The Nature Fix by Florence Williams

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: How spending as little as 30 minutes a week in nature can help us be happier.

What made me pick it up: I’m a nature girl. I grew up running through orchards and living outside in our yard. My favorite pastimes reinforce what this book tells me is true — nature helps. More of it is better.

My favorite things: I love that she includes the research. I love that there is research that says we need more, not less, exposure to nature and that it can lead to all sorts of health benefits like less depression and ADHD. It might even be equal to or better than meditation! I enjoyed that she tells it as her personal journey to find out what works and why and how to incorporate more of it into her life. It makes me want to add “go for a walk in the trees” to my to do list and “end up somewhere wild” to my travel plans.

Who it’s great for: Nature enthusiasts of all stripes. Tree lovers. Walkers. People who feel a bit off and are looking for a solution.

Erica’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells


Find a copy in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).


 

Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: This book traces racist ideas and their impact on African American and other Black lives in the US from the earliest arrival of European settlers through today. Okay, so I have one problem with this book: the subtitle. Not a lot of time is given to other people of color in the US and, realistically, one book couldn’t do that and probably shouldn’t try. I definitely don’t want to diminish the impact of the book-I think it’s very well done and important. To me the subtitle is a little misleading, but maybe it’s just me.

What made me pick it up: It won the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction, and I’m trying to make sure that I read all of the winners.

My favorite things: This book is meticulously researched and incredibly thorough. Kendi breaks down racist belief systems into a variety of often conflicting ideas. He identifies assimilationist and segregationist thoughts that have sometimes been used to promote civil rights, and contrasts them with truly antiracist ideas. Kendi does a great job of illustrating the ways these ideas have been built upon over time and how we have arrived in the current moment with some voices declaring a “post-racial” society while others point out clear racial tensions and divisions.

Who it’s great for: People who want to understand where the Black Lives Matter movement came from and why it seems so divisive. History buffs interested in a different focus than they may be used to reading. Readers interested in racial justice and civil rights.

Abby’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells

Grunt by Mary Roach

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: Oddball military history and research. Its subtitle says it all – “The curious science of humans at war.”

What made me pick it up: Mary Roach is one of my favorite nonfiction writers, so as soon as I saw it was coming out I placed a hold.

My favorite things: This book is so informative and hilarious. I really enjoyed learning the behind-the-scenes aspects of military research and historical information that Roach covers. She is my journalistic idol.

Who it’s great for: Teens or adults. Anyone interested in random military anecdotes and being entertained. Roach fans who want another great read.

Erica’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells