The Sierra Club Wisconsin Chapter’s book club is back again for 2024 with plenty of great reads. We meet from 7 - 8 pm on the *first Tuesday evening of every other month (on odd months) and we’d love for you to join us!
Below are the dates of each virtual discussion and their corresponding books:
March 5, 2024: Divining: A Memoir in Trees by Maureen Dunphy
In sixteen essays, each named after a species of tree, Maureen Dunphy explores the nature of human-arboreal relationships, and how each of these trees has—literally—served as a friend, a confidante, or a place to rest. The depth and diversity of these relationships are revealed through essays that are both intimate and universal, moving and informative. While Dunphy’s relationships with trees are unique and personal, her work reveals the deep-rooted complexity that connects all of humanity to our staunch, upright companions in life, the members of the "Standing Nation." Beyond providing oxygen, food, and shelter, trees can be sites of emotional refuge, sources of intellectual enrichment, and a boon to physical, mental, and spiritual health. Within reflections of her personal experience, she skillfully integrates scientific facts to achieve a balance of passion and practicality. While technology, screens, and the stress of the modern world directs our attention elsewhere, Dunphy brings the reader back to the trees right outside our windows.
May 7, 2024: A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet by Sarah Jaquette Ray
A youth movement is reenergizing global environmental activism. The “climate generation”—late millennials and iGen, or Generation Z—is demanding that policy makers and government leaders take immediate action to address the dire outcomes predicted by climate science. Those inheriting our planet’s environmental problems expect to encounter challenges, but they may not have the skills to grapple with the feelings of powerlessness and despair that may arise when they confront this seemingly intractable situation. Drawing on a decade of experience leading and teaching in college environmental studies programs, Sarah Jaquette Ray has created an “existential tool kit” for the climate generation. Combining insights from psychology, sociology, social movements, mindfulness, and the environmental humanities, Ray explains why and how we need to let go of eco-guilt, resist burnout, and cultivate resilience while advocating for climate justice. A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety is the essential guidebook for the climate generation—and perhaps the rest of us—as we confront the greatest environmental threat of our time.
September 3, 2024: Paper Valley: The Fight for the Fox River Cleanup by David Allen and Susan Campbell
When government scientist David Allen arrived at his new jobsite in the 1990s, the Fox River near Wisconsin's Green Bay was dominated by hulking paper mills, noxious industrial odors, and widespread ecological damage. Confronted by his lack of resources to force the politically powerful "Paper Valley" polluters to fix their mess, Allen proceeds against all bureaucratic odds in building a $1 billion case against the paper company bosses. Two small but vital players, Allen along with journalist Susan Campbell were relentless in bringing the case to the public at the time. They do so again in this book: an act of radical transparency to uncover the intrigue that nearly blocked the cleanup behind the scenes at US Fish and Wildlife, Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources, and the US Environmental Protection Agency. In a rare and major environmental win, the Fox River became the site of the largest polychlorinated biphenyls cleanup in history, paid for by the paper companies rather than taxpayers, to the tune of $1.3 billion, and completed in 2020. This true story of struggle, perseverance, and success inspires hope for environmentalists who strive to restore natural landscapes. The detailed account given in this book is meant to inspire and offer practical knowledge and solutions for those fighting similar opponents of environmental cleanup and restoration.
November 12, 2024: Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
*The date of this discussion is pushed back by one week to avoid election day.
A groundbreaking thriller about a vigilante on a Native American reservation who embarks on a dangerous mission to track down the source of a heroin influx. Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that’s hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way into the reservation and finds Virgil’s nephew, his vigilantism suddenly becomes personal. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and how to make them stop. As Virgil starts to link the pieces together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity. He realizes that being a Native American in the twenty-first century comes at an incredible cost. Winter Counts is a tour-de-force of crime fiction, a bracingly honest look at a long-ignored part of American life, and a twisting, turning story that’s as deeply rendered as it is thrilling.
January 7, 2025: Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet by Ben Goldfarb
An eye-opening account of the global ecological transformations wrought by roads, from the award-winning author of Eager. Some 40 million miles of roadways encircle the earth, yet we tend to regard them only as infrastructure for human convenience. While roads are so ubiquitous they’re practically invisible to us, wild animals experience them as entirely alien forces of death and disruption. In Crossings, environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb travels throughout the United States and around the world to investigate how roads have transformed our planet. A million animals are killed by cars each day in the U.S. alone, but as the new science of road ecology shows, the harms of highways extend far beyond roadkill. Creatures from antelope to salmon are losing their ability to migrate in search of food and mates; invasive plants hitch rides in tire treads; road salt contaminates lakes and rivers; and the very noise of traffic chases songbirds from vast swaths of habitat.
Yet road ecologists are also seeking to blunt the destruction through innovative solutions. Goldfarb meets with conservationists building bridges for California’s mountain lions and tunnels for English toads, engineers deconstructing the labyrinth of logging roads that web national forests, animal rehabbers caring for Tasmania’s car-orphaned wallabies, and community organizers working to undo the havoc highways have wreaked upon American cities. Today, as our planet’s road network continues to grow exponentially, the science of road ecology has become increasingly vital.
Please join us for as many book club reads as you would like, and feel free to drop in even if you haven't finished the book or are only able to attend one discussion during the year.
Books are selected from a list of recommendations from book club attendees. Recommend a book for our 2025 reading list by filling out this form.
Contact Cassie at email@example.com with questions.