For all its beauty, spring is not an easy season. Witnessing the earth coming back to life is wonderful, but the transition from winter to spring is volatile. Springtime reminds us of the sheer force of nature. Buds rip through branches, flowers burst up through cold earth, days of rain and wet snow are followed by days of spring heat.
Unlike the gentle sleepiness of fall into winter, the awakening of spring is full of ups and downs—and that can sometimes leave us feeling a little shaky ourselves. It’s hot, it’s cold . . . We don’t know how to dress ourselves in the morning! Witnessing this unpredictability in nature—and allowing for it in ourselves—helps us move into spring.
To celebrate Earth Day, we’ve gathered some nature books that will inspire and inform. Consider this as you read: you don’t have to explore nature, it’s not something separate from you . . . you are nature, too.
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The Plant Messiah
When we think of species on the verge of extinction, we often think of animals. But there are so many plants at risk, so many beautiful, vulnerable, and helpful plant species that may disappear due to ecological destruction. Horticulturalist Carlos Magdalena takes us on his mission to save the world’s most endangered plants. Part adventure story, part manifesto, all heart.
Nature deficit disorder is a real thing. One of the foremost researchers in shinrin-yoku (the Japanese practice of forest bathing) shows how walking in the woods can reduce your stress levels and blood pressure, strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, mood, creativity, and concentration, and even help you lose weight and live longer.
The Big Ones
Seismologist Lucy Jones takes us through some of the biggest natural disasters in human history, from the Pompeii volcano in the first century AD to the hurricanes of 2017. What can we learn from the big ones of the past, and what big ones are in our future? How can we prepare? Jones explains it all with an understanding of both nature and human nature.
From the founders of the Mindfulness Project, this field guide and journal invites you to use nature as an easy way to bring mindfulness into your day. You don’t need a fancy meditation cushion and an hour devoted to meditation. Simply go outside, find a tree, some flowers or some grass, and sketch, explore, and record your way into a more mindful way of being.
No Immediate Danger
The title comes from the statements made by Japanese officials following the 2011 tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Fukushima. In this first volume, award-winning author William T. Vollmann explores the very real danger of nuclear power reactors; the second volume, Carbon Ideologies, will focus on coal mining and oil and natural gas production. A sobering and necessary read.
The Little Guide to Butterflies
Once you start looking for butterflies, you’ll see them more often than you might think—and in unexpected places. This little field guide provides beautiful illustrations and detailed information on 40 different species, making it easy for you to identify the butterflies you encounter on a hike, in your backyard, and maybe even on a walk down a city sidewalk.
My Patients and Other Animals
Get the box of tissues ready. This book will make you cry—in the very best way. Suzy Fincham-Gray is a veterinarian with decades of experience working with pets and their people. Here, she recounts unusual cases and stories of love and loss. Her end-of-life stories may change the way you look at pet care. She writes with a tenderness that will resonate with all animal lovers.
The Nature Instinct
The bestselling author of How to Read Water shows us that we all have a sixth sense—an unconscious and powerful ability to read nature. All we need to do is reawaken it, and he shows us ways to do that—from using the Big Dipper to tell time to noticing flowers in bloom to guide our way south. It’s a fascinating—and reassuring—look at our deep connection to nature.
Design by Nature
Bringing nature indoors will transform your home, and designer Erica Tanov does it with bohemian flair. She shows us how to translate flora, water, and wood into interior décor that’s organic and sophisticated at the same time. From textile choices to featuring wood elements in new ways, these provocative designs will inspire you with a unique take on natural style.
Peterson Guide to Bird Identification – in 12 Steps
If you think bird watching might be fun but don’t know where to start, this is the book for you. It provides a “12-step program” that makes it easy to begin looking for and identifying birds. Like any nature guide, the benefit here is in helping us pay closer attention to the natural world around us. The more we pause and witness, the more we connect.
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