Book Review: A Celebration of Trees - Jonathon Drori's 'Around the World in 80 Trees'

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I am a bit of a tree book addict. There's something beautiful about editors and authors who create books about trees, demonstrating the reverence many of us have for them, and how we value them in our lives. Trees speak to us of culture, of history, of humanity. They provide us with medicine, mythology, and ritual. They shelter and feed us, nourish and nurture us. Without them, we are nothing - a world without trees is a world bereft. One only needs to sit under an ash tree by a chalk stream in the heat of summer to know this, or to pluck crisp apples from a wild apple tree on a lonely roadside.

Filmmaker and environmentalist Jonathon Drori takes us on a Philleas Fog like journey, but stopping to visit 80 trees across the world, spreading outwards from London's Kew Gardens to Asia, Africa, the Americas and even as far south as us here in Australia. Whilst I was disappointed there were not more Australian trees on the list, there were many trees that I was familiar with - beech, avocado, pomegranate - as many as those I was not, such as the Tree of Heaven in Brooklyn, USA.

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Each tree is lovingly and beautifully illustrated by French artist Clerc - it is a stunningly presented book who invites you to smooth your hands on the page and feel that a great deal of care has gone into this homage to the world's trees. Coming in from the garden where I observed the pink of the flowers on my two quinces give way to pear shaped nascent fruit that eventually will become a homemade membrillo, I read about how quince was baked into Greek wedding cakes as it was a symbol of love, fertility and fidelity - and Paris gifted Aphrodite, the goddess of love, with a quince. That day, my good friend @vincentnijman discovered a quince for the first time in Portugal, cooking it with cinnamon and honey.

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There is something for everyone in this book - it is peppered with facts that you want to tell the person next to you. In fact, that's what my tree loving brother in law said when he handed over the book - that I'd want to read snippets to my husband over the breakfast table. It's definitely a 'dip in, dip out' book - you can read about one tree a day, if you wish, or glut all at once. I've chosen the dip in, dip out method, so I'm only around ten trees in so far, but have learnt some really interesting facts that were definitely 'read out-abble'. From plant science to folklore, philosophy to medicine, there's snippets of amazingness on every page.

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Did you know that the Leylandii, planted by the British for private hedges, was the cause of so many thousands of neighbourly disputes that it was issued with an 'anti-social behaviour order', or an ASBO? Did you know that the word for the German alphabet, 'buchstaben' literally means the marks made on beech wood slats, as the word for 'beech' is 'buche'?

This book is a beautiful reminder of why we must plant trees by the thousands, and treasure the ones we do have, with uttmost reverence.

What is your favourite book about trees?

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Sounds like a lovely book. I'm sure I would enjoy it too :>)

Thanks for writing about it. I hope I can get it here. I am always ready to promote tree planting. Shared on twitter

A wonderful review, @riverflows. Yes, we need to learn about, celebrate, plant, nurture and celebrate TREES of all sorts!


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What a gorgeous looking book - one for my birthday list I think :-)
I own a couple of tree books, 'Life in the treetops' by Margaret D. Lowman, and 'Riches of the rainforest' by W. Veevers-Carter. The treetops book really inspired me, as I read it during my Plant Science degree, and was hoping to study the canopies of tropical forests at the time. :-)

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This book looks so amazing, trees are so healing on so many different levels. We all need to get involved in looking after the trees, making sure to plant them and to sit with them. I cannot wait to get this book, just the look of it is a healing in itself. Thank you for sharing it with us all.

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Have you got your copy yet?

That looks like a wonderful book and one I put on my list to check out.
I would say my favorite tree book is "Trees of Canada" an old copy that was my dads, be was a bit of a naturalist!
Thanks for sharing!

I can’t say that I have a favorite book about trees, as I have never read a book about trees. However, this book looks absolutely fantastic! I have always been fascinated by trees ever since I was young. Trees are almost etheric in a sense.

It's a lovely book. We'll have to change that, and find you a book on trees!! Ooh, what do you mean by trees being 'etheric'! Now that begs an explanation!

I like this book, maybe I'll get this one..

Trees are etheric in the sense that they are our tie to the world, to reality. Without trees, there'd be extraordinarily less oxygen available. The image of trees being symbolic of lungs comes to mind.

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I don't know how to properly put it into words, trees are enigmatic. Etheric. Heh.