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The Overstory - June 2019 Book Group discussion thread

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Jul 2019
11:51pm, 1 Jul 2019
13151 posts
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Serendippily
*looks a bit guilty* I finished this book with a greater affection and respect for trees. but not for the book itself. Really glad I don’t have to read it any more. But it was still an interesting choice ta.
Jul 2019
10:09pm, 7 Jul 2019
9456 posts
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Little Nemo
Finished this book yesterday in less than ideal circumstances. It was overdue (and I couldn't renew as someone had reserved it) so I ended up racing against the 5pm deadline to avoid paying more fines!

Firstly some non-content related gripes. It was a big hardback with small type so I struggled to carry it with all my work stuff in my rucksack and it was a pain in the arse to read if I didn't get a seat on the tube. In fact it was so heavy that I had to give my knees a rest for a week and read a different paperback book! And the type was small enough that I needed glasses to read in bed which puts me off reading for long. I know it's irrational but its losing a point for that.

Overall this was a good and thought provoking book. I like books that give me a new viewpoint and that teach me things I don't know and this book did that. I had never thought of a forest as being one organism before and had no idea that trees linked up to each other through their roots.

I liked the structure of the book and it was relatively easy to keep track of most of the characters. Some of them were more interesting than others but I grew fond of most of them.

I have a few criticisms, firstly I would have liked one of the characters to have been on the other side of the argument, maybe a lumberjack or someone involved in the timber industry. I think this would have give an extra dimension to the story. I even coped with the slightly fantastical parts!

Secondly the story doesn't have much hope to it. I know there probably isn't much hope but it just seemed so bleak that I found it depressing. This probably wasn't helped by the fact that I was having a tough couple of weeks so I was feeling a bit fragile. I felt it veered towards a preachy tone at times and I found this irritating, but this was probably due to guilt. I'm guilty of consuming too much stuff at times and I don't check that it's come from ethical sources. But unless you live totally off-grid it's almost paralyzing trying to work out the right thing to do and I'm just as likely to be a lazy hypocrite as the next person.

Thirdly I didn't like the sudden time jump, the last part of the book felt sketched in.

If I had read this book in a better frame of mind (and in paperback ;-)) it would probably have got an 8 but I'm being harsh and giving it a 7.
Jul 2019
10:24pm, 7 Jul 2019
9457 posts
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Little Nemo
Just picking up on what Columba said - I too found it comforting that unless we *really* fuck things up the world will carry on after we've gone. I just have to look at the rampant wildness of my back garden to see that :-)

I thought perhaps Ray and Dorothy were supposed to be "normal" people who at the start had no real knowledge or love of trees. These are the people who have to be converted to make a real difference.

And one final thought, I wondered if he was highlighting a choice to be made between how humans and trees live. We have consciousness and the ability to massively change our environments but compared to trees we live short lives. Would we trade that for a longer life where we had a vastly different sort of intelligence/awareness and were much more limited with out interactions with the world?

PS: Thanks for choosing this book Chrisull. It was an interesting read and one I wold never have chosen myself :-)

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