Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Curl Up with a Great Green Book

We are what we take in. We are the food we eat, the water we drink, the words we listen to, the sentences we read. Though the weather may be dreadful outside, you can still bring nature into your mind and into your self by curling up with a great green book. (You'll be too green for words if you get the book from the library or second hand - it's better for the environment and much better for your wallet!)  Here are a few of my very favorites to add to your reading list:


Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver - her description of my beloved Appalachian mountain ecosystems is lyrical and the characters and their stories are compelling.  Barbara Kingsolver has written a number of books and essays;  I highly recommend them all, especially her most recent book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. 

The full works of James Herriot - guaranteed feel-good reads about being a country vet.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London - a classic.

The poetry of Robert Frost - If you want to immerse yourself in the nature of New England or nature in general, Frost's poems will get you there.


A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold - his thoughts on the history of a tree that he is currently sawing through leave me in awe every time I read them.

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey - I was never interested in the desert until I started reading this book.   Abbey's descriptions are vivid and his take is very rough, very real.  He also wrote a number of fiction pieces and other non-fiction.  I've loved everything of his that I've read.

The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson - Should be required reading for all parents.  For all people, come to think of it.  Best to read this short book when you can go outside immediately afterward, take a deep breath, look around, and let the ensuing wave of gratitude sweep you away.

Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart & William McDonough - The "cradle to cradle" concept is considered revolutionary, but it shouldn't be.  Of course we should design products this way - it's the slap-to-the-forehead simplicity of it that makes it genius.

The Foxfire Series edited by Eliot Wigginton - These collections of essays written by high schoolers on nature and tradition in the Appalachians are as good and straightforward an education in natural science as anyone could wish for.

A Country Year by Sue Hubbell - This one was a gift from my mother.  She loves books that take you to a wonderful, beautiful place and then tell you interesting stories.  Great mom, great taste, great book!

365 Ways to Save the Earth by Phillipe Bourseiller - A great book for any coffee table, it features stunning photography, amazing facts, and helpful suggestions on being green through small, feasible actions.  You can pick this book up at any time, flip through it, and learn something new.  Additionally, the pictures will inspire you to save the planet before all of the beauty in it disappears.

Essays  and One Man's Meat by E. B. White -  Writing this good doesn't come along every day, or every decade for that matter. 

Books for Children

Hoot by Carl Hiassen - They made this into a major motion picture but, as always, the book is better.

On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier - This book is a wonderful gift for new parents.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss - A conservation classic, good for kids ages four through 104.

The Wump World by Bill Peet - I found this book when I was looking for something good to help explain air pollution to children.  It did the trick nicely.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein - Explains very nicely why we should ALL be tree huggers.

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White - Helps children understand that food isn't magically made at the grocery store in a gentle way.

Books for Parents

These books all have great information and/or fun, fast, and cheap activities that will help you introduce your child to the wonders of nature while having some serious fun yourself!

The Kids' Nature Book by Susan Milord

EcoArt!  by Laurie Carlson

The Handy Science Answer Book compiled by the Science and Technology Department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

A Mother's Manual for Summer Survival by Kathy Peel and Joy Mahaffey

Well, that's a start, anyway.  I hope you'll check out these books and truly enjoy them.  If you've got a favorite green book (or two) that I've missed, please share your recommendations with us!

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