The best books to begin understanding interconnectedness

Timothy Goodwin Author Of Within These Woods
By Timothy Goodwin

The Books I Picked & Why

Braiding Sweetgrass

By Robin Wall Kimmerer

Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass

Why 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. 

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By Daniel Quinn

Book cover of Ishmael

Why 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?

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Prodigal Summer

By Barbara Kingsolver

Book cover of Prodigal Summer

Why 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.  

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The Things They Carried

By Tim O'Brien

Book cover of The Things They Carried

Why 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. 

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Reflections from the North Country

By Sigurd F. Olson, Leslie Kouba

Book cover of Reflections from the North Country

Why 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.

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