Trees seem to be living beings just standing in one place and producing oxygen. What if I tell you that trees do more than that? According to German forester and conservationist Peter Wohlleben’s 2015 book titled The Hidden Life of Trees, trees have a secret life—a way of functioning that isn’t obvious to humans.
The book talks about how trees communicate with one another and connect to other species. It was initially written in German and translated into English after widespread success in Europe.
To effectively communicate about trees, the book is separated into 36 chapters, each diving into a different topic on the hidden life of trees. The chapters, paired with Wohlleben’s prose, create an informative read and make the book easily accessible. The author weaves together scientific research and personal ideas to tell an uncommon story about trees and their profound connections to the ecosystems surrounding them, including that of human life. His approach also discusses the perception of trees, advocates for preservation, and emphasizes their presence in our communities.
Wohlleben uses various stylistic techniques throughout the book, mostly personification, to help ground our understanding of trees as intelligent beings. He also writes from an observer’s perspective, like a narrator guiding readers through the complexities of tree life, creating an enchanting reading experience.
There are two versions of the book. I was lucky to get my hands on the illustrated version, which made reading this book even more captivating. Beautiful photography of trees and nature between the words highlighted the points and showcased the beauty of surrounding ecosystems.
The book transformed my opinion about trees, as it advocates for their preservation and highlights the importance of trees in our diverse communities. They surround us everywhere we go, especially on the University of Toronto Mississauga campus, but we may often overlook them. I’ll glance at them and continue my walk to class. This book helped me start admiring the trees around me differently and appreciate them even more.
It seems like the mainstream public loves this book, too. It has since amassed a four-star rating on Goodreads, with more than 70,000 ratings and 8,400 reviews. However, some scientists and other foresters on blogs criticize it for erring on the side of fiction.
In any case, through Wohlleben’s writing, light is shed on trees and their many aspects that often go overlooked. The Hidden Life of Trees is an exciting book about trees and a wake-up call to preserving them.