Features

The Best Nature Books of 2019, Part 3

From 'The Way Through the Woods' to 'Dancing With Bees.'

If 2019 is any indication, we’re in a golden age of publishing when it comes to nature writing. There are so many great nature books out this year that I broke up my annual round-up of favorites into four separate lists. You can read the first two here and here. Below is list number three, featuring fantastic new books that hit shelves between July and September. Some focus on science, others on the more sociological relations between nature and humans. And there’s not one–but TWO–books on bees! Read them all for captivating stories about the natural world.

The Way Through the Woods: On Mushrooms and Mourning
By Litt Woon Long; Translated by Barbara J. Haveland
Spiegel & Grau

The Way Through the Woods tells the story of two parallel journeys: an inner one, through the landscape of mourning, and an outer one, into the fascinating realm of mushrooms—resilient, adaptable, dizzyingly diverse, and essential to nature’s cycles of death and rebirth. Litt Woon’s search for mushrooms takes her from idyllic Norwegian forests and urban flowerbeds to the sandy beaches of Corsica and New York’s Central Park, uncovering an abundance of surprises often hidden in plain sight.”

Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees
By Thor Hanson
Basic Books

“From honeybees and bumbles to lesser-known diggers, miners, leafcutters, and masons, bees have long been central to our harvests, our mythologies, and our very existence. They’ve given us sweetness and light, the beauty of flowers, and as much as a third of the foodstuffs we eat. And, alarmingly, they are at risk of disappearing.”

Green and Prosperous Land: A Blueprint for Rescuing the British Countryside
By Dieter Helm
William Collins

“News about Britain’s wildlife and ecosystems tends to be grim. In Green and Prosperous Land, Dieter Helm, a member of the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and advisor to the government, shares a radical but tangible plan for positive change.”

A Short Philosophy of Birds
By Philippe J. Dubois and Elise Rousseau
Dey Street Books

“This charming volume on bird behavior invites us to take a step back from our busy lives and to listen to the tiny philosophers of the sky. From the delicate sparrow to the majestic eagle, birds are among the most fascinating species on earth, and there is much to be learned from these paragons of beauty and grace that can be applied to our lives.”

A Polar Affair: Antarctica’s Forgotten Hero and the Secret Love Lives of Penguins
By Lloyd Spencer Davis
Pegasus Books

A Polar Affair reveals the last untold tale from the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. It is perhaps the greatest of all of those stories—but why was it hidden to begin with? The ever-fascinating and charming penguin holds the key.”

Darwin’s Most Wonderful Plants: A Tour of His Botanical Legacy
By Ken Thompson
University of Chicago Press

“For many people, the story of Charles Darwin goes like this: he ventured to the Galapagos Islands on the Beagle, was inspired by the biodiversity of the birds he saw there, and immediately returned home to write his theory of evolution. But this simplified narrative is inaccurate and lacking: it leaves out a major part of Darwin’s legacy. He published On the Origin of Species nearly thirty years after his voyages. And much of his life was spent experimenting with and observing plants.”

Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have
By Tatiana Schlossberg
Grand Central Publishing

“With urgency and wit, Tatiana Schlossberg explains that far from being only a distant problem of the natural world created by the fossil fuel industry, climate change is all around us, all the time, lurking everywhere in our convenience-driven society, all without our realizing it.”

Dancing with Bees: A Journey Back to Nature
Brigit Strawbridge Howard
Chelsea Green Publishing

“With special care and attention to the plight of pollinators, including honeybees, bumblebees, and solitary bees, and what we can do to help them, Strawbridge Howard shares fascinating details of the lives of flora and fauna that have filled her days with ever-increasing wonder and delight.”

The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator
By Timothy C. Winegard
Dutton

“Driven by surprising insights and fast-paced storytelling, The Mosquito is the extraordinary untold story of the mosquito’s reign through human history and her indelible impact on our modern world order.”

Wilding: Returning Nature to Our Farm
By Isabella Tree
New York Review Books

“For years Charlie Burrell and his wife, Isabella Tree, farmed Knepp Castle Estate and struggled to turn a profit. By 2000, with the farm facing bankruptcy, they decided to try something radical. They would restore Knepp’s 3,500 acres to the wild. Using herds of free-roaming animals to mimic the actions of the megafauna of the past, they hoped to bring nature back to their depleted land. But what would the neighbors say, in the manicured countryside of modern England where a blade of grass out of place is considered an affront?”

This Land Is Our Land: The Struggle for a New Commonwealth
By Jedediah Purdy
Princeton University Press

“From the coalfields of Appalachia and the tobacco fields of the Carolinas to the public lands of the West, Purdy shows how the land has always united and divided Americans, holding us in common projects and fates but also separating us into insiders and outsiders, owners and dependents, workers and bosses. Expropriated from Native Americans and transformed by slave labor, the same land that represents a history of racism and exploitation could, in the face of environmental catastrophe, bind us together in relationships of reciprocity and mutual responsibility.”

Surfacing
By Kathleen Jamie
Penguin Books

“From the thawing tundra linking a Yup’ik village in Alaska to its hunter-gatherer past to the shifting sand dunes revealing the impressively preserved homes of neolithic farmers in Scotland, Jamie explores how the changing natural world can alter our sense of time.”

Saving Jemima: Life and Love with a Hard-Luck Jay
By Julie Zickefoose
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

“When Jemima, a young orphaned blue jay, is brought to wildlife rehabilitator Julie Zickefoose, she is a virtually tailless, palm-sized bundle of gray-blue fluff. But she is starved and very sick. Julie’s constant care brings her around, and as Jemima is raised for eventual release, she takes over the house and the rest of the author’s summer.”

About Amy Brady

Amy Brady is the Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago Review of Books and Deputy Publisher of Guernica Magazine. Her writing has appeared in Oprah, The Village Voice, Pacific Standard, The New Republic, McSweeney's, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter at @ingredient_x.

1 comment on “The Best Nature Books of 2019, Part 3

  1. Thanks for the recomendation
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    Like

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