Three inspiring books for a mindful new year
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
The New Herbal, by Leonhart Fuchs
In 1543, German botanist Leonhart Fuchs published a catalogue of botanical remedies, outlining more than 500 plants and their healing properties complete with woodcut illustrations. It was the first visual document of plants including tobacco, kidney beans and cacti. Fuchs’s personal, hand-coloured copy is now being faithfully reproduced with facsimiles of the original texts, as well as an essay by pharmaceutical historian Werner Dressendörfer. In his introduction, Fuchs wrote that it would be “good and useful” that the herbs be cultivated “not only by physicians, but also by lay persons and commoners, in order that this same knowledge may daily grow and increase”. Taschen, £125
Natural Dyeing, by Kathryn Davey
Soak and boil eucalyptus bark and you’ll produce a rich ochre dye; a tincture of black beans gives a deep bluey-purple. These are some of the tricks and techniques in Dublin-based designer Kathryn Davey’s introduction to natural dyeing. The book guides novice dyers through the process of choosing fabrics, selecting the right plants for different shades and tones, as well as a range of projects to undertake – from colouring linen tablecloths to refreshing tired T-shirts or making furoshiki-inspired handbags. Hardie Grant, £15.99
Nudism in a Cold Climate, by Annebella Pollen
“A nudist camp somewhere in England: a ring of mature trees and freshly planted rhododendrons [...] A folding table is laden with tea in floral cups and saucers […] Leather sandals are cast aside.” This scene – as described in Annebella Pollen’s book charting the mid-20th-century phenomenon of nudism in Britain – was not apparently uncommon: from the 1930s, thousands of people joined naturist movements across the country. Through essays, photographs and adverts, Pollen reveals a radical subculture that sought to liberate conventional attitudes towards bodies at a time of social conservatism. Atelier Editions, £25