This month’s selection of the best new lifestyles titles offers gentle reminders to connect to the earth, ask for directions and breathe.
★ The Healing Garden
Two of the first things you’ll see in The Healing Garden are a close-up of a hummingbird cupped in author Deb Soule’s hand and an acknowledgment that her herbal farm occupies Indigenous people’s ancestral lands. Together, these things set a lovely tone for her new guide to herbalism. The founder of Avena Botanicals and author of How to Move Like a Gardener, Soule has cultivated healing plants and worked with them for medicine and wellness for more than four decades. Her wisdom comes with a gentle summons to mindfulness and a plea to embrace a broader awareness of nature’s cycles. She walks us through drying herbs for teas and infusions and guides us in making tinctures, vinegars, honeys, oils and more. Individual profiles of 18 healing plants dig deep into the history and properties of each, along with tips for growing and processing. Both practical and mystical, this is a beautiful, heartfelt guide to an ancient field of study that is experiencing renewed interest.
I almost let Hallie Bateman’s Directions slip past. What can I say? I’m a Taurus, and I don’t always love being told what to do, so affirmations in large quantities make me queasy. But once I started paging through this colorful, scrappy little book, I couldn’t stop, and I might have even smiled. A few personal faves:
“Dance and encourage dancing but don’t force anyone to dance.”
“Apply lotion regularly and generously. Get old anyway.”
“Conjure specialness from thin air. Invent holidays, traditions, and surprises. (Duck Day, Ice Cream Tuesday, etc.)”
This would be a fun one to leave by the bed in a guest room or an Airbnb, since almost anyone will find a direction or two that resonates with them. Happily, Bateman’s book has prompted me to explore her larger body of work; her Instagram account is one to follow.
Simplicity at Home
I’ve been daydreaming about travel; haven’t we all? I yearn to wander a new city, to chance upon an exquisite shop where the artfully arranged goods and decor and lighting and background music all work in tandem to create an immersive experience. Yumiko Sekine’s shop in Tokyo, Fog Linen Work, would surely fit the bill, but for now we have Simplicity at Home, which presents Sekine’s “joyful minimalist” way of living and thoughtful devotion to reusing, repairing and creating harmony with the seasons. The pages are filled with neutrals, spare arrangements of housewares like small ceramic bowls and wooden spoons, neatly folded cloths, bright bunches of vegetables, tiny seeds on white plates, a clutch of flowering branches in a clear glass jar—and of course, delicately rumpled linen for days. If home is a bit suffocating lately, take a trip through this book, make some cold noodles for lunch, fold your socks and breathe.