Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Nature Book Lovers Meme

I was tagged for a meme by ARJ at Science on Tap some time ago, and didn't even realize it until recently. The meme is simple:

Increasingly our daily lives are bound by a man-made technological world, yet most believe it important to maintain a connection to the natural world. Cite a half-dozen-or-so books you would recommend every young person read by the end of their school years to help them maintain a sense of connection to, and value in, the natural world.

I'll try for books that would be appropriate for folks at different stages of their educations.

1. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

This story of wilderness, survival and growing up was the first book I ever read that would qualify as nature writing. I wanted to be Sam and to understand the natural world as closely as he did.

2. Wild Animals I have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton

I wondered if people still read this when I looked it up on Amazon. I'm delighted to see that they do. My favorite entry was SIlverspot, The Story of a Crow.

3. A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold.

We all need the fierce green fire.

4. My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir.

How did I get through the first 49 years of my life without reading this? I wish I had been exposed to the lyrical beauty of Muir's writing when I was still in school. Guilty admission: Thoreau has never really done it for me. Muir is awesome.

5. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin.

Because it changed everything.

6. My last entry is not a particular book at all. I would recommend getting, reading, and re-reading a field guide to some branch of the natural world. It doesn't matter which one. Don't just use it to look up new or interesting species that you have found. Read it. Look at the pictures. Get to know even those species that aren't from your part of the country. Think about which species you would like to encounter some day. If you have not previously done this sort of thing, I can guarantee that you will see the world a bit differently after the exercise than you did before.



At 16:49, Blogger cedrorum said...

Good list. There are a couple I haven't read. I'll pick those up soon.

At 22:15, Blogger SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Hello Doug. I have to agree with you on the Field Guide. I take mine all over and read it from begining to end as if it were a book, and have done it many times over. It is amazing what knowledge you pick up like that, especially for someone like me who had no knowledge at all about bugs to begin with except that they were pesky things. :)

At 07:44, Blogger Dave Coulter said...

My Side of the Mountain is an awesome book. Good choice!

At 08:35, Blogger TR Ryan said...

My Side of the Mountain!!! Siiigggghhh. The stuff dreams are made of!

At 18:50, Blogger Ur-spo said...

good books, indeed
I also remember getting excited about nature and science by going to good museums. I hope they are still considered important in today's opinion.

At 00:50, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love reading field guides. My grandparents have an old house on a wooded lot on a lake and the place is full of 20-year-old field guides for birds, butterflies, amphibians, etc. I love pouring through them. A great recommendation.

At 23:42, Blogger Amila Suwa said...

I only recognize the 5th one. Out of this list what would you recommend to me most? First one?

At 03:20, Blogger Dr. Know said...

Like many others, My Side of the Mountain was a childhood favorite although I haven't thought of it in many years.

As an aside, just got back from the Keys and Scott (I think I remember correctly) at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory says "Hello". I missed a number of the stops I had planned to make on the way out of the Keys, but it was an "interesting" trip nevertheless, and a needed break from the cold and ignorance of Georgia.

At 21:26, Blogger Doug Taron said...

cedrorum- Thanks.

Joan- Well, it worked for me! Glad you enjoyed.

Dave, TR and Dr. Know- It's so gratifying to see that there are a bunch of My Side of the Mountain fans out there.

Spo- So do I, but then I have a vested interest.

Moe- Thanks.

Amila- That depends on who you are and why you are interested in reading them. The first one is a childrens' book. The second is for young adults. You have no need of my field guide exercise (being a living, breathing field guide yourself). I'll bet you have read Darwin before, so I'd recommend Leopold to you.

Dr. Know- I hope that you had fun in the Keys. Do you know Sam or did you just start visiting with him while you were at his place?

At 23:22, Blogger Dr. Know said...

Sam overheard my mention of your visit when they asked how I heard of the conservatory and initiated a brief conversation. I was somewhat taken aback by his notice and may have been a bit reticent. He mentioned that you were quite fond of your job, and my response was that you are indeed very lucky. He stated that he enjoyed your visit.

I visited Butterfly World outside of Ft. Lauderdale back in 1997, as well as much in the Keys. His place was new this trip and well done. I walked around the island so much my blisters had blisters. I'll most certainly bring a bike next time, as parking and movement is problematic during Spring Break. (I had no idea...) My latest blog posting recaps the "trip" and has a few pictures from his place. Thanks!


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