History

North Atlantic Books is a nonprofit publisher committed to healing and the bold exploration of the relationships between mind, body, spirit, culture, and nature. Founded in Vermont in 1974 by Richard Grossinger and Lindy Hough, NAB has pioneered emergent voices and modalities while bringing into renewed focus earlier systems and traditions. With more than one thousand books in print, NAB has operated from Berkeley, California, since 1977.

The core of NAB’s publishing is grounded in healing and complementary medicine. Encompassing many traditions, NAB has introduced readers seeking holistic health to a wide variety of practices, including bodywork, acupuncture, yoga, martial arts, somatics, plant medicine, and nutrition.

With sales over 600,000, Paul Pitchford’s vital compendium Healing with Whole Foods: Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition was the first comprehensive medical cookbook to explain Five Element Theory in Chinese Medicine and apply it to common maladies. T’ai Chi Ch’uan: A Simplified Method of Calisthenics for Health and Self Defense by Cheng Man-Ch’ing was the first book NAB published in California. It became the foundational text for Short Form, the most widespread form of T’ai Chi in the West. Mark Stephens’s best-selling trilogy Teaching Yoga, Yoga Sequencing, and Yoga Adjustments has been a cornerstone in the training of thousands of yoga teachers practicing around the world. Peter Levine’s books—In an Unspoken Voice, Waking the Tiger, and Trauma and Memory—pioneered the field of somatics and have introduced a new generation of therapists to the impacts of trauma. Uwe Blesching’s The Cannabis Health Index and Leonard Leinow and Juliana Birnbaum’s CBD are key resources in understanding the medical role cannabis can play in humans’ healing. Herbalism is a cornerstone of NAB’s publishing, from Russell Willier’s A Cree Healer and His Medicine Bundle to Phyllis Light’s Southern Folk Medicine.

 

Drawing on ancient lineages, our books on cosmology and culture both honor and broaden original approaches to understanding ourselves and our world.

The Maya Atlas, which meticulously maps indigenous rights to land in Belize, was instrumental in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’s declaration in 1998 that Belize had violated the land rights of its indigenous Mayan population. Balancing on the Mechitza by Noach Dzmura won a Lambda Literary Award for its courageous exploration of the experiences and perspectives of transgender Jews. Radical Dharma by Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Dr. Jasmine Syedullah serves as a vital wake-up call to the ways systemic racism and homophobia manifest within American Buddhism and society at large and offers a path to liberation. Charles Eisenstein’s landmark Sacred Economics draws on the long history of alternative ways of doing business and presents a radical revisioning of how humans could share resources and conceive plenty. In Fall 2020, The Whale Child, written and illustrated by sister and brother team Chenoa and Keith Egawa, will help children understand planetary challenges and ways to address them through an indigenous cosmology.

Considering much of conventional wisdom short-sighted, NAB also perennially publishes frame-changing books that challenge norms and present alternative ways of seeing and being.

Decades before ayahuasca was widely embraced as a visionary plant, NAB published Pablo Amaringo’s and Luis Eduardo Luna’s beautiful and comprehensive Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman. Phoebe Gloecker’s book Diary of a Teenage Girl (later adapted to film) evoked both controversy and acclaim in 2002 for role-modeling a female artist bravely and graphically depicting her own sexual experience. In 2005, Rob Brezsny, now a well-known astrologer, published with NAB a book suggesting that the world was actually conspiring to fill our lives with blessings. Pronoia Is the Antidote to Paranoia has been a classic ever since. Re-imagining Death by Lucinda Herring reveals the ecological, spiritual, and financial burdens of the way we treat and bury the dead and offers alternatives to enriching this inevitable rite of passage. Gabor Maté’s In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts has blazed a new understanding of addiction, moving it away from disease and will-power frameworks into a deeper awareness of trauma’s role in addiction and the fundamental need for community and connection.

Over the years, NAB has created several imprints and series—from Frog Books to the Evolver imprint to the Sacred Activism series—but today it focuses on its mainstays: adult and children’s books under North Atlantic Books and martial-books under Blue Snake Books, one of the largest publishers of internal and historical martial-arts books in the world. Publishers Group West (PGW) began distributing NAB titles in 1982, and during this association NAB grew rapidly. In 2007 Penguin Random House took over distribution, and NAB authors gained access to PRH’s powerful fulfillment and sales services. North Atlantic remains an independent nonprofit entity, with its own acquisitions, editorial, production, publicity, and marketing staff handling all books from the Berkeley office, where excellent author-publisher relationships are the highest priority.