Western Washington University Alumni Book Club - November Virtual Event

Book Cover of the Hidden Life of Trees

Wednesday, November 10, 2021
5:15-6:30 p.m. PDT




Join us for our 6th meeting of the WWU Alumni Association Book Club on Wednesday, November 10. Sandra Alfers, Professor of German and Director of the Ray Wolpow Institute,  will be moderating a discussion on The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohllenben.

You can join the Book Club Group in WE Connect to catch any book club announcements, as well as connect with your fellow book club members between monthly meetings.

Make sure to pick up a copy of the book from your favorite local bookstore, and register for the November Book Club meeting through the link below.

PS - If you are unable to finish the book we would still love to have you join us for good conversation. We hope you will take part in this casual event, and enjoy a drink or snack during our time together!

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate-Discoveries from A Secret World

by Peter Wohlleben

This fascinating book will intrigue readers who love a walk through the woods. Wohlleben, who worked for the German forestry commission for 20 years and now manages a beech forest in Germany, has gathered research from scientists around the world examining how trees communicate and interact with one another. They do so using a variety of methods, including the secretion of scents and sound vibrations to warn neighboring plants of potential attacks by insects and hungry herbivores, drought, and other dangers. The book includes a note from forest scientist Suzanne Simard of the University of British Columbia, whose studies showed that entire forests can be connected by “using chemical signals sent through the fungal networks around their root tips” and led to the term “the wood-wide web.” Wohlleben anthropomorphizes his subject, using such terms as friendship and parenting, which serves to make the technical information relatable, and he backs up his ideas with information from scientists. He even tackles the question of whether trees are intelligent. He hopes the day will come “when the language of trees will eventually be deciphered.” Until then, Wohllenben’s book offers readers a vivid glimpse into their secret world. (Sept.)

- Publishers Weekly

"The matter-of-fact Mr. Wohlleben has delighted readers and talk-show audiences alike with the news long known to biologists that trees in the forest are social beings." (The New York Times)

Sandra Alfers

Sandra Alfers


Dr. Sandra Alfers is the founding director of The Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity and Professor of German and in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at Western Washington University. Under her leadership, WWU became the first public university in Washington state to offer a minor in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Sandra’s research focuses on the literature of the Holocaust, particularly on German-language poetry written in the Theresienstadt ghetto between 1941-1945. In 2018, she was named a recipient of the 2018 Rep. Timm Ormbsy Award for Faculty Citizenship for her commitment to countering antisemitism and other forms of hate on Western’s campus.

In WWU’s award-winning German program, Sandra teaches a wide range of language, literature, and culture on all levels of the curriculum, and she tremendously enjoys engaging her students in- and outside of the classroom. When she is not working, you will most likely find her exploring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Sandra grew up on the rural flat plains of Northern Germany and has become an avid hiker ever since moving to Bellingham in 2008. Because of her love for forests and mountains, she has picked Peter Wohlleben’s book for this month’s book club meeting. It has been a bestseller in Germany since its publication in 2015, and Sandra looks forward to talking with alumni about The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate. Herzlich Willkommen!

Questions and Accommodations

Daryn Vorderbruegge is the Program Director for this event. Feel free to contact Daryn at (360) 650-3723 or vorderd@wwu.edu if you have any questions or comments.

There will be auto-captions available for this event. To request closed captions, please mark the request on the registration form. Advance notice of three days to one week is appreciated.