The Greenhouse

KeskusteluClub Read 2023

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The Greenhouse

tammikuu 2, 6:46 am

I didn't spend as much time in The Greenhouse last year as I had hoped, but let it be one of my New Year's Resolutions to do so more.

In spite of my desertion, I saw last year some members posted reviews or comments about books on environmental topics or natural history here to share with all.

Unintended the Greenhouse was an oasis of peace last year. That doesn't mean many Club Read members read books about nature. I was glad to see Avaland & Dukedom read a book about oak trees, The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees that almost made me run to the bookshop.

I also saw that 4 books of Rachel Carson, among which Silent Sping and The Edge of the Sea can be downloaded as free eBooks from

It looks 2023 is going to be a great year for reading about plants, animals and the environment.

tammikuu 2, 8:04 am

>1 edwinbcn: Thanks for setting this thread up again. I'm watching the naturallitsy thread for ideas. I also want to mention Appleseed by Matt Bell, a science fiction novel looking at climate change.

tammikuu 2, 12:48 pm

Happy to see this thread back this year. I'll be reading books for it.

tammikuu 3, 8:22 am

A nature group was started on Litsy late last year, and i joined but didn’t post here. Our January book is The Book of Eels by Patrick Svensson. It’s originally written in Swedish (and also translated to English as The Gospel of Eels).

tammikuu 3, 9:22 am

Happy to see this here again! I usually only read about a dozen nonfiction books a year, but at least a couple are on this topic. I especially love reading about birds and trees.

My favorite book in 2022 on environmental topics was World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds by Scott Weidensaul.

I don't know if this "counts", but I just finished a book by Simon Winchester about Krakatoa that does get into plate tectonics and environmental impact of the volcano.

tammikuu 7, 6:09 pm

>5 japaul22: I just recently bought World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds, and plan to read it this year. I'm glad to hear you speak so highly of it.

tammikuu 7, 6:54 pm

Will stop in from time to time to see what you are reading!

tammikuu 8, 12:03 pm

I didn’t know about this thread, I’ll follow it and try to participate.

tammikuu 10, 6:20 am

>5 japaul22:

Simon Winchester has a compelling way to write that makes you read quite thick books with ease. I have read ten of his books and I think people who are interested in the natural world will also often come across Winchester's books. However, I think basically Winchester is more interested in people. I think as a writer he is interested in 'outliers', eccentric people, (people in) unusual places, and nature as in natural disasters and their impact on people; earthquakes, volcanoes, storms, etc.

I was most enthusiastic about his books (about) Krakatoa and (the) Atlantic.

tammikuu 10, 1:40 pm

>5 japaul22: I met Simon Winchester about 1980. He was writing a story about American towns named "Paradise," and our daily paper circulated in Paradise, Mich. My job that afternoon was to dig up morgue stories for him (no digitized, searchable morgue in those days) and find a local person he could talk to about Paradise. I don't think the story ever came to fruition, but he did seem interested that there is also a Hell, Mich.

After that encounter, I started noticing his name and stories. Wasn't he held hostage or prisoner in some world hotspot once?

He wrote a book about a psychological break he had as a young man. I read it, but it stymied me.

tammikuu 10, 11:37 pm

>5 japaul22: It counts!

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 11, 11:48 am

Mentioning a new book I ran across today: 27559711::The High Sierra: a love story by Kim Stanley Robinson. It's a chunkster, but it looks interesting and has some color photographs that intrigue me.

tammikuu 11, 11:48 am

>9 edwinbcn: that's a good way to describe Winchester - being interested in people. Probably what makes his books so readable!

>10 nohrt4me2: how interesting that you met Simon Winchester! I don't know anything about his personal life, but now I'm intrigued.

tammikuu 11, 8:58 pm

I ran across this recently, and added it to my TBR because of my Moby Dick theme. It sounds fascinating! Ahab's Rolling Sea.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 11, 11:23 pm

Best "nature book" I read recently was Ravens in Winter by Bernd Heinrich. I have always been interested in corvids, especially crows.

helmikuu 10, 8:12 am

A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds by Scott Weidensaul: 4 stars

This book took me a long time to read - 26 days, according to my spreadsheet - but it was worth every minute. It's filled with fascinating facts and funny and poignant anecdotes, and has a spread of full-color photos in the middle.

Weidensaul's prose is elegant and easy to read, and his passion, love, and indeed, as he himself notes in the book, reverence, for his subject shines through throughout.

There is a good balance between narrative anecdotes and info dumping, for lack of a better term. The pacing between the two is likewise well handled, keeping either from becoming monotonous or overwhelming.

I will say that there are long chunks of text without page breaks, though there are paragraph breaks. The large chunks between natural stopping points mean that it is not well suited for reading in two to five minute chunks of time clawed out of a busy day. This book demands reading time that is set aside to get the most from it.

The theme of global anthropogenic climate change runs throughout the book. It can be a bit depressing, not to mention frightening, seeing the damage laid out the way that it is in this book. But Weidensaul takes pains to emphasize at every turn that there is hope, and that we still have time and chance to repair the damage. That, and the fact that climate change is a theme but not the main focus, keeps the book from being too depressing or upsetting to read.

Weidensaul is open about his agenda with the book, emphasizing the ways that what is good for birds is also good for humans, and vice versa, and as using all of his rhetorical powers to instill in his readers the same love and thus desire to protect birds as he feels himself. He wants to save the birds, and he wants his readers to want that, too.

That being said, it never feels like an Issue Book, lecture, or Morality Lesson. The agenda is there, and not hidden, but Weidensaul never lets it get in the way of writing a good book.

I really enjoyed A World on the Wing. I don't think it's for everyone - people without at least some interest in birds may find it boring. People who require their nonfiction to be narrative in format will likely have trouble with this as well. But I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in birds. It's a solid four star book, and I'm glad I picked it up off the shelf.

maaliskuu 18, 2:48 pm

"The High House" by Jessie Greengrass
First published in 2021
Rating: 4 stars - ****

This novel was my first venture into CliFi. The story is set in the future - it is not specified when exactly - and the world suffers the consequences of climate change. Caro and Pauly, the children of a climate scientist, arrive at the high house where everything is prepared for them to survive. There is a barn full of supplies, there are chicken and plant beds, the house features a mill and it is located by the sea, but on high ground. It is tended to by Sally and her grandfather, who was the village caretaker and possesses many skills that are forgotten by most, but are crucial now.
Soon, these four are cut off from the rest of the world and have to come to terms with each other, but also with themselves and their memories. It is a microcosmos of emotions, of memories, hopes and desperations, all driven by the need to survive and by the relationships between these characters.
Despite some heavy topics, it is a slow and quiet novel that lives from the descriptions of the natural world that surrounds the high house. The story felt rather depressing to me, but it also has some beautiful moments, and the characters seemed real and raw.
However, the criticism I have is that it all seems rather improbable to me, which is why I have to take one star off my rating. I don't mean climate change itself, but the way the people deal with it in this novel - on a large scale, but also on a small scale. The high house does not seem like the best place to survive, nor does the way it is equipped make much sense. But I do think that to be realistic in a practical sense is not the foremost goal of this novel, but rather to show how different characters might react under these circumstances.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 18, 5:25 pm

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Not too far into it, but looks at the way humans have shaped the environment and how nature would respond if we went extinct tomorrow.

Fascinating, detailed, and very nicely written. But so far it is mostly making me nervous about whether drainage around my house is adequate ...

maaliskuu 18, 5:27 pm

>17 MissBrangwen: If you like CliFi, you might try A Friend of the Earth by TC Boyle, though hardly an "upper" of a story.

maaliskuu 19, 4:05 am

>19 nohrt4me2: I don't think that I can stomach a lot of it at once, but I'm taking a note. I haven't read anything by T.C. Boyle so far.

maaliskuu 19, 1:05 pm

>19 nohrt4me2: Great suggestion

>20 MissBrangwen: T C Boyle, one of my favourites, has been writing fiction about the environment for decades in his decidedly unorthodox way. He also takes on those despoiling it. Definitely someone to look forward to in the future, if not now.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 19, 4:03 pm

>21 SassyLassy: That hippie book he wrote, Drop City, one of my all time faves.

maaliskuu 21, 4:39 pm

>22 nohrt4me2: That was a fun one. Just checked, and I have 18 of his books.

maaliskuu 22, 9:52 am

>23 SassyLassy: He writes from the spleen. But I have enjoyed his books when he doesn't go too over the top.

huhtikuu 21, 9:04 am

Not sure this will interest, but here it is ☺️

An Earth Day 2023 Reading List | The Chicago Blog