Books on such topics as herbalism, traditional food prep, and indigenous spiritual practices reflect a shifting worldview as readers seek ways to live more holistic, balanced lives, says Doug Reil, executive director and associate publisher at North Atlantic Books. “People are seeing it’s difficult to justify certain ways of living,” he says. “Readers are looking for alternatives.”

In Talking Story: One Woman’s Quest to Preserve Ancient Spiritual and Healing Traditions (North Atlantic Books, Dec.), author Marie-Rose Phan-Le uses a narrative approach to outline practices including healing, shamanism, plant medicine, and divination, says editor Vanessa Ta. Phan-Le, after a falling out with her spiritual guru, left her home in Seattle and traveled extensively for 18 months in 2000 and 2001. Along the way, she recorded the ancient traditions of mystics, shamans, and truth-tellers in Hawaii, Nepal, India, China, and Vietnam, and chronicled her personal journey to become a healer. (Also available is a companion DVD that Phan-Le wrote, produced, and directed.)

North Atlantic’s Sustainable Revolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide, edited by Juliana Birnbaum and Louis Fox (2014), examines the ancient traditions that are being used to address today’s global challenges. Such interest in natural and organic approaches is “becoming more accessible and in the mainstream,” Ta says. “It’s not as woo-woo as it used to be.”

Milkweed has just released a paperback edition of September 2013’s Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. To date, says managing director Patrick Thomas, the title has sold 10,000 units, 6,000 of them hardcover and the rest in e-book and early paperback sales. Kimmerer, who teaches at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Forestry in Syracuse, is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Using her scientific knowledge and indigenous worldview, the author proposes a broad, long-range plan to heal the world. “People are tired of one-off solutions: save this lake, save that animal,” Thomas explains, and Braiding Sweetgrass offers “a way of interacting with the landscape for thousands of years. If we’re ready to listen to the plants and the elders, we can learn, too.”

Also on the holistic living shelf, Women Healers of the World: The Traditions, History, and Geography of Herbal Medicine by Holly Bellebuono (Skyhorse, Sept.) shares 16 plant-based healing traditions and highlights the stories of 30 women who have practiced them. Many of these practices are endangered, says North Atlantic’s Reil, adding, “Maybe it’s not too late to keep some of these traditions alive.”

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