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Nonfiction November: Newest Nonfiction Additions to My TBR

 

Nonfiction can tell a story as rich and satisifying as the best novel. During Nonfiction November, we all fall in love with a few of our titles. Here are some that I’ve recently added to my TBR and hope to read in December or in 2021.

Nature

Nature’s Storyteller: The Life of Gene Stratton-Porter by Barbara Olenyik Morrow

Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl by Jonathan C. Slaght

Wintering: A Season With Geese by Stephen Rutt

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty

Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life by Lulu Miller

The Comstock’s of Cornell edited by Karen Penders St. Clair

History

In Triumph’s Wake: Royal Mothers, Tragic Daughters and the Price They Paid for Glory by Julia P. Gelardi.

The Last Million: Europe’s Displaced Persons From World War to Cold War by David Nasaw

Empress Alexandra: The Special Relationship Between Russia’s Last Tsarina and Queen Victoria by Melanie Clegg

Red Famine: Stalin’s War On Ukraine by Anne Applebaum

One Third of a Nation: Lorena Hickok Reports on the Great Depression by Lorena Hickok

Windsor Diaries, 1940-45 by Alathea Fitzalan Howard. Link is to Amazon UK,

Food

Women in the Kitchen by Anne Willan

Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training… by Bill Buford

In the Kitchen: Essays on Food and Life by Yemisi Aribisala, Laura Freeman, Rebecca May Johnson, and Ella Risbridger . I am in LOVE with the cover!

Travel and Home

World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Anthony Bourdain

Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us by Joel Kotkin

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

Social Justice

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White American by Michael Eric Dyson

Soul Full of Coal Dust by Chris Hamby

The Address Book by Deirdre Mask

And This One

The Diaries of Alan Rickman!! Read more here

Any new nonfiction on your TBR? Leave me a comment or a link to your post.

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Nonfiction November Review: Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

My Interest

I’m a woman.

The Story

If you are a woman you will read this book. Now, here are some of the reasons why:

  1. Doctors, aside from their gynecology and labor/delivery training, are trained on an “average” male body even though women’s heart attacks are very different.
  2. Drugs, with a few exceptions, have traditionally been tested on mostly male volunteers. Which explains why some do not do what they should for women
  3. City planners design spaces that all must live in, but that forget the needs of women and children for things like grocery stores and playgrounds.
  4. Transportation systems engineers design systems for men’s commute to work–not for women’s round-about trips to first check on Grandma, then drop the two stroller-bound toddlers at daycare and THEN go to work and then at the end of the day adding a stop to buy groceries before going to the daycare and the other Grandma’s house.
  5. Cars and airbags are designed for men. Pregnant women, who are naturally closer to the steering wheel? Never considered.
  6. Disaster relief teams, refugee camps, and similar forget that women menstruate, endure cultural shunning for being with men to whom they are not related, and often must give birth. Condoms, yes. Sanitary pads–no. Or worse, only tampons in spite of taboos restricting them to only married women.

The book shows all the ways that leaving women out of surveying, quantifying, and otherwise amassing information to inform decisions is costing us time, money, productivity, advancement, lives, and more. Just read it.

My Thoughts

There are so many more I won’t go on. Now, about the author. Yes, she is a strident left-wing feminist and yes the HRC person is mentioned more than one time. Ignore both and read the book. This book has been needed for so long! The distortions of data have cost women lives, dignity, safety, and opportunities–and that is being said by someone far to the right of the author. This book should be used in every course on quantitative research or similar. It is not a boring textbook. The author tells the story very well and illustrates it almost too well. This is one of the most interesting nonfiction books I’ve read in years. I do not agree with every single thing she says, but it was very interesting and thought-provoking. Just read it. Have I mentioned you should read it?

 

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Invisible  Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

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Top Ten Tuesday: Thanksgiving Freebie

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What to eat with the Macy’s Parade?

This a new tradition I’ve shared with my Mom and my kids if we manage to all get up time. These wonderful pumpkin scones.

My favorite Thanksgiving memory?

Making dressing (stuffing) with my Dad. It was the only thing he ever did in the kitchen.

My Worst Thanksgiving Memory?

My uncle and aunt’s neighbor, Mrs. Murray, constantly saying “You can take all you want, but you must eat all you take,” to those of use at the kids’ table.

My Other Worst Thanksgiving Memory?

Creepy old Grandmother Fry, who was not actually my relative (my Mom’s cousins’ “other” grandmother) but who scared the you-know-what out of me! Years later her grandson told me she did the same to him.

Thanksgiving Fact

Photo source: Campbells

I’m the only member of my family who will touch green bean casserole. It’s best made in an old aqua Pyrex casserole dish that no one remembers ever had a lid. Aunt Betty or someone brings it every year. We never had enough aunts for that and my Mom wouldn’t serve anything with Campbell’s Cream of Crap soup in it. She served us plenty of Chicken Noodle Soup and my Dad ate his weight in Bean and Bacon, but we never had Green Bean Casserole.

Favorite Thanksgiving mementos?

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My daughter’s first and second grade Thanksgiving creations.

Most Fun I Ever Had on Thanksgiving

Attending the 1973 Indiana University — Purdue University Old Oaken Bucket football game.

At that time I was decked out in a fashionably long black and gold scarf to root for Purdue–my parents, aunt and uncle, and grandfather’s school. In seven years, I would enroll at I.U. due to my inability to cope with anything involving math! It was a lot of fun.

Favorite Thanksgiving T.V. Shows

The Bob Newhart: An American Family

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The original Bob Newhart Show, season 3, episode 11, “An American Family” when his mother manages to insult everyone and everything. I still love this show.

 

Friends: Ross’s Sandwich with “the moist maker”

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Ross’s Sandwich with “the moist maker”

 

WKRP “With God as My Witness I Thought Turkey’s Could Fly”

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Garfield’s Thanksgiving with wonderful Grandma!

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The Mouse on the Mayflower–cheesy? What else would a mouse dressed as a Pilgrim be? Politically incorrect? Yes! But no one was woke in my childhood.

Thanksgiving Food Item I Hated as a Kid and Still Hate

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Photo credit: iStock

Marshmallows on canned Sweet Potatoes. I don’t mind the sweet potatoes, it’s the marshmallows.

Thanksgiving Food You Like Best

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Photo Credit: Betty Crocker

I’m a freak! I love the giblet gravy. I don’t really like eating those giblets, but cut up in gravy they are great. Sick, I know. I put it on the potatoes and the turkey and the dressing!

Best Thanksgiving Story of All Time?

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I still know nearly every word. Most years at least a few radio stations broadcast it.

Bonus: Favorite Turkey Leftovers Meal

Photo source: Spidy Southern Kitchen–their recipe is just as great! I love any version of this!

This is MY recipe. No soup.

We NEVER had this as kids. My Mom didn’t make casseroles because my Dad wouldn’t touch them! I love this. I love this elastic-waist pants love it!

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Check out the rules at That Artsy Reader Girl and join in next week!

 
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Thanksgiving Readathon

The Rules

Hosted by Jackie B. at Death by Tsunduko

Dates: Monday, November 23rd – Sunday, November 29th

Participate in any or all of the following:

  • Read as many books as you can in those 7 days.
  • Use the hashtag #ThankgivingReadathon to share your participation and progress using Twitter and other social media sites.
  • Publish a Sign-Up Post between before November 26th (Thanksgiving!) committing to join up on whatever site you choose.
    • Bonus: Add your readathon and TBR goals to this post!
  • Publish a Wrap-Up post between December 30th and December 4th
    • Bonus: Share your victories — new people you met, total books read, new experiences you had, anything which counts as a win in your book!
  • Participate in the Bookstagram Challenge* by posting a photo that aligns with the daily prompt throughout the week. Don’t forget the hashtag #ThanksgivingReadathon!
  • Link Up your sign-up and wrap-up posts.
  • Comment on all the wonderful #ThanksgivingReadathon blog posts, Twitter updates, and Instagram photos from all the participants!

How I will participate

If you read here often you know that 2020 has been my year of fun reading challenges. November is so challenge-heavy it needs about a readathon a week to accomplish even a few of them! I’m signed up for several. I hope to relax with my choice for last week’s Scottish Readathon, which my end-of-semester exams and papers kept me from reading. One week late in the world of voluntary reading challenges is no big deal, right? Failing a course your employer is paying for on the other hand is a very big deal. Priorities. I also hope to finish my book for AusReadingMonth. Along the way, I’ll read more for Nonfiction November and for Novellas in November, too! Thank heaven I finished my book for German Literature Month! I’m sure I’ll send out update Tweets as I go as well.

 

Want to be theme-y and read Thanksgiving books for #ThankgivingReadathon?

Then click to read my post on recent Thanksgiving books.

Click to read my post on recent Thanksgiving books.

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Nonfiction November Review: Those Wild Wyndhams: Three Sisters at the Heart of Power by Claudia Renton

My Interest

Any family and its group of friends that includes not one, but three private secretaries to the Queen, plus other notables grabs my attention every time. Through in a fabulous portrait by John Singer Sargent, stir in a descendant owning the fabled Island of Mustique and well, I just had to read it! I’m still wondering how I missed it when it came out.

The Story

Back in the “other” ’90s–the 1890s, the so-called Gilded Age and into the Edwardian era at the start of the 20th Century there was a group known in society as “The Souls.” Their children became “The Coterie,”  and after the First World War they morphed into “The Bright Young Things,” This is their story. The three Wyndham sisters, the men they married, the men they flirted with, the men they committed indiscretions with, the children the begot and the good works that they did are all here. But that makes it sound boring and it was anything but! Even I, who has a pretty fair grasp of the families involved, needed a family tree and photographic chart to keep them all strait while listening to the audio version.

The sitters of Sargent’s famous Wyndham sisters, Mary, Lady Elcho (later Countess of Wemyss), Madeline, Mrs. Charles Adeane, and Pamela, Mrs. Edward Tennant (later the Baroness Glenconner) were the three sisters at the heart of the”The Souls.” They sacrificed sons on the altar of the King and Empire in World War I. They had the ear of politicians of the day. Their descendants entertained or advised royalty.

The women themselves lived life under their own rules. One was tried and true to her husband, happy with him from day one. One adored being with her children. One was a writer. All managed to do what they wanted while managing the migrations of family from one house to the other, while having to constantly manage and recruit servants, and put up with husband’s whims and occasional disparagement.

My Thoughts

I have such a book hangover that I cannot do justice to this book in a review. The families are fascinating–some times in ways they shouldn’t be, but mostly in good ways. This was one of the most interesting collective biographies I’ve ever read. I am purchasing a copy so that I can keep it and possibly do a better job of sorting out the families! It is enough to say that from these women descended some fascinating men–sons and grandsons who made their own mark. Two rather notoriously, and one quietly, behind the scenes. I leave it to you to decide if they are enough proof of how fascinating these sisters were. I am only sorry that I let it languish on my TBR for so many years.

From Mary, Lady Elcho/Lady Wemyss came:

Queen Elizabeth II with her Private Secretary, Martin Charteris (later Baron Charteris of Amisfield), grandson of Mary Wyndham.

From Pamela came

the “Brightest” of The Bright Young Things, her son, Stephen Tennant (left) and his brother, David, who started a notorious debauched club in London. Her grandson, Colin, Lord Glenconner, owned Mustique island and was a close friend of Princess Margaret. You can read more about him in my post here.

Those Wild Wyndhams: Three Sisters at the Heart of Power by Claudia Renton

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Nonfiction November Re-run: Expert Recommendation of Royal Books Updated

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I can’t top last year’s Nonfiction November “be an expert” post on royal books, so I’m updating it and linking to it!

First the updates:

The One Worth Reading

Meghan and Harry: The Real Story by Lady Colin Campbell. I go hot and cold on “Lady C” as she’s popularly known. She’s written some total crap, but also has gotten the story dead right before. So pick and chose as you read. She’s now and Youtube Royal sensation from this book–she does weekly videos on the royals (see the video at the end of this post).  This book rings very true. She does have excellent contacts and she can tell a story. If you’re going to read one Markle book let it be this one. It just irritates me that having been married for only about a year over 40 years ago she STILL uses her ex-husband’s courtesy title (he is styled Lord Colin because he is the son of a Duke). She was, therefore, “Lady” instead of Mrs. Like Markle should be just plain Princess Henry and not Duchess of anything).

The New Memoir

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The Windsor Diaries 1940-45 by Alathea Fitzalan Howard. UK readers can buy this–it won’t be out in the USA until May. I’m anxious to get my hands on it. This is the diary of a childhood/teenage years friend of the Queen. NOTE: The link is for UK Amazon.

The New Romanov Book

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Empress Alexandra by Melanie Clegg. My copy will be here later this week. Alexandra was, of course, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria–first cousin to King George V, great-aunt to Prince Philip, and aunt of Lord Mountbatten and Queen Louise of Sweden.

New Royal Books That Aren’t Terrible

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Prince Andrew, Epstein, Maxwell and The Palace by Nigel Cawthorne. I have not read it but it is seemingly well-researched. To date, Andrew has not been charged with anything other than being sleazy. At least at the time of the alleged encounter in the UK it was legal to take a 17- year-old to bed. Even slime mold deserves due process.

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Prince Philip Revealed by Ingrid Seward. I just got this, but I’ll wager money the only thing revealed is that Seward, editor of Majesty Magazine is wanting a manuscript ready for the day Philip dies. It is also a lot easier to prepare this and slip in commentary on the Harry and Markle travesty than to write a book on them. If only Harry had listened to Philip. One less narcissist would have a role on the celebrity stage.

New Royal Books to Skip at All Costs

So bad I can’t even dignify them with a cover shot.

Finding Freedom by Meghan Markle, I MEAN by Obit Scooby-Doo-Doo-Doo and someone who wants to disassociate herself for this miscarriage of nonfiction. This books is part of the evidence in a court case that Markle will likely loose. It is soooooooooooo bad! If you are not a diabetic you will still want to acquire some insulin before you try to wade thru the sugary b.s. of the book.  Possibly the most self-adoring book ever published. There is very little truth in it. Even some of her most ardent fans saw through it. I absolutely refuse to provide a link to this horror.

Battle of the Brothers: William and Harry: The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult. by Robert Lacey: This once EXCELLENT royal author has sold his soul to Netflix for his spot as adviser on The Crown. Spoiler alert! Netflix is paying Harry and Markle to spill their secrets. This book is not worthy of him. It is a farce of Markle promotion that should never have been published. This is another one I refuse to link to. And, why? Why do people assume that brothers must love and adore each other just because their mother died? Silly. Even in believable books they sound like two very different personalities with some common pastimes like huntin’ shootin’ fishin’, polo, and video games, but beyond that they are very different men.

Read My Expert Recommendation of Royal Books here….

[click the text above to go to the list]

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Novellas in November Review: The Provincial Lady Goes Further by E.M. Delafield

My Interest

Epistolary novels are a thing with me. I love reading real or fictional diaries, books of letter, tweets, emails–anything similar. Love it. I think it started when 84 Charing Cross Road came out while I was in high school. Since then I have loved such books. (My posts on them are linked at the bottom of this post, too.)

A while back I read The Diary of A Provincial Lady and just knew I’d read any others if it was a series. Today’s review is of the second book in the series.

The Story

Note: This is one book where it would be a little easier to enjoy the story if you’ve read the first book, but it can the “who’s who” of the story can also be figured out pretty quickly if you have not.

The Provincial lady is married  to Robert an agent or “man of business” of similar on a large landed estate in Shire. The children, son Robin, daughter Vicky, are both off to boarding school this year. Cat Hellen Willis is still with them. And, The Lady herself has enjoyed literary success, so for a very brief time the family excheuquer is in good shape. Good enough to by herself a dear little London flat. So, off she goes to London to write. Except she stiill can’t say “no” to requests and gets entangled with outrageous peoplegoes to their outrageous parties and dinners and gets nothing done. Robert is left home with the new cook and occasionally writes to suggest it is time to come home. The children thrive at school.

My Thoughts

This was the perfect, mindless, little escape back to a time when maids and cooks (not to mention boarding schools) could still be afforded by many quite normal, decently-educated people. It was just plain fun. I look forward, eventually, to getting through the entire series.

I discovered, while getting the link to this book on Amazon, that the copy I bought may have been pirated and could also be The Provincial Lady Goes to London [which could be an alternate title for US/UK]. How interesting!

The Provincial Lady Goes Further by E.M. Delafield.  [Note, I’m linking to a different version than the one I bought]

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Classics Club Spin #25

It’s time for a new Spin! (Actually, I’m a few weeks late to the party). The Classics Club does these fun events to get us all ready those classics that have been on our TBR’s, shelves and Kindles just begging to be read! These are a lot of fun, but owning to being back in school at my ancient age and other things in family life, I have not yet finished my book for Spin #24, Imperial Woman by Pearl S. Buck. Since I’ll be on a break from classes most of the time, MAYBE I’ll finish it and the new book? If not, I’ll shoot for finishing the new book. I’ve tweaked my list a bit–I have so many on mine, that I put ones I thought I’d actually be able to read during the time period. With the holidays in the middle I didn’t want a long slog through something I wasn’t enjoying.

The rules for Spin #25:

* List any twenty books you have left to read from your Classics Club list.
* Number them from 1 to 20.
* On Sunday 22nd November the Classics Club will announce a number.
* This is the book you need to read by 30th January 2021.

My List

  1. Loving Spirit by Daphne Du Maurier
  2. Finishing School by Muriel Spark
  3. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  4. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  5. Mornings in Mexico by DH Lawrence
  6. Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway
  7. South Riding by Winifred Holtby
  8. Son at the Front by Edith Wharton
  9. Portrait of a Marriage by Vita Sackville West
  10. The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  11. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
  12. The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
  13. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  14. Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck
  15. Passing by Nella Larsen
  16. Burmese Days by George Orwell
  17. Working by Studs Terkel
  18. Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym
  19. Bostonians by Henry James
  20. I, Claudius by  Robert Graves

Spin #24’s List--book is still in progress

Previous Spin Lists and their Corresponding Book Reviews

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Review: Groves of Academe by Mary McCarthy

Classics Club Spin #23 

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Combined Classics Club Spin #22 and the Review of Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

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Top Ten Tuesday: Best Pet Names in Fiction, T.V. and Movies

What fun! I’m an animal nut anyway, so this week’s topic is perfect for me, even if I did tweak it to suit myself.

  1. Snoopy, of course!

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2. Rosa the Duck in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series

3. Rex in The Queen’s Corgi [movie]

 

4. Garfield, the original grumpy cat! Comic strip, t.v. specials, big-time movies. [And from Muncie, Indiana!]

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5. In remembrance of Geoffrey Palmer, who died last week, Dexter, the dog who adopts Lionel in As Time Goes By [T.V.], but is happily reunited with his owner.

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6. Cyril the dog with a gold tooth from Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series.

7. Triki Woo, the pampered Pekeniese and his pig “brother,” Nugent in the James Herriot All Creatures Great and Small books.

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8. Brutus the Great Dane who thought he was a Dachshund in The Ugly Dachshund.

8. Isis, the politically incorrect Labrador of Downton Abbey‘s early seasons.

Butler Angus Hudson with the Rt. Hon. Richard Bellamy (later Lord Bellamy)

10. One of the writers of the original Upstairs, Downstairs series had labs named Hudson and Bellamy. Perfect (to the new generation, think Carson and Crawley).

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Check out the rules at That Artsy Reader Girl and join in next week!

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German Literature Month Review: The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, Translated by Jane Billinghurst

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My Interest

I enjoy a few nature books most years. This one caught my eye because my son works for a tree service and devoured our Audubon Field Guide to Trees of North America not long after he started work. I saw this book and decided to read it to see if it was worth giving his as an extra Christmas gift. It is among 2 or 3 contenders for that honor so there could be more tree book reviews later. My verdict is–I think he would read it. He isn’t a big reader but when it really interests him he will read. This is a nonfiction book and that would normally be ok with him only if it was about a rapper or maybe an artist.

My other interest was, by chance, seeing the word “fungi” in a quick look-through of the book. I am fascinated by mushrooms and forests teem with them. This part of the story, I thought, might be really interesting.

Thanks to blogger Lizzy’s Literary Life for bringing this gem to my attention. Why not be nice and click and read her review, too? Bloggers love visitors!

The Story

Forester Wohlleben loves trees. His life’s work is in a forest in Germany. He is a scientist so he pays very close attention to the details the trees in his forest. Happily, he is also a very good writer (and Billinghurst is a very good translator) so reading about such details is a joy and not a struggle. He makes the forest come as alive to the reader as it is to him. So, the fungi I was looking forward to were just icing on a very nice cake of a nature book.

What Wohleben describes is the lifespan of trees. Not as in 6th grade science class and ring-counting and all that, but about communities of trees, families of trees, the socio-economic strata of trees, the gentrification of forests, the urban decay of forests, the street kids, street gangs, and, cooperative development agencies of the forests–none of which are people. Wohleben’s study of trees has let him understand the language of trees–their interpersonal communication. He explains how the different players in the forest community fulfill their roles, putting it all into such expressive and readable prose that I read over 60 pages in one sitting.

Here are a few very short, illustrative glimpses into what Wohleben has discovered:

“Spruce store essential oils in their needles and, and bark, which act like antifreeze.”

“Then there are the weevils. They look a bit like tiny elephants that have lost their enormous ears.”

Here is a typical prose passage to give you a feel for the joy of reading this book:

“And what if an oak gets a deep wound or a wide crack in its trunk as a result of a lightening strike? That doesn’t matter to the oak, because its wood is permeated with substances that discourage fungi and severely slow down fungal decomposition…Even severely damaged trees with major branches broken off can grow replacement crows and live for a few hundred years longer” (p. 97, Kindle Edition).

Unexpectedly, I have a new possible favorite nonfiction book of the year. It was simply that good.

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, Translated by Jane Billinghurst.

Added bonus: This book also works for Nonfiction November and Novellas in November (they include nonfiction novellas).  Though it is maybe a tad long for a true novella, it reads as quickly as one.