Samuel Johnson (of Boswell fame) said about writing, whatever is written without effort is in general read without pleasure and the unexamined word is not worth reading. However, even the most thoughtfully written text is unlikely to be described as a good read. This book is not an exhaustive review. Rather it is an uneven selection of examples whose interplay across disciplines hopefully illuminates what drives the practice of forest production, wood processing and consumer preferences. The choice of material is arbitrary reflecting personal biases. It is a summary of material presented to students at the NZ School of Forestry at the University of Canterbury. This book takes liberties with other peoples ideas, weaving them into fresh themes that are at best a work in progress. The philosopher Francis Bacon argued that science is a debate in progress not a body of knowledge and also truth emerges more readily from error than confusion . We have taken the position that it is preferable to venture a reasoned opinion and be proved wrong than to waffle; so don t swallow every sentence doubt everything . The reader s task is to unravel the conceits of generalizing and the risks of particularizing."