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Island Press Staff Picks - Epicurean Simplicity

Today's staff pick, Epicurean Simplicity, comes from our Associate Editor, Courtney Lix. I discovered Epicurean Simplicity when I first started working for Island Press—five years ago, now—and the book has become an old friend through re-readings.  Stephanie Mills’ beautiful, intimate writing style never fails to remind me of how much fun it is to simply pay attention to life around me, and I find new resonance in her stories as the years pass. Friendship is a big theme in Epicurean Simplicity, and I first read the book at a time when I was in a new place, realizing that it’s hard not to feel lonely in a time of transition.  Now that I’ve started to put down real roots in the city, re-reading Stephanie’s passages makes me think of all the people I’ve met over the past five years, a few of whom have become my closest friends.  Life is an adventure, and as Stephanie writes about hers, I feel compelled to live mine with greater consciousness and thoughtfulness. Washington DC was a big change from where I’d been living for the previous two years—a house in the woods, a mile from the border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.  I loved the hustle and bustle—the crowded humanity—of DC, but missed the wilderness.  Stephanie’s stories, from observations of monarch butterflies to the exertion of splitting wood and watching it burn red-hot in her woodstove in winter, were touchstones to what I’d left behind.  The book continues to bring back great memories whenever I read it: a barn owl swooping low across the road in front of my car on a quiet country road; the smell of freshly-split pine logs sticky with sap; the chill air on my cheeks looking at stars on a clear winter night with my father. It’s a dark, rainy day as I write this, and I’ve been complaining about the weather all week.  But how lovely to be transported by Stephanie’s “Prelude”, as I flip through the book again for this blog post: The air seems to be vital tissue this morning, entirely alive with mayflies and countless other insects darting or arising in the sunlight, with airborne cherry petals marking the direction of the breeze and of gravity… The sky is washed in blue. The breezes are sweet, moist, and cool. What more do I need to know of heaven? Life is absolute. Today the whole of existence feels like a gift. Many environmental books, by their very nature, address issues that worry me and stress me out—harboring predictions of rampant droughts and floods, acidic oceans devoid of fish, crop failures, and rising seas.  But Epicurean Simplicity makes me remember why I care so much about what happens to our planet, and how amazing life here is, even in the face of uncertainty.  And that is why I love it. Get Epicurean Simplicity for 50% off at Offer valid until October 28th!