The evening of Wednesday, April 28, 2004 marked the first meeting of the Adkins Arboretum Book Club. Heidi Fellon, Sylvan Kaufman, Michelle Lawrence, and I determined the initial process for conducting the book club, and selected the first books to be read. We met three times in 2004 for book discussions, with a final meeting in November to select the books for 2005. Since then, the book club has met monthly with August breaks. Our mission: Members of the book club deepen their understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the Chesapeake Bay region’s native landscapes, including indigenous flora and wildlife, by selecting and discussing relevant literature of the region, the country, and the world.
Book club members have traveled the world examining both natural and cultural history. We climbed tall redwoods with Richard Preston in The Wild Trees. We followed John Bartram in Andrea Wulf’s The Brother Gardeners, and had a novel view of America’s early presidents in Wulf’s The Founding Gardeners. We stood alongside and cheered as Dyana Furmansky’s Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy bought Hawk Mountain to preserve it as a sanctuary. Candice Millard led us down the River of Doubt with Theodore Roosevelt. We ventured into the forest and learned of fascinating interactions with Joan Maloof’s Teaching the Trees. Jon Young taught us ancient bird language in What the Robin Knows.
Along with what we learn from the books, we learn from each other. As we discuss each title, we share the personal experiences remembered in the reading. We have had some spirited debates and sometimes agreement about the worth of the book. Ten years have flown by, and we all are looking forward to the next ten years of exploring nature and people through reading and discussion.
To celebrate our tenth anniversary, Book Club members selected favorite books to share in a basket for the silent auction at Magic in the Meadow on September 27.
All Arboretum members are welcome to join the book club, either by attending meetings or following along with email updates. The book club schedule, readings and how to join are posted here.
Some of our favorite books (year book club read in parentheses)
1491, Charles C. Mann (2009)
Bringing Nature Home, Douglas Tallamy (2008)
Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, Marta McDowell (2014)
The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan (2004)
The Brother Gardeners, Andrea Wulf (2010)
Changes in the Land, William Cronon (2011)
The Diversity of Life, Edward O. Wilson
The Dirty Life, Kristin Kimball (2011)
The Forest Unseen, David George Haskell (2013)
Founding Gardeners, Andrea Wulf (2011)
Gathering Moss, Robin Wall Kimmerer (2008)
Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv (2006)
The Meadow, James Galvin (2009)
Mosey and Bozey, Judith Slaughter (author, book club member)
My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell
Naturalist, E.O. Wilson (2009)
Nature Wars, Jim Sterba (2015 schedule)
River of Doubt, Candice Millard (2011)
Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy, Dyana Furmansky (2010)
Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold (2004; 2009)
Silent Spring, Rachel Carson (2005)
Teaching the Trees, Joan Maloof (2007)
There’s a Hair in My Dirt, Gary Larson (2007)
Weeds, Richard Mabey (2011)
What the Robin Knows, Jon Young (2013)
The Wild Trees, Richard Preston (2009)
Winter World, Bernd Heinrich (2007)
by Carol Jelich
Arboretum Librarian and Maryland Master Naturalist