Summer Is Icumen In! Three Books on Enjoying the Natural World

by Jared Jenisch, Reference Librarian

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Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness is a book about the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, spending time in forests for the specific purpose of improving one’s physiological and mental health.  In Japan much research has been conducted on the healing benefits of time spent in the woods in a contemplative way. It reduces the production of stress hormones, speeds healing, lowers blood pressure, and stimulates the immune system, all in empirically demonstrable ways.  The author, Dr. Qing Li, Chairman of the Japanese Society for Forest Medicine (how long until the U.S. has one of these?), is well-situated to provide an overview of the different ways everyone can enjoy this practice.

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Creating Sanctuary: Sacred Garden Spaces, Plant-Based Medicine, and Daily Practices to Achieve Happiness and Well-Being, by Jesse Bloom, is a beautifully illustrated book on creating sanctuary spaces in gardens, making use of the healing strengths of herbs, and reconnecting with one’s local landscape.  The author is a landscape designer, horticulturist, and aborist, and brings expertise from each of these practices to bear on the creation and enjoyment of sacred spaces.

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Sky Runner: Finding Strength, Happiness, and Balance in Your Running, by Emelie Forsberg, is an even more lavishly illustrated evocation of the pleasures of spending time outdoors.  Emelie Forsberg is four-time champion of the Sky Runner World Series and the record holder for five ultrarunning race courses.  While most of us may not be up for eight-hour sprints across high-altitude ridgelines, it is impossible to spend time with this book and not come away inspired to enjoy the natural world.   It is mostly a memoir of her experiences with competitive running, but also includes a selection of recipes and a brief guide to yoga for runners.


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