Friday, May 31, 2013

Green book review: Urbanism Without Effort by Charles Wolfe

Urbanism is is gaining more attention these days as we're heading towards a planet where the vast majority of people live in cities, not to mention the fact that as Alex Steffen claims we can't effectively fight climate change without looking first at the way our cities are built.

The book we review today is exploring this issue in great depth and is an important addition to the ongoing discussion about urbanism. The book is:

Urbanism Without Effort by Charles R. Wolfe (publisher: Island Press)

What this book is about?

This beautifully illustrated short e-book explores the idea that to create vibrant, sustainable cities, we must first understand what happens naturally when people congregate in cities – innate, unprompted interactions of urban dwellers with each other and their surrounding environment. Good places are rooted in acknowledgement of a city’s history and the everyday uses of urban space. 

Wolfe argues that city dwellers invariably celebrate environments where and when they can coexist safely, in a mutually supportive way and believes such celebration is most interesting when it occurs spontaneously – seemingly without effort. He contends it is critical to first isolate these spontaneous and latent examples of successful urban land use, before applying any prescriptive government policies or initiatives. 

Wolfe provides something rare in contemporary urbanist writing – rich illustrations and examples from real life – both historical and current. His writing about the past and the future of urban form offers readers inspiration, historical context, and a better understanding of how a sustainable, inviting urban environment is created. 

About the author
Charles R. (Chuck) Wolfe, M.R.P., J.D. provides a unique perspective about cities as both a long time writer about urbanism worldwide and an attorney in Seattle, where he focuses on land use and environmental law and permitting. He is also an Affiliate Associate Professor in the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington, where he teaches land use law at the graduate level. He contributes regularly to several publications.

Our review:

In this book, we take a look at urban life, both past and present. It is evident that the author has an extensive knowledge and passion for this subject matter. I could tell that he has spent years and hours doing research and studying it. He is still excited about this subject to a point that I will never be able to attain. That feeling of passion and excitement comes through in the writing.  

The book itself was very informative and does provide a new and maybe even better understanding of how a sustainable as well as inviting urban environment can be created. However, it was a bit dull at times for me the everyday reader. I do think it will be useful and appealing to teachers, professors, and students and even companies and city project planners with regard to learning how and putting into effect better urban planning and land use, so that we can in fact create that sustainable city that we all do want. One that is also filled with beauty. 

The photos within the book are wonderful. They take you all over the world and show life as it is being lived now and before. They are absolutely breathtaking. My favorite aspect of the book actually All in all a pretty good book. I do recommend it to anyone that is interested in this subject.

You can purchase the book in an electronic format on and Apple store.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Eco-Libris is collaborating with Complete Test Preparation to balance out their study guides

We're happy to announce on a new collaboration with Complete Test Preparation Inc., a Canadian publisher of test preparation books. We will work with Complete Test Preparation to plant 100 trees for many of the helpful books they publish! 

Here are the first four books we'll be working to balance out by planting trees - 100 trees will be planted for each of the following books:

Complete Study Guide including hundreds of pages of Tutorials, Self-Assessments, 2 sets of practice test questions, Complete guide to multiple choice strategy, Complete guide to taking a test, and over 500 Practice Test Questions including Paragraph Comprehension, Basic Math, Algebra, Metric Conversion, Word Problems, Basic Science, Human Body Science (Anatomy and Physiology), Life Science (Biology, Ecology), Earth and Physical Science, Scientific Method and Reasoning, English Grammar and Language Usage, Grammar and Vocabulary in Context, Spelling and Punctuation, Grammar and structure.

Pass the HESI!
The Evolve Reach Admissions Assessment exam (HESI A2) is required for entrance to the Register Nursing program at many institutions.

HESI Study Guide including Self-Assessments, Tutorials, and 2 practice tests. Practice Test Questions for Reading, Math, Basic Science, Anatomy and Physiology and English Grammar.

Pass the THEA!
Texas Higher Education Assessment (THEA) Test Preparation The THEA exam is designed to test the readiness of students for entrance into Texas Colleges and academic life.

Complete THEA Study Guide including hundreds of pages of Tutorials, Self-Assessments, 2 sets of practice test questions, Complete guide to multiple choice strategy, Complete guide to taking a test, and Practice Test Questions for Reading, Math, Geometry, Algebra and more.

Pass the CHSPE!  
A Certificate of Proficiency is awarded to successful candidates of the California High School Proficiency Exam. The Certificate of Proficiency is technically not the same as a high school diploma but is regarded as an equivalent of a diploma, similar to the GED. Complete Study Guide and pratice tests for the CHSPE. Includes tutorials, 2 sets of practice test questions, self-assessments, complete guide to taking a test, guide to multiple choice strategy. Includes practice questions for mathematics, reading comprehension, english grammar, geometry, English usage and algebra.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Green book review - The EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want by Frances Moore Lappe

It's always a pleasure to have on our weekly green review book series a book of a great environmental thinker, and today we have the honor of reviewing a new book of one of today most thought-provoking leaders of the environmental movement - Frances Moore Lappé.

Frances Moore Lappé has written so far 18 books, including the best-seller Diet for a Small Planet. Her latest book which was released last month is:

The EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want by Frances Moore Lappe (publisher: Nation Books)

What this book is about?

In EcoMind, Frances Moore Lappé—a giant of the environmental movement—confronts accepted wisdom of environmentalism. Drawing on the latest research from anthropology to neuroscience and her own field experience, she argues that the biggest challenge to human survival isn’t our fossil fuel dependency, melting glaciers, or other calamities. Rather, it’s our faulty way of thinking about these environmental crises that robs us of power. Lappé dismantles seven common “thought traps”—from limits to growth to the failings of democracy— that belie what we now know about nature, including our own, and offers contrasting “thought leaps” that reveal our hidden power. 

Like her Diet for a Small Planet classic, EcoMind is challenging, controversial and empowering.

About the author
Frances Moore Lappé is the author or co-author of 18 books including the three-million copy Diet for a Small Planet. Her most recent work, released by Nation Books in September 2011, is EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think to Create the World We Want, winner of a silver medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards in the Environment/Ecology/Nature category. Jane Goodall called the book "powerful and inspiring. "Ecomind will open your eyes and change your thinking. I want everyone to read it," she said.

She is the cofounder of three organizations, including Oakland based think tank Food First and, more recently, the Small Planet Institute, a collaborative network for research and popular education seeking to bring democracy to life, which she leads with her daughter Anna Lappé. Frances and her daughter have also cofounded the Small Planet Fund, which channels resources to democratic social movements worldwide.

Our review:

The book Ecomind, by Frances Moore Lappe, appeared to mainly be a book about balance, balance of the people and the earth and the economy in order to have a healthier or more environmentally sound earth. 

There was a lot of information on how the world perceives the environment and how we all feel paralyzed by inaction, both of others and ourselves. It goes on with how the people of the world could work together, and think outside the box, we could change the world and create a better place for everyone and everything. Maybe even just try out some of the ideas and examples of what other countries and places are doing. Simple things like going local and reusing wasted material. All good ideas and I agree with most of the ideas.

I enjoyed the author’s approach of conversational writing. She has humorous comments as well as intelligent and useful studies she discusses. I found the book simple and comprehensive to understand. It didn’t feel as though I was being talked down to, which I have found in many of the these types of books. Some of the sections seemed a bit long, and some were not as provoking of topics as others, but all in all, it was a very insightful read.

You can purchase Ecomind on (in both electronic and hardcover formats).


Friday, May 10, 2013

Green book review - The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari by Paul Theroux

Africa is dear to our heart, which is why we're so proud to have one of our planting partners  RIPPLE Africa, operating in Malawi, Africa. This is also why we're so happy to review a special book on a special journey in this troubled and beautiful continent.

Our book for this week is:

The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari by Paul Theroux (publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

What this book is about?

Following the success of the acclaimed Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and The Great Railway Bazaar, The Last Train to Zona Verde is an ode to the last African journey of the world's most celebrated travel writer.

“Happy again, back in the kingdom of light,” writes Paul Theroux as he sets out on a new journey through the continent he knows and loves best. Theroux first came to Africa as a twenty-two-year-old Peace Corps volunteer, and the pull of the vast land never left him. Now he returns, after fifty years on the road, to explore the little-traveled territory of western Africa and to take stock both of the place and of himself.

His odyssey takes him northward from Cape Town, through South Africa and Namibia, then on into Angola, wishing to head farther still until he reaches the end of the line. Journeying alone through the greenest continent, Theroux encounters a world increasingly removed from both the itineraries of tourists and the hopes of postcolonial independence movements. Leaving the Cape Town townships, traversing the Namibian bush, passing the browsing cattle of the great sunbaked heartland of the savanna, Theroux crosses “the Red Line” into a different Africa: “the improvised, slapped-together Africa of tumbled fences and cooking fires, of mud and thatch,” of heat and poverty, and of roadblocks, mobs, and anarchy. After 2,500 arduous miles, he comes to the end of his journey in more ways than one, a decision he chronicles with typically unsparing honesty in a chapter called “What Am I Doing Here?”

Vivid, witty, and beautifully evocative, The Last Train to Zona Verde is a fitting final African adventure from the writer whose gimlet eye and effortless prose have brought the world to generations of readers. 

About the author
Paul Theroux is the author of many highly acclaimed books. His novels include The Lower River and The Mosquito Coast, and his renowned travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and Dark Star Safari. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod. 

Our review:
The Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux was read with mixed feelings. I had a bit of awe, a bit of jealousy, and a bit of fear for this writer. He is one of the true and real travel writers. He goes to the places he writes about and tells you of his visit in fine and colorful detail. He has a fantastic voice and tells the story with such life that at times you forget that it’s not fiction. I wish I could see some of the things he has seen and wish I could forget some of the things I have learned from him.

On this journey, Paul spent his time roaming through parts of Africa that frankly I had to hunt down on a map to find: the bush country or Zona Verde, Cape Town, Botswana, and Namibia are just a few. This is not simply a story about the landscape, but actual events that he saw or lived, such as: the people; or the wildlife and landscape destruction that we all know about, but don’t actually see face to face in our own everyday lives; or the government’s blasé indifference to the state of the things. Then it all ends, so fast and so unexpectedly. I felt his strong emotions about having to quit his adventure before he had planned, thanks only to violent militant actions.

I wish I could come up with a better word, but this book was simply very well done. You can purchase the book on (in both electronic and hardcover formats).


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Green book review - Vegan Secret Supper: Bold & Elegant Menus from a Rogue Kitchen by Merida Anderson

A vegan dining club? Yes, it does really exists and it is run by chef Merida Anderson in Vancouver  Montreal and New York, where she proves that sophisticated dinner parties can be fun, tasty and vegan too! Don't believe it? Have a look at her book "Vegan Secret Supper", which is the green book we review this week!

Vegan Secret Supper: Bold & Elegant Menus from a Rogue Kitchen by Merida Anderson (publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press)

What this book is about?

The art of the convivial, joyful meal shared with friends and family has evolved in recent years. The growing popularity of dinner clubs and themed potlucks attest to our desire for get-togethers at home that are out of the ordinary; also, temporary pop-ups and secret supper locales (where the address is often kept under wraps) are redefining the notion of the traditional restaurant meal. But where do vegans fit into all this fun for foodies?

Vegan Secret Supper is a collection of imaginative, delectable, animal-free recipes by chef Mérida Anderson of VSS (Vegan Secret Supper), a dining club that she has run in Vancouver, Montreal, and New York. At VSS, Mérida creates amazing vegan dishes that prove that sophisticated, spectacular dinner parties do not require the use of animal products. With her focus on menu-planning and simple, seasonal ingredients, she offers readers all the tools they need to create healthy, sumptuous meals, whether it's a dish for a potluck, a romantic dinner for two, or a celebration for twenty.

Full-color throughout, the book's recipes include split pea bisque with minted cream; smoked cauliflower on red quinoa tabouli; walnut and roasted yam croquettes with spicy balsamic beet reduction; and chocolate blackberry cashew cheesecake. As well, Mérida offers fantastic tips and insight on how to create your own vegan secret supper club at home. 

About the author
Mérida Anderson is a self-taught chef who became vegan at the age of sixteen. She is also a photographer, visual artist, clothing designer, and musician.

Our review:
I take vegan books with a bit of hesitation. They are either really good or really awful. This book, Vegan Secret Supper, I am very pleased to say is one of the really fantastic ones. It is sophisticated and refined. It has plates and recipes for any taste and every taste. It takes into account nutrition as well as the vegan ideology and thankfully is not just tofu and soy.

I really liked that it gives full meals, not just pieces and parts that you then have to put together on your own. Then the author goes on to give helpful plating instructions. This book offers all courses of a meal from the starter to the dessert and everything in between. The handmade ice cream recipes with instructions of ‘how-to’ without using an ice cream maker, not only work, but work well to produce a wonderful variety of ice creams. I was very pleased with the outcome.

I am happily making my way recipe by recipe and page by page through this book. The author has a way of instruction that is easy to understand and then implement. I will add that if you are looking for a quick meal, this book may not be for you. Although most can be made up rather quickly, it does take a bit more time and planning than pre-processed food.

I highly, and definitely recommend this book. Even the carnivores in my house have found enjoyment from the dishes within.

You can purchase the book on