Ranch Reading Recommendations: 8 Great Books I Read This Fall That Relate To Our Work
By Tim O’Hara, Ranch Core Team
During my annual visits to see family in the United States, I oftentimes have the opportunity to catch up on some reading that regularly alludes me during the busy seasons here in Mastatal. More than any year in recent memory, I felt as if I hit the jackpot with the titles that I was recommended, came across, and picked up this fall. Here’s a quick glance at them, all of which I’d suggest to anyone looking to add a good volume or two to their personal or professional library. I think that all of these titles are relevant to our work at the Ranch and the greater work that so many of you that read our blog are interested in.
The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease by Dr. Daniel Lieberman
An informative and thought-provoking book for readers interested in human and cultural evolution and how they have come together to impact our specie’s health in modern times.
The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and their Conflicting Visions of the Future of the Planet by Charles Mann
A dissertation about two philosophies on how to tackle current problems of feeding a growing global population and dealing with climate change. One view contemplates technological and engineering solutions while the other espouses resolutions with a softer touch on our environment.
Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder by Kent Nerbern
Nerbern documents the thoughts, beliefs and stories of a Lakota Sioux elder in this eye-opening, sometimes heartbreaking, and other times hopeful look at how humans might change the way they live to find common ground in addressing past atrocities and future challenges. It had been quite a few years since I read a book focusing on Native American challenges. I couldn’t put this book down once I started. Some other titles related to Native American history that I’ve read in the past and also recommend include Peter Matthiesson’s In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, John Neihardt’s Black Elk Speaks, and Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues.
Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari
An eye-opening book about the nature of anxiety and depression and some surprising strategies to deal with these increasingly challenging and difficult social issues. I read another of Hari’s books last fall entitled Chasing the Scream: The Opposite of Addiction is Connection. I raced through both books. Hari’s writing style is accessible, absorbing and compelling.
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness , Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence by Michael Pollen
A fascinating read about the history of psychedelics and their potential use to address social problems such as addiction, depression and terminal illness. Pollen strays from writing about food for the first that I know about in many years. I think that this is a courageous attempt to shed light on an oftentimes contentious, misunderstood and polemic subject that deserves another look by researchers, academia, medical professionals and society as a whole.
Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food by Wendell Berry
A nice compilation of essays about food and farming. Over the last decade or more I have repeatedly returned to Berry when I feel the need to reground. His essays are a refreshing look into the darkness of what has become of conventional agriculture in the United States and elsewhere.
The Gift of Good Land by Wendell Berry
A great collection of short essays by one of my favorite authors. Berry’s compositions never fail to get me thinking deeply about the topics that are most relevant to my future.
I’ll also add another book even though I haven’t finished it yet as it is offering a fascinating perspective about humans and our current predicaments.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
The book goes deeper into some topics populated by Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel and Charles Mann’s 1492. It’s a fascinating read that includes new research and theory as to how we have become the planet’s dominant species with insight as to why that argument is changing so quickly and alarmingly as humans impact the natural planetary systems that sustain them.
I found all of the books on this list riveting, well-written and provocative. They all had me at one time or another thinking about what I could be doing better as a father, business owner and global citizen. The information that I ingested was at times difficult to read, inspiring, despairing, hopeful and motivational. As I always appreciate personal recommendations for new books, I wanted to share with others the topics that have most recently been on the forefront of my evolving brain.