Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nature Reads

Since finishing Into the Wild and after spending the weekend at Monet’s gardens, I’ve been thinking about naturalistic writing. I am not a huge fan of the genre. I’d rather read about relationships between humans than with landscapes. This being said, here are three books I would recommend to nature enthusiasts:

  • The Second John McPhee Reader: I would include the John McPhee Reader on this list, but I haven’t read it. The second reader, though, includes several creative nonfiction essays documenting McPhee’s fascinating (and sometimes not-so-fascinating) experiences with nature. For example, in one essay he travels through Alaska and in another follows the Swiss Army. At times, his essays can be too dry and full of facts—particularly the one on plate tectonics—but I can relate to McPhee’s wanderlust.
  • Refuge: Terry Tempest Williams is not to everyone’s taste because her nature writing is clearly motivated by politics and activism. However, in Refuge, she elegantly weaves changes in wildlife at the Great Salt Lake with her family history of breast cancer.
  • Teaching a Stone to Talk: Annie Dillard, of course, is the quintessential nature writer—and just a good writer, in general. When I taught English, I always used Dillard to exemplify figurative language. She has an amazing eye for detail and ability to bring that detail to life. Her description of a weasel in “Living like Weasels” as “thin as a curve, a muscled ribbon” is almost unbearably good.


Wanna-Be Lit said...

I am so impressed that you've done so much nature reading. The only thing I ever read was Rachel Carson in Biology 100--and I don't remember a thing about it.

Blogger said...

There's proof that I am NOT a nature reader. I haven't even read Rachel Carson.

notaconnoisseur said...

Years ago when I had friends, one friend was continually trying to get me to read nature books...Dillard and Carson. She was sure I would fall in love with them. Another friend kept suggesting fantasy books that she was sure that I would read and be converted to the genre. I am very stubborn. I keep reading cozy mysteries and favorite old romances and then promptly forgetting all about their plots. I still don't read nature books or fantasy. Maybe this is the reason that I don't have many friends. And the reason that I had so many daughters who have had little choice about becoming friends. :)