Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What's the Best Book You Read About Nature in 2010?

I come from a family of book readers and gift givers, and at this time of year the two converge pretty heavily as I start thinking about books to give and to request for Christmas.

For those of you in the same boat, or just looking for a good read, I'll tell you the best nature-oriented book I read this year, hands down:

Where the Wild Things Were, by William Stolzenburg. It's a fascinating review of recent research on the importance of predators as regulators of ecosystems. Most notably, there's an entire chapter devoted to the overpopulated deer of the DC metro area. Long story short: because there are no predators for the deer, the entire forest ecosystem is having trouble reproducing.

I know there are lots of books I haven't made it to this year -- any you'd recommend?

3 comments:

David Gorsline said...

American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree, by Susan Freinkel. In my Goodreads review, I wrote: "Excellent retelling of the collapse of American Chestnut, Castanea dentata, in the eastern U.S., scourged by the chestnut blight funugs, Cryphonectria parasitica, as well as the efforts to bring the tree back to something like its former glory. By way of exploring the various approaches—conventional backcross breeding, genetic engineering, breeding hypovirulence into the attacking fungus—Freinkel considers the pros and cons of 21st-century biotechnology. Her account of a conference held in Pennsylvania in 1912 (working from historical sources) at the height of the blight's attack is especially well-done."

Anonymous said...

Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan

Elizabeth | The Natural Capital said...

Thanks for the recommendation, David -- I'l have to check that one out. I'm fascinated by the sad but hopeful history of the tree.

As for the Botany of Desire, what's not to love about a book that recasts Johnny Appleseed as a purveyor of liquor (hard cider), not some apple-a-day goody-two-shoes!

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