When she first moved back west after nearly a decade away, Amanda Lewis was an overachieving, burned-out book editor most familiar with trees as dead blocks of paper. A dedicated "indoorswoman" she could barely tell a birch from a beech. But that didn't stop her from pledging to visit all of the biggest trees in British Columbia, a Canadian province known for its expensive yoga studios, Patagonia-wearing baristas, and… extremely gigantic trees.
The "Champion" trees on Lewis's ambitious list ranged from mighty Western red-cedars to Douglas firs. They lived on remote islands and at the center of dense forests. The only problem? Well, there were many… Climate change and a pandemic aside, Lewis's lack of wilderness experience, the upsetting reality of old-growth logging, the ever-changing nature of trees, and the pressures of her one-year timeframe complicated her quest.
Burned out again – and realizing that her "checklist" approach to life might be the problem – Lewis reframed her search for trees to something humbler and more meaningful: getting to know forests in an interconnected way.
Weaving in insights from writers and artists, Lewis uncovers what we're really after when we pursue big things – and reveals that sometimes it's the smaller joys, the mindsets we have, and the companions we're with, that make us feel more connected to the natural world.
Amanda Lewis is a big-tree tracker and an award-winning book editor. Born in Dublin, Ireland, she now divides her time between the internet and a small island in British Columbia, Canada. Tracking Giants is her first book.
Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a botanist and medical biochemist whose work uniquely combines Western scientific thinking and the traditional concepts of the ancient world. Her most recent book is To Speak for the Trees: My Life’s Journey From Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest.
"Tracking Giants is a book of arboreal delights, wisdoms, and many voices that reminds us of the value of slowing down and learning how to see the forest for the trees. You won't want to miss out on this road trip with Amanda Lewis at the wheel, bombing down forestry backroads with the Beastie Boys blasting, bushwhacking in the pursuit of rooted bigness, and ultimately getting lost and found in the beauty of small. Tracking Giants is the road trip without the map, the fascinating new friends you pick up along the way. Get in. Celebrating our arboreal Champions – both huge and small – has never been so much fun."
– Trina Moyles, author of Lookout: Love, Solitude, and Searching for Wildfire in the Boreal Forest
"I'd follow Amanda Lewis into the woods any day for more hilarious misadventures of a big-tree hunter. In her quest to track British Columbia's Champion trees, she reminds us all to slow the fuck down, let go of expectation, and connect with this planet's wonders, big and small. Oh, and to always pack snacks. Tracking Giants left me enchanted, informed, and chuckling."
– Adria Vasil, bestselling author of the Ecoholic series
"In this intimate, open-hearted book of journeys and quests, Amanda Lewis gathers the wisdom of the woods in all its beauty and peril. Tracking Giants is, at its heart, a guide to seeing and being in the world. For those from away, it will also be a personal introduction to one of the most profoundly alive places on earth. For those who live in the Pacific Northwest, it offers the humbling and illuminating experience of being reintroduced to a place you thought you knew well."
– John Vaillant, award-winning author of The Golden Spruce
"Absolutely engrossing. In Tracking Giants, Amanda Lewis takes us down forest paths that we'll never want to leave, and gives us new friends in Champion trees. Along the way we're introduced to the tree species that tower above the Pacific Northwest, which we encounter through history and art and expert botanical voices. On top of that, Tracking Giants is laced with humor. Clearly, Lewis is the perfect hiking companion!"
– Lyndsie Bourgon, author of Tree Thieves
"Is Tracking Giants an adventure story or a cautionary tale? A critique of pure ambition or a celebration of growth? Maybe it's a portal to the forests of British Columbia, or an invitation to develop a relationship with that crabapple tree down the street. It may be a gentle reminder that music makes everything better, or that love is another word for attention. Who knows? All we can say for sure is what Amanda Lewis gets – that good stories are like wild forests: impossible to classify, and awfully fun to get lost in."
– Arno Kopecky, award-winning author of The Environmentalist's Dilemma
"Tracking Giants is a rich and leafy exploration of all things arboreal. Through her quest to visit all of British Columbia's Champion trees, Amanda Lewis has written her way deep into the heartwood of humans' intimate connection with our irreplaceable forests."
– Michael Christie, author of Greenwood
"A delightful and enlightening journey into the woods [...] Amanda Lewis treads so softly here, with wit and color, with care and passion, in an intimate exploration of how nature's magnificent expressions, regardless of size or title, hold enormous capacity to inspire."
– Harley Rustad, author of Big Lonely Doug and Lost in the Valley of Death
"Generous, self-deprecating, and wise, this entertaining, informative, and inspiring book shows us that if a tree grows or falls in the forest, we need to listen-there are so many reasons why it might fall. It teaches us to see the forest and the trees, to navigate through the thicket of the modern world and ultimately to find ways to care for ourselves and our planet."
– Gary Barwin, bestselling author of Yiddish for Pirates and Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted
"This is a wonderful truant of a book about our relationship with trees, with the precarious earth, with our own unchecked ambition. It begins as a simple solo quest to track some of the world's biggest trees and emerges as a gorgeous manifesto for plotting a different course entirely. The timing of this book-with its wide roots and radical shoots-is just right."
– Kyo Maclear, author of Birds Art Life
"What an absolutely delightful romp through the forest, delivered with verve, joy, humility, determination, and grace [...] I love this hilarious, heartfelt book and its quirky quest."
– Kate Harris, author of Lands of Lost Borders