Recommended Reading, some old, some new....
This is a page just for fun, with book recommendations from staff, board members, and Friends.
If you have a favorite-- that is related in some way to plants, conservation, nature-- use our Contact Form and send us the title, author, and a short description.
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We would love to know what you are reading about plants, conservation, the natural world, places to visit, reference books or anything else that would be of interest to Friends of Plant Conservation members.
Geology and Plant Life: The Effects of Landforms and Rock Types on Plants
Arthur R. Kruckeberg, 2004
Univ. of Washington Press
This book is highly praised by Lesley Starke, Plant Ecologist, and Jenny Stanley, Research Specialist, at NC Plant Conservation Program.
From the Quarterly Review of Biology:
"[Kruckeberg] draws on many years of botanical experience to make an eloquent plea for understanding the influences of landforms, lithology, and geologic history on the living world."
From a reviewer: "one thing that makes Prof. Kruckeberg the most appealing writer on this potentially difficult topic that I've ever read is that even when he discusses the more technical aspects of the subject, he manages to imbue his discussion with an air of excitement and discovery. In other words, it's a bit of an adventure, and one never knows what one will find, just as in the field one never knows what will turn up."
Submitted by: Lesley Starke
The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places
Bernie Krause, 2012, reprinted 2013.
Bernie Krause is one of the world’s leading experts in natural sound and has spent countless hours recording natural soundscapes across the world. In his book, The Great Animal Orchestra – Finding the Origins of Music in the World’s Wild Places he describes some of his experiences and the negative impacts that human activity and noise can have on the animal world.
Recommended by : Crystal Cockman
See Crystal's full review
Hope, Human and Wild
Published in 1995, this book escaped my attention until recently. I keep a pack of sticky notes while reading, and as I proceeded through this book, Steve spoke up and said "why don't you just mark the pages you DON'T intend to go back to!" He was right--I had at least 50 of the little colored arrows sticking out of the pages.
Take that as my recommendation to read this book, described by author Bill McKibben as his attempt to write something a little more upbeat than he sometimes does.
I will go back and read this book again, and again.
Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life
George Monbiot, 2014.
Feral is the "lyrical and gripping story of George Monbiot’s efforts to re-engage with nature and discover a new way of living. He shows how, by restoring and rewilding our damaged ecosystems on land and at sea, we can bring wonder back into our lives.
Making use of some remarkable scientific discoveries, Feral lays out a new, positive environmentalism, in which nature is allowed to find its own way. "
From Monbiot's website.
The Hidden Life of Trees
Forester Peter Wohlleben offers a look at trees and forests, in uncomplicated language, from diverse perspectives that explores the life, death, and regeneration not only of individual trees, but of communities of trees. The relationship of trees and fungi, how trees "talk," the means by which trees "help" one another, surviving even if it means the death of another of the same species, how "mother" trees keep their offspring in place until there is enough light to allow another tree to grow to maturity--Wohlleben's musings are enlightening and thought-provoking. It just makes you want to get outside and explore forests for yourself.
Great to read a short chapter before bed!
The Wild Places
Robert Macfarlane (Peguin Books, 2007) writes with eloquence and imagination, creating another book that I will read again just for the sheer pleasure.
Macfarlane determines to visit a series of breathtaking journeys through some of the most remarkable landscapes of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. He climbs, walks, and swims (usually in icy waters) by day and spends his nights sleeping on cliff-tops and in ancient meadows and wildwoods. He entwines history, memory, and landscape in a 'bewitching evocation of wildness and its vital importance.'
I bought this as a paperback and regret that, so I purchased The Old Ways, another of his books, in hardcover edition. They are worth the extra money!
Orchids, Carnivorous Plants, and Other Wildflowers of the Green Swamp, North Carolina: Exploring North America’s Most Diverse EcosystemJim Fowler, 2015
If you can't get out to see these plants for yourself, Jim's book is a perfect alternative. And even if you have seen them, Jim produces unforgettable images and accurate, helpful information.
You can order the book directly from Jim -
Our Plundered Planet
Fairfield Osborn, 1948.
Before Rachel Carson there was Fairfield Osborn, who studied biology and pursued a career in international business. On retirement in 1935, he redeemed himself (smile) by devoting himself to environmental issues and writing Our Plundered Planet.
As reviewed on publication in 1948 the book "is a convincing and moving exposition of the need for world-wide conservation of the earth's resources. The destruction of forest, the ravages of over-grazing, man's continual attack on and wasting of the very materials upon which life and society are based are more serious threats to our civilization than the atom bomb."
This was 1948 folks - what have we been doing??
Excellent book, but hard to find. If you cannot find a copy, you can read it online. Use the button below.
The Last Empty Places: A Past and Present journey Through the Blank Spots on the American Map
Peter Stark Ballantine Boos, 2010) takes the reader to four of the most remote, wild and unpopulated areas of the United States outside of Alaska – to the rivers and forests of Northern Maine, to rugged, unpopulated Western Pennsylvania that lies only a short distance from the big cities of the East, to the haunting canyons of Central New Mexico, and to the vast arid basins of Southeast Oregon.
He finds that each has played an important role in shaping our American idea of wilderness through the influential “natural philosophers” who visited these four regions regions and wrote about their experiences – Henry David Thoreau, John and William Bartram, John Muir and Aldo Leopold, sharing his own personal experiences on his own or with his family.
A thought-provoking and inspiring book.
Bringing Nature Home
Originally published in 2007, I have the updated and expanded 2011 edition (fifth printing). This book advocates planting and nurturing native plants, based on Tallamy's extensive research as an entomologist. He relentlessly offers statistics on how many insect species rely on all the various native plants, and explains how those insects are keys to the survival of all other species. When I am advocating conservation, I often cite Tallamy's statistics to help folks understand the scale of the crisis faced by the natural world.
Available from Amazon Smile - use our home page!
The Sheep Look Up
In a near future, the air pollution is so bad that everyone wears gas masks. The infant mortality rate is soaring, and birth defects, new diseases, and physical ailments of all kinds abound. The water is undrinkable—unless you’re poor and have no choice. Large corporations fighting over profits from gas masks, drinking water, and clean food tower over an ineffectual, corrupt government.
It's tough, but should be in every high school. A must read!
Submitted by: Andy Wood
Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook
This is a gorgeous resource on foraging for edible plants and crafting delicious food from them. The illustrations are beautiful and accurate. It's like a botanical party for the senses.
Botanical Arts Press LLC. 2013
Submitted by: Katie Kovach
Stand Up That Mountain
Surely the most important environmental book for North Carolina is Stand Up That Mountain by Jay Erskine Leutze.
Leutze was born in Virginia but now lives in the Southern Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. An attorney, he has become a voice for state and federal investment in public lands for conservation.
Also available via Amazon Smile, which donates a small percentage of your purchase to the Friends of Plant Conservation. See the Home Page.
Backyard Carolina: Two Decades of Public Radio Commentary
We are proud to have Andy serving on our Board of Directors, a position he has held since 2008. We have benefited from his knowledge, wisdom, and enthusiasm for our natural world.
Beginning in 1987, Andy Wood began reporting his observations on nature as a weekly commentator on WHQR, the public radio station for the coastal Carolinas. Backyard Carolina includes Wood's most memorable commentaries and observations on nature from his own backyard to the larger backyard of various communities in North and South Carolina.
I have two books about wetlands and water resources conservation that each had a profound impact on my views of conservation--deepening my appreciation for ecology and focusing on more than just imperiled species conservation to see the whole big picture.
1) Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner, published 1993
2) Discovering the Unknown Landscape: A History of America's Wetlands by Ann Vileisis, published 1999.
The Worst Hard Time
"The Worst Hard Time is an epic story of blind hope and endurance almost beyond belief; it is also, as Tim Egan has told it, a riveting tale of bumptious charlatans, con-men, and tricksters, environmental arrogance and hubris, political chicanery, and a ruinous ignorance of nature's ways. Egan has reached across the generations and brought us the people who played out the drama in this devastated land, and uses their voices to tell the story as well as it could ever be told." — Marq de Villiers, author of Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource
Recommended highly by Andy Wood and his wife Sandy.
The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey