Once in a while I read a book that is so powerful, so enlightening, so possibly life-changing that as a bookseller, and as a human being, I want to share news of its arrival as widely as I can.

For the last week I have been reading Richard Powers’ new novel “The Overstory.” It is a novel, but in ways it combines “The Hidden Life of Trees,” “Should Trees Have Standing?,” “Braiding Sweetgrass,” Rachel Carson, John Muir, The Monkeywrench Gang, and the Earth First Journal.

It is a book about trees, our relationships with them, their relationships with each other and other beings around them, the perils they face from human consumption and disregard, and the ways in which some humans are reacting to the plight of the trees. One character in the book says, “The most wondrous things alive need you!”

Sometimes the story of our destruction of the planet is just too overwhelming, and we doubt that any small acts we could take have any meaning, in the face of such a much larger story, the overstory.

Powers says, “The world is failing precisely because no novel can make the contest for the world seem as compelling as the struggles between a few lost people.”

The first chapter of the book is a wonderful education on the American Chestnut, and its disappearance from our continent. Last fall Beth and I were in Naples, Italy, and it was the time of the chestnut. Vendors on the street were selling hot roasted chestnuts, chocolate-covered chestnuts, sugar-drenched chestnuts. There were chestnut cakes and a really wonderful chestnut beer. When we came back to Maine I contacted FEDCO Trees to see if they sold healthy American chestnuts. My trees arrived yesterday, ready to plant. Small steps.

Sometimes the first step of the journey can be a book.