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The Best Nature Books of 2019, Part 4

So. Many. Good. Nature. Books.

This year has been the best in recent memory for nature writing. There were 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 three here , here, and here. Below is list number four, featuring fantastic new books that hit shelves between October and December. Read them all to feel closer to — and learn more about — the natural world.

Rewild Yourself: Making Nature More Visible in our Lives
By Simon Barnes
Pegasus Books

“Mammals you never knew existed will enter your world. Birds hidden in treetops will shed their cloak of anonymity. With a single movement of your hand you can make reptiles appear before you. Butterflies you never saw before will bring joy to every sunny day. Creatures of the darkness will enter your consciousness. And as you take on new techniques and a little new equipment, you will discover new creatures and, with them, new areas of yourself that had gone dormant. Once put to use, they wake up and start working again. You become wilder in your mind and in your heart. Once you know the tricks, the wild world begins to appear before you.”

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

“Darwin was a brilliant and revolutionary botanist whose observations and theories were far ahead of his time. With Darwin’s Most Wonderful Plants, biologist and gardening expert Ken Thompson restores this important aspect of Darwin’s biography while also delighting in the botanical world that captivated the famous scientist. Thompson traces how well Darwin’s discoveries have held up, revealing that many are remarkably long-lasting. Some findings are only now being confirmed and extended by high-tech modern research, while some have been corrected through recent analysis.”

Erosion: Essays of Undoing
By Terry Tempest Williams
Sarah Crichton Books

“Terry Tempest Williams is one of our most impassioned defenders of public lands. A naturalist, fervent activist, and stirring writer, she has spoken to us and for us in books like The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks and Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. In these new essays, Williams explores the concept of erosion: of the land, of the self, of belief, of fear. She wrangles with the paradox of desert lands and the truth of erosion: What is weathered, worn, and whittled away through wind, water, and time is as powerful as what remains. Our undoing is also our becoming.”

The Eight Master Lessons of Nature: What Nature Teaches Us About Living Well in the World
By Gary Ferguson
Dutton

“Looking around at the world today—a world of skyscrapers, super highways, melting ice caps, and rampant deforestation—it is easy to feel that humanity has actively severed its ties with nature. But that terrible departure, coupled with an acute awareness of the fast-approaching crisis stage of climate change, has left people starving to rediscover a connection with Mother Nature, looking desperately for a reminder that we are, in fact, deeply rooted in the natural world.”

The Hidden World of the Fox
By Adele Brand
William Morrow

“Adele Brand, a renowned British mammal ecologist, has followed the fox from the windswept prairies of Canada to the green meadows of Romania, jaguar-prowled jungles in Mexico to the scorching salt deserts of India. In The Hidden World of the Fox, she pens a lyrical love letter to this beloved animal.”

Waters of the World: The Story of the Scientists Who Unraveled the Mysteries of Our Oceans, Atmosphere, and Ice Sheets and Made the Planet Whole
By Sarah Dry
University of Chicago Press

“From the glaciers of the Alps to the towering cumulonimbus clouds of the Caribbean and the unexpectedly chaotic flows of the North Atlantic, Waters of the World is a tour through 150 years of the history of a significant but underappreciated idea: that the Earth has a global climate system made up of interconnected parts, constantly changing on all scales of both time and space. A prerequisite for the discovery of global warming and climate change, this idea was forged by scientists studying water in its myriad forms. This is their story.”

Dark Skies: A Journey into the Wild Night
By Tiffany Francis-Baker
Bloomsbury Wildlife

“Darkness has shaped the lives of humans for millennia, and in Dark Skies, author Tiffany Francis travels around Britain and Europe to learn more about nocturnal landscapes and humanity’s connection to the night sky.”

My Penguin Year: Life Among the Emperors
By Lindsay McCrae
William Morrow

“An unforgettable narrative account that is poised to become a classic of nature writing, My Penguin Year takes readers into the world of the emperor penguin as no book has before. Emperors are the world’s largest penguins, and they play the game of life on the highest difficulty level, breeding in pairs on sea ice during the Antarctic winter. After mating, the female penguin lays her egg, and then disappears, not to return for months. The male penguin will starve himself for more than 100 days, incubating the egg in his pouch, while the female heads off in search of food. Finally, the female returns, and, recognizing her original mate by the sound of his call, is reunited with the father and their newly-hatched chick.”

Snow: A Scientific and Cultural Exploration
By Giles Whittell
Atria Books

“Go on an extraordinary journey across centuries and continents to experience the wonders of snow; from the prehistoric humans that trekked and even skied across it tens of thousands of years ago to the multi-billion-dollar industry behind our moving, making, and playing with snow. Blending accessible writing with fascinating science, Giles Whittell explores how snow dictates where we live, provides us with drinking water, and has influenced countless works of art and more.”

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.

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