If you don't much care for modern medicine, entire industries have arisen to provide you with more "alternative" or "natural" varieties of remedies, mostly involving the consumption of plants. Publishers have put out guides to their use by the dozens. In a way, those books have a place in a long tradition, stretching back to a time well before modern medicine existed as something to be an alternative to. Just recently, the British Library digitized the oldest such volume, a thousand-year-old illuminated manuscript known as the Cotton MS Vitellius C III . The book, writes the British Library's Alison Hudson , "is the only surviving illustrated Old English herbal, or book describing plants and their uses." (The sole condition note: "leaves damaged by fire in 1731.")
Last month, on the occasion of the author's 50th birthday, we posted a large collection of free essays and stories by David Foster Wallace . But we missed a rare item: the complete audio recording of the commencement address Wallace gave at Kenyon College, in Ohio, on May 21, 2005--three years before he took his own life. The text of the speech has been published on the Internet and as a book called This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life , but the complete audio version has been hard to find.