What it’s about: A boy who leaves his cramped, chaotic life in NYC to survive in the Catskills.
What made me pick it up: I remember this being my brother’s favorite book when we were little. I was recently talking about it and Hatchet with someone and realized that while I knew the premise and a lot of details, I couldn’t remember reading it myself. So I did.
My favorite parts: Any book that can make me feel like I’m in the middle of the woods surrounded by nothing but nature is pure magic. This not only makes you feel that way but convinces you that you, too, could forage and hunt and trap and fish and live off the land. It will make you feel carefree and hopeful and want to go take a walk in the forest. The ending is bittersweet, but strikes a good balance between the importance of self reliance and the importance of human connection. Also, this takes place in my beloved home state of New York and any reminder of the extensive natural beauty there is welcome.
Who it’s great for: Nature lovers. Adventurers. New Yorkers spread far and wide.
What it’s about: A picture book about being thankful.
What made me pick it up: I saw it sitting on my coworker’s desk and took a few minutes to page through.
My favorite things: I liked the repetition of thanking various elements — clouds for rain, sun, earth. It has very vivid illustrations, which reminded me a little of Eric Carle, and a simple message which I enjoyed.
Who it’s great for: Little ones who need a lesson in gratitude.
What it’s about: How spending as little as 30 minutes a week in nature can help us be happier.
What made me pick it up: I’m a nature girl. I grew up running through orchards and living outside in our yard. My favorite pastimes reinforce what this book tells me is true — nature helps. More of it is better.
My favorite things: I love that she includes the research. I love that there is research that says we need more, not less, exposure to nature and that it can lead to all sorts of health benefits like less depression and ADHD. It might even be equal to or better than meditation! I enjoyed that she tells it as her personal journey to find out what works and why and how to incorporate more of it into her life. It makes me want to add “go for a walk in the trees” to my to do list and “end up somewhere wild” to my travel plans.
Who it’s great for: Nature enthusiasts of all stripes. Tree lovers. Walkers. People who feel a bit off and are looking for a solution.
What it’s about: A little girl named Maple and the namesake tree that is her best friend.
What made me pick it up: I’m a lifelong maple tree and maple syrup fan so when I saw the name of this book I checked it out.
My favorite things: I love the depiction of Maple’s relationship with the tree. How it listens to her and doesn’t mind if she’s too energetic or loud. I really liked how she lays under the tree and watches the leaves rustle. It reminded me of many afternoons spent doing just that when I was little and made me want to go outside and do it again. But most of all I enjoyed the tiny surprise at the end.
Who it’s great for: Tree lovers. Rambunctious little ones and parents of them.
What it’s about: Fourteen-year-old Linda lives her life as an outsider, her solitude punctuated by problematic relationships. She struggles to find herself as she navigates intrigue, illness, fringe religions, and death.
What made me pick it up: I loved the cover art and, although I couldn’t remember what it was about, I knew I’d read good reviews.
My favorite things: I gave this a lot of shells because it is very well written and I recognize that it’s a great book, but it’s also a bummer and I’m not a big fan of literary fiction, so at times it kind of made me want to gouge my eyes out. That said, Fridlund’s perfectly crafted prose walk the line between sinister and simply heartbreaking with ease.
Who it’s great for: Readers looking for a complex and unusual coming of age story. Those seeking a young woman protagonist who is believable and strong. Anyone interested in an extremely well-written story.