Petaluma’s Bestsellers: Vivid explorations of the natural world appeal to Petaluma readers

“Finding the Mother Tree” is among a handful of new science-themed books on this week’s list of Petaluma bestsellers.|

The top selling titles at Copperfield’s Books, in Petaluma, for the week of May 4-May 10, 2021

A much-discussed new book — about the astonishing arboreal communications between trees — is one of three new science-themed works that have captured the attention of Petaluma readers this week. Because children appreciate the natural world as much (and possibly more) than adults, the tantalizing trio of titles includes a breathtaking new picture book for young readers.

On this week’s Fiction & Nonfiction Bestsellers list, debuting in the No. 4 spot below three popular local titles – Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” (No. 1), Yvonne Michrie Horn’s “100 Things to Do in Sonoma County Before You Die” (No. 2) and Delia Owens’ “Where the Crawdads Sing” (No. 3) – is acclaimed forest ecologist Suzanne Simard’s “Finding the Mother Tree.”

Those who’ve read Richard Powers’ Pulitzer-winning “The Overstory” might enjoy knowing that the character of Patricia Westerford was inspired by the work of Simard, whose life-long study of forests has altered the way science understands the way they function. Subtitled “Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest,” Simard’s remarkable book describes a number of discoveries she’s made over the years, as she describes the course of her own personal and academic evolution. While battling the sexism embedded in the scientific community, Simard found evidence of a kind of fungal communication system between trees, the various ways that trees use their unique biology, essentially to care for each other and to defend themselves when in danger form parasites and other threats. She even reveals proof that certain species of trees can essentially recognize one another, but can also communicate and even cooperate with other species of trees.

Appearing in the No. 9 spot is “The Premonition: A Pandemic Story,” the latest from the author of “Moneyball” and “The Blind Side.” Reading like a thriller, it’s the story of how the Trump White House’s efforts to dial down public alarm in the early days of the pandemic resulted in the suppression of efforts to meet the threat head on. Primarily, the entertainingly straightforward book tells the stories of the scientists, doctors, public heath examiners, epidemiologists and even a high-school science student, who’ve all contributed to the development of how we understand pandemics, vaccination and the importance of accurate health information in the media.

On the Kids & Young Adults Bestsellers list, once again featuring Dav Pilkey’s “Dogman: Mothering Heights” in the No. 1 spot, Petalumans’ interest in science and nature is represented by the stunning picture book, “Have You Ever Seen a Flower?” Written and illustrated by Shawn Harris, the story describes the (literally) colorful adventures of a young child from the city opening up to the intoxicating power of nature during a fancy-filled visit to a mountain field full of flowers. Through Harris’ bright, evocative pencil drawings, each new encounter becomes an existential journey of discovery, as the anatomy of a flower is compared to everything from a royal palace to the human body.

Here is the complete Top 10 Books on Copperfield’s Fiction and Nonfiction list, along with the full Kids and Young Adults list.


1. ‘The Hill We Climb,’ by Amanda Gorman – With a forward by Oprah Winfrey, this “gift edition” presents the electrifying poem Gorman read during President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

2. ‘100 Things to Do in Sonoma County Before You Die,’ by Yvonne Michrie Horn – Santa Rosa travel writer Horn spent the better part of 2020 writing this entertaining look at some of the best places and activities in Sonoma County.

3. ‘Where the Crawdads Sing,’ by Delia Owens – The bestselling novel about a young girl name Kya who lives in a Louisiana swamp, abandoned by everyone in her life until she learns how to survive by watching the insects and swamp animals around her. Oh, and there’s a murder mystery.

4. ‘Finding the Mother Tree,’ by Suzanne Simard – Part scientific deep-dive, part riveting memoir, “Mother Tree,” by one of the world’s leading experts in forest ecology investigates the complex science of tree-to-tree communication.

5. ‘The House in the Cerulean Sea,’ by TJ Klune – Delightful fantasy novel about a mysterious school and the low-level bureaucrat assigned to it.

6. ‘Court of Thorns and Roses,’ by Sarah J. Maas - A “Beauty and the Beast”-inspired fantasy series exploring the extended family of the fairytale’s iconic characters.

7. ‘The Song of Achilles,’ by Madeline Miller – The 2012 debut novel from the author of “Circe,” this mythological deep-dive explores the iconic love affair between Greek warriors Achilles and Patroclus.

8. ‘The Long Petal of the Sea,’ by Isabel Allende – Set during the Spanish Civil War, a pregnant and widowed pianist enters into an unlikely marriage-of-convenience with her dead husband’s brother, and attempts to flee from warfare on a rescue ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda

9. ‘The Premonition: A Pandemic Story,’ by Michael Lewis – The bestselling author of “Liar’s Poker,” “Moneyball” and “The Blind Side” brings a nonfiction page-turner about the loosely associated team of scientists and experts who, early in the COVID-19 pandemic, fought against the official White House response that there was nothing to worry about.

10. ‘The Vanishing Half,’ by Brit Bennett – When identical twin sisters are separated, then reunited years later, the different paths they’ve each chosen brings them into a powerful and challenging understanding of what it means to be “whole.”


1. ‘Dog Man: Mothering Heights,’ by Dav Pilkey – In the 10th book in the series by the creator of Captain Underpants, canine cop Dog Man teams up with Petey the Cat and a stray kitten to stop an onslaught of villains and prove the persistent power of love, kindness and dog-slobbering.

2. ‘They Both Die at the End,’ by Adam Silveira – An inventive YA novel about a future in which Deckers (people who have just one day left to live) are informed of their impending deaths by the ominous Death-Cast corporation, after which lonesome Deckers are paired up for their final day through the smart phone app Last Friend.

3. ‘We Were Liars,’ by E. Lockhart – This YA novel is a taught psychological thriller about a group of friends on a private family island struggling a legacy of darkly fairytale-ish secrets.

4. ‘Shadow and Bone,’ by Leigh Bardugo – The original book in the popular fantasy series, in which ships sail through monster-filled clouds and a rare race of people keep light beneath their skins. The hit Netflix series is based on the series.

5. ‘Have You Ever Seen a Flower?’ by Shawn Harris – Gorgeous pencil drawings illuminate this picture book in which an urban child explores a country field and opens up to the intoxicating power of nature.

6. ‘Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn,’ by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham – A tale of affirming one’s identity as told through the friendship between two different (but not-so-different) magical creatures.

7. ‘Babysitters Club: Claudia and the New Girl,’ by Ann M. Martin – More Babysitter’s Club adventures from Ann M. Martin.

8. ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,’ by Rick Riordan – A kid discovers his long-lost dad was a Greek god, and now he has to attend a school for other illegitimate god-progeny, where he soon battles monsters and learns a thing or two about lightning.

9. ‘Realm Breaker,’ by Victoria Aveyard – This new fantasy epic features wizards, an ancient sword, a magical realm in danger, and a team of misfits drawn together to save the world.

10. ‘Berrybrook Middle School: Awkward,’ by Svetlana Chmakova – The 2015 entry in this popular comedy-drama series about the kids of Berrybrook and how they charmingly face the day-to-day challenges of middle school.

(Data compiled by Amber-Rose Reed, Manager of Copperfield’s Books)

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