I was looking for a book to give my husband for his birthday. He is a big student of Native American literature of all genres, so I thought I’d “read” this one and see if he’d like it. I don’t think he would.
Stats: Published in 2013 (thought it was sooner than that), print is 391 pages, audio was published in 2016 and narrated by the author. Sorry- didn’t keep track of how many hours it was.
Blurb: As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these lenses of knowledge together to show that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings are we capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learning to give our own gifts in return.
What I liked: Kimmerer does a nice job of narrating the book. Not all authors are good narrators but Robin is. I think it is also an advantage because you get a better feel for the meaning behind the words, and Kimmerer is ALL about meaning – a deeper meaning of most everything! I particularly liked learning about the uses of various plants and how the Native Americans used various plants and why. Like my own German culture, I’m not sure why we would still use some of the things they used in the past because they didn’t have the luxury of wasting anything (head cheese is one examle), but to each his own. Of course, there are things that have been left behind that would be useful to look at again. It is also interesting to see how Kimmerer strattles academia and what she learned from her own culture. She has done a wonderful job of this and imparted some important thoughts to many of her students because of it or at least made them think.
What I didn’t like: The thing I had a hard time with is that notion of “meaning.” Kimmerer bestows a deeper meaning to almost everything she encounters, which is a bit much for me. It’s like the arguments an English professor may make about the meaning an author may have given the color of the walls in a room in a particular scene in a book – lets say blue. Maybe the color has no more meaning than blue is the author’s favorite color. Sometimes a rock is just a rock.
Rating: I struggled with giving this book a rating. I waffle between 3.5 or 4. It goes on at times a bit too much for my taste but it was well written overall and has some very interesting parts, so ultimately, I’ll give it a 4/5