My business has a book club. We read about flowers, nature, agriculture, ecology, environmental issues, gardening – anything related to the mission of my business. The books have been from all sorts of genres: fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, biographies, memoirs, short stories, poetry. It’s super nerdy. We make jokes about John Muir’s footwear (he hiked across the country in dress shoes as I learned in A Passion for Nature). Our discussions extend outside our meetings. We text each other pictures of interesting flowers, trees, birds and all fungi from everywhere we go. Our Instagram group chat is always popping off with news, articles and book suggestions. Just this week we were all excited that a two-time book club selected author, Robin Wall Kimmerer, was named a 2022 MacArthur Fellow (don’t call her a genius). Who gets excited about that, we’re not her mom.

I talk a lot about my flower people. These are definitely them. The book club is drop-in and informal, but many of us have been regulars for years. We have a shared bibliography and often refer to those previously read books in our current discussion. We’re a weird group. No regular person would think it would be fun to debate whether or not Annie Dillard’s and Henry David Thoreau’s experiences are authentic because they both lived close to town and frequently left the outdoors to go home or to eat at a restaurant. We have tough topical discussions regarding inequality and racism through the lens of authors of color writing about ecology. We get excited to discuss the Wood Wide Web (IFYKYK). Most readers would be inspired by Derick Lugo’s story, but few would then become on-line followers, cheerleaders and groupies AND invite him to book club via zoom during the pandemic. He attended! And it was awesome. That’s who we are.

Here’s a list of our bi-monthly selections since we started. If you have a suggestion, add them in the comments.

2014
Flower Confidential By Amy Stewart (the book that started it all)
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
My First Ladies by Nancy Clarke
The Language of Flowers Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Founding Gardeners by Andrea Wulf
Gaining Ground: Forrest Pritchard

2015
Garden of Invention by Jane S. Smith
Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina
The Surprising Life of Constance Spry by Sue Shephard
Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

2016
State of Wonder by Ann Patchet
American Primitive by Mary Oliver
Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

2017
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
Tulipmania by Mike Dash
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Paradise Lot by Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates
Urban Forests by Jill Jonnes
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

2018
Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
The Nature Fix by Florence Williams
A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir by Donald Worster
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean
The Book that Changed America by Randall Fuller
The Unsettlers by Mark Sundeen

2019
Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
American Eden by Victoria Johnson
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben and Mike Grady
The Reason for Flowers by Stephen Buchmann and Jonathan Yen
A Beautiful Question by Frank Wilczek
Darwin Comes to Town by Menno Schilthuizen and Chris Nayak

2020
The Overstory by Richard Powers
Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray
Black Faces, White Spaces by Carolyn Finney
Genius of Place by Justin Martin
Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Upstream by Mary Oliver

2021
Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement by Monica M. White
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
All We Can Save by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Katharine K. Wilkinson
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land by Leah Penniman

2022
The Unlikely Thru-Hiker: An Appalachian Trail Journey by Derick Lugo
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E Butler
Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms by Eugenia Bone
The Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World by Emma Marris
My Garden (Book) by Jamaica Kincaid
Anthill by E. O. Wilson

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2 Comments

  1. So many fond book club memories even if I have only made an average of one per season haha

    1. Agree! Great memories and great reading over the last 9 years. Looking forward to more reading and discussing in the years to come.

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