Reading List: Spring 2012

For us in the North, we’ve made it through yet another Winter. Here, the clouds have lifted and the humble residents of Cascadia have been graced with an abundance of sunshine. The nettles are out, the alders, poplars and willows are budding. Swamp lantern/Skunk cabbage is not quite up yet, meaning that Spring has yet to fully arrive. So as the weather gets ready to get its Spring on, you can simultaneously get your think on. Here are some books I think you’ll enjoy this season. May they inspire you to imagine and grow in new ways this year!

Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization by Adrian Bejan and J. Peder Zane

51CrmugxY4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_It absolutely PAINS me to say that I’m on a book diet and haven’t read this…yet. This book came out just over a month ago and has been tantalizing me ever since. Here, the authors focus on a particular aspect of general systems theory (or, constructs and aspects of any kind of complex system) called Constructal Law. It was articulated by Bejan in 1996 as follows:

For a finite-size system to persist in time (to live), it must evolve in such a way that it provides easier access to the imposed currents that flow through it. It basically says that orientation to flows in a system are what governs its evolution. This book elucidates the implications and applications of this concept to social organizations, ecological dynamics, engineering, and many other fields. I literally cannot WAIT to get my paws on a copy.

The Origins of Evolutionary Innovations: A Theory of Transformative Change in Living Systems by Andreas Wagner

51cg6TtrjVL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_This book is a unique one. It sets out to articulate a theory of innovation in living systems. It is a dense read, and the heavy terminology may be daunting for some audiences. But for someone with a working knowledge of biology, this read will take you through a tour of the biological processes that allow organisms to innovate. This book would suit those curious about biological processes as well as those interested in biomimetic design.



The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World by Wade Davis

wayfindersI have yet to get my hands on this as well, and I’m quite excited to read it. Recently published, anthropologist Wade Davis reiterates the necessity for diversity and integrity of our global ethnosphere. The ethnosphere is the complex, collective social web of stories, narratives, structures of thought, language, spiritual constructs. When we lose cultures, we lose a part of our human heritage. Every culture is a unique answer to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive? This book addresses all these things, and I’d love for it to find its way to my overfilled bookshelf soon.

Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World by David Abram

spell-of-the-sensuousIf you haven’t already, I recommend dropping what you’re reading now and get a hold of this. It’s a must. It’s one of the most gorgeously written, inspiring and insightful books available. It’s a bit difficult to say what this book is about without doing it a terrible injustice. It’s abo  ut many things: the place of humans in the world, about the dependence of human cognition on the natural environment, landscapes of language, interspecies communication. Lyrical, ethereal, philosophical, and important.


About Author

Renée A. Davis MA RH is a designer and educator in botanical and mycological medicine. Her training began at the Pratt Institute of Art and Design in New York City and concluded in biomedical sciences at the University of Washington. She currently directs research and development for a nutraceutical mushroom company in the Pacific Northwest.

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