"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Review and Friday Quotes for CROSSING TO SAFETY

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

The book I am currently reading (with a summary and review):

Title: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Book Beginnings: 
Floating upward through a confusion of dreams and memory, curving like a trout through the rings of previous risings, I surface. My eyes wide open. I am awake. 
Friday 56: 
Troubled that what started as a celebration has begun to sound tense, I hold out my Dixie cup for more champagne. "Let us be unignorable," I propose.
Summary: When Larry and Sally Morgan move to Madison, Wisconsin in the late 1930s  they know that Larry's job as an adjunct professor is for only one school year but that doesn't keep Sid and Charity Lang from befriending them and leading them through a friendship that lasts the rest of their lives. At first glance it seems that Sid and Charity have everything: charm, money, easy manners, and generosity in spades. But not long after the two couples meet it becomes clear to Larry and Sally that Sid and Charity do not enjoy a relationship of equals, with Charity being overly controlling and Sid surprisingly submissive. The story of the couples' friendship is told by Larry from the vantage point of over thirty years. The book beginning quote then sets the stage for the telling of a story which will require a lot of memories and confrontations of dreams both lost and those accomplished. The Friday56 quote comes from a time early in their friendships where Sid and Charity are celebrating their anniversary with champagne and other goodies. The day should be full of joy but tension creeps in when the subject of tenure comes up. Both men are worried about their jobs. They decide that no matter what happens they will not allow themselves to be ignored.

Review: I first read Crossing to Safety in 1996 or '97 for a neighborhood book club. I didn't last long in that club because I wasn't in the same place in my life as the other members AND I was the only one who really wanted to discuss the books we read rather than just visit. I remember being very frustrated by the light treatment the other gals gave this book because I felt the book had so much to say about friendship and relationships in general. Of course, the irony was that I wanted to be in the club to make friends and I wasn't very friendly, at least about this book.

I fell in love with Stegner's writing after reading The Angle of Repose. That book is about families but the setting, the West, is almost a character. This book, thought by many to be his finest, is very clearly a book about friendships and that value received by having close friends. Between my first reading and this reread I was surprised how much I had forgotten. I remembered Charity being bossy. I remember that a health problem befell Sally. I'd forgotten that Sid was such a pushover and that Larry was the narrator of the book. But I did retain the essence---how precious friendship it and how much it is be treasured. I had also forgotten how quotable Crossing to Safety is. I highlighted 15 passages as I read the e-book I'd checked out from the library. I highly recommend this book. I wonder if my new book club should reach back and give this one a try.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Friday Quotes and a Review of IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

The book I am currently reading (with a summary and review):

Title: If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

Book Beginning: 
I look at myself in the mirror. I know that I was christened Clementine, so it would make sense if people called me Clem, or even, come to think of it, Clementine, since that's my name: but they don't. People call me Tish. I guess that makes sense, too. I'm tired, and I'm beginning to think that everything makes sense. Like, if it didn't make sense, how could it happen? But that's a terrible thought. It can only come out trouble---trouble that doesn't make sense.
Friday 56: 
I suddenly looked up into his [Fonny's] face. No one can describe this, I really shouldn't try. His face was bigger than the world, his eyes deeper than the sun, more vast than the desert, all that had happened since time began was in his face.
Summary: Tish and Fonny grew up across the street from each other. At some point they fell in love and now Tish is pregnant with Fonny's child. As soon as they can get together the funds, they will get married. But before that happens, Fonny is arrested on false accusations. Fonny's father, Tish, and her whole family try to raise the funds to get Fonny out on bail while he awaits his trial. They also try to prove his innocence with little success. Tragedy is just one step away from the whole family.

Review: The terrible tentacles of racism creep into every aspect of society and in this case, nearly destroy two families. Baldwin published this book in 1974 and one would think, reading it in 2019, that it was published this year because so little has changed---hatred based on the color of the skin, justice inequality, and yet, love flourishes.

If Beale Street Could Talk has come back into our consciousness this year due to a film which was up for several Academy Awards, and won for Best Supporting Actress. This is my first Baldwin book but it certainly won't be my last---the man could write prose. Oh my. There is one sex scene which isn't pornographic but it is quite graphic, at the same time capturing the rapture and tenderness of sex between two people who love each other. I've never read anything like that before. Well done. 

The book, however, broke my heart. I grew up in the 1970s and I was blithely blind to the horrors of racism hurled at people of color. I kept repeating the phrase in my head, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry", as if my enlightenment could change the past. 

The book is tough read for the subject matter, but a spectacular one for the writing. I think every adult should read it and then, like me, read more books by this author.

Note: I found a first edition at a used book store of If Beale Street Could Talk. It looks like the cover I have used for this post. Can you believe how plain and nondescript it is? I only read a few pages from the print book, however, preferring the audiobook read by Bahni Turpin.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Six Degress of Separation: A Gentleman in Moscow to---

Six Degrees of Separation---A Gentleman in Moscow
We start with...
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Count Alexander Rostov is placed under house arrest and essentially becomes a hostage for life in a hotel in Moscow.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Terrorists seize hostages at an embassy. 
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Another book by Patchett. A romantic encounter and tryst changes the trajectory of the lives of all the members of two families.
The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
An eleven -year old boy boards a ship from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to England. While on board the trajectory of this boy's life changes forever.
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Pi and his family are moving their zoo from Asia to Canada when the ship they are on sinks. Only Pi and a few animals survive.
The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
A nonfiction account of a couple who helped save Jewish people during WWII in Warsaw by hiding them in their zoo. 
Schindler's List by Thomas Kenneally
A WWII novel about an actual historical character, Oskar Schindler, who saved thousands of Jews. For obvious reasons it reads as nonfiction. 
That brings us back to...
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Another novel that reads like nonfiction. In this case, Count Alexander Rostov is fictional.

Join in the fun. Make your own Six Degrees of Separation list.


Monday, September 9, 2019

TTT: Though on my TBR they remain unread

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my to-be-read (TBR) list which remain unread, including my thoughts on why they remain thus.

1. Middlemarch by George Eliot---This classic has been on my TBR for years, decades probably. Why? I suppose it is the 904 pages that seems like such a daunting number.

2. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry---This western-genre book went on my TBR after I watched the mini-series made from it and after I learned that it had won the Pulitzer Prize. I purchased a copy of it for my husband a few Christmases back but it still remains unread by both of us. Why? Once again, I am ashamed to admit, it is the length. This one weighs in at 858 pages.

3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck---This is starting to feel like "true confessions" from me. I started this classic piece of American lit last Spring and just couldn't make myself read it. The book sits on the coffee table right now with a book marker marker the spot where I abandoned it. As a Noble Book Award winner, I know it is good and I should pick it back up. Maybe this winter it will be time to try again?
4. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens---A few years ago, okay maybe more than a few, I bought the audio-CD set for this book. I have enjoyed every Dickens book I've read but this format is one I rarely use anymore.  I'll have to listen to the book in the car, where I still have a CD-player yet other books keep crowding it out.

5. Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs by Wallace Stegner---I am currently reading another book by Stegner, Crossing to Safety. As I was reflecting on how much I like Stegner's writing I remembered one of his books purchased years ago and never read, Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs. I am going to go scour the house looking for this book and move it to the top of my list.

6.  A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry--- This book has been on my Goodreads TBR list the longest. It was highly recommended by Seattle librarian, Nancy Pearl, so I added it to the list. I am not sure why I haven't gotten to it. Maybe the real reason is I don't actually want to read it.

7. Anne of Avonlea by J.M. Montgomery---This is the second book in the famous Anne of Green Gables series. I own the whole set but haven't gotten past book one. Anne is calling my name. (Oh, it is my name!)

8. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor--- I loved the first book in the series, Strange the Dreamer, and I want to read the sequel but just haven't made the time. Now that I am retired I don't feel that urgency to read books before I make them available to students. I think I'll request the audiobook. That would force me to read/listen to it when it become available at the library.

9. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones--- I'm not even sure why this book is on my TBR. I wanted to read it years ago, around the time that the animated movie came out and I've never taken it off the list. What do you think? Should I read it or just take it off the list?

10. 188 other choices on my 'want-to-read' list on Goodreads---I am pretty sure that I started the year with 143 books on the list. It seems like all I do is add books to the list at a faster pace than read them.

What about you? What books have you been avoiding?


Saturday, September 7, 2019

Sunday Salon with a focus on humor

Weather: Right now (Saturday night) we are experiencing a thunder and lightning storm with rain.

Funny: The news out of Washington, DC is always so awful I just have to find some distractions; something to laugh about. Today I will focus on humor to lighten both my heart and yours.

Homemade treadmill: In this video, a man makes a homemade treadmill with soap and water on the floor. I can't understand his language but humor is international. Be sure you watch to the end where he turns up the speed on the treadmill. Hilarious. (Click on hyperlink.)

#SharpiePresident: As you most likely know, Trump doctored a photo of a weather map to show Hurricane Dorian's possible path to include Alabama. People on Twitter went crazy doctoring other photos with sharpies. This is a hilarious collection of the best of them. I love the centaur. (Click the hyperlink.)

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: Eric Idle from Monty Python sings with the symphony. This one has been around for years but it stands up to the test of time. Go ahead. Sing-along! It will increase your endorphins today!

Sand Castle winner from Texas Sand Fest: (It speaks for itself.)

Photo credit: Damon Langlois
How would you die in a Shakespeare play? I will just disappear but I wish I was born on the 29th so I could be pursued by a bear.

Bill Nye the Science Guy on All In With Chris Hayes this week: I needed this SO-O-O much. It is less than 8 minutes long. Watch it. I appreciated the message and it is a little bit funny. Innovate. Let's go!

Love Them First: (This one isn't funny at all but often very sweet.) Don and I caught this documentary on Thursday night and want all of you to watch it, too. It is about an incredible school in Minneapolis which is really trying to make a difference in the life of their students against all the odds of poverty and racial divide. Click on the link and you can find out when it is playing in your area. (It seems like most areas are showing it on September 12th.) Then watch the trailer. Oh my. Such an amazing principal and school.

A rare situation: This week, twice actually, I experienced an hour or two when I wasn't reading any book (print, e-book, or audiobook.) I usually have two or three books going at once so when one is finished I still have several in progress. Not this week. Just one, so before I started it and after I finished it, there was a void. Weird. The book read and finished this week was The Library Book by Susan Orlean. Click on the hyperlink for my review.

I hope you have a good week---


Friday, September 6, 2019

Review: The Library Book by Susan Orlean

On April 29, 1986 a fire started in the Los Angeles Central Public Library. Over seven hours and 400,000 books later the fire was finally extinguished. Right from the beginning firefighters believed that the fire was started by a human with a flame in his hand, but thirty years later no one is certain who or if the fire was set deliberately.
"In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings...to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson...and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting the fire"(Book Jacket).
What starts out as a book about a library fire with all the related topics of the arson investigation and book recovery and restoration, ends up becoming an homage to libraries and jobs librarians do cheerfully everyday in service to their patrons and society in general.

In The Library Book we met a whole cast of interesting characters. There were the librarians like Mary Foy, who in 1880 became the head of the LAPL even though she was only eighteen years old and Charles Lummis, who was a wildly eccentric adventurer and journalist determined to make the L.A. library one of the best in the world, to the modern-day librarians who, in the course of their daily jobs, make contact with the homeless in society with all their uncertainties and erratic behaviors.

Readers also meet Harry Peak and his family. Harry was in the library the day the fire started. He was acting strangely and had interactions with seven different people just prior to the fire. After he left the library on that fateful day he told friends he was there and had set the fire. But every time he told the story his facts changed. His friends chalked it up to 'Harry being Harry' since they all knew him to be a fibber and a tale-teller. All the evidence that investigators were able to gather was circumstantial so he was never brought to trial for arson though many believe he did set the fire.

The fire and its investigation form the framework of the book but Orleans takes the reader on a historical look at the LAPL from its inception to current day. She also analyzes the role of libraries in communities and the way that the goals of libraries have shifted throughout time. My favorite chapters were the ones where she visited different departments in the library and learned the full range of services they provide. As a school librarian I wore many hats but one of them was not to be an archival service. When a book was old or spoiled, I just weeded it out and moved on. I did not keep 'old' items like maps, collections, first editions, etc. I found the work of these departments to be very fascinating.

Up to this point this review is making the book sound boring. It wasn't. It was full of inspiring quotes about books, reading, libraries, and librarians. Here are a few of my favorites with a little editorial comment from me:
The publicness of the public library is an increasingly rare commodity. It becomes harder all the time to think of places that welcome everyone and don’t charge any money for that warm embrace.
Every time I step into a library I am aware of the humanness of the place. All libraries worldwide are having to figure out how to deal with issues of homelessness because the libraries are one of the few places in society where the homeless can go to be safe and warm. Even in my school, the library was a safe place for the misfits. I called them my library kids---students who ran to the library before school started each day and spent every lunch time within the safety of the its walls.
I loved the fresh alkaline tang of new ink and paper, a smell that never emanated from a broken-in library book. I loved the crack of a newly flexed spine, and the way the brand-new pages almost felt damp, as if they were wet with creation.
Until I became a librarian I was not tuned into the smell of new books. But now I love it. There is nothing like it. I love the description that new books are "wet with creation."
"My friends think because I am a librarian, I know everything," Princenthal said to me. "We'll be watching the Olympics, and suddenly, they'll say, 'Tina, how do you score snowboarding in the Olympics?' Or out of the blue, 'Tina, how long to parrots live?' "
Students used to treat me this way, too, as if I were the font of all knowledge. My mantra became, "As a librarian I know a little about a lot of things." I guess it goes with the job.
“The library is a whispering post. You don't need to take a book off a shelf to know there is a voice inside that is waiting to speak to you, and behind that was someone who truly believed that if he or she spoke, someone would listen. It was that affirmation that always amazed me. Even the oddest, most peculiar book was written with that kind of courage -- the writer's belief that someone would find his or her book important to read. I was struck by how precious and foolish and brave that belief is, and how necessary, and how full of hope it is to collect these books and manuscripts and preserve them. It declares that stories matter, and so does every effort to create something that connects us to one another, and to our past, and to what is still to come.” 
I have long described books as things that call my name. Before I retired, I remember being alone in the library after school and having the distinct impression that the books were calling out to me---"Read me!" And then some of the oddest books I found and read became personal favorites. It was as if they picked me instead of the other way around. Stories do indeed matter. In fact, maybe stories are the best way to communicate with another person when there is something to tell. The Library Book is proof of this. I highly recommend it.


Thursday, September 5, 2019

Friday Quotes: The Library Book

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

The book I am currently reading:

Title: The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Book Beginning: 
Even in Los Angeles, where there is no shortage of remarkable hairdos, Harry Peak attracted attention.
Friday 56: 
Once words and thoughts are poured into them, books are no longer just paper and ink and glue: They take on a kind of human vitality. The poet Milton called this quality in books "the potency of life."
This book is about the Los Angeles Central Library fire, possibly set by Harry Peak, and so much more. "It is really about the central role libraries have always and will always play in the life and health of a bustling democracy. Beyond that, like any good library, it's bursting with incredible tales and characters. There could be no better book for the bookish" (Dave Eggers).


An uber-classics list

My niece's husband, Bobby Powers, has a book blog. He reads a lot of business books but he has also wandered into a goal of reading the classics. Today I read through his list. I am not sure if he created the list or if he grabbed it from someplace else. He asked how many books his readers had read. I have read 57 of the 200, the number could be higher if I counted books I started but didn't complete or I read in a Illustrated Children's Classic Edition. What I like about this list is it has many modern classics on it---not just a stodgy list of books written by dead white guys from the British Empire. I don't intend to attempt to read all the other 143 books before my death, but I certainly am interested in reading more classics before I slip into oblivion.

⊗-books I've read
  1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe⊗
  2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams⊗
  3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott⊗
  4. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  5. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
  6. Money by Martin Amis
  7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood ⊗
  8. Emma by Jane Austen ⊗
  9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen ⊗
  10. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

Monday, September 2, 2019

TTT: Genres and topics I avoid because they are outside my comfort zone

TTT: Genres and topics I tend to avoid because they are outside my comfort zone

 1. Formula books... you know the kind where you could write the story because you know the formula for the plot?  I cannot make myself read these type of books and I feel disgusted if I ever get tricked into reading one.
2. Biographies/Memoirs of people where I disagree with their politics or values. I also don't read memoirs about people who are famous for a short time or because they are rich, etc. What could I possibly learn from them that I would care about?
3. Gratuitous sex or foul language---I don't avoid books that contain sex or language but it makes me cringe when it is over-the-top or gratuitous.
4. Horror genre---I don't DO scary.  I mean it.  I get scared by scary books (and movies) and I actually have nightmares.  Not worth it.
5. ...and zombies; sea monsters... I'm sorry but I just don't like the books which add zombies or monsters to classics such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
6. Manga---I like graphic novels a lot but manga confuses me. Even with the little chart which tells me what direction to go when reading, I always end up doing it backwards and then I can't enjoy the novel at all. I give up. If the book is written left to right I will read it, if not, I can't.
7. Sappy Romances---make me cringe.

What about you? What genres/types of books do you try to avoid?


Saturday, August 31, 2019

Review: The Overstory by Richard Powers

Years ago when I was in college, my bacteriology professor went off-script and spent a whole class period lecturing us about the perils of the deforestation of the Amazon. I sat spellbound as he talked about this rainforest being the lungs of the earth where more than 20% of the oxygen for the whole earth is made. If we didn't heed his warning he feared we would all be doomed. That lecture was conducted in 1978. We haven't learned the lesson that old professor taught and now the Amazon is burning. Will we recover?

That lecture caused me to stop and think about the interconnectedness of life. I had never even thought about trees in the Amazon, a continent away, being important to me. I barely thought about the trees in my backyard or in the neighborhood park even though I had lived through the first Earth Day in April 1970s and did my part by picking up trash alongside the road. In fact, I may have fell under the spell of Earth Day when a marketing firm told us to "save a tree, use plastic bags instead" and I thought that was a good plan. I am ashamed to admit it, trading paper for plastic. Ugh.

While on my honeymoon I walked among the tallest trees on earth in the Redwoods National Park in Northern California. I was awestruck. There is something so majestic about those trees. If only I could slow down my wavelengths I was sure I could hear them talking. Many years later I found myself reading several books about trees. All had a huge impact on me: Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver questions the wisdom of cutting down all of the American Chestnut trees when they were struck by a blight in the early 1900s; Serena by Ron Rash showed the greed of timber barons in clear-cutting whole forests in North Carolina in the 1930s; The Big Burn by Timothy Egan talks about the formation of the National Forest Service after a huge forest fire that nearly consumed a whole state; Remarkable Trees of the World by Thomas Pakenham which contains photos of the world's most marvelous trees; and more recently Lab Girl a memoir by Hope Jahren, a geobiologist who opened my eyes to the wonder of trees and the ways they communicate with one another. Reading those books and my many walks among the trees of the Pacific Northwest were my preface to Richard Powers' amazing book The Overstory which is not only about the interconnections of trees but the interconnections of people.

The Overstory is such an epic story on such an important topic (saving the planet for trees through acts of resistance and and in the process save ourselves) I don't really feel qualified to review it. I will do my best but need some help. Therefore, I will point you to the sources I used to gain some insights. I recommend that you visit these sources, too.

First, visit the Pulitzer Prize website. The Overstory won the 2019 Pulitzer for Literature.
An ingeniously structured narrative that branches and canopies like the trees at the core of the story whose wonder and connectivity echo those of the humans living amongst them.
  • This link is a Q & A with the author Richard Powers. He gives a series of questions that would be very helpful for book clubs who choose to read his book. One of the many I'd like to discuss with someone is Can we free ourselves from the grip of groupthink, the parochial narrowness of human time, and the colonizing consensus of “the real world?
Next read the New York Times book review written by Barbara Kingsolver, titled "The Heroes of this Novel are Centuries Old and Three Hundred Feet Tall." Kingsolver gives a fantastic summary of the book and makes the case for Richard Powers being the real-deal---a man who knows what he is talking about when he writes about science.
Most novelist don’t know beans about botany. Richard Powers is the exception, and his monumental novel “The Overstory” accomplishes what few living writers from either camp, art or science, could attempt. Using the tools of story, he pulls readers heart-first into a perspective so much longer-lived and more subtly developed than the human purview that we gain glimpses of a vast, primordial sensibility, while watching our own kind get whittled down to size.
The book begins with what seems like seven short stories. The first story begins with Norwegian immigrants, the Hoels, who move to Iowa and plant a chestnut tree in their yard. The second story is another immigrant story. Mimi Ma's father puts too much stock on his mulberry trees but he does instill a deep love of nature in his girls. In the third story Douglas P. is shot at in the Vietnam War and is saved by an old fig tree which breaks his fall.  In the next story a young kid, Neeley, falls from an oak tree and his life is changed in an instant. Two other stories emerge and the reader will wonder at how the stories are connected. Up to this point trees are incidental in each story but in the seventh story we meet a girl, Pat, who loves trees and eventually grows up to study them.
As Dr. Pat Westerford she spends years alone in forests doing her research, initially mocked by her peers but eventually celebrated for an astounding (and actually real) discovery: A forest’s trees are all communicating, all the time, via a nuanced chemical language transmitted from root to root. As this revelation dawns, the reader is jolted with electric glimpses of connections among characters in the previous stories. (NYT)
In Powers' adept hands the stories interconnect but as Kingsolver says, their stories are mere shrubbery in the understory compared to the real protagonists with outstretched limbs in the overstory. Our characters all come together to try, often ineptly, in the defense of trees.

Lastly visit NPR for an interview with Powers. The author did a ton of research including moving to an area near an old growth forest as he wrote The Overstory. At one point in the book Adam, a psychology grad student, is asked if resistance efforts can make a difference. He says, “The best arguments in the world won't change a person's mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story.” Powers clearly believes that in order to change to consciousness of the peoples of the world we have to employ different techniques of persuasion and literature has a role in bringing about change. He said,
"There's a whole new kind of story that we're going to have to learn how to tell," he says. "We won't be dispensing with the social, or the political — not by a long shot. But to add in this environmental drama, that's going to be a marvelous task and a great source of meaning for the writers of the future."
There it is. The power of a good story to change the hearts and minds of a people. The Overstory is not an easy book to read. It is complex and at points confusing. The protagonists are really the trees. It is a long book but so worth the time and effort it takes to read it.

“There's a Chinese saying. 'When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago.' "
The Chinese engineer smiles. "Good one."
" 'When is the next best time? Now.' "
"Ah! Okay!" The smile turns real. Until today, he has never planted anything. But Now, that next best of times, is long, and rewrites everything.” 

 Go outside and marvel at a tree. And, if you can't find one, plant one. We can make a difference if we start NOW.

P.S. We have four BIG trees in our yard that we planted when we moved in a little over 20 years ago. I sat and marveled at the maple today, admiring how it has grown and filled in impressively just this past year. The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, the second best time is now.