The best books to begin understanding interconnectedness

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent a career as an educator and writer exploring how it is that we humans are a part of the natural world in which we live. We are all interconnected with each other and with the ecosystem in which we live, be it a “pristine” wilderness or a concreted-over metropolis. This is wisdom that of course has been long known by many peoples throughout history, though something that seems easily forgotten as we bustle our way through life. Through these books, maybe we can begin to remember that interconnectedness. 


I wrote...

Within These Woods

By Timothy Goodwin,

Book cover of Within These Woods

What is my book about?

With the eye of a biologist and the soul of an artist, Goodwin guides the reader on a personal and educational journey through the Northwoods of the Great Lakes Region. He reflects on the elegance of the evolutionary process and the interconnectedness of all living things. At times a microscopic examination of the forest floor, and at others a far-reaching gaze into the wonders of a night sky. Goodwin explores this enhanced place and the delicate dance its history, geology, and organisms have performed since before recorded time. Along the way, he asks the difficult questions about stewardship and spirituality that only connecting to nature and understanding our place in it can begin to answer. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Timothy Goodwin Why did I love this book?

I have given away many copies of this book and like to keep an extra copy handy so that I can give it to a friend or even a stranger when I sense they are seeking something that helps them understand how they are connected to the natural world. The first time I finished this book, I immediately began reading it again—it’s that important and that beautifully written. If I was to only have one book that I could keep and read this would be it. 

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

46 authors picked Braiding Sweetgrass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take "us on a journey that is…


Book cover of Ishmael

Timothy Goodwin Why did I love this book?

This book taught me how to look at the world I lived in and the history I come from in a different way. After reading this book I questioned everything I was doing as a teacher and began to see my role as a teacher, as a father, as a citizen concerned about my ecological impact in a different way. And it’s written as an immensely compelling and engaging conversation between a man and a gorilla. I mean, what more could you want?

By Daniel Quinn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the most beloved and bestselling novels of spiritual adventure ever published, Ishmael has earned a passionate following. This special twenty-fifth anniversary edition features a new foreword and afterword by the author.

“A thoughtful, fearlessly low-key novel about the role of our species on the planet . . . laid out for us with an originality and a clarity that few would deny.”—The New York Times Book Review

Teacher Seeks Pupil.
Must have an earnest desire to save the world.
Apply in person.

It was just a three-line ad in the personals section, but it launched the adventure of…


Book cover of Prodigal Summer

Timothy Goodwin Why did I love this book?

Barbara Kingsolver writes what I think is some of the most beautiful prose of any American novelist. She immediately sucks you in with interesting characters interacting in a complex and rich interconnected world. With this book, she sets these characters within the complex web of understanding and exploring the interconnections of the natural world and we begin with one central character and experience an outward spiral of interpersonal, social, and ecological interweaving.  

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is summer in the Appalachian mountains and love, desire and attraction are in the air. Nature, too, it seems, is not immune. From her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin, Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist, watches a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. She is caught off guard by a young hunter who invades her most private spaces and interrupts her self-assured, solitary life. On a farm several miles down the mountain, Lusa Maluf Landowski, a bookish city girl turned farmer's wife, finds herself marooned in a strange place where she must declare or…


Book cover of The Things They Carried

Timothy Goodwin Why did I love this book?

This is a collection of (probably) semi-autobiographical stories about the author’s experience in the Vietnam War (and some childhood thrown in for good measure) utilizes tremendous craft of efficient prose. The author opens up the world and characters in it for us to crawl inside and root around and explore. In so doing we can see common threads of humanity emerge throughout these stories and characters in an otherwise completely inhospitable and inhuman environment. 

By Tim O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Things They Carried as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The million-copy bestseller, which is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

'The Things They Carried' is, on its surface, a sequence of award-winning stories about the madness of the Vietnam War; at the same time it has the cumulative power and unity of a novel, with recurring characters and interwoven strands of plot and theme.

But while Vietnam is central to 'The Things They Carried', it is not simply a book about war. It is also a book about the human heart - about the terrible weight of those things we carry through…


Book cover of Reflections from the North Country

Timothy Goodwin Why did I love this book?

I began reading Sig Olson books when I was in high school, prompted by a biology teacher. Olson uses eloquent prose and emotional description to describe the wilderness lake country of Northern Minnesota and Southern Ontario. Over a career of decades he wrote about his experiences in the wilderness and easily brings the reader into his world, allowing them to see it through his eyes and experiences. Reflections is his last book, and is truly just that, reflections of a life lived on the edge of wilderness and the struggles of balancing desires for preservation of wilderness with encroachment of the modern world.

By Sigurd F. Olson, Leslie Kouba (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reflections from the North Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published: 1st ed. New York: Knopf, 1976.


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Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

By Patrick G. Cox, Janet Angelo (editor),

Book cover of Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

Patrick G. Cox Author Of Ned Farrier Master Mariner: Call of the Cape

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

On the expertise I claim only a deep interest in history, leadership, and social history. After some thirty-six years in the fire and emergency services I can, I think, claim to have seen the best and the worst of human behaviour and condition. History, particularly naval history, has always been one of my interests and the Battle of Jutland is a truly fascinating study in the importance of communication between the leader and every level between him/her and the people performing whatever task is required.  In my own career, on a very much smaller scale, this is a lesson every officer learns very quickly.

Patrick's book list on the Battle of Jutland

What is my book about?

Captain Heron finds himself embroiled in a conflict that threatens to bring down the world order he is sworn to defend when a secretive Consortium seeks to undermine the World Treaty Organisation and the democracies it represents as he oversees the building and commissioning of a new starship.

When the Consortium employs an assassin from the Pantheon, it becomes personal.

Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

By Patrick G. Cox, Janet Angelo (editor),

What is this book about?

The year is 2202, and the recently widowed Captain James Heron is appointed to stand by his next command, the starship NECS Vanguard, while she is being built. He and his team soon discover that they are battling the Consortium, a shadowy corporate group that seeks to steal the specs for the ship’s new super weapon. The Consortium hires the Pantheon, a mysterious espionage agency, to do their dirty work as they lay plans to take down the Fleet and gain supreme power on an intergalactic scale. When Pantheon Agent Bast and her team kidnap Felicity Rowanberg, a Fleet agent…


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