Arbor Day Reads: Trees in Nonfiction

Cherry blossoms
Cherry Blossoms II, opens a new window by John Morgan, opens a new window / CC BY 2.0, opens a new window / Cropped from original

Arbor Day is a good excuse to stop and consider trees, those amazing plants that we tend to ignore as part of the background scenery, something we walk past to get where we're going. 

One of the most remarkable recent books on the subject is The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. He shares fascinating new findings, including that trees communicate with each other. Makes you think of Tolkien's Ents in a whole new light, right? There's also a beautiful illustrated edition of the book, which is part of a trilogy that also includes The Inner Life of Animals and the 2019 release The Secret Wisdom of Nature

Ever experience a feeling of peace when you've taken a walk in a forest or park with trees? A recent trend of books explores the therapeutic potential of these giant phenomena of nature. Try Forest Bathing, for example.

Ever admire the beauty of cherry blossoms? Did you know they almost went extinct in their native Japan a century ago? The Sakura Obsession tells how they were rescued.

Trees aren't just beautiful. They're also amazing constructions that illustrate the ingenuity of nature. Seeing Trees introduces the various parts (like leaves, barks, cones and fruit) and profiles 10 different kinds of trees, featuring powerful close-up photography.

Arborist William Bryant Logan shares his insights into managing forests in the recent Sprout Lands. Tree-ending is an ancient art, and Logan covers practices from Spain and Japan, as well as history, to explore the relationship between humans and trees.

Sooner or later, tree admirers looking to learn more will want a guide to the incredibly diverse varieties of trees. Try The Sibley Guide to Trees, a classic, or the locally focused Trees of Illinois.

Next time you take walk through the city, whether it's on Arbor Day or any time of year, spare a thought for these humble yet magnificent examples of nature.

What's your favorite kind of tree?

Also, check out Kelly's Arbor Day Reads: Trees in Fiction.