A Householder's Guide to the Universe: A Calendar of Basics for the Home and Beyond
Nowadays, "go local,” "organic food,” and "sustainability” are on the tip of everyone's tongue. Harriet Fasenfest's A Householder's Guide to the Universe takes up the banner of progressive homemaking and urban farming as a way to confront the political, social, and environmental issues facing the world. While offering plenty of useful advice on how to do common household chores sustainably, Fasenfest goes deeper to discuss the philosophy of "householding." The book is organized in monthly installments according to season, and the author invites readers into her own home, garden, and kitchen to consider concrete tools for change. Streetwise and poetic, fierce and romantic, the book is more than just a blueprint for escaping the current economic and environmental logjam, it’s also a readable and pithy analysis of how we got there.
Author Fasenfest weaves stories about her growth as a home-maker
around tips, techniques, philosophy, and recipes in this 400+ page
book. Fasenfest says near the end, “Today I have such an immense
respect for the earth’s grace that I am humbled and ashamed to think
of how poorly we have treated it.” She writes about "getting off the
teat of technology and fancy living."
The term homemaker has fallen low in the esteem of current culture,
but Fasenfest redeems it, showing that a local economy is rooted in
the home, where people do things with their hands and skills to make
life both frugal and rich.
As a verb, ‘to household’ describes a way to challenge the quagmire
of contemporary society. She says, “The more I sidestepped the
industrial world the happier I became.”
The book is peppered with sidebars, statistics, quotes from people
like Wendell Berry, and instructions about such things as making
informed choices about local meats and the details of spring
cleaning. I have a super-productive quince tree and will definitely use the
membrillo (quince paste) recipe.
Fasenfest invites her readers to begin change, each of us
individually, making it more likely others will do the same. Whether
used as a reference book to dip into now and then or read cover to
cover, it is staying on my bookshelf and it belongs on yours.