"Nature is our home, and in nature we are at home. This strange, multicolored and astonishing world that we explore - where space is granular, time does not exist, and things are nowhere - is not something that estranges us from our true selves, for this is only what our natural curiosity reveals to us about the place of our dwelling. About the stuff of which we ourselves are made. We are made of the same stardust of which all things are made, and when we are immersed in suffering, or when we are experiencing intense joy, we are being nothing other than what we can't help but be: a part of our world...." -- Carlo Rovelli

I've been tearing through some books and podcasts recently. It may be the wooing of my front porch swing or the hours and hours spent on long road trips that allow for more time to read for pleasure and zone into a podcast series more intensely. In any case - it's most welcome. For the past several months, almost ALL of the books and podcasts absorbed into my brain have been recommendations from friends and colleagues that did not disappoint. I've been really drawn to science meets intuitive wisdom lately and reading anything I can get my hands on to this extent. 

Books  ------

Braiding Sweetgrass - a gift from my Aunt this past holiday, and a lovely reminder of our connection to our ancestry, our traditions, our connection with the earths seasonal gifts, and our ability (and responsibility) to share life's pleasures and nature's bounty.

The Hidden Life of Trees - to quench my desire to get to know my towering, leafy friends on a more personal level. 

Harvest - if you have a garden, you must read this book! Not only is it strikingly beautiful (those photos!), but the recipes it provides for dozens of garden and backyard treasures are so fun! I want to make every single thing in this book - especially the pickled rhubarb and the herbed salts. 

Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians - I'm planning a private retreat in June to the Virginia mountains of Appalachia to do a weekend herb walk and medicine making workshop with some of my friends and colleagues (you can read about last year's dry run here). Appalachia is SO FULL of traditional folk medicine with a rich history of herbal use, although so little of this knowledge is in written form. It's a verbal tradition, passed from generation to generation. But for some preliminary reading (and to brush up a bit myself), I'm re-reading this tried and true classic, filled with dozens of Appalachian herbs, their use and medicine making tips. 

7 Brief Lessons on Physics - a sweet find from listening to the On Being podcast with guest Carlo Rovelli. His interview is one of my favorites in that podcast series, and his little pocket sized book is a much needed reminder of the wonders and complexities all around us (and the basics of physics I've forgotten over the years...)

Podcasts ------

On Being - with every free moment I'm listening to Krista Tippet's interviews in this beautiful podcast. Her guests have really opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and perspectives I've never considered on everything from poetry to physics to music to religion. Definitely worth a listen. 

Invisibilia - all about the invisible forces that control human behavior and it's mind blowing

Stuff You Should Know - what to know more about __________? They've got it on this podcast. Applicable to all the gardeners right now : How Composing Works

Revisionist History - this was a frequent go-to on a recent road trip I took to New Orleans, and if you're a history junkie like me, it's an interesting perspective on the little bits of history we may not think twice about - but dives deep into the long forgotten details of those seemingly insignificant historical characters and their bigger impact on the world today. 

What are some of the books and podcasts that you've been loving lately? I'm on the hunt for upcoming summer reads and podcasts for upcoming road trips and travels! Share yours below...

Photo by Renee Byrd

Now that it's porch sitting weather (at least here in the south), I've been craving the moments and sometimes hours during the day when I can sit on the front porch swing, surrounded by our newly potted herb plants and budding landscape to soak in some stories, some lilac scented breezes and sun filled moments. We're in the sweet spot in Richmond now where it's just perfect to be outside before the mosquitoes come in droves to eat us alive. I'm taking advantage of every minute. While spring emerges, I've been spending intentional time clawing my way out from the humdrum pit of winter hibernation and full blown uninspired mode. I've been reaching for books and people/authors that have some insight, some uplifting personal saga or reinforced notion that we can snap out of ourselves for a while for awesome things to flow through and out of us. And I've certainly found a few...

For the Body:

The Path of Practice; A Women's book of Ayurvedic Healing - It's no secret that I adore Maya Tiwari and all of her books and practices. I've mentioned several of her books in previous Book Nook posts, but surprisingly I had not read The Path of Practice until this very month! This book I know will be an ever serving ally for me as a practitioner, because I can sometimes get a little too methodical (and crunched for time) in developing my treatment plans that I lose sight of the foundational, spiritual and rhythmic undertones of the medicine. This book is the core essence of an Ayurvedic healing path and journey, and I'm so inspired reading her story and how she developed (and shares!) her path of practice with daily rituals, nourishing foods, spiritual connection and ancient wisdom. 

Mastering the Art of Fermentation - When the weather starts to warm up, I basically want to ferment everything and eat it all day long. There's something about the sweet, salty vinegary goodness of fermented foods I can't seem to get enough of in the spring and summer, and this book is loaded with unique recipes and tips to master my (sometimes lazy and unsuccessful) fermentation technique. 

For the Mind:

The Tree - A natural history of what trees are, how they live and why they matter. Because I'm a tree obsessed nerd and love learning about different genus and species of trees and how they exist in the world. I used to be ridiculously good at tree ID (thanks undergrad degree in Horticulture!) but I've fallen out of it since grad school so I need to brush up on my tree acquainting skills. Also, I need to constantly keep up with my tree obsessed nerd fiancé, an arborist, who is always quizzing me on the trees that we pass by...everywhere we go...

For the Soul:

Meditations - This is the journal of Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome from 161-180 and before you yawn with historical blasé I've always loved this rich, geographic part of history and I stumbled upon his Meditations in a used book store up in Pennsylvania several months ago. It's jam packed with simple and profound truths, how to examine life, emotions, dealings with other people, and how to be abundant and grateful on an ever generous (and also tumultuous) earth. Wise words, and some profound sutras flowed from his brain, and I'll definitely be reading this over and over and over again.

What's on your nightstands this spring season? I'd love to hear your book recommendations and what's inspiring you right now!

Admittedly, my time for leisure reading comes in waves sometimes. Months go by where all I seem to read are pubmed articles and other months when I'm can't be bothered to do anything else other than read Harry Potter from start to finish. But like most things in my life, I like moderation and balance, and that means reading things for pleasure and joy every day while also keeping up with all the work related stuff too. At the start of the year, I wanted to carve out more time for home-life things, meaning tucking my computer away when I come home each day and focusing on more creative tasks that don't involve a computer screen. So far - it's been blissfully rewarding to do this, and I've curated a few truly awesome books to tide me through the wee dark hours before I drift off to sleep every night...

For the Body

Big Magic - After a couple of years (yes, years) of feeling pretty plum out of inspiration and creative endeavors, this self described non-self help book is pretty freakin' awesome. It's not so much about how to live a creative life, but why we should live a creative life. And that reminder, that permission, that transition is all most of us need to invite creativity back in to our lives. I was turned onto this idea from Elizabeth Gilbert's own Ted Talk about the elusive creative genius and daemons in the walls and little creative goblins that come and go and not taking total fault in crappy (or amazing) work. I love that concept, and personally feel like it's pretty right on.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up - I've actually been wanting to hop on this bandwagon for months now after practically everyone I talked to somehow worked this book into our conversation. It's been incredibly fun to read through the KonMari method of keeping your house in order and getting rid of things that don't serve you (or "spark joy"). I haven't done the full blown show down on my own house (because I share it with someone who is kind of the antithesis of the KonMari method so that would be disastrous), but in certain places, it made a huge and magical difference! For real. 

For the Mind

Lapham's Quarterly - I've had a subscription to this for several years, and it comes with me most places I go. It's filled with short stories, excerpts and glimpses into already published works that follow a collective theme for every issue. Themes like Nature, or Youth, Revolutions or Spies etc. I'm one of those people that can't just mess around on their phone when they're waiting for something or bored. I have to be reading something, and if I don't have something to read, my brain feels robbed of a good story. This is my perfect literary companion to take with me everywhere, because who knows when you'll need something good and short to read during the open moments of the day.  

For the Soul

Animal Vegetable Miracle - Because I re-read this book over and over again, and it's my favorite for the beginning of spring and all the joyful wonderful things that happen when you have a home garden and a devotion to the land. I think it was this book, 10 years ago, that really got me into the path of nutrition while I was working as an organic gardener. And still to this day, this book makes my inner summer child come pouring out (and solidifies my love of Virginia!). 

What are your favorite early spring / summer books to get you in the spirit of the new seasons or into your creative groove? I'd love to hear more recommendations!

Herbal medicine and nutrition is my expertise. Understanding plants, their properties, and their powers is my passion.


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