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March 26, 2018

Go Wild!: Nature Books for Spring

Go Wild!: Nature Books for Spring

By: Julia Welzen

Now that spring is officially here (barring a stray Midwestern snowfall or two), you probably feel a stirring to be outdoors as the days lengthen, birds return, and wildflowers begin to bloom. Here’s some suggested reading that will encourage you to notice the changing of the seasons and inspire you to learn more, whether you prefer to engage with nature while outdoors or from the comfort of your armchair.

Naturalist Tristan Gooley specialized in writing engaging and utterly enjoyable books on understanding and recognizing a myriad of phenomena in the natural world: weather, water, winds, orienteering, animals. Start your spring with his The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs to get you in tune with the world around you. For those with a more artistic or literary interest try The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws to understand nature in a whole different way.


A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard are considered some of the best classic nature writing, and blend philosophy and ethics with the writings on ecology. Filled with lush photographs interspersed with musings on both the grand and little-noticed organisms that make the forest their home, The Living Forest by Joan Maloof isn’t heavy reading, but will certainly delight and inspire.

If the woods call to you, try The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben or American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation by Eric Rutkow. Wild mushrooms are big business in culinary circles, and The Mushroom Hunters: on the Trail of an Underground America by Langdon Cook explores this shadowy, but delicious world, which depends on forest to thrive and seems like a throwback in this age of factory farms.

For the bird-lovers out there, One Wild Bird At A Time by Bernd Heinrich or The Bluebird Effect by Julia Zickefoose explores some beloved common species in depth. In Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide by Charles Foster, the author employs decidedly, um, unique tactics to better understand the wild animals he studies. Foster decides to live and act just like his subjects, so gets down on all fours, eats earthworms, and sleeps in a hole among other things, for completely fascinating look at the natural realm and the challenges animals face as building developments encroach on their habitat.

For parents, there’s been a plethora of recently-published books to help you find ways to cultivate and inspire a love of nature in your children. Here’s a few to get you started:

How to Raise a Wild Child : The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature by Scott Sampson
Vitamin N : The Essential Guide to a Nature-rich Life by Richard Louv
Families on Foot: Urban Hikes to Backyard Treks and National Park Adventures by Jennifer Davis
I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature by Jennifer Ward