The Mountainside Mutts Book Club has kicked off 2024 with some great reading selections. And it has been wonderful to welcome new faces to our little group based in Rutland, Vermont. Reading together is a fantastic way to find common ground and learn more about subjects of mutual interest. In a divided world, the focus should be on what unites us, not what drives us further apart. Check out the books we’ve been enjoying together and if you think you’d like to join us, please reach out. No one should ever feel they have to read alone!

First quarter reading selections:

Our first book of the year was a great selection.

Braiding Sweetgrass – Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
 Mountainside Mutts Book Club Review Rating: 🦴🦴🦴🦴🦴

At close to 400 pages, this was a good choice for the longest, coldest, darkest days of winter. You know, when all you want to do is stay at home with your pets and enjoy a warm fire. If you haven’t read it, you’re missing out. Find a copy. What’s it all about? Gratitude – we need to start appreciating this incredible planet and treat it with the respect that a good friend deserves rather than as a commodity. Our club members thoroughly enjoyed this selection and have been inspired to look at the land around us afresh with newly acquired knowledge. Many people have lived on this land before us. But they existed in such a way that didn’t jeopardize the possibility future generations could do so too. It will be interesting to see how many of our members plant the “3 Sisters”.

Book cover of "The Hidden Life of Trees"

You won’t appreciate how little you know about trees until you read our second selection of the year.


The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate. Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben

Mountainside Mutts Book Club Review Rating: 🦴🦴🦴

The title doesn’t hold back. This is a text that will take you into an arboreal world of which you previously would have had no idea. The author is passionate about the subject matter but presents what he has to share with his readers comprehensively.  This is a fascinating journey into the bark, roots, leaves and beyond of the many and varied trees around us. Interested in “forest bathing”? (and with so much Spring greenness appearing every day you should be) then you’ll love this book.

Playing God in The Meadow: How I learned to Admire My Weeds by Martha Lee Molnar

Mountainside Mutts Book Club Review Rating: Local bones! Read regardless of our rating.
Book cover of "Playing God in the Meadow"

Learn a little about one of your own neighbors with this book by a local author.

Beautifully written, and informative but simultaneously unintimidating. It was a real treat to have the (local) author of our last selection join us. If you’re a keen gardener who sickens at the discovery of uninvited visitors of the flora kind, you’ll empathize with Molnar who details her determination to protect a meadow in rural Vermont from hostile invaders – invasive species. Why are they an issue? Because they push out the native plants that are part and parcel of a delicate ecosystem. The book is a personal story of finding a place to make one’s own. But also about coming to terms with the undeniable fact that the Natural World is not something we can control.  Great books should leave you thinking about the story long after you turn the last page. And this one didn’t disappoint. I followed a Google rabbit hole and was delighted to discover the PBS documentary “Uninvited”. While the film is set in New York, it will give Vermonter’s food for thought. How many bags of Milfoil would be pulled from Lake Bomosseen?

Next Up:

Our book club meets approximately every 6 weeks. What unites our members is a love for the animals and the natural world around us.

The next selection for the Mountainside Mutts Book Club is: On Animals by Susan Orlean. We’ll meet on 12 June. We’d love to have you join the discussion. You can even join via Zoom. Find us on the Book Clubs App or email: for further information.

In the meantime, have you read any of our recent selections? If so, what were your thoughts?