If you dislike reading, tune out now because this is the third post about books in two weeks. #Nerdalert OR get into it man! Now’s the time. Okay, I’ll shut up. Last week I touched on the positives of reading and clued you in on the books I was reading. You can see them all on our sidebar to the right and just FYI anything that you buy from Amazon by clicking through from our website kicks back a few cents to us at no additional cost to you. Pretty cool, huh?
I mentioned in my Year in Readview post that I was working on The Nature Fix : Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative – a neuroscience read but written by a journalist, not a scientist, so equal parts informative and entertaining. That sounded like a dig on scientists, it wasn’t, but geez their books can be a little heavy and hard to get through. Once I really focused on reading this book, I flew through it in three days.
Florence Williams does an excellent job of setting the scene for each city, park, and wilderness space she spends time in. She also lays out the scientific process and experiments as well as potential knowledge gaps in an understandable and often comedic manner. It’s easy to process without being bogged down by too many details and yet she’s not just skimming over the science stuff. She’s not skimming at all actually, this entire book focuses on our mental and physical health and yet it doesn’t read like a textbook. Ahem. You can also tell that Florence is doing her due diligence to not just feed you the success stories. She’s honest and she mentions the less than perfect results of some studies, again I point to the background in journalism. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I was learning something page after page, positives about spending time in nature that I could share with my Schu Tours adventure groups and friends alike.
You’ll Enjoy Reading This Book If :
- You love nature and you want to know why you feel so good after a jaunt in the woods.
- You hate spending time in nature, but secretly feel a little better after doing so.
- You are in an industry that is encouraging folks to spend time in nature.
- You are in an industry that deals with mental health in any capacity.
- You are interested or involved in architecture, design, or city planning.
- You’re an educator and you want to know how nature can improve your students’ learning.
- You’re interested in neuroscience and psychology.
- You’re a parent OR honestly a caring friend because this book will encourage you and those you love to spend as much time outdoors as possible.
I thought it would be interesting to also fill in the benefits of reading list I shared on the Read With Me post with actual examples from the book I finished today, The Nature Fix by Florence Williams. I may end up doing this with every book I read this year. I feel like it’s a good review and it tests my list and hey, it might possibly expand it too. We’ll see.
Why We Should Read More Often :
Expands your vocabulary and improves your writing
I found myself using the Kindle dictionary dozens of times while reading The Nature Fix. It reminded me that I use context clues while reading paperback books and there are definitely some words that slip by not fully understood or appreciated. I also enjoyed how Florence Williams purposefully introduced foreign words while she was reporting in other countries. It’s just one more way to properly set the scene and invite the viewer in.
Here are a few of my favorite or new to me words from The Nature Fix :
- Biophilia – the passionate love of life and of all that is alive; it is the wish to further growth, whether in a person, a plant, an idea or a social group.
- Weet – to rain slightly
- Williwaw – a sudden violent squall
- Wewire – to flit about as foliage does in the wind
Improves your understanding of the world
The Nature Fix introduced a few really intriguing facts, here are just a couple, BTW I’m leaving out all the scientific study details that come before and after the facts below, you need to read the book for that 😉 :
“Leisurely forest walks, compared to urban walks, deliver a 12 percent decrease in cortisol levels. But that wasn’t all; they recorded a 7 percent decrease in sympathetic nerve activity, a 1.4 percent decrease in blood pressure, and a 6 percent decrease in heart rate. On psychology questionnaires, they also report better moods and lowered anxiety.”
“In fascinating studies, people have been hooked up to electrocardiogram monitors while sleeping through plane, train, and traffic noise. Whether or not they woke up, their sympathetic nervous systems reacted dramatically to the sounds, elevating their heart rates, blood pressure, and respiration. In one study that lasted three weeks, the subjects showed no biological signs of habituating to the noise, and in another study that lasted for years, the biological effects only got worse.”
“The research showed that income-related health disparities were greatest in areas with the least green. Here, poor people were twice as likely to die as their rich neighbors. In the greenest areas, though, poorer people did relatively much better, starting to catch up to the longer lives of the rich. In other words, there was something protective about the greenery for the most deprived people, either by providing more areas for exercise or by otherwise buffering poverty-related stress.”
There’s also a chapter devoted to the fractal patterns that are present in nature and our brains cravings for them. This chapter blew my fucking mind, especially because I thought about all the EDM DJs and light shows I’ve seen over the years and realizing those patterns paired with music had a therapeutic effect on my brain and were part of the reason I (and the 30,000 other people) loved the shows so damn much.
Prepares you to take action and create change
The Nature Fix is a great example of a book that prepares you for action and change. There are chapters after chapters of scientific evidence and anecdotes that encourage you to spend time outdoors. It’s really hard to sit inside on a sunny day when you’ve read 259 pages proving that being outside in nature is great for your mental and physical wellbeing. Even just five hours a month (that’s the minimal prescription) has a massive effect.
Boosts your imagination and creativity
In The Nature Fix, Florence Williams goes into great detail to describe the different urban and natural spaces in each country she visits. Part of the reason for this is because there’s usually a scientific experiment being carried out and she wants you to be well informed, but also so that you can picture the environments and discern the differences between them depending on the city or country. Not all forests (or cities for that matter) are created equal and in this book, you must actively picture them to differentiate the degree of wilderness.
Improves brain function
Piggybacking off that last point, I found myself comparing the forests described to various ones I’ve visited throughout my lifetime. So while this book was causing you to picture the cityscapes and natural spaces, it also encouraged recalling environments from your own past and then comparing them to the spaces in the book. More than that, there are dozens of new concepts introduced in this book paired with scientific study so you’re having to comprehend the new concept and suss out exactly how the study will try to find a particular cause and effect.
Reading sets a great example for those around you
I can’t say that someone saw me reading this book and then ran up to ask about it because this particular one was on a Kindle, but with paperback books that does happen often. Usually, a friend asks what I’m reading and if they’re interested, I send them the book next. I will certainly mention bits and pieces of this book during my meditation classes though so it could potentially inspire someone to read it.
Again, this isn’t a competition, but if it was……..