Spirituality & Health Magazine

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By:
2012 September-October

10 Great Books About the Wisdom of Trees

Sit under (or in) a tree with one of these great reads.

When my daughter was about six years old, we were lucky enough to live in a house with an enormous Poinciana tree gracing the yard. It was full of lush orange blossoms and had a wide, resplendent canopy. One day while I was working away at my computer, my daughter started yelling for me to come outside. I walked out and saw she had climbed to an impossible spot at the top of the tree, her tiny head intent and popping above the canopy. “Mom, call the newspapers!” My normally shy and soft-spoken willow of a girl was shouting with urgency. “Why?” I asked. She responded with absolute authority: “Because we’ve discovered heaven!”

And there you have it. Heaven is indeed found in the top of a tree, in the call of a bird in flight, or in the damp silence of a forest. As the poet W. S. Merwin said in a recent conversation, “When I was a very young boy, I felt that if I only knew how to listen, the trees had something very important to tell me.”

We may not always be able to listen to the trees outdoors in their splendor, but we can always take refuge in great books with trees as central characters, ironically telling their stories on pages of their own making.

The Baron in the Trees, by Italo Calvino (1957)

The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America, by Timothy Egan (2009)

The Tree, by John Fowles (1983)

The Attentive Heart: Conversations with Trees, 
by Stephanie Kaza (1993)

The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet, by Jim Robbins (2012)

Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver (2001)

A Sand County Almanac: 
With Essays on Conservation, by Aldo Leopold (1949)

   
FOR KIDS  

Redwoods, by Jason Chin (2009)

My Side of the Mountain, 
by Jean Craighead George (1959)

Grandpa Green,
 by Lane 
Smith (2011)

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