Six Degrees: from “Rodham” to “To Speak for the Trees”

Last month was my first month participating in the very fun “Six Degrees Challenge”.

The challenge is hosted monthly by Kate at booksaremyfavouriteandbest.

The rules summarized from the website:

“On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.”

“Join in by posting your own six degrees chain on your blog and adding the link in the Linky section (or comments) of each month’s post. If you don’t have a blog, you can share your chain in the comments section. You can also check out links to posts on Twitter using the hashtag #6Degrees.”

This week the starting point is “Rodham: A Novel” by Curtis Sittenfield

So what would have happened had Hillary Rodham not married Bill Clinton? I haven’t read this novel, but the premise is intriguing. 

From Amazon:

“In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton.

But in Curtis Sittenfeld’s powerfully imagined tour-de-force of fiction, Hillary takes a different road. Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail—one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life.”

I don’t tend to read books that challenge you to think about “what ifs” of past events. Perhaps this is because when I think about the own “what ifs” of my life, it brings about a lot of regrets.

Anyway, I decided that I would instead connect books written about and by women whom I admire, more specifically women scientists, those who did end up following one of the paths that I could have taken, had I studied biology in university as I originally had intended. I can live vicariously through them.

My copies

Here’s my list:

“Jane Goodall: The Woman who Redefined Man” by Dale Peterson

Growing up, there were few people I admired. I wasn’t the typical teen who went gaga over the latest movie stars or rock groups. When I discovered Jane Goodall though, well here was someone I could look up to. She was doing something I had always wanted to do, going to Africa to study wild animals, in her case chimpanzees.

This award winning 685 page (plus back matter) biography is written by longtime Goodall collaborator Peterson, and it took him 10 years to write as he had so much material on the scientist. The comprehensive biography deals with Goodall’s life up until 2004.

“Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey” by Jane Goodall with Phillip Berman

Going from a book written about her to one written by her, this is one of my favourites, as it describes much of her spirituality and also her reasons for hope for the future. It is an older book, and there’s even an addendum written after 9/11. I’d love to see a reprint of what she would add after the pandemic.

“An African Love Story: Love, Life, and Elephants” by Daphne Sheldrick

I continue with an African connection. Conservationist Sheldrick writes about her love for Africa, her love for her husband, and her love for the orphaned elephants that she has raised and reintegrated into the wild.

“The Whale by Moonlight: And Other Adventures Among Bats, Penguins, Crocodilians, and Whales” by Diane Ackerman

Elephants connect to other animals. I started to read this when I was on my last trip overseas, as lacking a good connection to the internet, I could really immerse myself in the book. Naturalist Ackerman is better known for some of her other books (“The Zookeepers Wife”, for example), but it is her nonfiction writing that draws me more. This book is from 1992, but her poetic descriptions of her scientific adventures among these four animals still capture the imagination.

“Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Now on to someone who champions the wisdom of both animals and plants. This is a book I am currently slowly savouring in bite sized pieces. Wall Kimmerer is an indigenous botanist, and in this book she shares how other living beings—the plants and animals—have much to teach us, although we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices.

“To Speak for the Trees: My Life’s Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest” by Diana Beresford-Kroeger

From one botanist to another. An Irish born and now Canadian botanist and biochemist, Beresford-Kroeger has a unique perspective on trees and forests, as she studied not only the ancient Celtic ways, but also modern scientific ways. I have admired her since I saw the movie “Call of the Forest”, and this book is an autobiography of her life. This is the only book on my list I don’t own—I borrowed it from the library—but I do own some of her other books.

So there’s my journey from “Rodham” to “To Speak for the Trees”. Thanks for joining me. I hope you are able to go to the original blog post and check out some of the other entries.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler


15 thoughts on “Six Degrees: from “Rodham” to “To Speak for the Trees”

  1. rosemarykaye

    That’s such an interesting chain, Linda – it just shows how many different paths can lead from a single title.

    I read far more fiction than non-fiction, but I do like nature writing, and I’ve not read any of these, so thanks for the tips.My favourites are currently Jim Crumley and Esther Woolfson, but they write mostly about their local areas. I also recently read Bob Calder’s Ghost Trees, which is almost exclusively about the nature and people around his home in Poplar (London). I’ve never read anything about African wildlife.

    And I entirely agree about ‘what ifs’ – I do this so often and can make myself so miserable if I don’t put a stop to my thoughts – what if we’d bought that house instead of this one? what if I’d studied what i wanted to study instead of what I thought I *should*? what if I’d followed the career path I knew was right for me instead of bowing to pressure? I think one thing I have finally learned is that it’s no good doing things to please other people – good to hear their advice, but not always to take it!

    1. Linda Schueler Post author

      Thanks for the tips about other nature writers. I am always looking for more.
      Yes, I agree, staying true to yourself is the best path, but it’s not always the easiest.

  2. Pingback: Six Degrees: From “The Turn of the Screw” to “Anne of Green Gables” | Shoe's Stories

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