Ever since I read "The Overstory," I've been changed. That's not hyperbole. Many of us storytellers already knew the power of a good story to transform and build empathy, but in that one, I genuinely was altered from a person who centered my life around the works of people, into one who's able to understand the needs and wonders of those other than homo sapiens. I look up at trees and wonder what they were doing when my grandparents were the ones exploring the Pacific Northwest. I see a giant Ponderosa and contemplate the many layers of luck that had to happen to let it survive this long amid human interference. I think twice about cutting any tree, big or small.
"The Overstory" by Richard Powers.
Set amid the backdrop of the Northwest's timber wars, this is part fantastic narrative, part empathy-machine that advocates for the trees. Just read it. If you want to get it from the Deschutes Public Library, prepare to wait a bit; it's frequently reserved by other users.
"How to Read a Tree: Clues & Patterns from Roots to Leaves" by Tristan Gooley
"Natural Navigator" Tristan Gooley is one of those rare individuals who delights in simply walking in a wood and seeking clues about how to get home just by looking at the signs offered in the life around him. I started reading this new book, published in 2023, over the weekend and plan to keep it in my car for reference. From learning about the "eyes" in tree trunks to the signs that help you determine direction, there are plenty of practical tips to pick up from this book.
"The Hidden Forest" by Jon R. Luoma
PBS described this 2006 book, published by the Oregon State University Press, as, "the single best general-reader introduction to the startling discoveries and developments of recent decades that have come to be called the New Forestry."
OSU Press describes it thusly: "Here, for the first time, researchers from an enormous range of disciplines—forest scientists, botanists, entomologists, wildlife ecologists, soil biologists, and others—have assembled to examine the role of every working element in the life of a forest."
With so much debate afoot about how to manage our forests – or whether we should – this is an educational read for those interested in forest policy. It was among 26 books author Richard Powers cited in his bibliography for "The Overstory." I need no further introduction. I didn't find it among the available books at the Deschutes Public Library, but it's widely available in used and new versions online.