Good Reads.

We are on the precipice of winter here in Wisconsin. The days are already short with scant glimpses of sunshine and biting winds. Snow is in the forecast and the temperatures are in steady decline. The only consolation, going forward, is the restorative properties of a roaring fire, good red wine, and even better reading material.

I am, as I’m sure we all are, terrible readers when the weather is warm. There is too much to do outside, too many tasks to finish, and -perhaps- a few too many cocktails to be enjoyed under the fading sun, plonked down in a rocking chair. There is no time to read with all that gardening and imbibing.

But now, when the couch is home-base and the garden is beginning its hibernation, this is when I am a good reader.

I thought I might share some of the better reads I’ve had recently. None are ‘new’ books, just new to me. Some are merely articles I found terribly interesting. So, I’d like to do a bit of a reoccurring series here of interesting books and articles I’m reading.

I’ll consider this the first of many, I hope you enjoy them and I would LOVE to hear your recommendations for great articles or books- that’s always the best way to find the really good stuff.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History – Elizabeth Kolbert

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I really enjoyed this book. It is smart, never once talks down to its readers, but always clearly explains everything without flinching from its specific, complicated scientific roots. The author traveled far and wide to research this book, and it shows. The book is, in turn, sad, fascinating, infuriating, and full on wonder and awe. With a soupçon of ire for our own species.

She walks through palentological history, Victorian science and the dawn of our own understanding of extinction, through theories of evolution and their inextricable link with our geologic history. She links all of it with current day events and stories from a history not much older than our grandparents. It is a cautionary tale, to be sure, but it is also full of wonder and gave me a much deeper, well rounded understanding the history of our planet and the creatures that live(d) on it. And that we, Homo sapeins, may be the biggest weeds of all.

American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation – Eric Rutkow

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This book is easily my favorite thing I’ve read in the last 5 years. Maybe more. It is just so good and such a wonderful combination of science and history. This book was on my radar for ages (initially published in 2012), catching my eye regularly at the bookstore in Rapid City. I finally bought a used hardcover copy from a library via Amazon. I’m so glad I did. It is a truly skillful weaving of American history and North America’s natural history. Trees were the fundamental element in the settling, building, expansion, and culture of this country- something I never fully understood, let alone grasped the magnitude of their impact.

Its an ambling journey from sourcing trees for the masts of English Tall Ships, to the plight of the Spotted Owl in the late 1990s. With stops at Walden Pond, the cherry trees of the National Mall, and the great Sequoias and Bristlecone pines of the American west. It also lingers here, in Wisconsin. Both in my current home, the Chippewa Valley, a key location in the early 1900’s lumber industry and in Madison with the likes of Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Robert LaFollette, Increase Lapham (what a name!), and Govenor Gaylord Nelson.

It is enjoyable, witty, fast paced (for a historical text), and thoroughly engaging. Highly recommend, and it is guaranteed to make you fall more in love with trees.

(FYI- all book links are to Goodreads, all images are from Goodreads.com, no affiliate links)

I plan to post more of these from time to time, and again, I can’t wait to get your recommendations as well! Happy hibernating and happy reading!

2 thoughts on “Good Reads.

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