2022 Summer Book List

Alberto Carbo
It has been said before that the books you read, mold and shape, the future you. Thanks to long hours of dedication and sacrifice on behalf of many experienced herbalists, aspiring plant enthusiasts today are fortunate to have a plethora of herbals to choose from, and of exceptional quality. Three decades ago, you would be hard-pressed to find a variety of herbal books.

There is no understating the value of reading when learning about herbs, or anything for that matter. The only issue today is that there are so many herbal books available. It can become overwhelming and difficult to choose which ones to read first.

To shine a little light on this interesting conundrum, we decided to ask the Faculty at the Matthew Wood Institute of Herbalism to give us a few guiding words on books they would recommend, so we could compile a summer reading list. We hope that this list will save you time during the selection process, so that you can spend more time under the shade of a great big tree, reading about all things herbal.

Search titles and authors to purchase books from your favorite source. Books by Faculty can also be found on their sites, see the Faculty page.


Chris McPadden has been a practicing herbalist since June 2002. Having grown up with an Ojibwe/Mêtis grandmother and a father who grew up on a homestead, Chris was introduced to the spiritual path, as well as plant and animal medicines, early on.

Chris commented that books are great for learning about herbalism, especially if you are a beginner, however, he states quite clearly that the most important lessons will come from the plants themselves. He says: ‘Get outside and be with the plants as much as possible. Grow them from seed and watch them grow. Tend a stand. You truly learn the best this way.’


Hailing from the Blue Ridge Mountains, author, herbalist, and teacher Amanda Nicole, gives us her take on the best books for students.

For beginners, she recommends the Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood the most, recounting how this book opened up the world of plant medicine for her, by vicariously experiencing Matthew’s connection with the plants through his writing. This book inspires.

School of the Elemental Beings by Karsten Massei, is the book that Amanda recommends most often. Communicating directly with your soul, by speaking of water, trees, and land, this book will transform the way in which you experience the world.

Being an author herself, be sure to read Amanda’s book, Flowers for a Girl: Plant Medicine and Sexual Trauma, a personal tale of trauma and transformation. Amanda weaves words into medicine, revealing the beautiful alchemy possible with the plants. Many have called this a transformational book.


Seán Pádraig O’Donoghue is an herbalist, an author, a priest, and an Irish descendant who strives to remain connected to his ancestry.

Seán O’Donoghue continues to recommend the books that were of most significance to him throughout his learning process, as well as those which continue to guide his practice.
  • The Lost Language of Plants by Stephen Harrod Buhner
  • The Secret Teachings of Plants by Stephen Harrod Buhner
  • Matthew Wood’s Book of Herbal Wisdom
  • The Practicing Herbalist by Margi Flint

Also being an author, Seán has written two books:
  • The Forest Reminds Us Who We Are – An exploration into Seáns approach as an herbalist.
  • Courting the Wild Queen – A mythic and poetic exploration of Seán’s relationship with the living world.


Author, astrologer, and herbalist, Judith Hill, recommends ‘anything by Matthew Wood, especially the Earthwise Repertory’, and loves reading Medicine of the Earth by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi.


Francis Bonaldo, LAc, is an accomplished acupuncturist, herbalist, and author, having co-authored Traditional Western Herbalism and Pulse Evaluation – A Conversation, with Matthew Wood, MS, and Phyllis D. Light, MA, an incredibly insightful book on pulse evaluation, and potentially the only book which describes the different qualities of the pulse in such a descriptive and guided manner.

Francis recommends Dorothy Hall's Creating your Herbal Profile as this book had a good influence on him regarding the perspective on food allergies and sensitivities. It is replete with light, fun, and comical herbal stories, mostly from the author's own experience. Francis promises you will learn something new about common plants such as chamomile, nettles, and burdock. He likes it so much he is likely to read it again this summer!


Creating Your Herbal Profile is also Matthew Wood’s favorite book, which he takes the time to re-read once or twice a year. Matthew always references Dorothy Hall when studying an herb as she was a master herbalist.

For Summer Reading, Matthew recommends his all-time favorite novel, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.


Executive Director of United Plant Savers and the Sacred Seeds project, Susan Leopold, Ph.D., is an ethnobotanist and passionate defender of biodiversity.

Susan’s Favorite Books are:
  • Llewellyn's 2022 Herbal Almanac – A Practical Guide to Growing, Cooking, and Crafting
  • The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
  • The Middle of Somewhere: An Artist Explores the Nature of Virginia by Suzanne Stryk
  • Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes through Indigenous Science by Jessica Hernandez Ph.D.
  • The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime and Dreams Deferred by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
  • The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth by Ben Rawlence
  • Africans into Creoles: Slavery, Ethnicity, and Identity in Colonial Costa Rica by Russel Lohse
  • Ginseng Diggers: A History of Root and Herb Gathering in Appalachia by Luke Manget
  • Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard
  • Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them by Dan Saladino
  • Citizen Farmers: The Biodynamic Way to Grow Healthy Food, Build Thriving Communities, and Give Back to the Earth by Daron Joffe

Although there are many books on this list, and it would likely take longer than a summer to read through them, our intention was to provide insight into the books that the teachers themselves are reading and finding value in. After all, why not read something that inspired someone you admire to be who they are.

Happy reading!
The information provided in this digital content is not medical advice, nor should it be taken or applied as a replacement for medical advice. Matthew Wood, the Matthew Wood Institute of Herbalism, ETS Productions, and their employees, guests, and affiliates assume no liability for the application of the information discussed.