I have never stayed up late into the night to finish a nonfiction book before, but Helen and her bees has me hooked! The minimal yet poetic attributes prescribed to the friends, locations and actions that intersect with her studies - utterly compelling. The controlled chaos, matriarchy, and environmental significance of a single colony - timely and impactful. Plus, she includes an awesome bibliography that would excite any nature reader!
I don't think I could explain the essence of this beautiful book any better than Kimmerer’s own words do: "I lean in close to watch and listen to those who are far wiser than I am. What I share here...are seeds gleaned from the fields of their collective wisdom..." (180). Sweetgrass is her guide, each chapter layered with the same patience, respect, and indigenous knowledge that it takes to sustainably complete the cycle of sweetgrass itself. However, it is with the added help from strawberries, maple trees, cattails, garden vegetables, buffalo and salmon (just to name a few) that Kimmerer teaches readers to live a life led by reciprocity, gratitude, and balance--just as she was taught. Reading the stories is a sweet and slow process, but one that will leave you with a little hope, and much to pass on.
It's difficult to review a memoir like this when the raw act of sharing certain childhood experiences is impactful on its own. However, I will say that this is a book full of lyrical, sensory-based memories; one that will make your heart ache for kids like Meredith and Matthew (and even the kid their mom used to be), but also soar when they succeed; a story that will fill you with gratitude for the family you choose, and for the bees that sustain and educate us along the way.
I love this book because Louv doesn’t lecture the reader. The focus is not on what we might be doing wrong, but on all the ways humans and other animals have done well together—and why. It covers childhood pets, wild encounters, studies of our mutual makeup, ways of communicating, and more! If anything, this combination of diverse anecdotes and research encourages awe and open observation when we connect with nature, and an acknowledgement of the benefits therein.
Part memoir, part backyard natural history Late Migrations packs a wallop in a tiny package. Renkl treats the lives and deaths she sees in her backyard with the same deference and respect as that of her family. A beautiful study on grief and loss and the importance of living a full life.
Chris Knight walked into the central Maine woods in 1986 at the age of 20, and didn't talk to another human for 27 years. He survived by stealing whatever he needed from nearby cabins, and by developing some of the most impressive stealth bush-craft skills I've ever read about. He found a niche, and he occupied it. Comprised largely of interviews conducted in jail after Knight's arrest, this book is a fascinating and compelling rumination on what it means to crave solitude in a world that won't leave you alone.
With suggestive humor and a bit of orneriness, Cooke clears up crazy misconceptions about some of the world’s more mysterious and underappreciated species. Throughout, she dissects these past theories for signs of human superiority, a binary physical understanding, and a little too much of the woodsy musk from a beaver's “gonads.” What’s left: Hyenas are avid feminists, Eels keep their coitus quiet, and Sloths are pretty much the ultimate survivalists. You can devour this all at once or savor each chapter as an individual essay, but you will be amazed by the truth (and bestiary sketches) either way.
This book is a local wanderlust machine! Caroline (a passionate Alaskan biologist) expertly catalogs her post-grad coming of age as she undertakes a human-powered trip to the Arctic Circle with her husband Pat (a self-taught builder from Bellingham). In the midst of decisions about family, work, and one's place in the natural world, there are raging rapids and cold winds, whales and chickadees, snow and sunlight. Hopefully it will teach you something new about the PNW, and comfort you with the knowledge that it's okay to change course.
I finished Pam Houston's Deep Creek in late November, the holiday season was in full swing, and my reading time was at a premium. Thank you Pam for this book. I read it swiftly and by the end I desired to flee to the mountains with Irish wolfhounds of mine own.
The premise is as misleading as it is wacky; but beneath the surface, this series of philosophical essays represents nature writing of the highest order: probing, intellectual, alert, funny, and astonishing. His tone is blithe, his style loose and poetic. He doesn't write sentences so much as created little idea nests.
It's not for everyone - just someone a little eccentric, and full of wonder.