Give me books for Christmas and I’m a happy girl. Give me books about nature and you might not hear from me until spring.
Since we are gardeners here, it’s only fitting we discuss books for nature lovers. I’ve compiled a list of my 10 favorite books for the nature lovers in your life. Or for yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with helping Santa out and gifting to yourself.
It’s true. Being in and around nature boosts the spirit. Reading about nature has the same effect for me. Especially during the coldest days.
10 Books for Nature Lovers
(in no particular order)
How to Catch a Mole:
Wisdom from a Life Lived in Nature
by Marc Hamer
How to Catch a Mole is a highly thoughtful and meditative book that will charm nature lovers. As a master naturalist myself, I have a great appreciation for the connections Hamer draws between life and death, and the fine line that separates the two. Hamer’s writing is soothing; his lessons respectful and spiritual. This memoir has earned a permanent spot on my bookshelf.
Pine Island Paradox
by Kathleen Dean Moore
Moore, a naturalist and philosopher, returns each year to a remote island in Alaska. As she reflects on this place she loves, she blends the lines between nature and humanity. I could write a similar account (although not nearly as eloquently) about the Mississippi River Delta or Lake Norfork, my happy place. (I suspect we all have these special places we carry in our hearts.)
Pine Island Paradox will connect you back to the natural world and remind you of your continued ecological citizenship. At least, it did for me.
Where the Crawdad Sings
by Delia Owens
By now, we’ve probably all read Where the Crawdad Sings. Although not a nature book per se, Delia Owens creates a sense of place so vivid the smells and sounds practically jump from the pages. Beyond the story’s mystery and romance, for me, Where the Crawdads Sing is a love song to the natural world. As protagonist, Kya, is abandoned by her family at a young age, she relies on grit and gumption to survive in the marsh. Nature sustains her.
Schoolhouse: Lessons on Love and Landscape
by Marc Nieson
Marc Nieson spent a year living in an old, one room schoolhouse in Iowa while working toward a writing degree and struggling to get over a May-December romance. His memoir includes all the things I enjoy—writing that sings, nature, journey, reflection. And I especially like the way the chapters are divided into school lessons such as Spelling, Reading, Anatomy, etc. Nieson has written is a poignant love story, a story of self-discovery and peace and strength, the story of man interacting with and learning life lessons from nature, our greatest teacher.
A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
by Aldo Leopold
For anyone who loves nature and the environment, pick up a copy of this classic and savor it in bits and pieces. To date, A Sand County Almanac, published in 1949, has sold over 2 million copies. Written in the style and spirit of the time, Aldo Leopold’s beautiful prose reads like a stroll through the woodland garden at sunrise. The book is arranged in three distinct parts: reflections of each month in Wisconsin; sketches and essays; and, environmental issues. The first section is my favorite.
The Hidden Life of Tree: What They Feel,
How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World
by Peter Wohlleben
Part botany lesson, part tree fairytale, this book is the fascinating story about how trees thrive and communicate. I’ve always felt a little sorry for the lone tree standing in a farmer’s field. And now I know why.
by Richard Powers
The Overstory is a love letter and a lament to the earth’s trees. And it’s oh so cleverly written! Richard Powers weaves trees and mankind together, showing our inner connectivity with powerful, thought-provoking prose. In a word, brilliant.
How to be a Good Creature:
A Memoir in Thirteen Animals
by Sy Montgomery, Rebecca Green
We all need a refresher on being good creatures. This sweet and thoughtful book of essays will appeal to animal lovers. And the cover design? A++++!
The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature
by David George Haskell
I’m reading this book now and already know it’s one to recommend to my nature-loving friends. Biologist David Haskell visits a one-square meter patch of old-growth Tennessee forest nearly daily for a year while recording nature’s activity. This makes me want to do the same thing in my garden. Maybe I will.
The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I would be remiss if I didn’t include this classic in my book list for nature lovers. Years ago, Santa brought me The Secret Garden and thereby changed my life. It was the first “chapter” book I remember reading cover-to-cover on a winter’s afternoon. Rooted within the pages of The Secret Garden, the gardening bug took hold of me at an early age and has never let go.
I’m dreaming of a White Christmas and a pile of books to read. How about you?
What nature books would you add to this list?
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.