The most important books about forests

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated with forests ever since running wild as a kid in the Appalachian woods of Pennsylvania. Now living at the edge of the Pacific in the Coast Range in Oregon, I’ve engaged with a host of forest issues involving watershed health, wilderness protection, fire management, and fish. Among the 30 books I’ve written, three are germane here: Trees and Forests of America, Twilight or the Hemlocks and Beeches, and America’s Great Forest Trails. I’m always learning more by reading everything I find about forests. For my afternoon break and exercise I typically work on my own 8-acre wooded parcel where I maintain trails, eradicate exotic invaders, and restore native trees.  


I wrote...

America's Great Forest Trails: 100 Woodland Hikes of a Lifetime

By Tim Palmer,

Book cover of America's Great Forest Trails: 100 Woodland Hikes of a Lifetime

What is my book about?

America’s Great Forest Trails entices us into the woods with its first chapter, “The Allure of the Forest,“ followed by “Trees and Life on Earth,” which tells us why we need to care about our woodlands. But this book mainly takes us on a tour of 100 trails, New England to the Deep South and to the Rockies, California, Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and the islands of Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

Each writeup describes key species and the special values that each forest provides, with directions to trailheads and seasonal tips for visiting, including 200 spectacular photos in all. Some trails take an hour to stroll; others require days. Some are legendary walks and others reveal little-known but spectacular woodland wonders.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Canopy of Titans: The Life and Times of the Great North American Temperate Rainforest

Tim Palmer Why did I love this book?

This book moves me more than any other regarding the climate crisis and the essential need to protect remaining old-growth forests, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Living there myself, I especially appreciate the work of Paul Koberstein and Jessica Applegate. They make clear that we must address a fundamental need regarding the heating of our planet: to leave intact the forest ecosystem that helps us the most.    

By Paul Koberstein, Jessica Applegate,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Canopy of Titans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Trees are crucial in preserving a liveable future. Canopy of Titans makes an eloquent plea for saving one of North America's last great forests."
- Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

Canopy of Titans examines the global importance of the Pacific Coastal Temperate Rainforest that stretches from Northern California to Alaska and catalogs the threats to this vital environmental resource.

The product of years of on-the-ground reporting, this richly illustrated book celebrates the beauty and complexity of one of the world's great forests. It provides readers with easy-to-grasp insights into the science behind carbon sequestration and…


Book cover of The Dying of the Trees

Tim Palmer Why did I love this book?

Don’t be dissuaded by the severe title of this compelling and thoroughly readable book. Nor by its publishing date of 1995. Charles Little tells the story of exotic insects and pathogens that have become a pandemic crippling forests all across our country. His message—as timely now as it was then—is so moving and powerful that it inspired me to write a whole book about the plight of our cherished hemlocks and beeches. This volume was a path-breaker in its day and remains so with a message that every forest lover and forest manager needs to hear.  

By Charles E. Little,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Dying of the Trees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Examines the loss of trees from New England to California; details causes including acid rain, ozone, ultraviolet rays, and clear-cutting; and discusses responses from scientists, government officials, and citizens


Book cover of Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

Tim Palmer Why did I love this book?

Esteemed forest ecologist Suzanne Simard has given us the remarkable story of her journey through the working woods, the forest bureaucracy, and the academic jungle to tell us what we need to know about properly caring for our woodlands today. Through her life’s work she illuminates the remarkable ecological connections of trees to fungi and other life all around them, to the interactions among generations of trees, both older and younger, and to the health of organic soil that industrial forest managers have too often regarded simply as a medium for tree trunks that are stuck into the ground. With each walk in the woods, I now appreciate a new sense of complexity and dependency that each life has on the workings of another. 

By Suzanne Simard,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Finding the Mother Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • From the world's leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest—a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery

“Finding the Mother Tree reminds us that the world is a web of stories, connecting us to one another. [The book] carries the stories of trees, fungi, soil and bears--and of a human being listening in on the conversation. The interplay of personal narrative, scientific insights and the amazing revelations about the life of the forest make a compelling story.”—Robin Wall…


Book cover of Understanding Forests

Tim Palmer Why did I love this book?

Another classic, Understanding Forests is the finest all-around narrative explaining the values of forests and the nuts and bolts of their management, their mismanagement, the bureaucracies of forestry and how they function, the needed reforms, and the political strides that must be taken, both twenty-five years ago and now. In one or two sittings a forest advocate can graduate from knowing very little to having an effective grasp of what we need to do for better care of our forests.  

By John J. Berger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Understanding Forests as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Provides an introduction to the complex ecosystem of the North American forest and the economic, social, and political issues that are crucial to forest preservation


Book cover of The Hidden Life of Trees

Tim Palmer Why did I love this book?

Forester and journalist Wohlleban weaves together an account, not unlike that of Suzanne Simard, power-packed into a gift-sized little book that reveals the remarkable interdependencies and biological communications between trees, and also beyond them and reaching to interdependent fungi and other microbes on which forest health depends. For me, new insights leaped off of every page as I breezed through this wonderful story of trees and forests in our time. 

By Peter Wohlleben, Jane Billinghurst (translator),

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Hidden Life of Trees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A paradigm-smashing chronicle of joyous entanglement that will make you acknowledge your own entanglement in the ancient and ever-new web of being."--Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast Are trees social beings? In this international bestseller, forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben…


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By Joy Loverde,

Book cover of Who Will Take Care of Me When I'm Old?: Plan Now to Safeguard Your Health and Happiness in Old Age

Joy Loverde

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What is my book about?

Everything you need to know to plan for your own safe, financially secure, healthy, and happy old age.

For those who have no support system in place, the thought of aging without help can be a frightening, isolating prospect. Whether you have friends and family ready and able to help you or not, growing old does not have to be an inevitable decline into helplessness. It is possible to maintain a good quality of life in your later years, but having a plan is essential. Who Will Take Care of Me When I'm Old? Equips readers with everything they need to prepare on their own:

Advice on the tough medical, financial, and housing decisions to come Real solutions to create a support network Questions about aging solo readers don't know to ask Customizable worksheets and checklists that help keep plans on course Guidance on new products, services, technology, and resources

Who Will Take Care of Me When I'm Old?: Plan Now to Safeguard Your Health and Happiness in Old Age

By Joy Loverde,

What is this book about?

For those who have no support system in place, the thought of aging without help can be a frightening, isolating prospect. Whether you have friends and family ready and able to help you or not, growing old does not have to be an inevitable decline into helplessness. It is possible to maintain a good quality of life in your later years, but having a plan is essential. WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF ME WHEN I'M OLD? equips readers with everything they need to prepare on their own:

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