Read Books. Get Smart. Do Good.
In solidarity with all those kids slogging through summer reading, I thought I’d make and share my own book lists. I have my personal list of “EQR” classics on ecology, the Chesapeake Bay, and the human impact on the natural world. I also put together my personal summer reading list that I plan to attempt this summer. I switched to audiobooks so I don’t have to listen to the news in the car—it’s great!
Here is my list for some interesting summer reading:
EQR Classics: I mostly like fish and trees.
Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs, and the Chesapeake Bay, William W. Warner
"Beautiful Swimmers" is William Warner's magnificent story of the blue crab, the women and men who go down to the sea in low-gunn'ld boats well before dawn to work their crab pots, the way of life of their communities and forebears, the great Chesapeake Bay itself, and the impacts of urbanization on this way of life. Warner spent several years and many many hours with the watermen learning about the crabs, then a significant part of the Bay's economy and its ecology. His research shows in each chapter, yet nothing is academic, "quaint," or preachy.
An Island Out of Time: A Memoir of Smith Island in the Chesapeake, Tom Horton
A classic of Chesapeake Bay literature, Tom Horton's An Island Out of Time chronicles the three years Horton and his family spent on Smith Island, a marshy archipelago in the middle of Maryland's famous estuary. The result is an intimate portrait of a deeply traditional community that lived much as their ancestors did three hundred years before, attuned to the habits of blue crab, oyster, and waterfowl.
A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold
These astonishing portraits of the natural world explore the breathtaking diversity of the unspoiled American landscape—the mountains and the prairies, the deserts and the coastlines. Conjuring up one extraordinary vision after another, Aldo Leopold takes readers with him on the road and through the seasons on a fantastic tour of our priceless natural resources, explaining the destructive effects humankind has had on the land and issuing a bold challenge to protect the world we love.
On The Run: An Angler’s Journey Down the Striper Coast, David DiBenedetto
Each autumn, one of nature's most magnificent dramas plays out when striped bass undertake a journey, from the northeastern United States to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, in search of food and warmer seas. Writer and angler David DiBenedetto followed this great migration -- the fall run -- for three months in the autumn of 2001.
The World Without Us, Alan Weisman
If human beings disappeared instantaneously from the Earth, what would happen? How would the planet reclaim its surface? What creatures would emerge from the dark and swarm? How would our treasured structures--our tunnels, our bridges, our homes, our monuments--survive the unmitigated impact of a planet without our intervention? In his revelatory, bestselling account, Alan Weisman draws on every field of science to present an environmental assessment like no other, the most affecting portrait yet of humankind's place on this planet.
The Hidden Life of Trees: Discoveries from a Secret World, Peter Wohlleben
Drawing on groundbreaking new discoveries, Wohlleben presents the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities; he describes how these discoveries have informed his own practices in the forest around him. As he says, a happy forest is a healthy forest, and he believes that eco-friendly practices not only are economically sustainable but also benefit the health of our planet and the mental and physical health of all who live on Earth.
Half Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, Edward O. Wilson (Anything by E.O. Wilson is worth the effort)
In this "visionary blueprint for saving the planet", Half-Earth argues that the situation facing us is too large to be solved piecemeal and proposes a solution commensurate with the magnitude of the problem: dedicate fully half the surface of the Earth to nature. Identifying actual regions of the planet that can still be reclaimed―such as the California redwood forest, the Amazon River basin, and grasslands of the Serengeti, among others―Wilson puts aside the prevailing pessimism of our times and "speaks with a humane eloquence which calls to us all.
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Elizabeth Kolbert
In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.
My Summer Reading List: Super Fun Poolside Reads!
The Founding Fish, John McPhee
McPhee--a shad fisherman himself--recounts the shad's cameo role in the lives of George Washington and Henry David Thoreau. He fishes with and visits the laboratories of famous ichthyologists; he takes instruction in the making of shad darts from a master of the art; and he cooks shad in a variety of ways, delectably explained at the end of the book. Mostly, though, he goes fishing for shad in various North American rivers, and he "fishes the same way he writes books, avidly and intensely.
Encounters with the Archdruid: Narratives About a Conservationist and Three of His Natural Enemies, John McPhee
The narratives in this book are of journeys made in three wildernesses - on a coastal island, in a Western mountain range, and on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The four men portrayed here have different relationships to their environment, and they encounter each other on mountain trails, in forests and rapids, sometimes with reserve, sometimes with friendliness, sometimes fighting hard across a philosophical divide.
Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History, Dan Flores
Legends don't come close to capturing the incredible story of the coyote In the face of centuries of campaigns of annihilation employing gases, helicopters, and engineered epidemics, coyotes didn't just survive, they thrived, expanding across the continent from Alaska to New York. In the war between humans and coyotes, coyotes have won, hands-down. Coyote America is the illuminating five-million-year biography of this extraordinary animal, from its origins to its apotheosis. It is one of the great epics of our time.
The Undoing Project: The Friendship that Changed Our Minds, Michael Lewis
Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original papers that invented the field of behavioral economics. One of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, Kahneman and Tversky’s extraordinary friendship incited a revolution in Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. In The Undoing Project, Lewis shows how their Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality.
Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, Sebastian Junger
Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, TRIBE explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that-for many veterans as well as civilians-war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. TRIBE explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today's divided world.