As part of our Placeholder series, we're asking some of our favourite artists an incredibly simple question: 'what are you reading?'. Next up is DOOMSQUAD.

I started reading The Golden Spruce literally because some friend-of-a-friend I barely knew, who seemed smart, told me it was an incredible story. A real page-turner. He said it was about a famous Tree in Canada. As a lover of trees and the drama they can carry, I was intrigued and picked up the book. Needless to say, that guy was right about the page-turning, as this has been one of my favourite reads of all time.

It is the story of a Golden Sitka Spruce tree that grew up in the Haida Gwaii archipelago of northwestern British Columbia. The Haida peoples' land is full of mysticism, scientific phenomenon, and landscapes better than any imagination. The book begins in a sort of heavy light, talking about how much loss the Haida people have seen within their own culture and their land due to the logging industry. It follows a man named Grant Hadwin through his journey and struggles in the logging industry, working in the Haida Gwaii. This non-fictional story is told in two ways. Firstly using scientific and historical facts about the logging industry, and the science of the environment and atmosphere. But by detailing Grant Hadwin's life and his special affinity with the Golden Spruce, the story is told as myth, from the Haida perspective, shedding light on the magic, mystical lore the tree represented to the Haida tribe.

What is so important and beautiful about this book is the way the author, John Vaillant, explores how a single tree has intersected many conflicting ideas that survey our world and the changes it's been experiencing. This tree was a martyr for the history and spirituality of the land and the Haida people, for geography, and for biology it a way that very few things could have been. Vaillant outlines important issues that raise so many necessary questions regarding our society. Sadly the tree was cut down in the middle of the night in 1997 by Grant Hadwin. I won't spoil the ending and tell you why he did it, but it's a pretty unbelievable reason.

I highly recommend reading this book. It starts out a bit dense dishing out all the facts, but soon all you will want to do is read on. If you let yourself submit to the magic and mystery of the land, you will succumb to all kinds of new emotions and passion about existing in our world. Sadness, happiness, inspiration and admiration for the people in the book, and empathy for our lead character Grant Hadwin, and the choices he was forced to make.