Books that are a real “trip”

Learn all about psychedelics with these books

Psychedelic drugs have risen in popularity in recent years—and for those wondering what all the “buzz” is about, we’ve gathered several books that dive deep into psychedelics. Read on to learn more about the history of printed LSD blotter tabs; the cultural forces behind the psychedelic experience in midcentury America; what happens to consciousness in an altered state; and more.

Blotter: The Untold Story of an Acid Medium by Erik Davis

Blotter is the first comprehensive written account of the history, art, and design of LSD blotter paper, the iconic drug delivery device that will perhaps forever be linked to underground psychedelic culture and contemporary street art. Created in collaboration with Mark McCloud’s Institute of Illegal Images, the world’s largest archive of blotter art, Davis’s boldly illustrated exhibition treats his outsider subject with the serious, art-historical respect it deserves, while also staying true to the sense of play, irreverence, and adventure inherent in psychedelic exploration.

Psychedelics: A Visual Odyssey by Erika Dyck

Interest in psychedelics has grown considerably in recent years—one might even say psychedelics are experiencing a renaissance. But these mind-altering plants have always been with us. They have a rich and controversial history, in fact: plumbed from the depths of ancient Greek culture, infused with Christian symbols of sacrament, enriched by Buddhist philosophies, protected through Indigenous ceremonies, and, by the latter part of the twentieth century, catapulted into cultural consciousness through science, music, posters, blotter art, and fashion. In Psychedelics: A Visual Odyssey, Erika Dyck takes readers on an epic visual trip through some of the diverse ways that our fascination with psychedelics have been imagined throughout history.

Expanding Mindscapes: A Global History of Psychedelics edited by Erika Dyck and Chris Elcock

Expanding Mindscapes offers a fascinatingly fluid and diverse history of psychedelics that stretches around the globe. While much of the literature to date has focused on the history of these drugs in the United States and Canada, editors Erika Dyck and Chris Elcock deliberately move away from these places in this collection to reveal a longer and more global history of psychedelics, which chronicles their discovery, use, and cultural impact in the twentieth century.

Altered States of Consciousness: Experiences Out of Time and Self by Marc Wittmann

During extraordinary moments of consciousness—shock, meditative states and sudden mystical revelations, out-of-body experiences, or drug intoxication—our senses of time and self are altered; we may even feel time and self dissolving. These experiences have long been ignored by mainstream science, or considered crazy fantasies. Recent research, however, has located the neural underpinnings of these altered states of mind. In this book, neuropsychologist Marc Wittmann shows how experiences that disturb or widen our everyday understanding of the self can help solve the mystery of consciousness.

American Trip: Set, Setting, and the Psychedelic Experience in the Twentieth Century by Ido Hartogsohn

Are psychedelics invaluable therapeutic medicines, or dangerously unpredictable drugs that precipitate psychosis? Tools for spiritual communion or cognitive enhancers that spark innovation? Activators for one’s private muse or part of a political movement? In the 1950s and 1960s, researchers studied psychedelics in all these incarnations, often arriving at contradictory results. In American Trip, Ido Hartogsohn examines how the psychedelic experience in midcentury America was shaped by historical, social, and cultural forces—by set (the mindset of the user) and setting (the environments in which the experience takes place). He explores uses of psychedelics that range from CIA and military experimentation to psychedelic-inspired styles in music, fashion, design, architecture, and film. Along the way, he introduces us to a memorable cast of characters including Betty Eisner, a psychologist who drew on her own experience to argue for the therapeutic potential of LSD, and Timothy Leary, who founded the Harvard Psilocybin Project and went on to become psychedelics’ most famous advocate.

The Creative Brain: Myths and Truths by Anna Abraham

What is the relationship between creativity and madness? Creativity and intelligence? Do psychedelics truly enhance creativity? How should we understand the left and right hemispheres of the brain? Is the left brain, in fact, the seat of reasoning and the right brain the seat of creativity? These are just some of the questions Anna Abraham, a renowned expert of human creativity and the imagination, explores in The Creative Brain, a fascinating deep dive into the origins of the seven most common beliefs about the human brain. Rather than endorse or debunk these myths, Abraham traces them back to their origins to explain just how they started and why they spread—and what at their core is the truth.

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