Book Review: Sweet as Honey

I’ve always loved reading nonfiction — I remember coming home from the library as a child with a stack of books about India or Sweden or whatever country fit my current fascination.  I read just about every children’s biography that library offered and salivated over the adult biographies that I was not yet allowed to read.  I still enjoy a passionately written nonfiction book purely for the sake of seeing someone’s enthusiasm bubble up from the pages, and that is truly what I found in The Honey Trail: In Pursuit of Liquid Gold and Vanishing Bees by Grace Pundyk.

I found this fascinating tome in the new books section of the library while in search of interesting reading for the beach.  The title drew me in as did the opening paragraph of the first chapter, where Pundyk describes her somewhat racy encounter with a new type of honey in Yemen.  (I won’t go into anymore details here, but, trust me, you have to read it!)

Always on the lookout for new and interesting learning experiences, I decided to give this one a try.  It details the story of the author’s trip around the world searching for, discovering, and falling in love with exotic honeys, various types of bees, and amazing yet ordinary people whose lives revolve around them (the honey and the bees, that is). 

Pundyk visits a variety of places (some unexpected), including Russia, China, New Zealand, and Italy.  Her description of the people and places she encounters makes this book a fascinating crossroads of genres — a little bit of memoir criss-crossed with travel journal/documentary with a dash of informational text sprinkled with persuasive writing — Pundyk’s deft skill with the pen allows this mish-mash to come together into a cohesive and interesting read.

I learned a lot about bees, honey, and the people who work with them — in fact, when I finished the book, I felt like I had accompanied Pundyk on her honey crusade, and I was sad to close the book on the final chapter.  In fact, I did not quite realize the impact The Honey Trail had made on me until I encountered one of the types of honey that Pundyk wrote about at our local farmers’ market, and I got so excited that I, the introvert, had an extended conversation with the guy who was selling the honey. 

Now that is a good book!