- The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
Trees have a strategy for ensuring their seeds germinate and become new trees. In Wohlleben’s book, you will find out how beech trees and oak trees make a plan for when to release their fruits so that they don’t get entirely eaten by the wild boars and deer. If they don’t spread their seeds one or two years in a row, there is a higher chance that the seeds survive due to a smaller number of animals that made it through a winter with little food. In other words, they intentionally starve the animals by withholding their food so that when they do release the fruits they outnumber the animals’ capacity of feeding on them.
2. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Banana jam or pickled lemons had never crossed my mind before reading this vibrant book.
3. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
”If our minds are those of hunter-gatherers, our cuisine is that of ancient farmers.”
It might seem hard to believe, but it seems no crucially relevant plant (or animal) has been domesticated in the last 2,000 years. More than 90% of our modern diet relies on plants that have been domesticated between 9500-3500 BC, plants like wheat, rice, maize, potatoes, millet and barley.
4. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
The third book of Phillip Pulman’s trilogy His Dark Materials imagines a world where giants trees make hard to break nuts that are then used by the mulefa, the inhabitants of this imagined world, as wheels. The nuts are oily and the oil they make enables human Mary to see the sraf or the celestial dust that flows in and from the sky, nurturing life on the planet and ensuring everything goes on as it should. While that might not be relevant information for our world (but who knows, maybe you'll accidentally be transported to the mulefa world lucky you), I learned the art of naming characters and things along with telling a story so rich in the most beautiful and captivating ways.
5. Little Fingers by Filip Florian
Reading Filip Florian’s book I learned the Romanian word for oregano - șovârf, who knew there was one? - and that as a tea it is very good for ulcers.
May we have a wonderful New Year!