Book Challenge 17: A Book That Will Make You Smarter

So for this challenge I took it as a nonfiction book. Obviously, I believe reading in general makes you smarter, but for this challenge that seemed the most likely way to fulfill it.

So as you can see I read the National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herb: The World’s Most Effective Healing Plants by Rebecca L. Johnson, Steven Foster, Theraona Low Dog, and David Kiefer.

So what made me want to sit down and read a book on plants for fun? Is it because my friends like to joke that I’m Neville Longbottom? Is it because I wanted something to put myself to sleep? Is it because I’m missing school so much I have to read boring books to compensate?

Some of all of those are true, but mostly it’s the fact that my family has an herb garden, and that I know nothing about those herbs beyond how they might season dishes. I was well aware before beginning this book that herbs do often have medicinal effects, and also aware it is a controversial matter medicinally, so I thought I’d get a good scientific book on these amazing plants so I could learn more about the science behind them.

My family herb garden!

My family herb garden!

And I definitely learned a lot and feel smarter after reading that. I now know that the ancient Greeks thought Parsley was sacred to the dead and that picking it would bring disaster. I know that the first licorice candy was made in 1760. I learned that Calendula was used by Civil War soldiers to staunch bleeding and does in fact help with wounds. I now know that in 1945 there were Ginkgo trees in Hiroshima that survived the blast.

Anyhow, my mind is full of random trivia now, and I know a lot more about what those little plants growing in the back of my house actually do. So I really did appreciate this challenge in teaching me more about different things in the word.

As to my thoughts on the actual book, I’d have to say even though it’s nonfiction it’s a pretty incredible resource. The book was divided into very logical sections, putting plants into the areas of health they are most effective for, and then it gave each plant four pages.

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One page has a beautiful typical National Geographic photo. The next has a section about the history of the usage of the plant including a handy timeline with some interesting facts. The third page has some information on the different species and variety of that typical plant, it’s growing habits, how to grow it yourself (if possible in your region) and harvest. The fourth page includes its therapeutic uses, a home recipe, some medical studies done on the plant, the various ways it can be consumed, and some precautions (which I thought was great).

Overall, I thought the book did a good job of breaking down information in a logical and visually pleasing way. I found it easy to read, in spite of its content, and loved the gorgeous pictures. I also appreciated the fact that it did include some scientific studies rather than just folklore on the plant in general, and I loved the thorough warnings for each herb, especially some that highly recommended consulting a physician before consuming.

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So, many of you are probably wondering…what are you taking away from this book? Well, knowledge of course. Being smarter. But I will probably be doing a few tests with a few of the less dangerous herbs. So far the only I’ve actually made an effort with is using some lemon balm and mint leaves to try to promote sleep and relaxation. I’ve started adding them to some premixed chamomile packets and so far I’ve found it pretty good for my sleep.

I think the only other remedies I’m really eager to try are some of the recipes for more normal fruit like grapes or pomegranate. The main thing is that I’m being cautious and recognizing that while knowledge of these plants is good, I may still not be well versed enough in them to know if consuming them regularly is actually going to be beneficial. So for now I’m being quite cautious with my new knowledge, as I think most people should be.

Have you done any nonfiction reading lately? Anyone have some good book recommendations for this challenge? What do you find most important in a nonfiction read? Any other thoughts on this challenge?

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Other challenges I’ve completed:

1 A book I own but haven’t read

2 A book that was made into a movie

5 A book published this year

9 A book with a color in the title

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Book Challenge 17: A Book That Will Make You Smarter

  1. Cool book! I love National Geographic–they have some really interesting stuff out there.

  2. Interesting post. I did quite a bit of research on natural poisons for Glencara’s Bane when I was writing it. I was amazed at how sometimes the WAY you use it makes all the difference. I can recommend Erik Larson’s books if you want to read something historical. I especially liked Isaac’s Storm, about the September 8, 1900 hurricane that leveled a lot Galveston. The book details how the U.S. Weather Bureau and the weather stations in Cuba failed to work together and thus missed predicting that hurricane in time. I found it fascinating. I’ve read three of his books.

    • Very interesting on poisons, hadn’t even considered that. I’ll keep those recommendations in mind. I have a harder time motivating myself to read nonfiction, but I know it’s good for me so I really should try to read more. Thanks for your lovely comments!

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