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Posts tagged ‘books’

Reading List: Spring 2013

All my book-related posts are, I realized, drafted during the Winter months. I’ve always been an enthusiastic—nay, voracious reader. But during the other seasons I’m inclined to engage in and write about the more tactile & outdoor activities.

And that time is almost upon us. However, it’s still just over 40 degrees and raining here, and I’m still under blankets at 11am with hot tea and a pile of books. So. Here are the reads that are currently on my nightstand or kitchen table, and I think they’d pique your interest. Because I know you, and you’re a curious, interdisciplinary individual. While they’re not directly related to herbal medicine, they all espouse a novel concept, perspective or story that can deepen our practice & understanding. (And when you’ve finished, see How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read on Brain Pickings, on the art of not reading. Thanks Michael DeMarco for the link!) Note: While I link to Amazon, I encourage you to purchase from a local bookstore if possible. 

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

mukherjeecover2011My mother is a biochemist, and has all the respect & admiration I could offer. We just started a mother-daughter book club, and this was our first pick. (Next we’re reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a book that I’m ashamed to have not read yet.) Released in 2012, this book is an attempt by oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee to get into the mind of a disease. Significant questions & themes are tackled: When did cancer first arrive? Is it a disease of civilization? We’re invited to learn the story of the discovery of genetic mutations, oncogenesis, and the development of chemotherapy, high-dose polychemotherapy, pap smears, mammograms, radiotherapy, and the like. It’s gorgeously written, with enough information to leave feeling satiated.

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping by Robert Sapolsky

9780805073690_p0_v1_s260x420This is a true treatise on neuroendocrinology. Topics covered are stress & its effects on immunity, human development, memory, metabolism, cardiovascular health, reproduction, voodoo death, and pain. The author is also hilarious–sarcasm is tough to pull off in print, but Sapolsky does it well. Highly recommended for any reader interested in the connection between stress & illness.

 

 

The Social Conquest of Earth by E.O. Wilson

12918295E.O. Wilson, the Harvard entymologist most famous for his advocacy of biological diversity, covers a lot in this book: eusociality strategies of insects & humans, paths to terrestrial conquest, and forces of social evolution. Essentially, insects’ evolutionary pace comparitively slow. They progressed (more or less) symbiotically with the biosphere, with the colony being a superorganism/genetic extension of the queen (and natural selection operating at this level, not at that of the individual). Human evolution stands in stark contrast, evolving quickly with natural selection operating at the individual and group level. This is a good pick for those interested in human evolution & social complexity.

Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

13530973I’m listening to the audiobook version of this, and will soon get a hard copy. I have to confess: I thought this was another book about resilience and robust systems. I was wrong, and apparently people like me (who initially confuse resilience and antifragility) annoy the author. Antifragility is the opposite of fragility. When volatility or a disruption occurs, fragile systems are disturbed (or, if unable to recover, collapse), robust systems are indifferent to some degree, and antifragile systems are invigorated. There are a lot of useful insights for medicine (things like hormesis). The author’s got a wicked sense of humor. A must-read for any systems thinker (looking at you, C3 grads & faculty).

: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo

SeeingTreesOne of my foci this season are trees and their medicine. In addition to reading Tree: A Life Story by David Suzuki (a biography of Douglas-fir trees, which you need to promise you’ll read), I’m also gracing through this book (a Christmas gift from my sweetheart). It’s a stunning compilation of naturalistic observations of trees through the seasons & their growth patterns. The photographs along are worth the purchase. Robert Llewellyn took several photographs of each plant part, each with a different focus. Layering the images, he presents a nearly microscopic view of tree parts that expands our senses & understanding of these majestic species. This is the book I leave on the coffee table to show off to guests. Anyone who loves trees & the study of botany will find delight here.

And I’d love to hear what you’re reading & learning about. Please leave a comment below!

Reading List: Winter 2012 (#2)

Snowstorms are conducive to being tucked in lots of blankets on the couch, fire blazing, tea in hand with a book (or 2 or 3). So I’ve assembled for you a list of books I’ve enjoyed that you may find delight in. (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 Lost Language of Plants: The Ecological Importance of Plant Medicines to Life on Earth by Stephen Harrod Buhner

51c2oH9DQUL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Buhner’s a great writer, and I’ve really been inspired about how he’s incorporated systemic thinking and complexity theory into human-plant relationships. In this book, he describes a variety of aspects of the flora kingdom’s role in the greater planetary picture–from biophilia to the ecological impacts of industrial medicine. Thought-provoking and beautiful.

 

 

The Genius Within: Discovering the Intelligence of Every Living Thing by Frank Vertosick

416Y9XAK4PL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I just started reading this. I think how we characterize intelligence is a crucial issue, and informs how we order and classify life forms and determines how we treat other living things. So maybe how we define and frame intelligence deserves more consideration. Plant folks, you’ll love this! Read more