Tag Archives: W.W. Norton & Company

Review: The Overstory

The Overstory

The Overstory
By Richard Powers
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393356687, April 2019, 512pp.

The Short of It:

This work of fiction is bigger than the trees and people it’s about.

The Rest of It:

It is impossible for me to explain the magnitude of this work but I shall try. The Overstory is comprised of seemingly independent stories that eventually become entwined for a finale that I personally didn’t see coming.

Each story is in some way about nature and trees and the importance of their place in the world we live in. What they represent, how we can’t live without them, and in one story, how they speak to us. In the telling of this story, we meet a young woman who, after surviving an accident, begins to hear voices instructing her to leave everything behind and to just head out onto the road. Go where? She isn’t sure but while following these voices, she meets a person who is on his own quest for answers and together they head out on a journey that will change their lives.

In other stories, we meet a married couple who is unable to have children, a young man who is sentenced to a wheelchair but who finds fame in the video games he creates, a young woman who struggles to find purpose after her father commits suicide. There’s even more but it’s best if you go into the story blind. You must experience it for yourself. I found myself totally immersed in these stories and they had me yearning for fresh air and sunshine. I will never look at a tree in the same way again and if you shy away from short fiction do not shy away from this book because it is absolutely a novel, not just a collection of similar stories.

At 500+ pages The Overstory is a commitment but if you love the outdoors or if you’re like me and have found an appreciation for the outdoors since this pandemic hit, you will find yourself treasuring this novel. I read it in two days and when I turned that last page I sat there stroking its cover for a full five minutes. So much to think about.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
By Frans de Waal
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393353662, April 2017, 352pp.

The Short of It:

An interesting look at animal intelligence.

The Rest of It:

This was a fascinating read and also an interesting choice for a book club selection. Definitely not something I would have picked up on my own. Basically, Frans de Waal’s work involves experiments and tests to determine just how intelligent animals are and whether or not some of their intelligence is inferred by humans.

What I found interesting is how difference species would solve the same problem in different ways, given their exposure to certain situations and whether outside influences such as being fed before a study could affect the outcome. A lot of these experiments are food based so a chimpanzee who has been fed beforehand, may react differently than one who has not.

I have a dog. I think she is brilliant. I believe she has full thoughts and works through problems in a systematic manner. But after reading this book, I realize that most of her action is cued by me, unknowingly. The way I stand, the way I may look at a certain object are giving her clues on how to behave. Interesting, huh?

If you have any interest in animal intelligence at all then this book will fascinate you. Frans de Waal has a VERY interesting TED Talk on his work if you’d like to check it out.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.