Good Food Book Club: The Egg and I: A food, farm, and Pacific Northwest classic!

We are in for a treat! Join us for another classic for the June selection of the Co-op’s Good Food Book Club. The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald, first published in 1945, depicts a hilarious and deeply moving story of newlywed family life on a chicken farm in western Washington State during the 1920s. If MacDonald’s name sounds familiar outside of The Egg and I, you’ll be pleased to recall she’s also the author of the beloved Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series.

For all the allegedly gloomy moments, The Egg and l is an astoundingly light-hearted book. The MacDonalds, one gathers, had both youth and gumption on their side, to say nothing of an abounding humor that bounced them over the direst crises.
~ The New York Times

The Egg and I is so beloved, that after five years of shepherding books for the Good Food Book Club, I’m a little surprised we haven’t read it yet. It’s so beloved that a road near Port Townsend, Washington, is named The Egg and I Road. And it’s so beloved that numerous Amazon commenters speak of making a ritual of reading the book aloud in their families, over and over again. Readers seem to really enjoy its hilarity and recognition of the themes of self-sufficiency, farming, building a family, and married life.

The book, a memoir by MacDonald, tracks her life as a young newlywed on a small-parcel farm where she and her husband work to raise their own food and find stability and joy in what was then a very new frontier. Written long before the term—let alone the notion of—“politically correct” was coined, the story is full of MacDonald’s bright but occasionally derogatory humor… so it’s a book to take with a dose of salt. Still, her love and appreciation for those around her and her community shine through that era of language and the direct experience of white colonization of indigenous land. Plus, her storytelling skills are masterful, and her hilarity combined with her capacity to see the good in harsh circumstances is inspiring.

As Saturday Review says: “Anyone who has ever struggled with a farm or even with a small garden will especially enjoy this breezy autobiography, but everyone will find its hilarious reminiscences of an unconventional childhood and of unique experiences in the Northwest Pacific sprightly, diverting, and excellent entertainment. The whole book crackles with the innocent deviltry of acorns hitting the roof-tops.”

Please join us to discuss The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald (reissue Harper Perennial, 2008) on Sunday, June 25, from 7 - 8:30 the Co-op Cafe. Remember to email to receive email reminders about the Good Food Book Club. The Egg and I is available through your local library. If you are interested in buying the book, check out the area’s local used bookstores or visit BookPeople of Moscow where Book Club members receive a discount. For more information about the Good Food Book Club, check out the Outreach section of the Co-op website at

Upcoming books are as follows:

  • July: Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food by Megan Kimble. July 30 from 7 - 8:30 p.m.
  • August: Fifty Acres and a Poodle: A Story of Love, Livestock and Finding Myself on a Farm by Jeanne Marie Laskas. August 27 from 7 - 8:30 pm.