Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Forest Unseen by David Gerge Haskell

The Forest Unseen is a fascinating nonfiction book that examines life on a one square meter of old growth forest owned by the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.  Haskell is a biology professor at the university and spent a year observing the same small meter of land in the forest, observing the changes that each season brings to the land.

The book is divided into chapters that correspond to his visits to the patch.  He examines everything he sees and hears.  The reader learns about songbirds, mushrooms, how plants reproduce, why certain plants bloom in the spring, ticks, microscopic animals, trees, fungi and how the climate changes throughout the year structures the life available for observation.  The reader will pick up tidbits of knowledge in each chapter as well as an overarching view of the entire interrelated ecosystem.  For example, half of all songbirds who do not migrate will die in the winter due to the inability to find enough food to convert into heat.  That is one observation that stuck with me, but every chapter will provide new insights into the world that surrounds us.

The book has been recognized as one of the best in this genre.  It was a Finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction.  It was the Winner of the 2013 Reed Environmental Writing Award, and the Winner of the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award for National Historical Literature.  Readers will find the book fascinating and a microscope into the workings of the world mostly unknown to the average person.  This book is recommended for readers of nonfiction and those interested in the natural world.

No comments: