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Nature's Ways: Lore, Legend, Fact and Fiction (2006)
by Ruth Binney
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A book about natural lore can take many shapes: A history (what ancients thought you could do with a particular herb). A natural herb guide ("willow bark contains painkillers like asperin"). An anti-science screed. A lot of superstition.
This book has a little of each. The history of the use of herbs is truly fascinating, and most of it seems well-researched. The uses of herbal medicines -- it's not so clear. I'd love to see some scientific data to go with the other. And there is a little too much superstition for my taste.
Your mix of interests may vary. This is a readable book. It rarely goes into much depth, but that means that it gives at least fleeting coverage to a wide range of topics. Is it the book of lore I would take if I were going to be stranded on a desert island alone? Probably not. But if I were stranded with a doctor who had a real medicine kit, and then wanted to know about some other plants and animals in the vicinity, this could be rather appealing.
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Wikipedia in English (2)
Trying to understand the ways of the natural world has been a human preoccupation since the earliest times. The knowledge of which animals were helpful and which were dangerous, which plants had the power to heal and soothe and which to harm and kill was of obvious importance, not only to learn, but to remember and pass on.It is therefore hardly surprising that from all corners of the earth, a wealth of stories, signs, symbols, myths and legends about animals and plants have been passed down to us. There are sound principles in some of the traditional advice, wisdom in many of the stories and observations of nature, but there are also highly fanciful superstitions, tall stories and amusing anecdotes. Ruth Binney has collected them all into this entertaining and fascinating volume."Nature's Ways" is a fascinating and absorbing miscellany of traditional wisdom, stories, signs and symbols of the natural world. There are intriguing tales of everything from mythical monsters and magical plants to domestic pets and humble weeds, as well as generations of advice, both sound and dubious, from age-old country remedies to predicting the weather through the observation of nature.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)398.36 — Social sciences Customs, Etiquette, Folklore Folklore Real phenomena as subjects of folklore Scientific themes
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Nature's Way is just such a book. 1 page of small nuggets, each relating to an animal, plant, health, superstition, etc. Each one covers more myth, legend and lore than fact, but they're interesting, even if not likely to be useful even on the odd Trivial Pursuit game night.
Easy to flick through, put down, and pick up, it's perfect for those times when you're brain is too busy mustering up an immune response to focus on anything ... else. ( )