I’ve been fortunate, as part of my book launch year, to conduct some nature writing workshops. What joy, to meet others who love nature AND words. Some are highly experienced at both, others just starting to dip their toes into one or the other.
The title of this blog is also the name of the workshop series I have underway at Bushy Hill Nature Center with Jan Blencowe, a gifted visual artist who keeps enviable nature journals that are deftly illustrated and annotated. At the first session, I got to play in a different space: drawing and painting! The deliberateness needed for this activity was a whole new way of looking at nature, super up close and personal and still! Some leaves had put on their best colors just in time for my pursuit. Capturing those hues is still a work in progress.
I’ve taken to bringing a chock-full, carry-on suitcase full of nature writing books when I teach these workshops. Then I watch my fellow nature- and word-lovers drool over them, just like I do. I’ve promised to make a list for my attendees, but maybe it will come in handy for my blog readers, too.
A few disclaimers about the list below:
- These are in no particular order of favorite, type, copyright, or anything else!
- There are many, many more books I love that didn’t make it into this particular suitcase.
- I have a serious used book habit so some may be unavailable via the traditional bookstore route. Think used bookstore or online shopping and of course LIBRARIES!
- The links I enclose all go to Amazon, simply because that was the easiest tool on hand for me that would lead readers to a quick summary. That said, PLEASE, PLEASE give lots of love to local and independent book sellers, whenever you can. Many used bookstores can do some hunting for you, too. I know Niantic Book Barn does!
- In the interest of space, I have chosen to restrict my gushing here and keep it pretty factual. I DO love them all, though!
NATURE BOOKS: THE TRUNK SHOW LIST
- The Natural World of Louise Dickinson Rich Much of it is Maine-based; was perfect at Acadia. Plain spoken and colorful. There’s a quote from her here, at the end.
- Dawn Light, by Diane Ackerman Many admirable literary takes surrounding the sunrise.
- The Practical Naturalist (An Audubon book) Illustrated, large-format exploration.
- The Wisdom of Wilderness, by Gerald G. May A spiritual take on nature and healing.
- Central Park in the Dark, by Marie Winn Nature at night in Manhattan: there’s more there than you think! (author of Red Tails in Love, another good one!)
- The Oxford Book of Nature Writing A great sampling of pieces, from older to more contemporary.
- A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm, by Edwin Way Teale Admirable recounting of undertaking a love affair with the land and its creatures.
- Stirring the Mud, by Barbara Hurd Made me want to run out and buy muck boots and go into the swamps and bogs.
- Naturally Curious Day by Day, by Mary Holland A great, modern almanac that teaches you something every day, with photos and text (Northeast focus).
- The View from the Oak, by Herbert R. and Judith Kohl Meant for children, a unique take on seeing the world through other creatures’ eyes. I think it’s great for adults, too.
- Thoreau’s Wildflowers, by Geoff Wisner Reflections on Thoreau’s many detailed writings on local flora.
- The Incidental Steward, by Akiko Busch About citizen science–inspiring and hopeful!
- A Thousand Mornings, by Mary Oliver Deeply thought provoking poems that are very joyous and humble and accessible and wise.
- Why I Wake Early, by Mary Oliver See line above. I really can’t get enough Oliver.
- The Wisdom of John Muir, by Anne Rowthorn John Muir was quite an enthused and accomplished writer. And he lived the words–really got out there and had epic adventures!
- Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold This classic first-person masterpiece led to a land ethic. I just gave a free book to someone, because she said my name and Aldo’s in the same sentence!
- Canoeing Maine’s Legendary Allagash, by David K. Leff An artful tale of canoeing through nature, woven with the story of a relationship.
- Oak Wise, by LM Browning Insightful poems surrounding ecology and spirituality.
- A Walk Through the Year, by Edwin Way Teale Now a few decades old , but still a highly relevant and relatable almanac reflecting time at Teale’s Trail Wood in Connecticut.
- The Fields of Noon, by Sheila Every Burnford Engaging essays about walks and time in nature. I quoted her here–she would have been a great walking companion!
- Living Things, by Anne Porter These poems are often spiritual/religious and connected with nature. The poet was married to artist Fairfield Porter.
- Unseen City, by Nathanel Johnson Johnson sees the urban landscape’s flora and fauna with fresh eyes and contagious enthusiasm.
- @Nat Geo: The Most Popular Instagram Photos Pictures are more prominent than words, but with compelling perspectives and color.
- Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey This favorite, a “love letter” to a pet snail by a woman dealing with illness, got away from my suitcase but the short read is an all-time favorite. See this Snail Love Darts entry.
I know this isn’t my typical blog, but I had fun compiling it. I’d love to hear about your favorites!
PS: As much as I love writing and books, sometimes I am at a loss for words out in nature, which can be a good thing! Take this bee, for instance. How much color in his tiny landscape. How much joy seeing him gave me! It was better to be silent than to talk while taking this in.