Teaching the Trees
Lessons from the Forest
Written by Joan Maloof
Narrated by Donna Postel
Published by Tantor Media
Publication date Oct 15, 2019
Running time 4 hrs 13 min
Release date: 10-15-19
In this collection of natural-history essays, biologist Joan Maloof embarks on a series of lively, fact-filled expeditions into forests of the eastern United States. Through Maloof’s engaging, conversational style, each essay offers a lesson in stewardship as it explores the interwoven connections between a tree species and the animals and insects whose lives depend on it—and who, in turn, work to ensure the tree’s survival.
Never really at home in a laboratory, Maloof took to the woods early in her career. Her enthusiasm for firsthand observation in the wild spills over into her writing, whether the subject is the composition of forest air, the eagle’s preference for nesting in loblolly pines, the growth rings of the bald cypress, or the gray squirrel’s fondness for weevil-infested acorns. With a storyteller’s instinct for intriguing particulars, Maloof expands our notions about what a tree “is” through her many asides—about the six species of leafhoppers who eat only sycamore leaves or the midges who live inside holly berries and somehow prevent them from turning red.
As a scientist, Maloof accepts that trees have a spiritual dimension that cannot be quantified. As an unrepentant tree hugger, she finds support in the scientific case for biodiversity. As an activist, she can’t help but wonder how much time is left for our forests. https://tantor.com/teaching-the-trees-joan-maloof.html
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
I like trees: they clean our air, provide homes and food for humans and other animals, they prevent my house from sliding down the hill into the marsh. Yay trees!!
Trees, and thus all life on earth has a champion in Joan Maloof, biologist and unabashed tree-hugger. She knowledge and understanding of trees and their role in the planet’s ecosystem. But, it’s neither dull nor pedantic. The essays are stand-alone so you can listen in small chunks; and the information is delivered engagingly with Donna Postel’s clearly-voiced, well-paced narration. I loved the stories about the intricacies of the forest: especially interesting is how the beech is interdependent with species of salamanders, an orchid and a squirrel. That may sound silly, but her sensitivity to nature snuck up on me and I find myself thinking more about my interactions with nature.
Also, Maloof’s information is often related via a personal story like a tree in her garden reviving itself. In non-fiction there’s really nothing more engaging than personal stories connecting the author to a concept. It also connects us to the concept, and opens the mind to the important information delivered within the anecdotes. We can save the planet with trees, and they can save us.
The book is short, at a bit over four hours, so it’s not like trying to listen to an encyclopedia. It could be a fun listen as you drive to a holiday dinner; after all, trees reduce stress.
This is a great gift for people who love the outdoors, who garden, who have a lot of trees, landscapers: pretty much everyone who’s ever set foot in a forest.