Theresa MacPhail, author of Allergic: Our Irritated Bodies in a Changing World recommends a fantastic feast of books!! Before jumping into the interview, please check out Theresa's book:
Q. Do you have a favourite smart thinking book (and why that book)?
The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker.
My favorite smart thinking book is probably The Denial of Death. It's written by another anthropologist, Ernest Becker, who had terminal cancer when he wrote it. In sum, he argues that we're so busy trying to deal with the existential terror of the knowledge that we all have to die, that we have created all of culture to mask that fear or help us to cope with it. But ironically, the more we push the thought of death from our minds, the worse off we are as a culture. It has terrible consequences. And I think about that a lot, especially now when we're dealing with wars, environmental disasters, high inflation. He seems right.
Q. What's the most recent smart thinking book you've read (and how would you rate it)?
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake.
I absolutely loved Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake. I would give it 5 out of 5 stars. The way he interweaves his own experiences as a researcher of fungi into the book, taking us into forests, making us feel like we're able to smell the soil and think about all the fungal networks that give life to the trees and other plants around them is mesmerizing. I learned a lot about how fungi work, but more importantly, I learned a lot about what we still don't understand about fungus and how important they are to our ecosystems. I think books like that really helps us all to see how 'entangled' we truly are with other species and why it's important that we start taking them into account when we make decisions.
Q. Do you have a favourite childhood book?
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.
As a kid, I absolutely loved Great Expectations. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I grew up in poverty and I liked the rags-to-riches tale. But Dickens always seemed to understand something about the human condition, and he was really entertaining and good at depicting how people live. Something about that ending still haunts me. How miserable Estella was. How she gave up love for a comfortable life and pride. It's a warning about chasing after money that I still think about regularly.
Q. Do you prefer reading on paper, Kindle or listening to an audiobook?
I am a paper person. I cannot do the others. I have to take notes in the margins! I have to underline! I have to be able to sniff the paper! (I know how that sounds, but I love the smell of paper books.)
Q. Do you have a favourite bookshop (and why that shop)?
I really appreciate the Strand in NYC. I like the mixture of new books and used books. I like that they have just about anything you could ever want. And I adore their rare books section. I could stand in there dreaming about starting my own rare books library for ages.
Many thanks to Theresa for recommending a fantastic feast of books!! Please don't forget to check out Allergic: Our Irritated Bodies in a Changing World.
Image Copyrights: Penguin Books Ltd (Allergic: Our Irritated Bodies in a Changing World), Profile Books Ltd (The Denial of Death), Vintage Publishing (Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures), Penguin Random House Children's UK (Great Expectations).