Between the Lines – May 2019

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New Books Help Readers Connect to Nature

    Perhaps it’s a sign of our fast-paced, digital world that books about connecting with nature are among our best sellers. From how-to’s to memoirs, there are a number of new books that remind us to slow down, get outside and connect to the healing power of nature.
    Peter Wohlleben has written several best sellers on this topic, starting with The Hidden Life of Trees, where he coined the phrase “woodwide web” to describe how trees communicate with each other. In this, and two subsequent books, The Inner Life of Animals and The Secret Wisdom of Nature, Wohllenben explores the complexity of nature and how flora, fauna and humankind are inextricably connected.
    The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, was first introduced in the 1980’s and is now becoming popularized in America as evidenced by the publication of several books on the topic. One of the more recent books by San Francisco author and founder of the Forest Bathing Club, Julia Plevin. Forest bathing is described as the art of spending intentional time in nature, and purports to reduce stress and anxiety while fostering a renewed sense of energy. In The Healing Magic of Forest Bathing, Plevin invites the reader to slow down, walk in silence, and connect with the natural elements of the forest.
    Renewal: How Nature Awakens Our Creativity, Compassion, and Joy, by Andres Edwards, explores the science behind why being in nature makes us feel alive and helps us thrive. Using personal experiences and cutting-edge research in cognitive science, Renewal makes the case that by fostering an emotional connection with nature, we can also regenerate the ecosystems on which we depend on our survival.
    In The Nature Insticnt, British explorer and author Tristan Gooley sets out to help us reclaim the natural instincts we have lost to the countless hours of screen time. His is as much a guide on how to understand the clues found in nature as it is an invitation to spend time unplugged and outdoors. Drawing on personal experience and the wisdom of tribal peoples, Gooley presents a road map to learning how to read the subtle signs in nature in order to build a deeper appreciation for our surroundings.
    When author Pam Houston used the advance from the sale of her first novel to buy a 120-acre ranch in the Colorado Rockies, she may not have envisioned how profound an effect a piece of land could have on a person. In her new memoir, Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country, Houston describes how the ranch and the animals that live on it have helped her heal the childhood scars left by neglectful and abusive parents. She writes with such clarity and emotion, that it’s nearly impossible not to feel the grandeur and hardship of life on the ranch; but more importantly, Deep Creek is an invitation to find that corner of the world to call our own, and to live in harmony and nurture it.
    The Overstory by Richard Powers is a multigenerational epic of disparate characters who are brought together to combat the destruction of forests. What makes this novel particularly intriguing is that the protagonists are trees. Yes, trees. It’s through this literary technique that we are able to witness hundreds of years of history, not to mention a thunderstorm from 300 feet above. It’s been described “as a prescient work at a time of fierce political debate over the environment and a surge in grass roots activism.” Shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, The Overstory is a call to reconnect with the transformative power of nature.
    The trees are talking, and they’re calling us home.

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