This month’s Outside / In column features a fascinating memoir of scientific exploration by Suzanne Simard, one of the world’s leading forest ecologists. Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she’s been compared to Rachel Carson, and hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Fans of The Overstory will appreciate that Simard is also the inspiration behind the character of Patricia Westerford in Richard Powers’ Pulitzer-winning novel.
Visit one of our city’s great INDOOR places — the San Marcos Public Library — to find this inspiring memoir and hundreds of other great nature and travel books
By Suzanne Simard
Published by Alfred A. Knopf
SMPL call number: 333.75
In this, her first book, Suzanne Simard brings us into the intimate world of the trees. Writing in illuminating and accessible ways, Simard reveals how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn, and adapt their behaviors. They recognize neighbors, remember the past, and have agency about the future. Mother trees send carbon to seedlings and dying trees donate nutrients to neighbors. In short, our forests possess traits that are the essence of civil societies.
Simard’s findings make the case for saving old-growth forests as climate change and mountain-pine-beetle infestations kill millions of trees. Herself a mother, Simard’s dedication to unveiling nature’s complexity is poignant in light of her candidly shared struggles against misogyny and cancer. Having proven scientifically what Indigenous cultures have always known about nature’s glorious mutualism, Simard calls for the protection of all ecosystems so that all of life will endure.
Compiled from publisher notes, Kirkus Reviews, & Booklist by Stephanie Langenkamp, SMGA Outreach Committee.