A Farmer-ish Jolabokaflod: 2022 Book Gift-Giving List

Day 214 of 365

I recently learned about the Jolabokaflod tradition in Iceland. The word “Jolabokaflod” literally means Christmas or Yule “book flood.” In Iceland, the tradition is to give the gift of a book on Christmas Eve, and then, everyone spends Christmas Eve reading. Is this magnificent or what?

The tradition is so big that it helps keep the publishing industry in Iceland thriving, and it sure seems like we could use such a tradition here in the U.S. With the hopes of our own little Jolabokaflod, I am sharing a holiday list of my favorite Farmer-ish books. Shop small if you can. Support individual authors when possible. And check out some of these fantastic Farmer-ish reads for this holiday season of cozy reading.

The Heirloom Gardener by John Forti

This gorgeous book is arranged as a series of essays in alphabetical order, and within each entry, John Forti provides instruction, history, and lore about gardening and the natural world. With entries on topics like apple cart, edible flowers, tea, and Thanksgiving grace, this book is truly a treasure that your friends and family will love holding in their hands. The essays read like little meditations are good for the soul. Grab a few as gifts, but be sure to grab one for yourself–if you don’t have a copy already.

My Chickens and I by Isabella Rossellini

This is a book would make a wonderful gift for both beginning and long-time chicken keepers, as well as for those who are considering chickens. Rossellini’s clear love and respect for these amazing animals comes through the pages of this book so beautifully. After keeping chickens for so many years, I have developed a deep reverence for these resilient, intelligence, resourceful, and helpful birds. This same reverence leaps off of the pages in My Chickens and I. Rossellini does a fantastic job of weaving science with her personal story with chickens, and this is definitely not your typical celebrity book. Rossellini gets chickens. I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s a book I will treasure my whole life.

Birdology by Sy Montgomery

This beautiful book by the brilliant naturalist writer Sy Montgomery (author of How to Be a Good Creature) would make a wonderful gift for the chicken keeper or anyone who loves birds in general. Montgomery shares one chapter each on the following birds—chickens, cassowary, hummingbirds, hawks, pigeons, parrots, and crows. In the opening chapter on chickens, you read about the fantastic individual personalities of chickens. Montgomery weaves science and personal story as you learn about her own flock of chickens. One of my favorite things about this book is that you can sense how much Montgomery loves and deeply respects all of the magnificent birds covered in this book. Anything by Sy Montgomery would be a great gift for the holiday season. Her work is life changing and is helping to change the cultural conversations we have about animal intelligence.

Processed Meats by Nicole Walker

This book about the way we connect with food during times of crisis is just good writing. It’s funny and sad and so very interesting. Nicole Walker’s beautiful collection of essays, Processed Meats, would be a wonderful gift for anyone interested in food writing, but there is also a wonderful weaving of the story of motherhood in this book. Processed Meats was so much more than I expected. As we continue to deal with one crisis after another, more and more of us are turning to food–both cooking and food preservation. Walker’s book is striking in its relevancy. I think her sharp insights into our bodies, our food, our culture, and our histories will be as thought provoking and entertaining to anyone on your gift-giving list.

Knocked Down by Aileen Weintraub

Knocked Down is a fantastic and often hilarious memoir from Aileen Weintraub about her experiences being on bed rest in an old farmhouse during a difficult pregnancy. From the heartbreaking moment she learns that her pregnancy was at risk, Weintraub takes us on her powerful journey into rest and isolation in the old farmhouse that is in every way possible different from the life she has been used to. To make matters even more difficult for her, her new husband has purchased a tractor company, which requires long hours and a lot of stressful work. As he’s working hard to keep the new family afloat financially, the author is left home alone in the old farmhouse, listening to coyotes, making friends with the people who deliver the mail, and hanging out with a dog who is not like the usual dog. Even though Weintraub’s humor is worth the price of admission and her stories about planting seeds and talking to Robins will make you laugh out loud, there is also a really important message about women’s healthcare in the book. This book would be a great gift to women of all ages in your life.

Farmer-ish Print Annual Volume II edited by Crystal Sands

Of course, I have to recommend this collection of beautiful essays, poetry, recipes, and education for anyone Farmer-ish in your life. This book is thick and beautiful, and the writing is gorgeous. The essays are meaty and are perfect to cozy up with on a winter’s read. The poetry is gorgeous and is perfect for a winter cup of tea or cocoa. And the educational pieces will certainly inspire. Because I make this book with the goal of making the writers proud to be in it, I think it’s just an extra special, extra beautiful collection. With stories about apples, woodpeckers, baby llamas and more, this book is a great gift for gardeners, homesteaders, farmers, and nature lovers in your life. So many people have told me they treasure this newest collection from Farmer-ish. It’s a lovely gift for this holiday season for sure.

Children’s Books

I am a huge fan of giving children’s books as gifts to both children and adults, and I have some beautiful recommendations for your shopping list this year.

Honeybee Rescue by Loree Griffin Burns and Ellen Harasimowicz

Beautifully written and photographed, Honey Bee Rescue: A Backyard Drama, written by Loree Griffin Burns and photographed by Ellen Harasimowicz, is a children’s book that tells the real-life story of what happens when a colony of bees settles into a beekeeper’s garage. This book is both educational and fun and would be a great addition to any children’s library. The photographs in this book are breathtaking and informative, and I love that the book includes detailed back matter that features an interview with a bee rescuer and a glossary. If you have a little bee lover in your life, or even a grown up bee lover, this would be a wonderful gift. Also, who doesn’t love bees?

The Sun is Late and So Is the Farmer by Phillip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead

I just discovered this gorgeously written and illustrated children’s book and adore it. The books relates the story of farm animal reactions one morning when the sun is late to rise and the farmer is still sleeping–and the animals are hungry for breakfast. The illustrations are heavy with blue hues, giving this book a perfect vibe for any of the winter holidays. My favorite part is that the farm animals talk about animal dreams. My other favorite part is that the owl tells the hungry animals “Rooster will know what to do.” Because, of course, the magnificent rooster knows how to bring the sun. My other, other favorite part is that the farmer is a woman! I promise, this book is one that will be treasured.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper and Carson Ellis

This book is one of my favorite children’s books ever. In a book that both children and adults with adore, Susan Cooper eloquently tells the story of the Winter Solstice, accompanied by brilliant illustrations from Caldecott Honor winner, Carson Ellis. In addition to the main story, the book also includes a beautiful scientific, historical, and cultural explanation of the significance of the shortest day of the year. This is a must for a Solstice gift.

Why The Moon Tumbled Out of the Sky by R.James Sand and Ronan J. Sands

I am super biased on this one, as it is written by my husband and illustrated by my son when he was little. It’s a treat, I promise. My husband is a master of lyricism and rhythm in his poetry, and the topics are full of whimsy. I have also had many moms report that their children loved just staring at the illustrations made by a child. This hardcover book is a collection of children’s poetry arranged by the seasons, so it is a wonderful gift for the Solstice. The winter poems are wonderful, with a poem about a very unique snowman. The title poem will make you laugh out loud when you learn why the moon tumbled out of the sky, but there are also poems about a grumpy garden gnome, an eccentric chicken, and a very-well dressed beetle.

I hope you, your family, and your friends will love these beautiful books as much as I do. I think these would be wonderful winter holiday gifts, and I hope to continue the Farmer-ish Jolabokaflod list with a list of my favorite cookbooks coming soon.

One thought on “A Farmer-ish Jolabokaflod: 2022 Book Gift-Giving List

  1. Thank you for this Crystal. I just ordered Honey bee Rescue for my grand girlies! Their Dad started bee keeping last year. 😊


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