Top Ten Tuesday is a listicle created by That Artsy Reader Girl. It was created from a love of lists, books and creating bookish friends. Each Tuesday she assigns a new topic for others to join in with. Here is where you can learn more information about Top Ten Tuesday. Ad/Affiliate – Some of these books have affiliate links, you can read my disclaimer here.
Today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is genre freebie, so I’m sharing the top 10 nature books I want to read. The list is neverending, especially as I am about to start my Master’s degree in Applied Ecology! I am hoping to write more nature book reviews on my blog and I’m reading a couple at the moment.
(Cover photo by Daniela Constantini)
1. The Butterfly Isles by Patrick Barkham
Butterflies animate our summers but the 59 butterfly species of the British Isles can be surprisingly elusive. Some bask unseen at the top of trees in London parks; others lurk at the bottom of damp bogs in Scotland. Several are virtually extinct. This book charts the author’s quest to find all 59, from the Adonis Blue to the Dingy Skipper.
I have wanted to read this since my uni friend first showed it to me! I struggle to read non-fiction books during term time so I am hoping to maybe take it out of the library this summer. It sounds like an amazing book for butterfly lovers. So far, I have spotted 34 out of the 59 butterfly species in the UK.
2. Forget Me Not by Sophie Pavelle
Forget-me-not–a beautiful flower and a plea from our islands’ wildlife. When climate change has driven dozens of our most charismatic species to extinction, will they be forgotten?
Like many of her generation, Sophie Pavelle is determined to demand action on climate change. In her hilarious and thought-provoking first book, she describes the trips she took to see ten rare native species: species that could disappear by 2050 and be forgotten by the end of the century if their habitats continue to decline.
Pavelle challenged herself to find them the low-carbon way, travelling the length of Britain on foot, by bicycle, in an electric car, by kayak, on ferries, and in a lot of trains. From Bodmin Moor to the Orkney Islands, Pavelle encountered species on the front line of climate change in Britain. Which are going to be seriously affected, and why? Could some bounce back from the brink, or are we too late to save them?
Forget Me Not is a clarion call: we all need to play a part in tackling this most existential of threats. Everyone can see wildlife in the British Isles without contributing to its destruction. With joyful irreverence, Pavelle shows us we can dare to hope. Journey with her, and she may even inspire you to take action for nature and head out on your own low-carbon adventure.
3. The Jewel Box by Tim Blackburn
Every morning, ecologist Tim Blackburn is inspired by the diversity contained within the moth trap he runs on the roof of his London flat. Beautiful, ineffably mysterious organisms, these moths offer a glimpse into a larger order, one that extends beyond individual species, beyond Lepidoptera or insects, and into a hidden landscape.
Footmen, whose populations are on the march as their lichen food recovers from decades of industrial pollution. The Goat Moth, a thumb-sized broken stick mimic, takes several years to mature deep in the wood of tree trunks. The Oak Eggar, with the look of a bemused Honey Monster, is host to a large wasp that eats its caterpillars alive from the inside. The Uncertain, whose similarity to other species has motivated its English name. The Silver Y, with a weight measured in milligrams, but capable of migrating across a continent. A moth trap is a magical contraption, that conjures these and hundreds of other insect jewels out of the darkness.
Just as iron filings arrange themselves to articulate a magnetic field that would otherwise be invisible, Blackburn shows us that when we pay proper attention to these tiny animals, their relationships with one another and their connections to the wider web of life, a greater truth about the world gradually emerges. In THE JEWEL BOX, he reflects on what he has learned in thirty years of work as a scientist studying ecosystems and demonstrates how the contents of one small box can illuminate the workings of all nature.’
Since reading Meetings With Moths by Katty Baird, I have been wanting to read another book about moths. I saw this one in Hattchards which sounds so good and I want to learn more about moth traps.
4. The Orchid Hunter by Leif Bersweden
He has just a few months to complete his quest – no one has ever done it before within one growing season – and it will require ingenuity, stamina and a large dose of luck. As he battles the vagaries of the British climate, feverishly chasing each emerging bloom, Leif Bersweden takes the reader on a remarkable botanical journey. This study of the 52 native species is a fantastic gateway into the compendious world of orchids – one that will open your eyes to the rare hidden delights to be found on our doorstep.
I bought this book for my friend’s birthday, and now I want it even more haha.
5. Footprints in the Woods by John Lister-Kaye
The elusive lives of otters, beavers, badgers, weasels and more are rendered in John Lister-Kaye’s enchanting lyrical style Footprints in the Woods is John Lister-Kaye’s account of a year spent observing the comings and goings of otters, beavers, badgers, weasels and pine martens. This family – Mustelidae – all live in the wild at Aigas, the conservation and field study centre John calls home.
With the patient and meticulous care of a true naturalist, John observes and records the lives, habits and habitats of these elusive animals. Hours of careful waiting and watching in the woods and loch, the river, fields and moorland is rewarded with insight into how these animals live when unhindered by human interference; sometimes red in tooth and claw, but often playful, familial, curious and surprising.
As a boy, badgers and weasels were John’s first encounter with wild animals, now he has spent fifty years living side-by-side with them in the Highlands and come to know much of their ways. Footprints in the Woods is the culmination of that long association with the Mustelidae family, a love letter to the otters, beavers, badgers, weasels and pine martens that also call Aigas home, and a reminder of the fragility of habitat and the beauty and variety we have to lose if we don’t choose to actively protect it.
Continue reading: Top ten nature books I want to read
6. The Seabird’s Cry by Adam Nicolson
Seabirds are master navigators, thriving in the most demanding environment on earth. In this masterly book, drawing on all the most recent research, Adam Nicolson follows them to the coasts and islands of Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and the Americas. Beautifully illustrated by Kate Boxer, The Seabird’s Cry is a celebration of the wonders of the only creatures at home in the air, on land and on the sea. But it also carries a warning: the number of seabirds has dropped by two thirds since 1950. Extinction stalks the ocean and there is a danger that the grand cry of a seabird colony will, this century, become but a memory.
I really want to learn more about seabirds so this is high up on my list of nature books I want to read.
7. The Moth Snowstorm by Michael McCarthy
Nature has many gifts for us, but perhaps the greatest of them all is joy; the intense delight we can take in the natural world, in its beauty, in the wonder it can offer us, in the peace it can provide – feelings stemming ultimately from our own unbreakable links to nature, which mean that we cannot be fully human if we are separate from it. In The Moth Snowstorm Michael McCarthy, one of Britain’s leading writers on the environment, proposes this joy as a defence of a natural world which is ever more threatened, and which, he argues, is inadequately served by the two defences put forward hitherto: sustainable development and the recognition of ecosystem services. Drawing on a wealth of memorable experiences from a lifetime of watching and thinking about wildlife and natural landscapes, The Moth Snowstorm not only presents a new way of looking at the world around us but effortlessly blends with it a remarkable and moving memoir of childhood trauma from which love of the natural world emerged. It is a powerful, timely, and wholly original book which comes at a time when nature has never needed it more.
8. The Insect Crisis by Oliver Milman
From ants scurrying under leaf litter to bees able to fly higher than Mount Kilimanjaro, insects are everywhere. Three out of every four of our planet’s known animal species are insects. In The Insect Crisis, acclaimed journalist Oliver Milman dives into the torrent of recent evidence that suggests this kaleidoscopic group of creatures is suffering the greatest existential crisis in its remarkable 400-million-year history. What is causing the collapse of the insect world? Why does this alarming decline pose such a threat to us? And what can be done to stem the loss of the miniature empires that hold aloft life as we know it?
With urgency and great clarity, Milman explores this hidden emergency, arguing that its consequences could even rival climate change. He joins the scientists tracking the decline of insect populations across the globe, including the soaring mountains of Mexico that host an epic, yet dwindling, migration of monarch butterflies; the verdant countryside of England that has been emptied of insect life; the gargantuan fields of U.S. agriculture that have proved a killing ground for bees; and an offbeat experiment in Denmark that shows there aren’t that many bugs splattering into your car windshield these days. These losses not only further tear at the tapestry of life on our degraded planet; they imperil everything we hold dear, from the food on our supermarket shelves to the medicines in our cabinets to the riot of nature that thrills and enlivens us. Even insects we may dread, including the hated cockroach, or the stinging wasp, play crucial ecological roles, and their decline would profoundly shape our own story.
By connecting butterfly and bee, moth and beetle from across the globe, the full scope of loss renders a portrait of a crisis that threatens to upend the workings of our collective history. Part warning, part celebration of the incredible variety of insects, The Insect Crisis is a wake-up call for us all.
9. Much Ado about Mothing by James Lowen
This book coaxes moths out from the darkness and into the daylight; Much Ado About Moth-ing reveals that moths are so much more attractive, approachable and astonishing than butterflies–with richer tales to share, from migratory feats through mastery of camouflage to missives about the state of our planet. This book seeks to persuade the skeptical, the fearful and the unaware of the unexpected beauty of these misjudged insects.
The author, James Lowen, makes a case for moths by recounting a suitcase full of journeys across Britain over the course of a calendar year. Britain has a lot of moths–40 times more species than butterflies–so rather than try to see them all, James pursues quality over quantity, prioritizing our scarcest and most special species. His travels extend from the Isles of Scilly to northernmost Scotland. More than any other animals, moths demonstrate a very precise determination of place – one species, for example, rarely ventures more than 10 meters from the place it hatches as a caterpillar. Accordingly, this book drinks in the landscapes where moths reside. It’s also a book about people–James meets moth–fans wherever he goes, be they expert entomologists, professional conservationists or amateur moth–ers. He asks why they love what many people choose to hate, and how moths impact their lives. Through the filter of moths, he explores the concept of obsession, both in other people and, as the year progresses, in himself. This will be a book not just about moths, or about moths and place–but about moths and place and people.
A counterweight to James’s expeditionary travels is his suburban garden. James and his young daughter measure the seasons by the moths that come and go, for perhaps the greatest virtue of moths–paradoxically, for those who consider them invisible–is their accessibility. Moths are everywhere, but above all, they are here, and what’s more, they’ll sit calmly on a fingertip, providing first–hand amazement to children and adults alike like no other animal.
Another moth book on my list of nature books I want to read. I have heard such great things about this book! I saw it at my local library, so I will definitely get that out soon.
10. Shell Life on the Seashore by Philip Street
For many, the highlights of seaside holidays are rock pooling and gathering the glorious array of shells left strewn on the beach after the receding tide.
Attracted by the infinite variety of shapes and colours, visitors can never resist making a souvenir collection of their own – but little do they suspect the fascinating lives of the animals who once occupied them.
What if each shell had a story of its own to tell us, if only we knew the language? Mr Street’s delightful, informative guide uncovers the secret history of each common shell, revealing not only which marine creature once inhabited it but the unique challenges of its watery habitat it had to solve.
From barnacles to oysters, cockles to sea slugs, winkles to carnivorous snails, molluscs and lesser-known members of the octopus family, Shell Life on the Seashore is the essential primer for recognizing and collecting both these curious specimens and the “empties” they leave behind – and will greatly increase the old-fashioned pleasures of a coastal holiday for all the family.
My best friend got me this book for Christmas and I am yet to read it, but I am really looking forward to it! I feel like living by the beach for 3 years, I should have learnt more. But I am excited to read this book.
Have you read any of the nature books I want to read? What nature books are on your to read list?