A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Book Review

The Book of Highs by Edward Rosenfeld

Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change by Mary Beth Pfeiffer

Looking to explore mindfulness, buck anti-intellectual trends, and hook into an expansive holistic mindset all at once?  Edward Rosenfeld’s The Book of Highs: 255 Ways to Alter Your Consciousness (Workman) looks like the update of a 1973 classic that it is, boldly illustrated and similar to the old OMNI magazines its author once edited. At first glance the copy seems similarly tilted towards the psychedelic, but then the care with which this compendium of knowledge has been organized and written shines through. It’s a remarkably concise, thoughtful, inspiring and cathartic book.

Rosenfeld is an omniscient polymath whose regular Poetry Science Talks North have long been considered THE salon of our times and region. In The Book of Highs, he puts forth a perfect summation of the wide breadth of knowledge we have inherited, simultaneously outlining a much-needed sense of validation of all we once knew but have sidelined in our constant pursuit of the new now that we can wiki everything. Consider, for example, an entry on migraines as a means of altering one’s consciousness as “a visual manifestation of the inner workings of our consciousness” while pointing us in the direction of a virtual-reality “migraine simulator” available at excedrin.com as a means of building empathy. Read about the ways by which one can gain new, unexpected experiences in crowds, from simple running, through electronic dance music, and from all the therapies available to one these days (as well as religions and other modes of belief).

We hope, and suspect, this will become a bestseller.

Also new on bookshelves this month is Mary Beth Pfeiffer’s Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change (University of British Columbia Press), which takes what we once thought of as a localized epidemic and its rapid spread around the globe as ticks move into places they could not survive before, infecting half a million people in the US and Europe each year, and untold multitudes in Canada, China, Russia, and Australia. Pfeiffer shows how we have contributed to this growing menace, and how modern medicine has underestimated its danger, through heart-rending stories of families destroyed by a single tick bite, of children disabled, and of one woman’s tragic choice after an exhaustive search for a cure. The book furthermore warns of the emergence of other tick-borne illnesses that make Lyme more difficult to treat and pose their own grave risks. The book is impeccably researched and a major step forward in realizing humanity’s role in this growing modern scourge.

Finally, a quote from what’s promising to be a pretty cool book currently in the editing phase: “Often people working with the existing consciousness are jealous of those who are more in touch and they become hard-core capitalist in hopes of creating the illusion that the value of money is worth more than the value of time and friends.” Who’s the author? How about Kanye West, who tweeted the quote as a sneak preview of the philosophy book he’s written, Break the Simulation. Stay tuned.