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Book Roundup Wednesday: Inspiration for Nature Writers

Posted Nov 17 2010 2:58pm

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. This week, we're recommending volumes that can provide inspiration for nature writers.

Trail Writer's Guide (by Cinny Green, $13, Western Edge Press, 2010): On the odd-numbered pages, follow the author on a literary trek through the mountains of the Southwest. On the even-numbered pages, explore your relationship with nature via engaging writing prompts. Compose a poem about what you see when you look down at your feet, or describe what's in your backpack without using descriptors.

Salt Marsh Diary (by Mark Seth Lender, $14, St. Martin's Press, March 2011): Lender chronicles the daily routines of the kingfishers, terns, bluebirds, and egrets that roam the salt marsh near his Connecticut home. Each of Lender's sentences reads like poetry: "It is here on low forgotten ground, grudgingly protected from dredge and fill, from Profit, from loss, it is here that life abounds. This is where I stand."

The Best American Nature and Science Writing (edited by Freeman Dyson and Tim Folger, $10, Mariner Books, 2010): These 28 essays, originally published in periodicals including The New Yorker and National Geographic, is a must-have guide to contemporary nature and science writing. Read about the kuaka, a bird that travels 7,000 miles without stopping to eat, and about James Hansen, an activist whose passion is educating politicians about climate change.

Sexy Orchids Make Lousy Lovers and Other Unusual Relationships (by Marty Crump, $19, University of Chicago Press, 2009): This book exposes the unusual interactions between animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria. Learn about reptiles that enforce chastity on their lovers with copulatory plugs and about mosquitoes that filch honeydew droplets from ants. With its endless supply of plots, conflicts, and resolutions, this study of nature will cure even the worst writer's block.

Skywriting Journal  (photography by Byron Jorjorian, $13, Quirk Books, 2010) This journal turns sky into canvas. The 160 pages of white clouds, lightning storms, and desert sunsets are capable of inspiring both writers and doodlers.

--Natalya Stanko

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