Tarah's Reviews > Lives of the Trees: An Uncommon History

Lives of the Trees by Diana Wells
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's review
Jan 16, 2010

did not like it

Well, crap. This is not a book that really gives much insight into the "Lives of Trees." This is a sort of not-thorough-or-informative-enough diminutive encyclopedic look at trees. In a different publishing house, this might have been a big coffee-table book with more drawings (the ones in here are fantastic; they are just extremely limited) and fact-oids, and maybe photos... and then we would forgive it the fact that it doesn't really delve into the "Life" of x tree because it would be so pleasing to look at and see those drawings of the willow leaves or pine-cone cut-in-half-view, etc. Or, in another publishing house, this might have been a book actually about the lives of trees, more narrative, still wildly informative, but also lyrical. Really giving us more depth about X tree, etc.

Sadly, it does neither. The book is set up in an encyclopedia style (trees entered alphabetically... alphabetically!!! Not by genus, or region, or even by comical category, but by alphabet... sigh). It has 1-3 short pages about the tree in general, but no consistency of the type of facts across trees (so you don't learn the same things about all the trees) or really enough facts in general to be a satisfying sort of little "book look-up". And there is the occasional related folklore about a tree (Adam and Eve and the apple tree, huh?... wow, that's a big surprise). But not enough to make this book consistently interesting or useful. It needs to be one or the other. It's neither. Sad clown :(

I did learn one interesting fact: the avocado is a dichogamy (basically hermaprodidic). It's flowers open twice a day as the opposite gender as the time before. E.g. "A" flowers open once in the morning as "female" flowers, and then in the afternoon as "male" flowers, "B" flowers do the reverse, etc. That's why you need a whole orchard so you can be sure some are males in the morning while others are females in the morning, etc. Just goes to show: it takes a village.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 10, 2010 – Finished Reading
January 16, 2010 – Shelved

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Emily (new)

Emily Larson Oooh. Very excited to hear what you think of this one.

message 2: by Emily (new)

Emily Larson bummer.

Tarah TOTAL bummer! I was really excited about this book. What this tells me is that you and I need to write the book we wanted this to be!

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