It’s been a rather lackluster reading year for me, this despite reading almost 55 books. Many of the books have been fine but very few have stood out to me as being so enjoyable I’d rave about them. I have plans to fix that next year by reading A LOT more fiction and some paper books on my shelves. I use NetGalley and Edelweiss to read and review Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) digitally and have been slogging through some of those non-fiction ones. They are good, just slow reading. I need some fast paced, enticing reads for next year.
Anyway, the one book that I have really enjoyed was Saving the Wild South by Georgann Eubanks. Nevermind that this was also a book that I took almost the entire year to read because I would read a chapter or two and put it down for a month and then pick it back up again. It wasn’t boring at all, very enticing and interesting writing about endangered plants throughout the southeastern US, but it took a lot more brain power for me to focus on than say, zoning out to a fluffy fiction book.
I adored this book and loved Eubank’s writing. If you don’t subscribe to her newsletter, you should, because it is delightfully filled with gorgeous food and environmental writing from the southeast. From the Miccosukee gooseberry and Torreya taxifolia in Florida to the Cahaba lilies in Alabama, Eubanks takes you on a wonderful quest to see some of the most threatened species in the south in their natural habitats. Some of these species were plainly rare to begin with, or at least by the time European/colonial botanists finally began documenting them in the 1700s and 1800s. Others were more abundant historically but have become less abundant due to habitat loss or degradation, or disease. Eubanks goes afield as much as she is able to, meeting up with scientists, botanists, and other folks to get the stories of the on-the-ground work being done to protect these species. She documents the difficulties reaching some of the locations due to terrain or remoteness, and highlights the political issues trying to conserve species that may or may not be high on the priority list for government officials.
The book is an interesting quality, too. The paper is sturdy, the photos are clear and unique, and it’s one of those books you’ll want to keep on your shelves with the other natural history books and thumb through time and time again. If you are at all invested in the natural history of the southern US you’ll likely be familiar with many of the peopled named in there, so sometimes that felt very relatable!
If you need a Christmas present for a nature-minded person, get this one! It’s definitely going down as my favorite book of the year!
And do tell me what your favorite book is this year!