Into the Forest

Many of our myths and stories center on forests. Early people from the Arctic to the tropics celebrated forests and honored the “tree of life” which they believed linked Earth to heaven and the underworld.

What would life be like without the majesty and wonder of forests? Without trees, we would have no oxygen to breathe, nor soil in which to grow crops.

In each of the following books, as in nature, forests play a vital role.


Compiled by:
Doris Lynch

Fiction

The Baron in the Trees

Italo Calvino
Adult Fiction – Calvino

This delightful novel by the great Italian fabulist begins with a marvelous conceit: one member of a wealthy family decides to step outside his window to live an entirely aerial existence in the trees. A delightful book that encourages you to reconsider the possible, your way of being in the world.


Death Climbs a Tree

Sara Frommer
Adult Mysteries – Fro

A thrilling mystery by a local author about ecoterrorism, set in the fictional town of Oliver, Indiana. When violinist Sylvia Purcell climbs an old tree to save it from being chopped down by Walcher Construction. Joan Spencer, who manages the local civic symphony, takes up the case, but trouble brews when she discovers her own son is at the foot of the tree when Sylvia falls to her death.


State of Wonder

Ann Patchett
Adult Fiction – Patchet

Marina goes to the Amazon to search for a colleague: another researcher working on a "fountain of youth" drug who has disappeared. Deep in the rain forest, Marina finds women who remain fertile their entire lives—and the ghosts of her past.


Uprooted

Naomi Novik
Science Fiction – Novik

Agnieszka’s quiet village is surrounded by a shining river and beautiful forests—but a terrifying Wood with evil magical powers borders it. The villagers rely on the Dragon to keep them safe from Wood, but alas, the Dragon demands payment in the form of a beautiful young woman each year. Will this year's selected tribute save herself?


Nonfiction

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate: Discoveries from a Secret World

Peter Wohlleben
Adult Nonfiction – 582.16 Woh

For millennia, people thought that each tree lived and died separately. This fascinating book, by a working forester, documents new research that proves otherwise: that old-growth trees communicate through networks of roots and fungi. According to the author, trees care of each other and even communicate through their extensive root systems. This will change the way you look at the arboreal world.


Nature's Temples: The Complex World of Old-Growth Forests

John Maloof
Adult Nonfiction – 333.75 Mal

Do humans need forests? This rich exploration into our oldest forests answers decidedly in the affirmative, by exploring the rich biodiversity old-growth forests allow and nurture. Maloof examines all of a forest’s elements, including bird life, fungi, mosses, lichen, amphibians, and mammals. A chapter on the carbon cycle explains the complex processes at work, and emphasizes how vital rich forests are to human life.


The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature's Great Connectors

David George Haskell
Adult Nonfiction – 577.3 Has

Biologist Haskell begins this beautiful scientific and literary journey in the Amazon, three hundred feet above the earth on top of a ceibo tree that the native Ecuadorians call the "tree of life.” Each of the twelve chapters here explores the sounds trees make—including the myriad ways they sing—their life histories, and their connectedness to us.


Stranger in the Woods

Michael Finkle
Adult Nonfiction – 921 Knight Fin

This book examines the nature of solitude and community, and how the forest can provide much more than basic shelter. In 1986, a twenty-year-old sought solace in the Maine woods and stayed for over thirty years, not talking to anyone, until being arrested for petty theft. He lived in a tent, stealing food and reading material from nearby cabins, at times so close to others that he heard their conversations.


Walden and Civil Disobedience

Henry David Thoreau
Adult Nonfiction – 818.3 Th

In this classic work, the New England transcendentalist and former pencil-maker explains why he chooses to retreat to a forest cabin outside Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau shares what he learns about living life simply and independently, with only the trees for company. Over a century and a half old, his words resonate even more deeply today than when they were first written.


The Wood for the Trees: One Man's Long View of Nature

Richard A. Fortey
Adult Nonfiction – 577.3 For

A British paleontologist buys four acres of woodland and describes its changes through the seasons, with each chapter devoted to a different month of the year. Fortey's examination of the land balances the historical with the ecological, giving the reader a rich description of the Chiltern Hills in Oxfordshire.