The Overstory

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by Richard Powers

The Overstory is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of - and paean to - the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

My thoughts on The Overstory

I have always been obsessed with how the natural world works. The interplay between ecosystems, different species, and just life itself carries an immense depth that we still know very little about. Enter Richard Powers. There are very few authors that I admire over Richard Powers. He writes with a deep understanding of the natural world and does so in a way that it stops you in your tracks, and makes you think. Those are the type of books I search for, and The Overstory did just that.

It really is a book about trees; those sleeping giants that can be found just about anywhere in the world. Powers uses multiple characters with very different stories all connected by trees. He traces through each of the character’s journeys and how trees, and more specifically the natural world, brings them a deeper level of understanding of life, and humility. He uses the most recent science on trees to tell the story of these peaceful swaying branches, and it completely changed my perspective of them.

It is a book for those who desire to know that humans aren’t the be all end all species on this planet. Richard Powers shines an appreciation on everything else. This one is a must read.

Book Summary

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The best arguments in the world won't change a person's mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story.

— Richard Powers, The Overstory