Beyond Nature Writing
Need more world in your world? Been growing / birding / baking during lockdown & want to keep going? Hungry for all kinds of writing with the natural world at its centre? Upcoming titles, recent titles you might have missed & store faves.
First up, a few titles published during or just before lockdown that you might not have had a chance to catch up with…
Aaron Bertelsen, Grow Fruit & Vegetables in Pots <<buy now>>
Urban sustainable living at its best, combining planting advice with recipes for what to do when that tomato plant fruits & fruits. Whether you're actively growing your own, or you're aspiring to a window box or pots, the book itself is a thing of beauty and wisdom.
Kapka Kassabova, To the Lake <<buy now>>
Kassabova's third memoir is a journey of war and peace, and more. It's a deep plunge into healing – especially healing waters – and how to attend to/release ageing, grief, alienation & intergenerational trauma. Stunning.
Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass <<buy here>>
There's not many books that literally hold the world together, and this is one of them. Plant biologist and member of the Citizen Potowatomi Nation, Kimmerer takes us close in to the seasons, scents and feels of the growing world to save it.
Loll Kirby & Adelina Lirius, Old Enough to Save the Planet <<buy here>>
School Strike's message remains just as urgent even though schools have been on hiatus & at home. This is a beautiful, welcoming book to read together that shows how everyone can take responsibility for & pleasure in the planet.
Nina Lakhani, Who Killed Berta Cáceres? <<buy here>>
As its subtitle says, Lakhani's journalistic tour de force has everything: dams, death squads, and an Indigenous Defender's Battle for the Planet. A defiant, detailed account with comradeship, human and riverine, at the heart of it.
Dara McAnulty, Diary of a Young Naturalist <<buy here>>
A cracking good read from a brilliant naturalist watching the seasons turn around his Northern Irish home. McAnulty's fifteen & autistic, and the book is energised by all the fresh, invigorating, impassioned attention that brings.
Jini Reddy, Wanderland: A Search for Magic in the Landscape <<buy here>>
While we can't all currently/safely visit our favourite genius loci, Jini Reddy captures the spirit of place(s) in this captivating memoir/history/tour, refuting the whiteness of British landscape/culture along the way. Casts a summery spell.
Upcoming summer titles for readers great & small: pre-order them from us for 10% off!
Lizzie Huxley-Jones & Sarah Papworth, Sir David Attenborough <<pre-order here>>
Attenborough's Our Planet has been a highlight & cautionary tale during lockdown: young (& older) viewers will relish this account of a lifetime's commitment to the natural world and communication. Not just a national treasure but a global one.
Howard Means, Splash! 10, 000 Years of Swimming <<pre-order here>>
While waiting for pools to reopen safely, why not catch up on the human history of splashing about? From the famous Cave of Swimmers via Roman Baths & Ghanaian surfers, this will have your brain doing butterfly even when your arms aren't.
Katie Scott and Ester Gaya, Fungarium <<pre-order here>>
Beautiful, elusive fungal networks might actually hold the planet together – this is a gorgeous, gently educative way to spend some time up close with their delicate fruiting bodies and adventuresome spores without disturbing the forest.
And a small selection of our most-loved nourishing books for mind, body and spirit, mingling practicality and poetry…
At the Pond: Swimming at the Hampstead Ladies' Pond <<buy now>>
Daunt Books published this hymn to their local wild swim last year: and now, with the pond on lockdown, it's even more special – and everyone can vicariously take a freezing winter swim! Bobble hat not included, but wild sensations are.
Elizabeth-Jane Burnett, Swims <<buy now>>
Yes. We're into swimming. How can we not be in a glorious era of water writing? Elizabeth-Jane Burnett's skin-tingling poems will bring you right into waters and their histories. "in the day in the river in the moss in the rushes we’ll come and part"
Eli Clare, Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure <<buy now>>
Thinking disability, queerness and class in and through the landscapes of Vermont, Clare considers how practicing care without centring cure might look in a mind-body and an ecosystem that have been characterised as "broken".
Camille T. Dungy, ed., Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry <<buy now>>
A vital anthology that unplants America, & regrows it from wild seed & hard work. The poems that Camille T. Dungy collates from poets such as Gwendolyn Brooks & Rita Dove, are (like her own work) as variegated and forceful as any living ecology.
Derek Jarman, Derek Jarman's Garden <<buy here>>
Blending Jarman's prose and photographs by Howard Sooley, this book vividly records the garden of the filmmaker's cottage at Dungeness (saved for the nation by Art Fund) so we can all visit. Sea breeze scratch n sniff added extra.
Daniel Heath Justice, Badger <<buy now>>
Reaktion's Animal series: gotta catch 'em all! We love this one especially because WHAT EVEN IS A BADGER? You think you know. You don't. Bye-bye Linnean taxonomy, hello gorgeous writing in companionship with small, fierce, hunted creatures.
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction <<buy now>>
Ignota presciently published Le Guin's essay on organic, wayward forms of storytelling just before this gathering season, with a foreword by Donna "Staying With the Trouble" Haraway & images by Lee Bul. Weave it into your basket.
Jessica J. Lee, Turning: Lessons from Swimming Berlin's Lakes <<buy now>>
With Jessica J. Lee's second memoir out in paperback in August, now's the perfect time to (re)visit her first, a stunning interweaving of personal and geological histories, and one of the few books ever to literally meet Kafka's adage that writing should be "an axe to break the frozen sea within."
M.G. Leonard, Beetle Boy <<buy now>>
M.G. Leonard's series is an instant cult classic, coming to a TV near you soon! Young entomologists and keen readers alike will be drawn to the pacy tale of Darkus Cuttle as he races against time to stop evil Lucrecia Cutter with his trusty, yes, mountain of beetles.
David Lindo, The Urban Birder <<buy now>>
If you've spent lockdown birdwatching from your window (which I have, craply), David Lindo is best way to level up from "pigeon… pigeon?" to "wow, heron!" His expansive enthusiasm and expertise will welcome you to an almost-secret world of urban bird life in all its beauty.
Richard Snapes, Grant Harrington & Eve Hemingway, Bread & Butter: History, Culture, Recipes <<buy now>>
Whether you're more bake your own sourdough or burn the toast, this is a tasty treat for all fans of the non-basic basics. Bringing together a baker, a chef and a food writer all steeped in the traditions and crafts of the staff of life & its silky friend, this book dares you to get crumbs on it.
Meera Sodha, East <<buy now>>
The best way to travel right now is to cook/read these 120 delicious vegan & veggie recipes described as taking you from Bangalore to Beijing. Meera Sodha wrote the book as a new mum & the supreme tastiness here is matched by joyful, often one-pot, ease that you'll revisit many times.
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World <<buy now>>
Matsutake may be the most important and absorbing story that you don't yet know. Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing travels with the plants, people and animals who make up its fungal world to narrate a truly sustainable life in and beyond capitalism. Essential.
Jennifer Ward & Alexander Vidal, I Love Birds! <<buy now>>
This book had me at "prowl for owls." Combining arts and sciences, it's a brilliant way to spend quality time with kids learning your neighbourhood, getting involved in conservation, making silly noises, looking at the sky and trees, and generally birding out.