Nature and Environmental Book Reviews

Short List of Best Nature and Environmental Books



How to Write About Nature

How do you put into words what you experience in nature – what you learn from nature? Learn more about How to Write About Nature»

The books in this section 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.

Recommended Books on How to Write About Nature

Being in the WorldBeing in the World: An Environmental Reader for Writers
Terrell F. Dixon and Scott Slovic, editors

This collection of nature essays brings together a wide variety of nature writing, to serve as models and inspiration for learning writers. The selections are organized by theme: encounters with the Otherness of nature; fecundity and mortality; birds and beasts; weather and seasons. Human approaches to nature include walking: on the trail and off; floating: water narratives; climbing: mountain narratives; and wilderness journals. Other topics represented by essays include a sense of place; spiritual and aesthetic responses to nature; nature and the mind; and global thoughts, local actions. A nice collection of inspiring writing. 1992, Longman Publishing Group

Home Ground
Short List

Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape
Barry Lopez and Debra Swartney, editors

National Book Award-winner Lopez and co-editor Gwartney assemble 45 writers, known for their intimate connection to particular places, and challenge them to draw on the polyglot richness of American English to collectively create a unique dictionary. This marvelous book, treating such words as arroyo, muskeg, kiss tank, vly, graded shoreline, and revetment, enlivens readers to the rich diversity of language that captures our complex relationship to the land. 2010, Trinity University Press

Keeping a Nature JournalKeeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You
Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth

The authors offer simple techniques to give first-time journal-keepers the confidence to go outside, obseve the natural world, and sketch and write about what they see. At the same time, they motivate longtime journal-keepers to hone their powers of observation as they immerse themselves in the mysteries of the natural world. 2003, Storey Publishing

Leaf Bird Days & Firefly NightsLeaf Bird Days & Firefly Nights: Personal Renewal Through Nature Journaling
Beverly J. Letchworth

This elegant and eloquent example of the spiritual tranquility that can be experienced through keeping a nature journal has inspired many to do likewise. Author Letchworth shares helpful tips about observing nature -- even in the middle of the city! Full of nature's surprises, joys and misfortunes. 2001, Pen Central Press

A Trail Through LeavesA Trail Through Leaves: The Journal as a Path to Place
Hannah Hinchman

Artist and naturalist Hinchman, who has kept a journal since 1970, shares her ideas about keeping a daily record of one's observations and experiences. Her advice focuses on the tangible details of the natural world, "moments of the ordinary-made-extraordinary by the simple act of choosing and isolating them." Encouraging the journal-keeper to add drawings and sketches, she offers many recommendations for observing the natural world more intensely. 1999, W. W. Norton

Writing About Nature
Short List

Writing About Nature: A Creative Guide
John A. Murray

Originally published by the Sierra Club in 1995, this handbook has helped thousands of aspiring writers, scholars and students share their experiences with nature and the outdoors. Using exercises and examples, Murray covers genres, techniques, and publication issues. Many examples from the masters of nature writing are included. Recommended readings, a directory of creative writing programs and a directory of environmental organizations make this a comprehensive and useful book for writers. 2003, University of New Mexico Press


Writing Natural HistoryWriting Natural History: Dialogue with Authors
Edward Lueders

Writers talking together about nature writing include Thomas J. Lyon, Barry Lopez, Edward O. Wilson, Robert Finch, Terry Tempest Williams, Gary Paul Nabhan, Ann Zwinger, Paul Brooks and Edward Lueders. They address the continuities of nature writing; ecology and the human imagination; landscape, people, and place; field notes and the literary process; and natural history as literature. Invaluable. 1989, University of Utah Press

Writing NaturallyWriting Naturally: A Down-To-Earth Guide to Nature Writing
David Petersen

Peterson believes that nature writing differs from natural history writing by focusing on the author's reflections on both life and nature. He encourages nature writers to have a passion for their subject, maintain journals, conduct careful research, use figurative language, and revise continually. He offers practical tips on publishing, working with editors and agents, and acepting criticism. 2001, Johnson Books

Writing NatureWriting Nature: An Ecological Reader for Writers
Carolyn Ross, editor

This volume teaches by example: Emerson, Thoreau, Muir; Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey, Loren Eiseley; Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez and Peter Matthiessen --and more. Using exerpts of their work, the text highlights elements of their approach and style, analyzing and dissecting the ways in which these writers write. Ross writes, " the goal is to encourage students to understand their individual relationships to nature within a wider social context." A uniquely valuable book. 1995, St. Martin's Press

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