These Farmhouse Bookshelves

Let’s be honest. My springtime reading looks less like reading and more like one hour spent weeding the perfect reading spot under the sour cherry tree and then fifteen minutes given to sitting under that tree watching the peonies dance and catching my book as it just slips from my lap.

So, not a great deal of actual reading.

But books are food for me and even in springtime I manage to take a few bites here and there. Lately, these quick bites have been all about the letter P: pruning, poetry, and prayer.

(You can find more information about my occasional Saturday series of book recommendations here. These posts do include affiliate links. Thank you for clicking and buying. Thank you for reading along. And thank you for sharing your own recommendations in the comments!)


if hobbits built bookstores



I learned about Lee Reich’s Pruning Book, The: Completely Revised and Updated by listening to a radio call-in gardening show. Since then I’ve seen his name everywhere (well, everywhere you might expect to find mention of a pruning expert). This is an award-winning, highly-praised reference book. It is also beautifully made, comprehensive, and a joy to browse. Best of all? It makes pruning seem easy.

If you’ve ever wondered what to do with that old apple tree (or the apple whip you recently planted), or how to keep your tomatoes from sprawling into a disease-ridden mess, or how to keep your clematis vine blooming then you really should own this book. I first checked out a copy from the library, but it only took me about five minutes of flipping pages to realize I needed this one on my shelf.


If anyone could turn pruning into poetry that someone would be Verlyn Klinkenborg. His eloquent observations of life on his New York farm are deservedly famous. The Rural Life is nature writing as poetry.

You might think you don’t have much interest in nature or country living (and I should mention that just the words nature documentary put me straight to sleep), but if you appreciate language and metaphor, if you want to learn how to see to the depths of what is always right in front of our eyes, then you should be reading Klinkenborg.

I haven’t yet read his follow-up collection More Scenes from the Rural Life but simply holding the book makes me happy. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, the jacket design and interior illustrations are perfect. Beautifully old-fashioned but also minimalist and modern. Choose this gorgeous hardcover for yourself and as a gift. It’s that kind of book.

Everyone reaches for fullness in summer, but the fullness that most of us know best belongs to the memory of childhood. What was it that made summer days so long back then and made the future seem so distant? What was the thing we knew or didn’t know? – Verlyn Klinkenborg


Phyllis Tickle’s prayer books are year-round favorites of mine, but I love them especially during the busyness of spring and summer. I don’t pray the hours (morning, noon, and night) regularly, but when I only have a few minutes and don’t even know where to begin with prayer or Bible-reading I almost always find myself reading the morning office in Prayers for Springtime.

The Divine Hours (Volume Three): Prayers for Springtime: A Manual for Prayer (Tickle, Phyllis) and The Divine Hours (Volume One): Prayers for Summertime: A Manual for Prayer are part of a three-volume set. Whether or not you are familiar with the Benedictine practice of fixed-hour prayer, I think you will find Tickle’s contemporary selections of prayers, psalms, and Scriptures easy to use either regularly or (like me) irregularly as the need or mood strikes.

I sometimes think that fifteen minutes spent sitting under the sour cherry tree observing the birds and noticing the breeze is a form of prayer. Reading a bit from this book as I sit only makes it more official.

And you? Which books are you reading on the patio as the sun begins to set?



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