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Non-Fiction Book Club to discuss - The Forest Unseen by David George Haskell, Thursday, February 2nd @ 6:30 PM

Pollard Library Non-Fiction book club meets on the first Thursday of every month at 6:30PM in the ground floor meeting room. Our group is free and open to the public. Copies of books up for discussion are available for patrons to borrow on a first come first serve basis at the 1st Floor Information Desk. You may also reserve a copy by calling the Community Planning Department at 978-674-1542. For more information about this group please contact Sean Thibodeau, Coordinator of Community Planning, at or 978-674-1542.


The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David George Haskell. Viking: New York, 2012.

From Book Jacket:

“A remarkable exploration of nature and the mysteries of the living world. For ages, Tibetan monks have used small poured-sand drawings called mandalas as visual representations of the entire universe, much as William Blake pondered the possibility of seeing the world in a grain of sand. In this spirit, biologist David George Haskell has taken as his mandala a one-square-meter patch of old-growth Tennessee forest. Visiting it each week for a year, he brings to life the forest world and its inhabitants as we’ve never seen them before.
Each short chapter of The Forest Unseen begins with an observation: a salamander scuttling across the leaf litter; the eager report of morning birds during a summer sunrise; the first blossom of spring ephemerals and the delicate dance of bees seeking the flowers’ pollen. From these, Haskell spins a brilliant web of biology and ecology, explaining the science that binds together the tiniest microbes and the largest mammals to create ecosystems that have cycle for thousands, sometimes millions, of years. Each visit to the forest presents a nature story in miniature, as Haskell elegantly teases out the intricate relationships that order the creatures and plants that call the forest home. Passing through every season, he offers eloquent explanations of such wide-ranging phenomena as the chickadee’s winter shivering, the spring awakening of trees’ curious plumbing, and the delightful summer glow of the firefly’s lantern.
Powerfully observed and beautifully written, The Forest Unseen is a grand tour of nature in all its profundity, an attempt to view life’s great complexity through a simple square meter of earth. With the knowledge of a scientist and the keen perception of a master portraitist, Haskell renders a mosaic of the natural world that will change the way we think about our relationship to beings great and small.”

About the Author


David Haskell is a professor of biology at the University of the South, and was named the Carnegie-CASE professor of the year in Tennessee in 2009. Along with his scholarly research, he was published essays and poetry. He lives in Sewanee, Tennessee, where he and his wife also run a homestead, raising goats and selling goat milk soap.