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 seeA billboard lovely as a tree.Indeed, unless the billboards fallI'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|
|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.