The Forest Unseen

By David George Haskell,

Book cover of The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature

Book description

A biologist reveals the secret world hidden in a single square meter of old-growth forest--a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Pen/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award 

Look out for David Haskell's new book, The Songs of Tree: Stories From Nature's Great Connectors, coming in April of 2017


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Why read it?

4 authors picked The Forest Unseen as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I was enthralled with this book from its very premise: a book about looking closely…really closely. Haskell tracks the growth of a square meter of forest over a year, bringing to life the minutiae of life.

It’s a book that made me want to get down on the ground and get to know the unseen details of every patch of land I encountered. 

From Jessica's list on change how you think about plants.

The Forest Unseen approaches the natural world with both eyes wide open.

It is the book I turn to when I crave a spiritual lift; it helps me shed the mindset of modern conveniences and striving, drawing me out of doors. David George Haskell writes with unparalleled precision, examining what goes on in one small patch of old growth forest over the course of a year. What he observes seems, well, a lot like magic.

Reading this book, I can’t help but be amazed by life’s abundance, its strangeness, and its never-ending cycles that are blessedly disinterested in the goings…

Haskell writes evocatively of the fascinating life of the forest floor, from invisible microbes to colorful fungi and beautiful birds. I was fascinated by the interconnected lives on the floor of an old-growth forest in the southeastern United States, and I appreciated Haskell’s own passion for his subject when unforeseen destruction of a portion of the forest floor by ginseng hunters triggered a heart attack and trip to the emergency room for Haskell—fortunately, he was ok.

From Ellen's list on trees, living and dead.

At this book’s heart is a simple idea. Biologist and writer David George Haskell repeatedly visited a Tennessee forest over one year and reported everything he observed in a circular patch just a meter across. The circle throbs with life. Haskell zooms out—in space and time—to explain the patterns and phenomena he notices as the seasons turn. His narrative expands to take in history, philosophy, folklore and more. His little circle becomes our world. 

Before I finished the first page, I had forgotten that this was the work of a scientist. Haskell is phenomenally eloquent, blessing every page with his…

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