December 21st, 2020
Now that our children are older teenagers, my main occupation on our annual summer beach trip is reading. But as has been the case for so much of 2020, our summer vacation didn’t exactly go the way we had hoped (pandemic, hurricane, evacuation, etc…) and as a result, I didn’t get to many of the books on my shelf.
As we reach the shortest day of the year, I am beginning to look ahead to taking time off over the holidays, and it recently occurred to me that I will have time for reading! I don’t usually plan a lot of reading over the winter holidays because I’m usually tired from entertaining and cooking, but this year, with no boisterous feasts planned at our house, I’m taking note of the myriad “best books of the year” lists, dusting off the titles waiting since July, and making a list. If weather permits, I’m looking forward to bundling up by the firepit on a winter afternoon this week.
I might begin with fiction, including The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. I devoured Bennett’s The Mothers, earlier in the pandemic, and had a chance to hear her in conversation during a virtual book festival last month (virtual book festivals being one of the unexpected upsides of living in a pandemic) talking about black identity and parenting.
Once I’ve unwound a bit, I’ll move on to couple of nonfiction titles. Unsurprisingly, my nonfiction choices often are influenced by my work. I was mesmerized by Ferris Jabr’s story, The Social Life of Forests, in a recent NY Times Magazine story about how trees communicate with one another via mycorrhizal networks, and I’m hoping to get to The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben.
Also on my shelf is, Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, Elizabeth Rush’s book about sea level rise. Rush spoke at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Watershed Forum this fall, sharing riveting stories about communities across the country that are faced with difficult choices and interesting opportunities as sea levels threaten their existence.
There is this little gem, Resilience: Connecting with Nature in a Time of Crisis, which promises inspiration for all of us who need more time outdoors during this pandemic winter, written by DC-based author and forest-bathing guru Melanie Choukas-Bradley
And, of course, I’m looking forward to Doug Tallamy’s latest, Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard. I am, no doubt, preaching to the choir here, but it bears mentioning that I think Doug’s work is so important because he clearly articulates, in layperson’s language, why planting natives is critically important in this moment. So many people have told me that Bringing Nature Home changed the way they think about their own landscapes.
Last winter break, I was preparing to take on this new position as CCLC’s executive director, so I read a couple of books about leadership, management and nonprofits. I picked up Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last and really enjoyed it. This year, I’m going back to Sinek’s seminal Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.
Resisting the urge to always link to Amazon, I’ve included links to books on my favorite DC bookstore’s site as a reminder to myself and to you to shop local when you can.
This list may be overly ambitious, but one can always hope for more time with a good book. I hope you find time to rest, recharge, and read this winter. Let us know what you’re reading.
Beth Ginter is the first Executive Director of the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council. Additionally, she oversees the Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional (CBLP) program, a certification effort which provides consistent training and practice standards for landscape professionals working in the Chesapeake Bay region, Ms. Ginter has a Masters degree in Sustainable Landscape Design from The George Washington University. Her limited free time is spent with her family, walking her two corgis, and catching up on her reading.