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Literature about the Natural World

A good book goes far beyond education, providing an escape from the present. Transporting readers to far-flung lands and times long past or yet to happen, the right piece of literature at the right time can be a powerful force. While the holiday season provides the ideal opportunity to connect with loved ones, it also acts as a time for respite and reflection.

Here at Koala Eco, literature and an appreciation for the natural world are essential to us. Many of our favourite books combine these two principles, providing evocative descriptions of remote landscapes or opening our eyes to new concepts.

The escapist joy of reading grows when shared, so in the interest of fostering a culture of reading, we're sharing some of our favourite reads. The perfect present for the nature-lover in your life (or a gift to yourself!), these books are simultaneously transcendental and thought-provoking.

The Overstory by Richard Powers forces us to reconsider notions of trees as property, with the giant redwoods in the novel very much alive and able to communicate with the book’s central characters. Meanwhile, scientific objectivity and Indigenous storytelling coexist in harmony within Braiding Sweetgrass, with botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer littering the nonfiction book with beautifully visceral depictions of nature while promoting an appreciation for life in all its forms. 

Written by one of the most prominent naturalists of our time, Adventures of a Young Naturalist details some of Sir David Attenborough's earlier escapades, allowing readers to travel vicariously. Laden with old-world charm and happily devoid of modern technology, it not only illuminates Attenborough's approach to adventure but also tells the story of the man who made the world fall in love with nature. Complement it with A Life on Our Planet, written at age 94; it's Attenborough's witness statement to the dire state of our planet's wilderness and biodiversity and what we can do to restore it.

If you’ve ever fantasised about escaping from society and living off the grid, Walden is for you. After a long period spent close to home, naturalist Henry David Thoreau's recount of the simple life spent in a shingled cottage in the woods is equal parts refreshing and enjoyable, with Thoreau's subtle satire prevents Walden from being too virtuous, peppering in many a humorous (and occasionally self-deprecating) reflection.

Earlier this year, Patagonia made global headlines when its founder, Yvon Chouinard, sold the company to ‘planet Earth’. Chouinard donated Patagonia to a not-for-profit organisation structured to ensure Patagonia would put all profits from the billion-dollar company towards fighting the environmental crisis. His book, Let my people go surfing, offers an early insight into the mind of the reluctant businessman — and avid climber — and explores his endeavours to change our consumption-led culture.

 

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