Titles 1998-2018

Limber, Angela Pelster


Angela Pelster's startling essay collection charts the world's history through its trees: roots in the ground, rings across wood, topiaries, wind-sculpted pines, the skinny poplars of her youth in Canada, and a desert in Niger, where "The Loneliest Tree in the World" once grew. In her backyard, a squirrel's decomposing body below a towering maple prompts a discussion of the science of rot, as well as a metaphor for the ways in which nature programs us to consume ourselves. Pelster is a writer who looks and listens closely: She watches tree frogs and questions how long we can love one another, she listens to the music of an artist who places paper-thin slices of sectioned tree trunks on his record player and hears the sounds’ mourning. Beautiful, deeply thoughtful, and wholly original, Limber valiantly asks what it means to sustain life on this planet we've inherited.

For a classroom-ready reader's guide written by the author herself, follow this link, and explore more titles with reader's guides in Sarabande in Education

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Additional Info

Angela Pelster’s essays have appeared in Granta, The Gettysburg Review, Seneca Review, The Globe and Mail, Relief Magazine and others. Her children’s novel The Curious Adventures of India Sophia won the Golden Eagle Children’s Choice award in 2006. She lives with her family in Baltimore and teaches at Towson University.


“[Limber] is one of the quirkiest and most original books about the natural world that I have read in quite some time. . . . Filled with precise, poetical and sparse language, the essays reveal not just the life of trees but how they connect us to the greater world around us.”
Seattle Times

“Pelster takes the title of her ruminative essay collection from the book’s second essay, “Burmis,” where she discusses limber pine trees. . . . Her essays, ostensibly often about the natural world, demonstrate a similar quality in the way Pelster maneuvers her discussion of trees and animals to dark places of experience.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Pelster’s essay collection . . . proves nimble and curious, with essays on subjects such as: trees, mortality, decay, and history. Whether Pelster is talking about an old mining town buried alive, a tree that belonged only to itself, or a mother buried with her children in the desert, her prose invites the reader to pause and wonder. Some essays, such as “By Way of the Beginning,” “Temple,” and “Rot,” combine moments both mundane and sublime: the memory of beliefs we wish we’d never had, raking leaves, and caterpillars in the summer. Pelster questions our mortality, how we define ourselves, and faith; and has fun doing so. . . . The book is sure to appeal to those who are interested in nature writing and, with its mystical feel—”chart[ing] the world’s history through its trees”—to fans of creative nonfiction as well.”
Publishers Weekly

“As the author reveals in these charming essays, nature is imbued with enticing mysteries, and trees can be agents of salvation.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Pelster offers up 17 beautiful and varied pieces that reawaken the reader’s sense of trees as both corporeal and symbolic objects. . . . Pelster reveals herself to be a sharp observer with an expansive imagination and an exquisite writer.”
The Cedar Rapids Gazette

“Like the roots of the trees Angela Pelster writes about--which at the time of their development “were an uncontainable force that drilled and crumbled the rock of the world”--these poetic essays on trees, humans and their interactions with nature are profound and beautiful.”
Shelf Awareness

"What a strange and unexpected treasure chest is this, filled with all manner of quirky revelations, all about the mundane sublime and the ineffable extraordinary.  Most extraordinary of all, perhaps, though, is the haunting perfection, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, of the writing itself.  Who is this Angela Pelster and where has she been all our lives?  Please, may she come in and make herself at home!"
—Lawrence Weschler