Saturday, May 27, 2023

How to Read a Tree by Tristan Gooley Book Review

About the Book:

New York Times
–bestselling author Tristan Gooley opens our eyes to the secret language of trees—and the natural wonders they reveal all around us

Trees are keen to tell us so much. They’ll tell us about the land, the water, the people, the animals, the weather, and time. And they will tell us about their lives, the good bits and bad. Trees tell a story, but only to those who know how to read it.

How to Read a Tree, Gooley uncovers the clues hiding in plain sight: in a tree’s branches and leaves; its bark, buds, and flowers; even its stump. Leaves with a pale, central streak mean that water is nearby. Young, low-growing branches show that a tree is struggling. And reddish or purple bark signals new growth.

Like snowflakes, no two trees are exactly the same. Every difference reveals the epic story 
this tree has lived—if we stop to look closely.

My Review:

Just about everything you would ever want to know about trees is in this book. Gooley emphasizes what you can learn about your environment from trees. Noting their growth patter, you can use them as a compass, for example. Location and kind of trees will tell you where to find water.

There is also a great deal about trees in general. One can look for marks on the bark that look like “eyes” to see where a tree has self pruned, branches dying and falling off, generally on the southern side of the tree. There is information about how the wind affects trees, how a tree controls an infection, what the shape of the tree means, and more. I was surprised to find out roots can spread out two and a half times the width of the tree's canopy and are generally shallow.

This is not a book to identify or understand specific trees. It is about trees in general with information about bark, branches, leaves and more. I do wish there had been more illustrations and some photos. Gooley's writing style is good as he includes personal experiences and observations.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Tristan Gooley
is a writer and natural navigator. His passion for the subject of natural navigation stems from his hands-on experience. He has led expeditions in five continents, climbed mountains in Europe, Africa and Asia, sailed small boats across oceans and piloted small aircraft to Africa and the Arctic. He is the only living person to have both flown solo and sailed singlehandedly across the Atlantic, and he is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and the Royal Geographical Society. He and his school can be found online at

The Experiment (Hachette Book Group), 352 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

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