Hobby Farms Editors
February 18, 2009

This Day… A Daily Guide to Living
I discovered this book when the author, J.T. Jones, sent me an autographed copy along with a brief note. He explained how he owned and operated a dairy, hog and crop operation in Michigan for 28 years and how he understood the culture of farm people. His book, This Day … A Daily Guide to Living, is written in a daily devotional format—a brief, one-page story and prayer for every day of the year, organized by date. Jones’ introduction discusses how the busyness of our everyday lives robs our good intentions of becoming realities. This devotional is an aid in keeping your best intentions in good repair.

Not everyone has time each day to sit down and curl up with a good book. This Day does not require that time from you. It asks for only about five minutes to read and reflect on the message for the day—always a pertinent one I believe. Many of its stories are about farm folks, with an earthy and occasionally humorous tone. Though Mr. Jones is an ordained clergyman, his stories are not “preachy” or wrought with religiosity. They just make sense to most readers and particularly appeal to rural folks.

If you’ve got five minutes a day to devote to an inspiring, uplifting tidbit of text, get This Day… A Daily Guide to Living and leave it by the bed to read each morning when you get up. I’ve come to look forward to that time each day.
—KKA

The King of California
I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Historical elements pull me into a book or movie like nothing else. Give me a story set somewhere back in time and I’m there. My favorite era to get lost in is the first half of the 20th century. The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire, by Los Angeles Times staffers Mark Arax and Rick Wartzman, turned out to be right up my alley.

The book recounts in accurate detail the Boswell family’s rise to power as owners of a farming empire in California’s agriculturally rich Central Valley. The cotton kingdom the Boswell’s created there—after moving to the state in the 1920s and draining her massive Tulare Lake—still exists today. Set against California’s yesterday, the book transcends you like a Steinbeck novel. The book’s characters are well developed, but not even J.G. Boswell himself—who was reluctantly interviewed by the authors and is the book’s central figure—is as compelling as mid-20th century California.

Today J.G. Boswell is the biggest farmer in America and the largest recipient of subsidies. His family’s mutilation of California land and subsequent rise to riches and power explains why it took the authors two years to get him to tell his story. Persistence paid off in the form of a must-read for thosewho enjoy toiling in California’s illustrious past.
—TM


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