Storey staffers share their picks for the 2016 books that had the greatest impact on minds and lives.

Storey Staff 2016 Favorite Books

From handmade crafts and gardening to raising animals and cidermaking, it’s no secret that Storey employees love to practice what we publish books about. That said, each year brings with it new titles across such a wide range of topics, it can be hard to make room on the proverbial shelf for one more hobby or cookbook or how-to guide.

So of all the Storey books that released in 2016, which ones stuck? Which ones inspired people to adopt new ideas, or to try something new?

I put the question to my colleagues, and the answers that came in demonstrate an unflinching curiosity and DIY spirit that runs deep and to all corners of the office.

Project editor Sarah Guare got up the gumption to prune her first plant: “I had to give my gangly hibiscus tree a haircut, and I used How to Prune Trees and Shrubs to do it!”

Mars Vilaubi, our photo and video editor, grew his own hops so he could photograph them for the second edition of The Homebrewer’s Garden, then turned the results of his gardening efforts into his “best stout ever.”

Sales account manager Tina Parent bought a cast iron skillet (inspired by Rachael Narins’s Cast-Iron Cooking), web designer Zoe Spring has new food goals that include trying Detroit-style pizza, thanks to Food Anatomy (though “because of The Beer Geek Handbook, my enjoyment of a frosted glass is now tinged with shame.”).

Creative director Alethea Morrison bid farewell to chemical colorants with Natural Hair Coloring, adding, “I feel great about kicking the chemical habit and switching to healthier, hair-nourishing herbal dyes. I love the auburn color and my hair feels really soft. I just had the last of the brittle, chemically treated hair trimmed off!”

Receptionist Kathy Poirot had never heard the word “permaculture” before arriving here at Storey, but she’s devouring every chapter of The Permaculture Promise: “Kept my interest, made me think!”

Copywriter and project editor Michal Lumsden is making a sweater using the 6-rib pretzel pattern from Cable Left, Cable Right:

6 rib pretzel cable pattern cable left cable right

Michal Lumsden’s sweater-in-progress features a cable pattern from Cable Left, Cable Right.

And project editor Hannah Fries is working on a project of her own, inspired (she says) by time spent with Making Love Potions: her first baby is due in January.

Of course, there was a select group of books that came up repeatedly in people’s lists. Though by themselves these may not come as a surprise (our love of kombucha has been well documented), as a collection, they suggest that in 2016, caring for our animal partners, as well as taking better care of ourselves, were our big priorities. Here are our top five mind-changing, life-altering picks:

5. Farm Dogs by Janet Vorwald Dohner

“I sure learned an awful lot about dog breeds from participating in the making of Farm Dogs. For instance, I now know that many of the working breeds look adorable but DO NOT make good companion animals and might chase or kill my cats. No terriers for me!” — Ilona Sherratt, Illustration Coordinator

“I have already used it quite a few times as a reference. It’s more enlightening than the internet.” — Caroline Burch, Production Director

4. Healing Herbal Teas by Sarah Farr

“Since I came to Storey just over a year ago, I have learned a lot about the power of herbs and natural remedies. Then, along came Healing Herbal Teas by Sarah Farr. Suddenly I was learning all about the many different types of tea available at my local stores, and I loved them! I continued to learn about herbs and how they can be blended together for wellness, seasonality, and unique flavors. I moved from buying packaged herbal teas to herbal tea blends made by herbalists. And now that the book is out, I can’t wait to start learning to make my own! This is an amazing book that has truly inspired me to try something new.” — Janea Brachfeld, Trade & Gift Sales Coordinator

3. Your Idea Starts Here by Carolyn Eckert

“I had so much fun working on Your Idea Starts Here; it was amazing to see everyone’s unique contribution to the 11 circles concept. Best of all, I keep mentioning obscure facts from the book about ideas and design to my family. They kind of think I’m a genius. I’ve been inspired to expand my creative life, even if the ideas seem dumb or don’t work out right away. — Regina Velazquez, Editorial Production Manager

2. 100 Plants to Feed the Bees

“This book has changed how I view my yard and the woods and fields around – now I look through a bee’s eyes! I weed differently (keeping some plants I eliminated before; waiting for others to finish blooming), I plant differently (tucking herbs into corners, avoiding flower varieties whose double petals or other features prevent easy bee access), and I think about the whole system differently (planning bloom from earliest spring deep into autumn).” — Deb Burns, Acquisitions Editor

“I was surprised to learn from 100 Plants to Feed the Bees that sometimes you can help pollinators by simply not mowing down or otherwise removing native plants growing wildly. It made me think about things I could easily stop doing to help out the environment (like eating red meat) instead of taking on a major project like planting a garden (impossible at my current apartment).” — Megan Posco, Publicist

1. The Big Book of Kombucha

“This year was the first time I’ve picked up a SCOBY and started brewing my own kombucha, which has brought me back to my long-lost love of fermented foods. I’ve gone even further in my fermented food explorations, creating my own switchel and herb-infused shrubs.” — David Morrison, Marketing Art Director

“I’d be lying if I chose anything other than The Big Book of Kombucha. No book has served me better when recommending new flavor combinations or making sure my SCOBY is doing what it’s supposed to be doing.” — Ash Austin, Marketing Designer

“The Big Book of BOOCH! This stuff has totally grown on me.” — Carleen Madigan, Acquisitions Editor

“The fact that I not only drink kombucha regularly but make my own is my surprising lifestyle change of the year.” — Lisa Hiley, Project Editor

Emily Spiegelman

As Storey’s digital features editor, Emily Spiegelman’s life often ends up imitating books. In addition to knitting, baking, and hosting an exciting array of birds in… See Bio

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