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Staff Picks: Books & Movies – Spring 2020

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Staff Picks: Books & Movies – Spring 2020

With this newfound time at home, you may find yourself reading more books and watching more movies. We’ve put together a list of conservation and environment-focused reads and films our staff have been loving lately. Enjoy!


Fertile Edges – Maddy Harland

I picked up this book while at a conference last fall. The beautiful cover art immediately drew me to it. Regenerative agriculture and sustainability are the themes of this book, with the following quote setting the tone for me: “Our reconnection with the land and nature, both practically and spiritually, is the key to sustainability, and ultimately the survival of our species.” – Mija Nichols

The Songs of Trees & The Forest Unseen– David George Haskell

“These books have a wonderful, slow pace that make you feel like you are out in the woods observing nature right next to the author. And I love them even more because David Haskell is one of my favorite Sewanee professors!”- Emily Parish 

Zero Waste Home – Bea Johnson

A story of someone that falls off the deep end of sustainability… I bet you can find yourself somewhere in here. If you want to know how to reconcile this modern age, societal expectations, family and home life with more responsible living choices, keep reading!” -Mija Nichols

Small Wonder – Barbara Kingsolver

“One of my all-time favorites. This is a collection of essays written in response to September 11 that seems fitting for the current time, with topics ranging from the natural world, gardening, motherhood, and more.” – Sarah O’Rear

Encounters with the Archdruid – John McPhee

The Soul of an Octopus – Sy Montgomery

A fun read I picked up by recommendation from a friend. We’ve all seen those stories of how intelligent and mischievous these creatures can be in the wild and right here in our aquariums, but don’t you want to dig a little deeper? The age old question of “Do all dogs go to heaven? Do they have a soul?” has now shifted to our marine life.” – Mija Nichols

The Hidden Life of Trees – Peter Wohlleben

“If you’ve ever seen a super old tree and made the statement, “Man, if this guy could talk…” , then this book may give you an insight into the way the old guy is talking! Wohlleben explores how trees intricately communicate, whether to provide community or protect themselves from predators. It’s next on my read list and I can’t wait to learn more.” – Kayla McBride 

What We’re Fighting for Now is Each Other – Wen Stephenson

This was written by a former coworker’s brother. He lives in the northeast; Massachusetts, near Walden Pond. A call to action concerning climate change and climate justice, a personal account of how “Walking Home from Walden” turned into a journey that he is still walking, imperfectly.” – Mija Nichols


The Lorax – Dr. Seuss

This is quite possibly one of my favorite books to read with kids. Although it’s a little long for the young ones, the classic tongue-twisting Dr. Seuss verbiage will have you in stitches trying to keep up with the Lorax as he teaches a lesson about saving the truffula trees – a message that resonates with our mission here at The Land Trust.” – Ellen Messerly  

All the Places to Love – Patricia MacLachlan

One of my favorite children’s stories that makes me cry every time. It captures the essence of being connected to a place.” – Sarah O’Rear


The Biggest Little Farm

Biggest Little Farm was a deeply engaging story about a couple truly trying to do right by the Earth. It was genuinely wonder-inspiring, and affirmed that humans really do have a significant role as stewards of the land. The story was proof that our actions can directly help nature thrive, even beyond our wildest expectations.”  – Luke Iverson

Free Solo

“As someone who frequently looks up spoilers five minutes into any movie, I was surprised to realize I had not touched my phone once while watching “Free Solo” – talk about a cliffhanger!”  -Virginia Comer

The Gardener

This documentary makes you feel like you’re entering into a wonderland of florals and experimentation. Anyone that’s yearning for a splash of creativity, history, exploration, and all tied together with a love of conservation, will adore this escape through the garden of Frank Cabot.” – Kayla McBride

Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman

“This documentary highlights three stories in which communities have engaged in conservation. Each story is different and unique, yet they all have the same goal in mind: to care for our natural world. I loved seeing how the conservation efforts were citizen-driven.” – Sharayah Winkler

What are you reading and watching right now? Let us know.