We’re All Adults Here
Book Recommendations & Other Musings
by Carol Tuttle
It’s True. A Novel Leads to Facts.
Do you ever find reading a novel to lead you to dig deeper into the facts behind the story? I frequently find myself reading nonfiction because, well…SCIENCE. After reading the novel The Overstory (which just won the 2019 Pulitzer for Fiction) and being totally enthralled, I immediately placed a hold on the bestselling title The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. This nonfiction book is embedded within The Overstory: The novel’s character Patricia Westerford seems based upon the real-life ecologist Suzanne Simard; the book “written” by Patricia (there’s a book within a book here!) seems like a fictional portrayal of The Hidden Life of Trees. I read The Hidden Life of Trees with some skepticism, as there had been controversy about the author (a literal tree-hugger) over-imagining the science and suggesting human emotions and communication for plants and trees. What I did find fascinating, though, was the way reading these books changed my perspective. Always a biologist at heart, I felt I already appreciated the natural world around me. After reading both this novel and nonfiction title, I found myself considering each tree as an individual and groups of trees as a community. On my daily commute now, I notice trees that are uniquely beautiful for their size, shape, bark, color, or leaves. Which led me to read another nonfiction book: Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy. This classic manual (which is well-written and doesn’t read like a manual) offers great incentive and information on creating a yard/garden that is sustaining for the ever-important Ohio native insects like bees and butterflies to keep our ecosystem balanced and thriving.
And when it comes to ecosystems, there is none more fascinating than the human body. We are not single organisms, but walking ecosystems of cells, both human and non-human. So next I read two brand new nonfiction books, The Whole-Body Microbiome: How to Harness Microbes-Inside and Out-for Lifelong Health by Brett Finlay, Ph. D. and Jessica M. Finlay, Ph.D. and An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System; A Tale in Four Lives by Matt Richtel. Each of these accessible and fascinating books drove home for me the importance of community within nature. How we maintain a balance among the elements of our environment, both internal and external, is crucial to our existence as individuals and as a species.
See where I ended up? All because reading a novel pushed me into facts and interpretation that shaped my view. Because, well…SCIENCE. And READING!
Carol Tuttle is the Collection Services Librarian for the Willoughby-Eastlake Library System. She is currently reading The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames.
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