fantastic.  I couldn't resist when I heard about it as her book on vegetable breeding was one of those books which totally altered my view on what my aims in the garden should be and I was gobsmacked by her knowledge, experience and teaching ability.

I'll do a review some time in the New Year.  I also have a couple of Jackie French's books on order.  I already have her 'Wilderness Garden' book and love her attitude and outlook, and her climate is like a slightly more extreme version of my own.  I've ordered Backyard Self Sufficiency, The Pumpkin Book and Switch! Home-based Power, Water and Sewerage Systems for the Twenty-first Century.  Her stuff is very easy to read and I thought it would be more appropriate for 'light reading' for my son.  Carol Deppe is fantastically absorbing for me, but I thought it might be a bit 'heavy' for a teenager, unless I build him up gradually... 
 
                                          
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Joel Hollingsworth
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Burra Maluca wrote:Carol Deppe is fantastically absorbing for me, but I thought it might be a bit 'heavy' for a teenager, unless I build him up gradually... 


Hm...one way to build up toward fantastically absorbing Taoist writing might begin with the Earthsea series, by Ursula K. LeGuin. I also highly recommend her novella The Word for World is Forest.
 
Consider Paul's rocket stove mass heater.
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