The Arbor Day Foundation celebrated the first Arbor Day in 1972, fifty years ago today. Since then, they have planted more than 350 million trees around the United States. They focus on reforestation and planting trees in communities with few trees and forests. To celebrate, here are three books that are sure to increase your knowledge and appreciation of trees.
Fiction: The Overstory by Richard Powers
The Overstory is Richard Powers’ ambitious eco-fiction novel centers around nine protagonists with special relationships to trees and conservation. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2019, and is told in four parts, called ‘roots,’ ‘trunk,’ ‘crown,’ and ‘seeds.’ It follows the nine main characters’ connections to conservation efforts and how that shared passion unites them.
Nonfiction: The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
In The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben argues that trees are more of “social beings” than we might think. The book describes how networks of trees support each other, share nutrients, and send danger signals via root systems. We know that the life cycles of trees, as with all living things, mirrors those of our own, but Wohlleben makes the case that that isn’t the only way arboreal life is like human life — forests are essentially microcosms for all life on earth.
Poetry: Poems About Trees compiled by Everyman’s Library
Beloved publisher Everyman’s Library has a collection of 127 poems all about trees, by everyone from writers like Homer and Virgil to William Carlos Williams, Mary Oliver, and Louise Erdrich.
The collection is divided into different thematic sections — “Gladness,” “Planting and Preserving,” “Groves, Woods, Orchard, Forest,” “From Trees,” “Gladness Gone,” and “Lyrics, Meditations”