Conservancy Member Book Club

Participate with fellow Conservancy members in a literary journey.

Books selected each month will feature contemporary environmental scientists and naturalists, with a mix of foundational texts from the literary giants that walked the road before us.

Hour-long discussions occur at 5:30pm the last Wednesday of the featured month. These discussions are a space for exploring new ideas, connections, and personal revelations while reading, with other members of Conservancy.

Book Club Calendar

March- Reenchanted World by James William Gibson

Reenchanted World by James William Gibson

Discussion March 29

“A fast-paced and highly rewarding account of the struggle to realize a deeper consciousness of the human relationship with nature–before it is too late.” ~James Gustave Speth

For more than two centuries, as Western cultures became ever more industrialized, the natural world was increasingly regarded as little more than a collection of useful raw resources. The folklore of powerful forest spirits was displaced by the practicalities of logging; the traditional rituals of hunting ceremonies gave way to indiscriminate butchering of animals for meat markets. In the famous lament of Max Weber, our surroundings became “disenchanted,” with nature’s magic swept away by secularization and rationalization. But as acclaimed sociologist James William Gibson reveals in this insightful study, the culture of enchantment is making an astonishing comeback.


May- Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin

Discussion May 31

The paleontologist and professor of anatomy who co-discovered Tiktaalik, the “fish with hands,” tells a “compelling scientific adventure story that will change forever how you understand what it means to be human.” ~Oliver Sacks

By examining fossils and DNA, he shows us that our hands actually resemble fish fins, our heads are organized like long-extinct jawless fish, and major parts of our genomes look and function like those of worms and bacteria. Your Inner Fish makes us look at ourselves and our world in an illuminating new light. This is science writing at its finest–enlightening, accessible and told with irresistible enthusiasm.

July- Shellfish for a Celestial Empire by Todd Braje

Shellfish for a Celestial Empire by Todd Braje

Discussion July 26

In the 1800s, when California was captivated by gold fever, a small group of Chinese immigrants recognized the fortune to be made from the untapped resources along the state’s coast, particularly from harvesting the black abalone of southern and Baja California. Today, the physical evidence of historical Chinese abalone fishing on the mainland has been erased by development. On California’s Channel Islands, however, remnants of temporary abalone collecting and processing camps lie scattered along the coastlines. These sites hold a treasure trove of information, stories, lifeways, and history.

September- The Dreamt Land by Mark Arax

The Dreamt Land by Mark Arax

Discussion September 27

 A vivid, searching journey into California’s capture of water and soil–the epic story of a people’s defiance of nature and the wonders, and ruin, it has wrought. Mark Arax is from a family of Central Valley farmers, a writer with deep ties to the land who has watched the battles over water intensify even as California lurches from drought to flood and back again. In The Dreamt Land, he travels the state to explore the one-of-a-kind distribution system, built in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, that is straining to keep up with California’s relentless growth. The Dreamt Land weaves reportage, history and memoir to confront the Golden State myth in riveting fashion.

November- Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Discussion November 29

 A New York Times Bestseller A Washington Post Bestseller Named a Best Essay Collection of the Decade by Literary Hub As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert).