The best environmental books we’ve read in 2019

Looking back on the year, I’m happy to see that a novel that made our best books list in 2018 won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize: The Overstory by Richard Powers (and deservedly so). Looking ahead, I believe more and more readers are going to be seeking out the stories and insights that can only be …

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Book Review: Rescue Dogs: Where They Come From, Why They Act the Way They Do, and How to Love Them Well

Pete Paxton hesitated upon hearing the command, “Jump inside.” Inside the trench, which was more than one hundred feet long, six feet wide, and six feet deep, lay dogs in all stages of decomposition. Paxton could see skulls, organs, guts. He saw mosquitoes and maggots. The stench was so putrid, he nearly vomited. But it …

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Book Review: Defending Giants: The Redwood Wars and the Transformation of American Environmental Politics

A decade ago, not long after moving to Oregon, I traveled to Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park where I entered an old-growth coast redwood forest for the first time. To say it was a moving experience is an understatement. The photographs I took were also an understatement; no picture can capture the enormity of these …

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Book Review: Gardenland: Nature, Fantasy, and Everyday Practice

When you hear the word “garden” do you picture something like this: Or do you picture something more like this: The fact that these are both “gardens” illustrates just how loaded the word has become over the years. And the fact a garden can be so many things made me curious as to how we …

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Book Review: The Humane Gardener

What in the world could be inhumane about gardening? Plenty, it turns out, thanks to this beautifully produced and incredibly important book by Nancy Lawson: The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife. The Humane Gardener makes a persuasive case for rethinking conventional knowledge about what a garden or yard should look like and …

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Review: Edge of Awe: Experiences of the Malheur-Steens Country

Funny how a word can change on you. When I moved to Oregon nearly a decade ago, I first heard about the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, about the Steens mountain range, and the diversity of bird species that migrate through this region. Back then, Malheur meant wilderness. But in 2016, after group of armed men …

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Braiding Sweetgrass: Finding a way through environmental despair

At the ASLE conference earlier this summer I heard this book referenced in a number of sessions. And now, having read it, I realize why. Braiding Sweetgrass is a rich collection of essays about plants and animals, indigenous and scientific awareness, and our tenuous relationship with nature. But more than that, it is the story …

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Allowed to Grow Old, Portraits of Elderly Animals From Farm Sanctuaries

By Isa Leshko Foreword by Sy Montgomery Essays by Gene Baur and Anne Wilkes Tucker University of Chicago Press, 2019 First, a disclaimer. While I wouldn’t call it a sanctuary, my husband and I do take in livestock rescues from time to time, so I have a warm spot in my heart for the creatures …

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