If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where you can still go on social distancing hikes, I hope you’ve been spending plenty of time outdoors. Leaning and loafing, observing a spear of grass, can take up an entire day and sounds pretty excellent right now. But it’s difficult to do. When I’m hiking, I feel like green is just flying by me. I’m in awe, but it’s difficult to appreciate nature without the proper tools. I’ve been fortunate enough to go hiking with some friends who know a ton about nature, and it’s always an eye-opening experience. If you wish you knew more about nature, whether it’s trees, birds, plants, wildflowers, or even the idea of nature itself, these books will help you gain a better understanding, and make your hikes, walks, and strolls, that much more enjoyable.
The Invention of Nature
This is one of my all time favorite books. Wulf’s biography of Alexander Von Humbolt is inspiring to say the least. If you don’t know who Humbolt is (I did not), not only did he predict climate change in the 1800s, he’s most notably the man responsible for the way we see the natural world—the idea that nature is a complex and interconnected global force that does not exist for the use of humankind alone. This book will make you rethink each step you take on the trail, it will encourage you to focus in on the details, the leaves you’re passing under, and to zoom out to see the whole picture, and the beauty of nature in its entirety.
The Sibley Guide To Birds
If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about birds, this book will educate you no matter your birding skill level. There are beautiful paintings of rare and regional species, and maps of regional bird populations. But that’s not all, it also includes in depth maps of migrations and rare ranges, and the illustrations are enlarged for heightened detail.
Flowers can be overwhelming, but this beautiful A to Z guide simplifies them and shows how we can work with an array of different flowers to achieve harmony and a sense of calm. It works for going out on a walk, or understanding the meaning our society has associated that flower with. It pairs well with a book of Emily Dickinson poetry, too.
Complete Guide To Edible Plants
I do not endorse eating plants. That’s how Christopher McCandless died in Into The Wild, and he was a pretty well-adapted outdoorsman. However, it is interesting to know which plants you could, in theory eat. It’s also interesting to notice the patterns between edible plants and non-edible plants, the evolutionary mimicry and the colors. Maybe by knowing which plants you could eat, you can determine which plants you should not go near, at all.
I thought about including a tree identification guide instead, but I thought this novel does an even better job. Because look, you can learn all the kinds of trees, but still miss a deep understanding of them. After reading this book for the first time, I ventured into the woods and was amazed by the story each tree held. I think their age is something that is easy to overlook, and this wonderfully woven novel will make sure you take a moment, or two, to appreciate them a little more.
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