Vintage books on nature lined up on a green shelf, spines facing outwards, against a stone background.

From pressing manifestos to protect endangered lifeforms to escapist fiction that celebrates the beauty of our planet, these books have been selected for their exciting and enlightening ways of looking at our interactions with nature. If your goals for 2022 include taking more time to appreciate and preserve the natural world, then you couldn’t ask for a better range of titles to get you started.

Birdgirl by Mya-Rose Craig (30 June)

Mya-Rose Craig is a birder, environmentalist, diversity activist and the founder and president of Black2Nature. At 19 she’s already seen over five thousand different types of bird: half the world’s species. In her beautifully illustrated memoir, Birdgirl, she shares her journey through life and around the world in pursuit of these magnificent creatures, as well as her deep love for them.

This book is sure to inspire you to look up to the sky and appreciate our feathered friends anew, as well as opening your eyes to the urgent need to ensure their protection from climate change and habitat loss.

The Overstory by Richard Powers (2018)

With fans ranging from Barack Obama to Emma Thompson, Margaret Atwood to Tayari Jones, The Overstory is a literary masterpiece that won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Moving through America’s history and landscape, the novel follows nine strangers, each summoned in different ways by the natural world in a last stand to save it from catastrophe. This is a beautiful reminder of our interconnectedness with one another and the planet, told by the critically acclaimed Richard Powers.

Eating to Extinction by Dan Saladino (2021)

In Eating to Extinction, journalist and broadcaster Dan Saladino explores the world’s most endangered foods – from a tiny crimson pear in the west of England to an exploding corn in Mexico – revealing the need to reclaim genetic biodiversity before it is too late. On his travels, he meets the pioneering farmers, scientists, cooks, food producers and indigenous communities who are already doing the work to preserve food traditions and fight for change. ‘Dan Saladino inspires us to believe that turning the tide is still possible,’ says Yotam Ottolenghi.

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey (2020)

Winner of the Costa Book of the Year, The Mermaid of Black Conch is a magical novel that will transport you straight into its world. Both a dazzling love story and a celebration of the natural beauty of the Caribbean, this is the tale of fisherman David and Aycayia, an innocent young woman cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid. When American tourists capture Aycayia, David rescues her and vows to win her trust. As she transforms slowly into a woman again, their love grows, but they discover that the world around them is changing too – and they cannot escape the curse for ever…

Silent Earth by Dave Goulson (2021)

Did you know that insects have declined by an estimated 75% globally in the past 50 years? In this compelling book, Dave Goulson – the UK’s leading expert on bumblebees – draws on the latest groundbreaking research and a lifetime’s study to reveal the potentially catastrophic consequences of the ‘insect apocalypse’. Part love letter to the insect world, part elegy and part rousing manifesto, this is a call to arms for profound change at every level – in government policy, agriculture, industry and in our own homes and gardens.

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy (20 January)

Once There Were Wolves is a riveting novel about one woman’s quest to reintroduce wolves to the Scottish Highlands at any cost. As a biologist, Inti Flynn knows the animals are the best hope for rewilding the ruined landscape, but when she stumbles across the dead body of a farmer one night, she also knows that her wolves will be blamed by the locals, who already oppose her project. Unable to accept that her beloved animals could be responsible, she makes a reckless decision to protect them. Charlotte McConaghy ‘Urges us to take a lesson from the wolves, and learn to lean on one another’, according to BookRiot.

The Green Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer (2018)

One of the simplest things we can do to protect the environment is to consume less meat. If you’re not sure where to start with vegetarian and vegan cooking, The Green Roasting Tin by bestselling author and chef Rukmini Iyer is the perfect introduction. With 75 minimum-fuss, maximum-flavour recipes – each of which can be cooked in a single roasting tin – it will transform your meal-planning for good. For a taste of what it has to offer, why not try the Chipotle Roasted Sweetcorn with Squash, Black Beans, Feta and Lime or the Crispy Gnocchi with Roasted Peppers, Chilli, Rosemary and Ricotta?

The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan (2021)

From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Narrow Road to the Deep North, The Living Sea of Waking Dreams is visceral novel of family, love and hope set against global catastrophe and climate crisis. While scenes of wildfire and species loss play out on the screen of her smartphone, Anna and her siblings try to keep their aged, hospital-bound mother alive. With all of this going on, nobody else seems to notice that parts of Anna’s body are disappearing, and that, all around her, others are vanishing as well. The Daily Telegraph called The Living Sea of Waking Dreams ‘A fiercely well-observed account of the psychological twists and turns, the stress points and the double-binds, of familial love’.

Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake (2020)

They can change our minds, heal our bodies and even help us to avoid environmental disaster; they are metabolic masters, earth-makers and key players in most of nature’s processes – but how much do you really know about fungi?

In Entangled Life, Merlin Sheldrake takes us on a mind-altering adventure into their spectacular world and reveals how these extraordinary organisms transform our understanding of our planet and life itself. This phenomenal Sunday Times bestseller was Winner of the Royal Society Science Book Prize and the Wainwright Prize for Conservation Writing.

Pharmacopoeia by Derek Jarman (3 March)

Pharmacopoeia is a beautiful new compendium of artist and film-maker Derek Jarman’s writing on nature, gardening, and life in Dungeness. Featuring gorgeous full-colour illustrations, sketches, film stills, paintings and photographs, alongside poetic, lyrical prose, this is a stunning visual and literary celebration of Jarman’s iconic garden at Prospect Cottage. In a passionate foreword, Tilda Swinton shares her memories of how her close collaborator and friend Jarman ‘made of this wee house, his wooden tent pitched in the wilderness, an artwork  –  and out of its shingle skirts, an ingenious garden – now internationally recognised.’

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