` When I go into a bookstore I always hit the nature section first. I have also discovered the older public domain stuff on Kindle and I’m in the middle of Darwin’s earthworm book. What do other Inat people read and reread when they’re not out in the field?
All books by Gerald Durrell. Also, all books by David Quammen.
I also like both of these. I have Durrell’s original Amateur Naturalist and all of Quammen’s essay collections.
Aldo Leopold (Sand county Almanac) is mandatory reading IMO
Old school stuff:
tops far and away: Mary Austin, Land of Little Rain (1903!)
Loren Eiseley (just about anything)
Anything by Archie Carr, the great turtle biologist. A Naturalist in Florida is a good place to start. He wrote So Excellent a Fishe about his work with sea turtles, and The Windward Road, also Ulendo, and High Jungles and Low. There is a biography of him called The Man Who Saved Sea Turtles.
I forgot to mention one favorite, Edwin Way Teale. I reread his American Seasons series every couple of years and have dreamed of someday retracing his travels. The results would probably be both interesting and depressing.
Carr also wrote the reptile volume in the old Life Nature Library.
The Beak of the Finch, by Jonathan Weiner
I love E.B. White essays, like “Once More to the Lake.” I always find Thoreau and Emerson uplifting as well. I know you’re looking for nature writers specifically, but no one writes as beautifully about the Mississippi as Twain. I also love Dickinson, Frost, and Merwin’s poetry, and so far, Richard Powers’ The Overstory has been impressive (though I’m not very far into it).
I define “nature writer” pretty broadly. Poets count, and even some novelists, Barbara Kingsolver for example.
Yes, I agree.
Yes, Flight Behavior.
And, for plants in California, Trees in Paradise by Jared Farmer.
I like The Wingless Crow by Charles Fergus
In that case, anyone mention Wendell Berry? (I have others that are bordering on political in a way that might be inappropriate or risky to share here but feel free to PM me if you’re curious)
I also recommend The Norton Book of Nature Writing, which is a great way to get exposed to a variety of authors, some of which would be difficult to find otherwise.
And Mary Oliver’s poetry.
Gerald Durrell was my first favourite nature writer, and his writing introduced me to the idea of being a naturalist. The Amateur Naturalist is a classic, but do check out his narrative books also - My Family and Other Animals is a good place to start.
In terms of books that have influenced my career as a conservation biologist, E. O. Wilson’s The Diversity of Life is fantastic, as is the more recent Feral by George Monbiot.
Two excellent writers on evolution are Richard Dawkins (e.g. The Blind Watchmaker) and Stephen Jay Gould (e.g. Bully for Brontosaurus). To understand the diversity of living beings and where they (and we) came from, I have not come across a better guide than Dawkins’ The Ancestor’s Tale. It’s long, but gives an incredible perspective on the history of life.
For an overview of what’s been termed the New Nature Writing (with a UK bias), this exchange between two of its protagonists references a lot of recent books and writers:
Bernd Heinrich is a phenomenal nature writer.
Some highlights to check out include Mind of the Raven, One Wild Bird at a Time, and A Year in the Maine Woods.
I really enjoyed his early essays and books, especially The Mismeasure of Man, which I suppose is only marginally naturalistic in that his subject is human intelligence, but a great read anyway.