View Post

Book Review: The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf

In Book Reviews, Climate Change, Conservation, Nonfiction by Midge Raymond0 Comments

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf examines the life of the oft-forgotten founder of the modern environmentalist movement. Alexander von Humboldt was a German naturalist and explorer who, despite having his name attached to natural wonders across the globe, is far less well known than those who drew their inspiration from him, including Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Rachel Carson, and James Lovelock. Wulf’s fascinating book is thoroughly researched and annotated and includes drawings and portraits of Humboldt and his travels. Like so many naturalists, Humboldt was not a “people person” but …

View Post

Book Review: Hot Season by Susan DeFreitas

In Book Reviews, Conservation, Fiction by Mindy Mejia0 Comments

Undergrads navigating a desert year during the Bush Administration frame this debut novel from Susan DeFreitas. Deep Canyon College is an environmentally-focused mecca in the historic Wild West town of Crest Top, Arizona where three roommates try to find their path. Jenna, the freshman soil science major, doesn’t know how to leave a stagnant high school relationship. Katie, eager to escape the shadow of her pseudo-liberal politician mother, finds herself drawn to activism. The graduating senior of the house, Rell, tries to decide where her life will lead as she finishes her senior thesis on pyrophitic plants. Pyrophytes are native …

View Post

Introducing the Center for Humans and Nature

In Climate Change, Endangered Species, Journals and Magazines, Oceans, Q&A by John Yunker0 Comments

I’m pleased to welcome a new contributor to EcoLit Books: The Center for Humans and Nature. This is an amazing organization and I thought a Q&A would be a great way for you to get to know them. What is the Center for Humans and Nature? We are an organization based in Chicago that explores and promotes ethical thinking and dialogue—particularly as it pertains to ideas of environmental responsibility, ecological stewardship, and bettering the relationship between humans and nature. What are your goals? We believe that solutions to today’s challenges begin with big ideas. In order to inspire the great actions needed …

View Post

Patterns in Nature: Why the Natural World Looks the Way It Does

In Book Reviews, Nonfiction by John Yunker0 Comments

Patterns in Nature by Philip Ball is a gorgeous book, dense with full-color photos, including: The book is divided into thematic chapters, such as Symmetry, Spirals, Waves and Dunes, Bubbles and Foam. What’s fascinating is the breadth of photographs and how they visually unite geologic phenomena, flora and fauna, such as the similarities between an owl and a butterfly’s wings: The “why” behind these various patterns are explained by the author through brief lessons on physics and chemical properties. But these are only high-level explanations and the author freely admits that we don’t really know why so many animals look the way they do. What I most …

View Post

Call for Submissions: Writing for Animals Nonfiction Anthology

In Animal Behavior, Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Conservation, Fiction, Nonfiction, Veganism, Writing Opportunities by John Yunker0 Comments

Ashland Creek Press is currently accepting nonfiction submissions for a new anthology, Writing for Animals: An anthology for writers and instructors to educate and inspire. From Franz Kafka’s Report to the Academy to Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are Completely Beside Ourselves, animals have played a central role in literature. Increasingly, writers are playing a central role in advancing awareness of animal issues through the written word. And yet little has been written about the process of writing about animals—from crafting point of view to voice. Writers who hope to raise awareness face many questions and choices in their work, from …

View Post

Being a Dog: Following the Dog into a World of Smell

In Animal Behavior, Book Reviews, Nonfiction by Jacki Skole0 Comments

No matter how quietly I screw off the cap on a jar of peanut butter, within seconds of its opening, I will feel my dog’s dark brown eyes drilling into me. I’m here, those eyes say. And I’m waiting. Waiting, that is, for a spoonful of her favorite treat. If dogs can sniff out bombs and bedbugs, cancer and orca poop (more on that in a moment), I shouldn’t be surprised that Galen can sniff out peanut butter. And now, having just completed Alexandra Horowitz’s newest exploration of doghood, Being a Dog: Following the Dog into a World of Smell, …

View Post

Thinking About Animals in the Age of the Anthropocene

In Animal Rights, Anthropocene, Book Reviews, Climate Change, Conservation, Endangered Species, Nonfiction, Wolves by John Yunker0 Comments

The anthropocene is the proposed geologic term for the period in which humans have made a significant impact on the earth’s geology and ecosystems. It’s not a term without controversy however, which I learned as I read the first essay in Thinking about Animals in the Age of the Anthropocene. Susan Rustick writes: What will my canine companions think if the Working Group on the Anthropocene makes an initial proposal that our current epoch be called the Anthropocene? What will the elm tree sense or the aronia bushes? What clarion call or trumpet of death will be heard by the Whooping Crane or …

View Post

New EcoLit Books: Fall 2016

In Book Publishers, Climate Change, Conservation, Endangered Species, Fiction, Nonfiction, Trees by John Yunker0 Comments

Here are some of the books that were submitted to us over the past few months that are recently published (or soon will be): The After Author: Melinda Mueller Publisher: Entre Ríos Books Book Description: An important new collaborative work by Northwest artists responding to the sixth extinction. The first book by Seattle poet, Melinda Mueller, since her award winning “What the Ice Gets”. “The After” is a single poem sorrowing the world we will alter and leave unseen. A meditation on extinction and the anthropocene, it blends science and poetry with an urgency of a heartbreak. Interspersed with the poem is …

View Post

Barkskins by Annie Proulx: An epic (and ongoing) story of extraction

In Book Reviews, Climate Change, Conservation, Fiction, Trees by John Yunker0 Comments

Barkskins: A Novel Barkskins tells the intertwined and intergenerational stories of the natives and immigrants of the North American territory once known as New France. Because this novel takes place over more than 300 years, there are quite a few stories to tell; I found myself frequently consulting the two lengthy family trees in the appendix to keep track of the many characters that come and go. But the primary (and most tragic) character of this novel is one with no dialogue at all. As Annie Proulx noted in a recent interview with  The New Yorker: For me, the chief character in the long story was the forest, the great …

View Post

Book Review: Trace by Lauret Savoy

In Book Reviews, Nonfiction by Center for Humans and Nature0 Comments

Reviewed by James Ballowe, Engagement Advisor for the Center for Humans and Nature and Distinguished Professor English Emeritus from Bradley University. Lauret Savoy’s Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape is both a memoir and a study of human events within the natural landscape of the United States. As an incessant traveler from childhood and on into a career as a professor of geology and environmental studies at Mount Holyoke College, she has embraced and studied a significant portion of the ancient landscape of the United States upon whose surface the history of a people has only recently been written. Her …