Book Review: ‘How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High’ by David Bienenstock

The Finer Points of Cannabis. Illustration by Henry Chamberlain

The Finer Points of Cannabis. Illustration by Henry Chamberlain

As a Seattle native, I have had a front row seat to the recent sea change we have seen with cannabis. But, even in this fabled region, you can experience two steps forward and one step back. All you need to do is see how the current state regulations have forced medical marijuana dispensaries out in favor of the more tax revenue to be had from retail marijuana shops. But these are still exciting times for an extraordinarily beneficial plant that has been so terribly maligned. A perfect guide for the times is the newly released book, “How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High,” by David Bienenstock, published by Plume, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

"How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High" by David Bienenstock

“How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High” by David Bienenstock

David Bienenstock is your uniquely qualified host. He is the former West Coast editor of High Times magazine and now a journalist and video host/producer at VICE, where he writes the Weed Eater column and produces a video series called Bong Appetit. He is the guy who will share a joint with you and, as the conversation rolls along, will segue into some history, some science, and some sage advice. The idea here is to show some respect for the plant and yourself. Bienenstock does a great job of balancing his content so it is not too light and yet easy to digest. A book like this can’t help but be a call to action moving along at a good, steady, and stirring pace.

What all the cannabis shops have done is not only bring a plant out from the cold. The shops have welcomed back numerous people who had given up ever again having reliable and trusted access. Many people are coming back who have not gotten high in many years, or who never did in the first place. So, a book like this truly serves any age. Bienenstock, like a good journalist, makes no assumptions on your experience or level or knowledge while, at the same, keeps advancing. If you don’t know the difference between indica and sativa, Bienenstock has got you covered. If you’d like a handy overview of cannabis chemistry, well, keep on reading.

The beauty of the book is that Bienenstock’s good sense for storytelling wins out every time. In tune with his reader, Bienenstock presents a dazzling array of facts, heart-felt observations, and a humanity that should melt the heart of many a naysayer. Mostly, it’s a book there to provide a helping hand in appreciating cannabis. But, as Bienenstock joyfully sings to us, it’s also about a state of mind, dude! The goal is not to necessarily smoke each and every day. The goal is to savor those times when you do. And strive to tap into that bliss the rest of the time. That’s about as highbrow and proper as it gets.

“How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High” is a 288-page paperback, also available as an e-book. For more details, visit Penguin Random House right here.


Filed under Cannabis, David Bienenstock, High Times, Journalism, Marijuana, Penguin Random House, VICE

14 responses to “Book Review: ‘How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High’ by David Bienenstock

  1. There are many enjoyable ways to smoke weed ha ha but nothing beats a joint! (preferably in an Amsterdam coffee shop)

  2. I played a Seattle coffeehouse concert on the first Saturday of January 2014. After my gig, when I went outside to wait for the bus, a random dude walked over and gave me a large bud. I said I didn’t smoke; but he insisted because he was celebrating weed becoming legal. I took it home, put it in a little bitty sealed container, and I never smoked it. Until last Thursday.

    I had one hit of weed at Bumbershoot in September of 2014. I just asked someone for a hit, and he kindly obliged. — I danced a lot. That was the last time I tried weed. But I tried a tiny piece of this still good-sized bud Thursday. I had no pipe; but I’m a wise old hippie. So I took an empty toilet paper roller thing, and some aluminum foil, and with the help of a straight pin (to make holes), I made a primitive delivery device. I had exactly one puff.

    Right away, it made me want to clean house. So I spent an hour straightening things up, using the carpet sweeper, doing the dishes, uncluttering the place. Because I knew that any second an authority figure was going to knock on my door; and if I had my place clean, that would somehow help my case. (Smoking of anything at all is illegal in my building.)

    Then I took a bath and went for a long walk, taking lots and lots of photos. I got home after a few hours, and ate a very large chocolate chunk cookie. I was still a little distracted — off my regular game. Mainly, it just made me nervous. Which is exactly why I can’t smoke weed! It just makes me nervous. I long for the weed of the 60’s, 70’s, or even 80’s. I’m afraid the young folks have morphed it into something that’s too strong for me.

    I need heirloom weed.

  3. Jay

    Are there any recipes?

  4. Sounds like a book that can be judged by its title. And what a great title!

  5. Pingback: Seattle Focus: David Bienenstock and HOW TO SMOKE POT (PROPERLY) on May 18th at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park | Comics Grinder

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