Another Good Read

Although I find myself frustrated in my efforts to complete my to-do list everyday, I have more time to read, since it is something I can do easily while holding a nursing or sleeping baby.

I’ve just finished The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant. It’s a true story, ostensibly about a much-revered Sitka spruce deep in British Columbia’s forests on the Charlotte Islands, and the man who was compelled to cut it down in the spirit of activism; but the story ends up being much more than that.

Valliant attempts, not just a personal story about logger-turned-activist Grant Hadwin, but a historical account of logging, the spiritual beliefs of the northwest Haida, the economic rise and fall of the Pacific Northwest, and of environmental activism in the US. The book’s scope is as much its strength as its downfall. While I was fascinated by the all the information given to me, I also found myself impatient; like listening to your grandpa tell a story when he feels he needs to expound on every extraneous detail – however interesting, it can be exhausting to follow so many birdwalks of thoughts.

Vaillant could have also used a tougher editor, as his efforts to pull together so many different aspects of the story sometime lead to strange conjunctions of apparently unrelated histories and overly complicated wording. On the other hand, Vaillant has made a good attempt at relaying an important history – especially that of North American logging – and I had no problem sticking with his work all the way to the finish. His work has been compared to Jon Krakauer; I think he’s in the same genre, but not as tight a writer.

Overall, I recommend this book; it’s very readable for a nonfiction work and I think we should all be aware of the true cost of wood. (Scary!) It gets a solid B from me.

This book was recommended to me by my friend Betsy, who was part of the same book club I was in back in Palm Desert. This was one of the books they read before I joined the group. To see the rest of the book club’s reading list, click here.

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