Book Review: A Well-Gardened Mind

The next book on my Summer Reading Syllabus is The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature by Sue Stuart-Smith.

Part science writing, part journalistic anecdotes, in this book Sue Stuart-Smith demonstrates the myriad ways in which spending time in and working with nature (e.g. gardening) is good for the mind and soul. Stuart-Smith is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst by day and hobby-gardener by night.

I would give this book 3.5 stars. It was okaaay…I learned some neat facts, but it mostly just confirmed what I already intuitively knew (that gardening makes you happy!) and the way the book was structured made it feel a bit repetitive (gardening is good for prisoners! gardening is good for trauma victims! gardening is good for the elderly! gardening is good for soldiers! gardening is good for…okay I get it.). Stuart-Smith presents evidence that gardening boosts feel-good brain chemicals, like serotonin, and lowers stress hormones, like cortisol, so it’s no surprise that so many people took up gardening as a hobby during the pandemic.

If you’re interested in both brain chemistry and gardening (a very specific niche), then this is the book for you. For the rest of you, I’ll leave you with one not-so-fun fact from this book: the average child today spends less time outdoors than a maximum security prisoner. Isn’t that sad?

One thought on “Book Review: A Well-Gardened Mind”

  1. OH, what an awful statistic about kids being outdoors! Nate and Claire did a little bit of gardening but a lot of outdoor sports. Also good for the brain!

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