The best books for people who really hug trees

Why am I passionate about this?

Nature is my first love. I’ve found solace in the forest since I was a child. My parents shared their knowledge of plants and animals, which gave me an appreciation of the forest beyond just the beauty of it. I’ve spent many free days hiking, backpacking, and sitting at the base of trees. In addition, I have a degree in biology and understand the mechanics of plant life. I’ve been inspired by the stories of others who’ve explored the wilderness and it led me to write in that field as well.

I wrote...

Then The Trees Said Hello

By HJ Corning,

Book cover of Then The Trees Said Hello

What is my book about?

Two women separated by time learn what happens when they embrace their inner magic in this inspiring environmental fiction novel.

Although Sara's college degree provided her an out, she always knew she’d return home to her small logging community. But when she learns the forest around her can talk, Sara’s focus shifts from cutting down the trees to saving them. As tensions between her conservation efforts and her community rise, the people she once called family become her biggest adversaries. Decades later, Maxine, sets out in her van to figure out her next steps. She discovers a journal that Sara hid away and through its entries, learns of an underground world where people float, and trees talk. Could she learn to do what Sara did and find where she belongs?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Overstory

HJ Corning Why did I love this book?

I love this book because it tells the stories of six distant, independent people, and weaves them together like the roots of trees. These people begin as normal people, living their lives and having no predisposition to be wilderness protectors. But through life events they each find a passionate need to protect nature. 

This book made me stop and think about my relationship to every living thing on the planet in a deeper way than I ever had before. Powers expertly knits together, action, adventure, and prose. A unique combination of writing that kept me sitting in my chair reading for longer than I usually do. I was traveling in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California when I read this, which is where the story takes place. The way he writes about these areas, I felt like I was with the characters on their journey.

One warning, the first 1/3 of this book is backstory. It took me several false starts to get through that part. But once you do, you‘ll be hooked and thinking about this book for weeks after you’ve read it.

By Richard Powers,

Why should I read it?

30 authors picked The Overstory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of-and paean to-the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers's twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours-vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see…

Book cover of Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

HJ Corning Why did I love this book?

One of the things I love about his book is that Ms. Williams is a woman with a huge heart, who isn’t scared to write it down on paper. As a writer, I know how challenging it can be to bare yourself so deeply.

This story chronicles events over a two-year period when the Great Salt Lake rose and flooded wildlife habitats. She writes about the north end of the Great Salt Lake with such a feeling that she made me love that part of the earth, a place I’d never been.

She describes it with emotion that made me feel as if I’d lived there my whole life and wanted to protect it as much as she did. She combines the story of the loss of bird habitat, with the story of losing her mom to breast cancer which was caused by being downwind of nuclear testing in the 1950s. This death left a hole in her family, as the loss of wilderness left a hole in the environment.

If you want to explore a place through the eyes of someone who has lived there their whole life, I highly recommend picking up this book and exploring a little-known habitat.

By Terry Tempest Williams,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Refuge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry's mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s. As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms…

Book cover of Path Of The Pinon

HJ Corning Why did I love this book?

This was one of those books that I couldn’t wait until I had time to read it. I was a beta reader of this novel and even though it was unedited at the time, it drew me into a world from long ago.

It takes place in old New Mexico, by a person who grew up in that area. It’s loosely based on his great-aunt, who did many of the things the Protagonist, Pete, experiences in the story.

Pete, is like no other main character I’ve read. She is more wild than civilized and because of that, has a pure heart. She is something of a MacGyver or Jack Reacher character in that she can handle any situation, but she uses her skills to protect her nature community and the things she loves. Pete lives off the land in a way most of us wish we could.

By Ron King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Path Of The Pinon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is based on a true story with the author’s request to
empty all pockets of opinions before entering the space. What
are the true beginnings of Pete to have such strong connections
to animals, mountains and trees while generally avoiding people?
We see a young cougar’s manner in Pete: a quiet solitary
existence, poetic agility, quickness and the awareness to sustain
life. Like the cat this two legged’s claws are retracted, but kept in
a knife scabbard, always ready.
Pete, being wary of humans yet bound by a promise, crashes
directly into civilization unleashing both humor and consternation.…

Book cover of State of Wonder

HJ Corning Why did I love this book?

I loved this book because it is the journey and transformation of a professional woman who grows into her own power.

The book begins with the protagonist waiting for a man who promised to show up for an adventure in the jungle, but doesn’t. Life forces her to go on the journey by herself.

The main character ends up in a matriarchal society, where the women live in tree houses, independently of men. She initially goes there to exploit what the community knows about the medicinal qualities of the plants. The more she learns, the more she comes to support the ways of the community.

The lead character transforms from insecure to confident, and from living in her head, to living from her heart.

This is the type of story I like to write. Stories where women feel empowered and become certain of their abilities through a connection with nature. After reading this story, I stood taller and respected myself more. And you will too.

By Ann Patchett,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked State of Wonder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORANGE PRIZE FOR FICTION There were people on the banks of the river. Among the tangled waterways and giant anacondas of the Brazilian Rio Negro, an enigmatic scientist is developing a drug that could alter the lives of women for ever. Dr Annick Swenson's work is shrouded in mystery; she refuses to report on her progress, especially to her investors, whose patience is fast running out. Anders Eckman, a mild-mannered lab researcher, is sent to investigate. A curt letter reporting his untimely death is all that returns. Now Marina Singh, Anders' colleague and once a student of…

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

HJ Corning Why did I love this book?

I heard about this book, after my book, was mostly written. But it did have an impact during editing and revisions of the first draft.

Ms. Simard weaves a tale that’s part autobiography and part scientific investigation—and she literally weaves her thoughts of trees, roots, and fungus and the interconnectedness of all the plants in the forest, into all her explorations of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.

I never would’ve imagined so much of this is true. It is such a change in perspective from the survival of the fittest ideas that we’ve grown up with. What a revelation to learn the trees in the forest aren’t competing for resources, they’re sharing carbon through their roots system. And beyond that, they communicate warnings and dangers to others in the area. 

Suzanne characterizes the trees in the community as an extended family that protects and looks out for each other. No matter what species they are. The Douglas Fir is as eager to help the Spruce trees as it is willing to help other Fir trees. Ms. Simard isn’t just hypothesizing this; she has a degree in forest ecology and proves this through her scientific investigations. She was the pioneer of this research which much other research in this area is based on. She started this work in the ’70s, long before anyone was thinking of trees as anything other than a product. 

I admire her tenacity and integrity, in the midst of losing her job, to her research and bringing the truth of trees to light.

Her discovery of how much the forest supports each other, became especially relevant later in the story as she must draw on the strength of her family when she battles breast cancer.

Even though I have felt a deep connection to trees and the forest my whole life, Suzanne Simard’s research led me to a deeper appreciation for the forest and what it has to teach us.

By Suzanne Simard,

Why should I read it?

14 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…

You might also like...

Split Decision

By David Perlmutter,

Book cover of Split Decision

David Perlmutter Author Of The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a freelance writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, specializing in media history and speculative fiction. I have been enchanted by animation since childhood and followed many series avidly through adulthood. My viewing inspired my MA thesis on the history of animation, out of which grew two books on the history and theory of animation on television, America 'Toons In: A History of Television Animation (available from McFarland and Co.) and The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows (available from Rowman and Littlefield). Hopefully, others will follow.

David's book list on understanding the history of animation

What is my book about?

Jefferson Ball, the mightiest female dog in a universe of the same, is, despite her anti-heroic behavior, intent on keeping her legacy as an athlete and adventurer intact. So, when female teenage robot Jody Ryder inadvertently angers her by smashing her high school records, Jefferson is intent on proving her superiority by outmuscling the robot in a not-so-fair fight. Not wanting to seem like a coward, and eager to end her enemy's trash talking, Jody agrees.

However, they have been lured to fight each other by circumstances beyond their control. Which are intent on destroying them if they don't destroy each other in combat first...

5 book lists we think you will like!

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