The best books of women’s true stories

The Books I Picked & Why

The Puma Years: A Memoir

By Laura Coleman

Book cover of The Puma Years: A Memoir

Why this book?

After running into 5 mountain lions while hiking alone in the ancient redwood forests near my home, I was really blown away reading The Puma Years about Laura Coleman's relationships with the big cats. I cannot imagine getting as close to one of them as she does in her memoir about spending time in the middle of the jungle in Bolivia taking care of wild pumas. Set against a background of logging destruction of habitat and illegal wild animal poaching, the author valiantly tries to rehabilitate damaged pumas. The relationships she and her volunteer colleagues have with the big cats are astonishing. They take them out for walks! The author is so candid about how broken she feels in our environmentally and often socially broken world, and yet in the end still manages to leave me with hope and belief in the human spirit.


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To Speak for the Trees: My Life's Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest

By Diana Beresford-Kroeger

Book cover of To Speak for the Trees: My Life's Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest

Why this book?

To Speak for the Trees is one of my favorite books ever, partly because I love trees, and partly because of my own Celtic heritage from my maternal line. Diana Beresord-Kroeger, a scientist in biochemistry and botany, begins with her childhood in Ireland. After losing her parents at a young age, she is raised in the ancient Celtic nature wisdom and Druid beliefs by an entire community, and literally taught the language of trees: Ogham. Blending scientific discoveries about trees and the importance of forests to our species' survival, this book is a fast and delightful read that I won’t forget. I feel enriched from having been blessed to spend time with such a brilliant woman through the pages of her book. 


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Braiding Sweetgrass

By Robin Wall Kimmerer

Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass

Why this book?

Braiding Sweetgrass weaves together indigenous wisdom about our times, the botanist author’s vast knowledge of plants along with her personal life stories. At one point, the author shares that indigenous teachings say we are at a time of choice, where there are two paths, one to death and destruction and another grassy and green. Although we are in such fraught times, Robin offers ways to restore our world that left me feeling hopeful. I also appreciated her struggles as an indigenous woman becoming a scientist, dealing with both sexism and two very different world views. Somehow, in this book, Robin manages to braid these different strands of reality together in a way that is profoundly nourishing. I recommend this as one of the best environmental books ever.  


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Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

By Suzanne Simard

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

Why this book?

This book expanded my understanding of the intelligence of nature, especially trees. Suzanne is a scientist and forester who pioneered research into the underground fungal network of communication between trees in a forest. Through a system of chemical messages, Suzanne discovered that trees are able to request and offer nutrients to each other as needed! After reading Finding the Mother Tree, I will never look at trees or nature the same way. Now I know that trees are intelligent and conscious beings with the ability to cooperate for survival. Along with her astounding scientific discoveries, the book is spiced with details from the author’s personal life: her struggles to be taken seriously as a woman in forestry, the loss of her brother, raising daughters, divorce, and breast cancer. 


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If Women Rose Rooted: A Life-Changing Journey to Authenticity and Belonging

By Sharon Blackie

Book cover of If Women Rose Rooted: A Life-Changing Journey to Authenticity and Belonging

Why this book?

An unforgettable book about the power of women restoring themselves and each other and how that will also help us restore the Earth. Full of mythology, If Women Rose Rooted is about women seeking our roots and rootedness. While seeking a place to live, the author is also searching for the true place within herself. Blending memoir, the land, and folk stories, this book can help women everywhere come home to themselves. 


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