The Forest Unseen by David George Haskell

Subtitle: A Year’s Watch in Nature

Published: 2012

Genre: nonfiction science

Length: 245 pages of story, 268 pages total

Setting: a forest in South Carolina, present day

Interest: I saw it reviewed on a science blog as some great science writing. I’m always on the lookout for good science books, so on the list it went.

Summary: The author has chosen a 1m square patch of old growth forest to observe over the course of a year. Every week or so, he heads out to his mandala to see what he can see. Every time out, he focuses on a different component of the mandala, from the leaves on the ground and all the organisms in them to the tops of the trees. He often brings a hand lens to study the smallest organisms and offers tidbits of natural history among the descriptions.

Final thoughts: A delightful, lyrical science book, although I found his use of the word “mandala” to be rather jarring. Everything else was so straightforward scientific (although with beautiful descriptions of everything), and mandala felt so hippy-dippy spiritual to me. It just didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the book, in my opinion. I found the idea of revisiting the same place over and over made the story much more interesting than if he’d gone to different places throughout the year. I learned several interesting bits of information and looked forward to figuring out what the next chapter would be about. Overall, a highly enjoyable, easy read.

Title comes from: The author was making an effort to focus on the parts of the forest that usually aren’t noticed, hence, the forest unseen.

Reading challenges fulfilled: #38 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or subtitle to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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