Friday, 22 October 2010

Book review - Plant Whatever Brings You Joy

I've never really had the urge to write a book review before - well, actually I have - but never strong enough to bother doing anything about it! However, having recently got my hands on 'Plant Whatever Brings You Joy- Blessed Wisdom From The Garden' by Kathryn Hall, who many of you will already know from her blog at (funnily enough!), I decided that this was a book that needed sharing with the world - so here I go....but please bear in mind that this is solely my take on the book and other people will have their own thoughts on it :)
I loved it!
It is ostensibly a book about Kathryn's life, her multiple house moves, her life in different countries and in different part of America, her beloved daughter and her many gardens - yet it is so much more than this and touches the heart (my heart anyway) because of it.
The book is divided into 52 chapters, some very short at just a page and a half, some longer lasting at several pages but all having very temping titles such as 'Never underestimate the power of one tiny seed', ' Aim for beauty', 'Never pull up and discard what you cannot identify', 'Appreciate small returns', ' Cultivate plants which attract lovely company', 'Clean up after a storm' and - my favourite title, 'Move gently among bees'. The titles intrigued me and pulled me in.
As the autumn night closed in and I had the house to myself for once my plan was to settle down in front of the fire, a glass of fine red wine at my side, and indulge myself in Kathryn's book - I intended to read it from cover to cover that evening and, at 228 pages, it was an achieveable goal. However, because this is no ordinary book it didn't turn out that way!
Kathryn's memories and experiences are rich and fascinating. They helped me to further understand the Kathryn I think I've got to know through her blog and our email correspondence, but they also deliver clever but gentle metaphors for self discovery and learning - both hers and her readers.
She has a canny nack of making her last sentence in the chapter either a statement or a question, both of which seemed designed to make me go "oh, what? yeah! I do that!", " Ooops, perhaps I could have done that differently?" or "Hmmm, maybe I ought......!", but always making me stop and think. Hence the reason I couldn't read the book all in one sitting, no matter how much I wanted to, as I just had to have some thinking time. Not all the chapters made me ponder for hours, but some certainly did and I feel better and stronger for having done so.
She writes in such a way that I found myself smiling, nodding and even, on more than one occasion, my eyes filling with unshed tears - from both pleasure and sadness previously held in. Memories of people, places and events long forgotten or sometimes supressed came unbidden into my head as I read.

I think that if I have one minor niggle with the book, it's Kathryn's use of the phrases 'Dear ones' and 'Dear readers' - but I am aware that this is my issue as reading these phrases whipped me straight back to my slightly stroppy teenage years and exams! (stroppy? Moi?!) The Bronte sisters and similar writers all used those phrases and, as part of English Language and English Literature lessons and exams, we had to dissect their books to the Nth degree - thus ridding them of any pleasure for years proved by my response!
That aside, this is a thought provoking book that stands repeated readings - and I will certainly be dipping back into it on a regular basis. Her motto for her book publishing company is 'Changing the world one book at a time' and she has certainly done that for me with this book!

I shall leave you with Kathryn's final thoughts in the book ...and, no, it's not going to spoil the ending for you! ;
'Each and every adventure I have chosen, dear readers, held within it the power to expand, to teach. The more I risked, the wider and more diversely I chose, the richer my experience and the more precious the gift. I have been so blessed. Aren't we all?'

Bliss in a book!


Kathryn said...

Liz, this is a lovely review and I'm very grateful for it! Thank you so much. I'm glad you enjoyed the book and that it touched your heart. Your UK readers might want to know for their convenience that the Kindle edition of this book is available on Those wanting the book itself might go to for more information. My vision is that eventually the book shall be available in the UK. All suggestions welcomed! Thanks, Liz! xoxo

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Your post makes me want to read this book. I love the chapters' titles! Good job, Liz!

joey said...

A great review of Kathryn's lovely book that I so enjoyed, dear Liz, now in the hands of my daughter who I'm certain will embrace Kathryn's engaging work as much as I did.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Hi Liz - thanks for paying me a visit. Chesterfield eh? My niece used to live in Inkersall and now lives in Breaston - so I know your part of the world a bit. Always notice Chesterfield because of the crooked spire (have been through it on the train a few times).
Isn't it nice when you get a book you can really enjoy - and when you have time to settle down with it. Sounds a good book - I shall look out for it.
I am into thrillers at the moment - I go in phases - have just today finished a PD James - I was desperate to find out who had done the deadly deed.
Do pop over and see me again. I shall put you on my side bar now.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Kathryn - I'm glad you liked the review ..phew! and good luck with getting the book into the UK :)

Hi Tatyana - thank you and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Joey - you are a love for your kind words and I'm so glad you enjoyed Kathryn's book. I'm sure your daughter will love it too!

Hi Weaver and thanks for the return visit!I know Inki quite well as I've worked in the junior school there teaching tai chi. Small world and all that!

Kathryn's book isn't available in the UK yet, but she's working on it. There's a link on her comment at the top of this comments box for you to get the book though.

Aaah, PD James - I love a good thriller too although I'm reading a slightly odd fantasy novel at the moment by way of a change!

I'll certainly be over to see you again :)

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Just has to be the best blog and book title ever.

I'll go and look for this one


Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Rob - I know, wish I'd thought of it! Enjoy the book :)
Have a nice glass of red for me -Cheers!

Sallys Chateau said...

Hi and thanks for popping by, hope you're feeling brighter today, most impressed by your house and garden renovations, good luck with your projects.

brokenbiro said...

You have made this book sound rather alluring... I love that you couldn't finish it in one sitting! Howard Jacobson, this year's Booker Prize winner, said he hates people saying 'I couldn't put it down' because a good book should make people want to savour it, stop and think, and revisit.

Phoenix C. said...

What a lovely review - you make me want to read the book!

I'm really enjoying visiting again after a long time away from bloggyland.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I'm not a big reader (gasp! horror! shock!), but this sounds fun.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Sally Chateau and welcome to my blog :)
I'm still coughing and spluttering, so Himself has banned me from gardening today - probably sensible but ...:(
He's busy working away on the inside of the tea house so make sure yo pop back to see the next phase!

Hi Broken Biro - oh that is So true! I have loads of books that I've re-read numerous times - but I confess to reading some trashy novels in one go too :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hello Phoenix C - I'm glad you're back in blogland...I'd been wondering where you were :)
Read the book, read the book!

Hey Monica - it's lovely. I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

brokenbiro said...

Hi Nutty, hope you don't mind me linking back to this post of yours in my latest post. ta la!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Brokenbiro - no problem. Thanks for the shout out! :)