We asked our social media communities to recommend their favourite books (about nature) for bringing to Loon Lake Lodge and Retreat Centre. Not only were we blown away at the volume of answers but also the similarity. The number one response was ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ by Peter Wohlleben, as it was recommended by almost 25% of all respondents. See below for the top 5 answers!
The Hidden Life of Trees | Peter Wohlleben, 2016
“A paradigm-smashing chronicle of joyous entanglement that will make you acknowledge your own entanglement in the ancient and ever-new web of being.”―Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast
In this international bestseller, forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in his woodland.
A small snippet: “Why are trees such social beings? Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old. To get to this point, the community must remain intact no matter what. If every tree were looking out only for itself, then quite a few of them would never reach old age.”
Walden | Henry David Thoreau, 1854
"When we are young and vibrant we feel that Henry David Thoreau alone carries the banner of 'individuality' for all of us and that the public should simply stay out of our way while we, as unique individuals, charge through and push aside the unmotivated masses. We will become what we choose to be and not what was preached or passed down to us. And by doing so, we will leave our unique and positive mark for all of humanity to follow." - Ronald Maron
Walden, or, Life in the Woods, is an American book written by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and manual for self-reliance. Published in 1854, it details Thoreau's experiences over the course of two years in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amid woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts.
A small snippet: “We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
The Natural History of Selborne | Gilbert White, 1788-89
"White realised the crucial role of worms in the formation of soil and understood the significance of territory and song in birds. His precise, scrupulously honest and unaffectedly witty observations led him to interpret animals' behaviour in a unique manner." - Richard Mabey
Gilbert White's Natural History of Selborne (1789) reveals a world of wonders in nature. Over a period of twenty years White describes in minute detail the behaviour of animals through the changing seasons in the rural Hampshire parish of Selborne. He notes everything from the habits of an eccentric tortoise to the mysteries of bird migration and animal reproduction, with the purpose of inspiring others to observe their own surroundings with the same pleasure and attention. Written as a series of letters, White's book has all the immediacy and freshness of an exchange with friends, yet it is none the less crafted with compelling literary skill. His gossipy correspondence has delighted readers from Charles Darwin to Virginia Woolf, and it has been read as a nostalgic evocation of a pastoral vision, a model for local studies of plants and animals, and a precursor to modern ecology. This new edition includes contemporary illustrations and an introduction setting the work inits eighteenth-century context, as well as an appendix tracking the remarkable range of responses to the work over the last two hundred years.
A small snippet: "Happening to make a visit to my neighbour's peacocks, I could not help observing that the trains of those magnificent birds appear by no means to be their tails; those long feathers growing not from their uropygium, but all up their backs. A range of short brown stiff feathers, almost six inches long, fixed in the uropygium, is the real tail, and serves as a fulcrum to prop the train, which is long and top-heavy, when set on end. When the train is up, nothing appears of the bird before but its head and neck; but this would not be the case were those long feathers fixed only in the rump, as may be seen by the turkey-cock when in a strutting attitude. By a strong muscular vibration these birds can make the shafts of their long feathers clatter like the swords of a sword-dancer, they then trample very quickly with their feet, and run backwards towards the females."
Silent Spring | Rachel Carson, 1962
“I wish this book was not still so poignant. But this book that really started the modern environmental movement and rose the consciences of millions of Americans is still as important today as it was 45 years ago. Whether it’s the use of chemicals still sprayed into are yards and on our food today, or lessons on the importance of questioning how our actions affect our world, Rachel Carson broke the mold. Every person needs to read this book.” - Jordan Berg
First published by Houghton Mifflin in 1962, Silent Spring alerted a large audience to the environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides, spurring revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Silent Spring became a runaway bestseller, with international reverberations . . . [It is] well crafted, fearless and succinct . . . Even if she had not inspired a generation of activists, Carson would prevail as one of the greatest nature writers in American letters" (Peter Matthiessen, for Time's 100 Most Influential People of the Century).
At the other end of the savagely exploitative century from Melville came a book that woke up the world, or at least spoke loud and clear to its sleepwalking citizens. Carson’s account (she was a research biologist) of the devastating impact of the accumulation of insecticides up food chains and into ecosystems was angry and brilliant. What had blithely been thought of as the balance of nature was seen to be increasingly skewed. Here was an early but decisive news bulletin from the anthropocene – the world where just one species was calling the shots and with disastrous effect.
A small snippet: “Nature has introduced great variety into the landscape, but man has displayed a passion for simplifying it. Thus he undoes the built-in checks and balances by which nature holds the species within bounds.”
The Faber Book of Beasts | Paul Muldoon, 1997
"A wonderful compilation of poetry including both old and new. The unifying theme is beasts, whether it is just a mention of a beast in a poem or a poem completely revolving around one, if it fits the criteria of Muldoon then he's included it. Another interesting aspect is that the poems are published alphabetically according to the type of beast featured. The collection includes poets such as Ted Hughes, D.H. Lawrence, Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson and many others." - Samir Sarayji
The Faber Book of Beasts is a collection of many of the best poems in English about the creatures who share our planet. The animal kingdom has prompted some of the liveliest and most enjoyable writing by poets, from Homer to our contemporaries. Among the creatures gathered here, tame or wild; common or exotic, are mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, and others perhaps more fanciful than real. A zoologist's delight. There is, too, a moral or philosophical purpose. As Paul Muldoon says in his introduction: 'We are most human in the presence of animals.' And it is just this sense of how our humanity is illuminated by the contemplation of bestial life that he has set out to celebrate. The results are wonderfully rich and thought-provoking.
A Small Snippet: "The snail moves like a hovercraft, held up by a rubber cushion of itself, sharing its secret with the hedgehog. The hedgehog shares its secret with no one. We say hedgehog, come out Of yourself and we will love you.
We mean no harm. We want only to listen to what You have to say. We want Your answers to our questions. The hedgehog gives nothing Away, keeping itself to itself. We wonder what a hedgehog Has to hide, why it so distrusts.
We forget the god under this crown of thorns. We forget that never again will a god trust in the world.”
Do you have other suggestions, please leave your recommendations in the Comments section below!