The Great Reading Challenge: a book with an environmental focus.
Fiction: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. Jimmy, also known as Snowman, is good with words. His childhood friend Glenn, who becomes Crake, is better with numbers. As adults, they work together for a genetic engineering company, and both fall in love with a mysterious woman named Oryx, straining their friendship to its breaking point. After a labdesigned plague wipes out most of humanity, Snowman becomes the leader of the only survivors: the Crakers.
Non-fiction: The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben. Wohlleben’s lifetime study of trees reveals communication underground via a “wood-wide web,” as well as a sort of family loyalty, memory, and the ability to count. His opinion is that trees are sentient and should be studied as such, instead of as robots with genetic codes to fulfill. At first glance, Wohlleben’s discussion of trees might just seem like anthropo- morphic attribution, but much of his argument is supported by recent scientific research.
Youth: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. A fable of conservation, The Lorax tells the story of the Onceler, whose greed leads him to cut down a forest of Truffula trees to produce Thneeds. The Lorax speaks for the trees and calls for production to stop, because all life connected to the trees is endangered. After the last of the Truffula trees is cut down, the Once-ler ponders the Lorax’s final message, “Unless,” and finally gives a boy the last of the Truffula tree seeds to, hopefully, manage them better.