GARNA Book Club

GARNA’s Book Club is a members club that meets monthly to discuss a book decided upon by the group. There is no charge and new members are always welcome. The group typically meets the first Tuesday of each month, 7 pm – 9 pm, in Salida. To be added to the list, please contact Marilyn Moore at Not a GARNA member? Easily join by clicking the ‘membership’ link on the upper right side of the screen and noting in the comments you are interested in joining book club.

Book Club has been on hold with COVID-19, we are excited to start up again soon! 

Past Book Club Reads


Tuesday, September 3 – River Notes: The Dance of Herons by Barry Lopez. From Amazon “Suddenly, we are at the very heart of one of nature’s most awesome and potent forces, learning the language of the cottonwoods, the salmon, and the haunting dance of the great blue herons. For his extraordinary genius at capturing the raw beauty and power of the wilderness, renowned naturalist, Edward Abbey, has proclaimed Barry Holstun Lopez “an artist in language – a first-rate American writer.”

Tuesday, August 6 – Desert Notes: Reflections in a Raven’s Eye by Barry Lopez. .  From Good Reads: “In this collection of narrative contemplations, …Barry Hulstun Lopez invites us to walk with him in the desert, where “things are rigidly clear and elemental.” Away from the world, we see it more clearly. Sweating from all our pores, we remember our body.  Desert Notes is discovery and rediscovery. The desert, the spring, the birds, the rattlesnake, the wind. And man, who, according to an Indian tale, comes to the desert like “a boulder coming down the side of a mountain.”

Tuesday, July 2 – The Nature Fix, by Florence Williams. From Amazon: “From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to eucalyptus groves in California, Florence Williams investigates the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain. Delving into brand-new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas―and the answers they yield―are more urgent than ever.”

*Author Florence Williams will speak at GARNA’s Nurturing Nature Gala on July 7, taking place at the Barn at Sunset Ranch in Buena Vista.

Tuesday, June 4 – The Overstory, by Richard Powers. From Amazon: “An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers―each summoned in different ways by trees―are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest. In his twelfth novel, National Book Award winner Richard Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of―and paean to―the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. There is a world alongside ours―vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.The Overstory is a book for all readers who despair of humanity’s self-imposed separation from the rest of creation and who hope for the transformative, regenerating possibility of a homecoming. If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us? “Listen. There’s something you need to hear.”


Tuesday, July 3 – Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change, by George Marshall.  Edited from Amazon: “Most of us recognize that climate change is real yet we do nothing to stop it. What is the psychological mechanism that allows us to know something is true but act as if it is not?  Marshall argues that the answers lie in our evolutionary origins, our perceptions of threats, our cognitive blind spots, our love of storytelling, our fear of death, and our deepest instincts to defend our family and tribe. Once we understand what excites, threatens, and motivates us, we can rethink climate change, for it is not an impossible problem.”

Tuesday, June 5 – The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed Earth’s History by David Beerling. From Amazon: “Plants have profoundly moulded the Earth’s climate and the evolutionary trajectory of life. Far from being ‘silent witnesses to the passage of time’, plants are dynamic components of our world, shaping the environment throughout history as much as that environment has shaped them. In The Emerald Planet, David Beerling puts plants centre stage, revealing the crucial role they have played in driving global changes in the environment, in recording hidden facets of Earth’s history, and in helping us to predict its future. His account draws together evidence from fossil plants, from experiments with their living counterparts, and from computer models of the ‘Earth System’, to illuminate the history of our planet and its biodiversity…a must-read classic of modern science.”

Tuesday, May 1 – Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground Up by Daphne Miller. From Amazon:  “In Farmacology, practicing family physician and renowned nutrition explorer Daphne Miller brings us beyond the simple concept of food as medicine and introduces us to the critical idea that it is the farm where that food is grown that offers us the real medicine…Miller uncovers all the aspects of farming – from seed choice to soil management – that have a direct and powerful impact on our health. Bridging the traditional divide between agriculture and medicine. Miller shares lessons learned from inspiring farmers and biomedical researchers and artfully weaves their insights and discoveries, along with stories from her patients, into the narrative.”

Tuesday, April 3 – Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben. From Amazon: “McKibben offers the biggest challenge in a generation to the prevailing view of our economy…[and] puts forward a new way to think about the things we buy, the food we eat, the energy we use, and the money that pays for it all. [His] animating idea is that we need to move beyond “growth” as the paramount economic ideal and pursue prosperity in a more local direction, with cities, suburbs, and regions producing more of their own food, generating more of their own energy, and even creating more of their own culture and entertainment.  Deep Economy makes the compelling case that the more we nurture the essential humanity of our economy, the more we will recapture our own.”

Tuesday, March 6 – The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America by Timothy Egan. From Amazon: “On the afternoon of August 20, 1910, a battering ram of wind moved through the drought-stricken national forests of Washington, Idaho, Montana, whipping the hundreds of small blazes burning across the forest floor into a roaring inferno that jumped from treetop to ridge as it raged, destroying towns and timber in an eyeblink…Egan narrates the struggles of the overmatched rangers against the implacable fire with unstoppable dramatic force, through the eyes of the people who lived it. Equally dramatic, though, is the larger story he tells of outsized president Teddy Roosevelt and his chief forester Gifford Pinchot. Pioneering the notion of conservation, Roosevelt and Pinchot did nothing less than create the idea of public land as our national treasure, owned by every citizen.”

Tuesday, February 6 – Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect That Shaped the American Frontier, by Jeffrey A. Lockwood.  From Amazon: “Throughout the nineteenth century, swarms of locusts regularly swept across the American continent, turning noon into dusk, devastating farm communities, and bringing trains to a halt. The outbreaks subsided in the 1890s, and then, suddenly—and mysteriously—the Rocky Mountain locust vanished. A century later, entomologist Jeffrey Lockwood vowed to discover why….  A compelling personal narrative drawing on historical accounts and modern science, this beautifully written book brings to life the cultural, economic, and political forces at work in America in the late nineteenth century, even as it solves one of the greatest extinction mysteries of our time.

Tuesday, January 9 – Wildness:  Relations of People and Place, edited by Gavin Van Horn and John Hausdoerffer. From the University of Chicago Press:  “Exploring how people can become attuned to the wild community of life and also contribute to the well-being of the wild places in which we live, work, and play, Wildness brings together esteemed authors from a variety of landscapes, cultures, and backgrounds to share their stories about the interdependence of everyday human lifeways and wildness.”  Dr. Hausdoerffer is a professor at Western State University in the Masters in Environmental Management program and he will be the speaker for the GARNA Environmental Presentation in early February.


Tuesday, December 5 – Arctic Dreams, By Barry Lopez.  From Amazon: “Lopez offers a thorough examination of this obscure world – its terrain, its wildlife, its history of Eskimo natives and intrepid explorers who have arrived on their icy shores. …[a] unique meditation on how the landscape can shape our imagination, desires, and dreams. Its prose as hauntingly pure as the land it describes, Arctic Dreams is nothing less than an indelible classic of modern literature.”

Tuesday, November 7 – The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben. From Amazon: “…forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that … the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in his woodland.”

Tuesday, October 3 – A Hole in the Wind: A Climate Scientist’s Bicycle Journey Across the United States, by David Goodrich. From Amazon:  “After a distinguished career in climate science as the Director of the UN Global Climate Observing System in Geneva, David Goodrich returned home to the United States to find a nation and a people in denial. Concerned that the American people are willfully deluded by the misinformation about climate that dominates media and politics, David thought a little straight talk could set things right. As they say in Animal House, he decided that “this calls for a stupid and futile gesture on someone’s part, and I’m just the guy to do it.” Starting on the beach in Delaware, David rode his bike 4,200 miles to Oregon, talking with the people he met on the ultimate road trip. Along the way he learned a great deal about why climate is a complicated issue for many Americans and even more about the country we all share.”

Tuesday, September 5 – The Soul of an Octopus; A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery. From Amazon: “…this “fascinating…touching…informative…entertaining” (Daily Beast) book explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus—a surprisingly complex, intelligent, and spirited creature—and the remarkable connections it makes with humans…By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about the meeting of two very different minds.”

Tuesday, August 1 – The Thing with Feathers by Noah Strycker. From Amazon: “Birds are highly intelligent animals, yet their intelligence is dramatically different from our own and has been little understood. As we learn more about the secrets of bird life, we are unlocking fascinating insights into memory, relationships, game theory, and the nature of intelligence itself.”

Thursday, July 6 – The Planet in a Pebble, by Jan Zalasiewicz. From Amazon: “This is a narrative of the Earth’s long and dramatic history, as gleaned from a single pebble. It begins as the pebble-particles form amid unimaginable violence in distal realms of the Universe, in the Big Bang and in supernova explosions and continues amid the construction of the Solar System…Many events in the Earth’s ancient past can be deciphered from a pebble: volcanic eruptions; the lives and deaths of extinct animals and plants; the alien nature of long-vanished oceans; and transformations deep underground, including the creations of fool’s gold and of oil.”

Tuesday, June 6 – Grass, Soil, Hope by Courtney White with a forward by Michael Pollan. From the Amazon review: “Right now, the only possibility of large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is through plant photosynthesis and related land-based carbon sequestration activities. These include a range of already existing, low-tech, and proven practices: composting, no-till farming, climate-friendly livestock practices, conserving natural habitat, restoring degraded watersheds and rangelands, increasing biodiversity, and producing local food. In Grass, Soil, Hope, the author shows how all these practical strategies can be bundled together into an economic and ecological whole, with the aim of reducing atmospheric CO2 while producing substantial co-benefits for all living things. Soil is a huge natural sink for carbon dioxide. If we can draw increasing amounts carbon out of the atmosphere and store it safely in the soil then we can significantly address all the multiple challenges that now appear so intractable.”

Tuesday, May 2 – Half Earth by E.O. Wilson. From the library website: “In order to stave off the mass extinction of species, including our own, we must move swiftly to preserve the biodiversity of our planet, says Edward O. Wilson in his most impassioned book to date. Half-Earth argues that the situation facing us is too large to be solved piecemeal and proposes a solution commensurate with the magnitude of the problem: dedicate fully half the surface of the Earth to nature.”

Tuesday, April 4 – The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. “…acclaimed nature writer Lyanda Lynn Haupt journeys into the heart of the everyday wild, where coyotes, raccoons, chickens, hawks, and humans live in closer proximity than ever before. Haupt’s observations bring compelling new questions to light: Whose “home” is this? Where does the wild end and the city begin? And what difference does it make to us as humans living our everyday lives?  …Haupt draws us into the secret world of the wild creatures that dwell among us in our urban neighborhoods, whether we are aware of them or not.” – Amazon

Tuesday, March 7 – Rising From the Plains, by John McPhee. “McPhee rides shotgun across Wyoming in a four-wheel-drive Bronco while the geologist David Love steers, lectures, and reminisces….This instructive account of the geologic West and the frontier West is a delight.” – The New York Times Book Review via Amazon

Tuesday, February 7 – Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You: A Lively Tour Through the Dark Side of the Natural World, by Dan Riskin Ph.D. “It may be a wonderful world, but as Dan Riskinexplains, it’s also a dangerous, disturbing, and disgusting one. At every turn, it seems, living things are trying to eat us, poison us, use our bodies as their homes, or have us spread their eggs...Riskin makes unexpected discoveries not just about the world all around us but also about the ways this brutal world has shaped us as humans and what our responsibilities are to this terrible, wonderful planet we call home.” – Amazon

Tuesday, January 10 – All the Wild That Remains Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West,  by David Gessner. “…Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner left their footprints all over the western landscape. Award-winning nature writer David Gessner follows the ghosts of these two remarkable writer-environmentalists from Stegner’s birthplace in Saskatchewan to the site of Abbey’s pilgrimages to Arches National Park in Utah, braiding their stories and asking how they speak to the lives of all those who care about the West…In a region beset by droughts and fires, by fracking and drilling, and by an ever-growing population that seems to be in the process of loving the West to death, Gessner asks: how might these two farseeing environmental thinkers have responded to the crisis?  Gessner takes us on an inspiring, entertaining journey as he renews his own commitment to cultivating a meaningful relationship with the wild, confronting American over-consumption, and fighting environmental injustice―all while reawakening the thrill of the words of his two great heroes.” – excerpted from Amazon


  • January – The Animal Dialogues, by Craig Childs
  • February – The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, by Charles Fishman
  • March – The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World, by Joel K. Bourne, Jr.
  • April – The One Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka.
  • May – House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest, by Craig Childs
  • June – The New Wild by Fred Pearce
  • July – Song of the Alpine, by Joyce Gelhorn
  • August – Marking the Sparrow’s Fall: The Making of the American West, fifteen essays by Wallace Stegner
  • September – The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman
  • October – Underground: How Creatures of Mud and Dirt Shape our World by Yvonne Baskin
  • November – The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and its Peoples, by Tim Flannery
  • December – The Log from the Sea of Cortez, by John Steinbeck


  • February – Silent Spring by Rachel Carlson
  • March – Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants, by Jane Goodall
  • April – The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
  • May – The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins
  • June – Anthill, by E. O. Wilson
  • July – The Invisible History of the Human Race, by Christine Kenneally
  • August – Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment and the Human Prospect, by David W. Orr
  • September – Cities in the Wilderness: A New Vision of Land Use in America , by Bruce Babbitt
  • October – Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout by Phillip Connors
  • November – Sweetness and Light: The Mysterious History of the Honeybee, by Hattie Ellis
  • December – Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival, by Bernd Heinrich


  • June  – Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins
  • July – A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold
  • August – Moby Duck, by Donovan Hohn
  • September – Triumph of the City:  How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier, by Edward Glaeser
  • October – Hot, Flat, and Crowded, Release 2.0 by Thomas L. Friedman (November 2009)
  • November – Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose–Doing Business by Respecting the Earth by Ray Anderson
  • December – Desert Wife by Hilda Faunce