Nature and Environmental Book Reviews

Short List of Best Nature and Environmental Books



Explore Writing About Nature

by David Yarian, Ph.D.

How do you put into words what you experience in nature – what you learn from nature?

Nature confronts us with the web of Life of which we are both participants and observers. The best nature writing weaves communal meaning from the elements of this shared experience and places it before the reader in language and symbol that is accessible and understandable.

Francine Prose, in Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them believes that the best way to learn to write is to read: quality reading, she says, informs great writing. In The Best of Nature Writing: the Classics you will find the best examples of American nature writing. Drink deeply.

Reading is an osmotic process; one soaks up language and rhythm and narrative as a plant draws water from the Earth. Writing, on the other hand, is expressive. The writer creates much as a tree bears fruit, producing words that will hopefully seed new experience within the reader of those words.

While teachers can teach writing and books can instruct, there is no substitute for doing it – writing, that is -- putting words on the page without worrying if they make sense or are grammatical or are even worth keeping.

Much that a teacher or book has to offer the writing student is encouragement to soldier on and to learn from the process. All the reading and instruction and wisdom and insight is within your body, awaiting your invitation to spring forth so the rest of us can see the world as you see it, for a while.

The books in this section, How To Write About Nature, are of two types: those focusing on journaling about nature, and those about nature writing. The difference is one of emphasis only; each type of writing can inform the other. In journaling one often chooses to write about nature so it is possible to see the Self more clearly. In nature writing one may draw upon personal experience and reflection in order to describe nature more fully.