Three Environmental Books to Get You Through Winter

One of my favourite things to do during the winter is to curl up under a cozy blanket and get lost in a good book! Last year, I challenged myself to fill my personal library with more non-fiction, and read more environmental books. With everyone spending more time at home than usual, I thought I would share with you some recent nature-reads that I absolutely loved!


Tree: A Life Story, by David Suzuki and Wayne Grady

For many, David Suzuki is synonymous with conservation in Canada! His lifelong career spans decades of broadcast television work and writing more than fifty books connecting humans with nature. In this book, he takes the story of a single Douglas fir tree (Pseudotsuga menziesii) located next to his cottage in British Columbia and builds an epic tale that encompasses all life on Earth.

Personally, the biggest takeaway from this book was appreciating how different time works in the life of trees compared to a human’s. It’s incredible to think that the roughly-400-year-old tree in this book began growing as William Shakespeare was writing King Lear! Since our lives move so much faster in comparison, we often fail to appreciate the richness of the lives of trees!

If you want to gain a deeper understanding of trees and forests, then do yourself a favour and pick up this book!


The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature, by David George Haskell

The saying “miss the forest for the trees” implies that one cannot understand or appreciate the larger picture when focused on a few details. David George Haskell aims to challenge this notion by spending an entire year observing a one square metre plot in an old-growth forest in Tennessee. What one assumes would be a dull book bursts to life with stories about birth, death, partnership and deception!

After reading this book, you see the world around you through a different lens. The mundane becomes opportunities for discovery! Even if you aren’t close to an old-growth forest, this book inspires you to take a closer look at the nature around you.


The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert

Research shows that we are currently living through the Earth’s sixth mass extinction, and it is being caused by us. What happened to the five extinctions before this? How do we define what a mass extinction is? Can we learn from past events to help us understand how we can improve our situation today? Elizabeth Kolbert dives deep into these questions and unearths a series of tales that are both gripping and thought-provoking.

Through this book, Elizabeth holds up a mirror to our past and present circumstances to ask us: what do we want our legacy to be? The stories in this book will not only enrich you with knowledge, but also push you to take action.

I hope you enjoy these books and that they help you beat the winter blues! All of these books are available from wherever you buy books, but, if you can, please support your local, independent bookstores.


Brian Millward is the Stewardship Coordinator at LEAF.