"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=========

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Read any "Weird" Books Lately?

A  few weeks ago I was supervising a group of students taking a test in the library.  To break up the tedium of that task I started pulling books off a nearby shelf to take a look at them.  I read a whole book on the 2004 Indonesian Tsunami (there were lots of pictures) and I still had time to cast about for something new to look at when I stumbled upon this gem, Remarkable Trees of the World by Thomas Pakenham, that I didn't even know I had in the library. At first I thought I would just look at the fabulous photos of magnificent trees but the text by Pakenham drew me in and I found myself to be completely captivated by this book about, ahem, remarkable trees of the world and Pakenham's experiences with them.

When I asked if you have read any weird books lately I don't mean weird weird.  I mean weird as in odd that I found myself reading this book now.  I guess it really isn't that weird that I would read a book about huge old and odd trees because I am a tree fan.  Who isn't? When my family and I traveled to the Redwood forests of the Northern California coast a few years back and I walked among those behemoths of all trees I thought my soul would burst for the pleasure of it.  It was as if my soul had ached for such a communion with nature.  When I started reading the book I thought that it would be the coolest thing on earth to make a goal to go and visit all these old trees.  But as I read on I realized that there is no financial way that I could travel to Madagascar or Sri Lanka  just to stand at the foot of remarkable tree, or traipse into the heart of the Australian Outback to see a tree.  But there are a few remarkable trees in my own state (Washington) and many others in California so perhaps I'll have a chance to visit at least a few of them. The rest I shall have to be satisfied to look at their pictures in this wonderful book.

The book is divided into themed chapters: Giants, Dwarfs, Methuselahs, Dreams, Trees in Peril. Pakenham's text tells a bit about the history of the species and what he was able to ascertain about the particular tree or grove of trees. I found it all fascinating. The chapter dividers included excerpts from poems.  Here was my favorite:

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all.  
                         -Ogden Nash, The Open Road

Sacred grove formed by one banyan tree in Madagascar, Photo by Thomas Pakenham

The old camphor tree and shrine at Atami, 2nd largest tree in Japan, photo by Thomas Pakenham
Sunset at the Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar, UK book cover

(A portion of my favorite photo in the book.)

What "weird" book have you read lately?  I hope your experience with it was as wonderful as mine was with Remarkable Trees of the World.

1 comment:

  1. Baobabs are very cool trees; I loved the ones I saw in Africa. Hmmm...I would love to read The Lost Hero but it's too long and due at the library on May 14th. Darn!! Does that make me a teenage boy? :)


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