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Winter 2011 Reading List

For those of us residing in the Northern hemisphere, Winter’s knocking on our door. Now that we’ve travelled, harvested and feasted, we’re ready to get cozy by the fire and do some serious reading and tea drinking. I tend to keep all the books I’m currently reading stacked next to the bed and piled on my desk. And I’m always reading many concurrently. So here’s what I’m reading now–for pleasure, research, and to inspire new thinking. (And one thing: if you click on the links to the books, it’ll take you to Amazon, but I’d like to recommend that you check your local and/or used book seller first.)

The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

So, naturally you’re going to be doing some amazing cooking this season. Right? Great. Well, it’s high time to challenge your skills and expand your working repetoire of flavor combinations, and the Flavor Bible comes to your aid. It’s a culinary reference of flavor combinations and affinities. So you can look up ‘tomato’ and see season and energy affinities, and then 3 columns of ingredients that pair well with it. So you can adapt, say, a basic tomato soup recipe and make it a coriander-rosemary tomato soup with asiago (to name one example). And for someone who loves to cook with wild foods and fresh garden herbs, this book is one I open and refer to a lot. A bit pricey, but it’s a staple text for you foodies.

Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices and Forbidden Plants by Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Christian Ratsch and Wolf Dietr-Storl

I adore this book and recommend it for anyone interested in plant history and lore. It is extremely well researched and mainly discusses European plants and uses. It’s a must for the bookshelf and the mind. If you are interested in the history of people’s spiritual connections and history with plants, please do yourself a favor and have a read! It’s one of my favorites.

Complex Herbs, Complete Medicines: A Merger of Eclectic & Naturopathic Visions of Botanical Medicine by Francis Brinker

I saw this book a couple months ago on my friend Jonathan Treasure’s bookshelf. The title grabbed me, because I’m very interested in complex medicines for complex bodies as a concept. Jonathan said it was great, and I trust it because the man is a genius. So bought it I did, and I’m joyfully deepening my knowledge of the history of pharmacy and Eclectic medicine. It’s a good one for your bookshelf.

The Dragon and the Unicorn by A.A. Attanasio

Earlier this year, I got an upsetting medical diagnoses that required that I take some time and just chill. I didn’t chill as much as I needed to, so I’m doing another good bit of it now. But in setting the space for the restorative chilling, I sought a good fiction book to read. I love fantasy literature and had read Lord of the Rings, Mists of Avalon, His Dark Materials Trilogy, The Invisibles, Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books and basically everything Neil Gaiman every wrote. So I didn’t know where to go next. I asked a bunch of my friends and, no joke, nearly everybody brought up The Dragon and the Unicorn. So I got it, I can’t put it down, and I don’t want to return it to the friend I borrowed it from. It’s a gorgeously written retelling of the Arthurian legends, rich with supernatural drama and masterful with character development. It’s the perfect book for winter. If you haven’t read it, I guarantee you will love it as you cozy up for the dreamy solace of wintertime.

In the Bubble: Designing for a Complex World by John Thackara

John Thackara is a designer currently residing in France. I came across his work a little while ago in my research on contemporary healthcare innovation and found his blog posts on the subject to be exquisite. He’s an incredibly forward-thinking holistic designer. He gets it. Naturally, I wanted to read his book and got it in the mail yesterday. I’ve just started on it and love it. The first chapter is on lightness in design. I love that he’s starting with that–I feel very strongly about beauty, elegance and heavenly qualities in all design work (especially anything medical or health-related). If you’re interested in complexity and design, this is a good one.

Conservation Medicine: Ecological Health in Practice by A.A. Aguire et al. (Eds.)

I love this anthology. The venn diagram on the cover shows the relationship between environmental, animal and human health. Ecological medicine says these 3 are connected and interdependent, and this book is a series of essays elaborating on this. Also discussed is global ecological integrity and resilience, biodiversity and human health, the ecosystem approach to health, and the emergence of diseases that specifically emergence from habitat disruption (i.e. Lyme disease).

Invasive Plant Medicine: The Ecological Benefits and Healing Abilities of Invasives by Timothy Lee Scott

When this book came out last year, there was quite a bit of buzz about it. And it’s well deserved. This book–part herbal, part ecological theory, part field guide–is a very well researched and accessible. And there are plants covered that are really invasive and fall out of the scope of a lot of other books on uses for weeds and invasives, which typically cover things like dandelion and St. John’s wort but leave out scotch broom, Japanese knotweed, bindweed, English ivy, etc. A book for ecologists, herbalists and all plant lovers.

Healing Logics: Culture and Medicine in Modern Health Belief Systems by Erika Brady (Ed.)

I’m working on a article about local plant knowledge and human public health, and I’m currently reviewing the variety of conceptions and definitions of health worldwide. For those interested in medical anthropology and folk taxonomies of disease, have yourself a gander at this anthology. I got it for research purposes and I’m finding it incredibly enjoyable to read.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. What a fab list- there are quite a few that I’ve been meaning to read, and I’m looking up the rest now. I love this little plant community we have- I don’t think I’ve ever found a group of people who’s reading recommendations I’ve actually ALL ENJOYED before :).

    <3

    December 8, 2011
    • Renée A.D. #

      I know, I really enjoy this sweet community also. Sharing with people is 90% of the joy. I’m just feeling really honored that such amazing and creative herbalists are around!

      Rebecca, I especially thought you’d be into the Flavor Bible, you evil genius of a kitchen witch!

      December 8, 2011
  2. Great list. Thank you for posting it. I go through so many books, it is great to find these that go deeper down the rabbit hole of herbalism. Please share more of your favorite books and materia medica :)

    January 6, 2012

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