Text by Lori Bowes; photos by Rodney Olsen
Once or twice a year for the past decade, ARMN members and friends who enjoy nature writings meet at a local restaurant for a Book Share event. In February, we met in the Ballston Quarter food court where everyone could select their own lunch. Most people opted to patronize Maizal, a Latin street food vendor that “serves up a fresh take on one of South America’s most coveted street foods, the arepa.” The savory food was a perfect accompaniment to our conversation about enriching books.
The event proved a nice opportunity to reconnect with local naturalist friends and catch up on one another’s projects, while being enticed by some new publications. The materials that people shared were diverse, including articles, science essays, nonfiction environmental books, historical nature fiction and even a podcast.
For example, Powell Hutton talked about The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions, a 2017 book by science journalist Peter Brannan about the current sixth mass extinction in the context of Earth’s past mass extinctions and the evidence for their causes.
Margaret Chatham shared her impressions of a wonderful classic: Journal of Garden History: An International Quarterly 16(1) January-March 1996: Bartram’s Garden Catalogue of North American Plants, 1783.
Jill Barker introduced the historical fiction book, The Island of Missing Trees by novelist, Elif Shafak. It’s described in a Harvard Review as including a “prominent fig-tree narrator, who brings her own arboreal expertise into the story,” an ideal vantage point for Master Naturalists.
And I recommended a podcast entitled, “The Science of Birds: A lighthearted exploration of bird biology.” With more than 70 episodes available to date, it promises a fascinating listening and learning experience about nearly all aspects of bird biology.
Does a book share event sound interesting to you? Keep an eye on the ARMN list-serv or subscribe to the ARMN newsletter to find out when the next one will take place. Anyone with an interest in nature is welcome. We hope to see you at a future Book Share event!
The works shared during the February 2023 meetup included:
- Teaching the Trees, Lessons from the Forest, by Joan Maloof, 2010
- Oaxaca Journal, by Oliver Sacks, 2012
- Journal of Garden History: An International Quarterly 16(1) January-March 1996: Bartram’s Garden Catalogue of North American Plants, 1783
- The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the World of Consciousness, by Sy Montgomery, 2015
- The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions, by Peter Brannan, 2017.
- Entangled Life: How Fungi Make our Worlds, Change our Minds, and Shape our Futures, by Merlin Sheldrake, 2020
- The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World, by Andrea Wulf, 2015
- An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us, by Ed Yong, 2022
- I Contain Multitudes: the Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, by Ed Yong, 2016
- “Smart Plants” by David Haskell in Scientific American,
- Fen, Bog, and Swamp: A Short History of Peatland Destruction and its Role in Climate Change, by Annie Prioux, 2022
- Seed to Seed, by Nicholas Harberd, 2008
- Anything written by Bernd Heinrich
- The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape, by James Rebanks, 2015
- The Rise and Reign of the Mammals: A New History, from the Shadow of the Dinosaurs to Us, by Steve Brusatte, 2022
- Saving the Wild South: The Fight for Native Plants on the Brink of Extinction, by Georganne Eubanks, 2021
- Bird Brother: A Falconer’s Journey and the Healing Power of Wildlife, by Rodney Stotts, 2022
- Ways of Being: Animals, Plants, Machines: The Search for Planetary Intelligence, by James Bridle, 2022
- Ministry for the Future, a novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, 2020
- The Island of Missing Trees, a novel byt Elif Shafak, 2021
- The podcast, “The Science of Birds: A lighthearted exploration of bird biology.”