Sometimes the urban life gets a little too much. Sometimes we crave a bit of greenery, nothing digital and a general urge for things to slow down. Things never used to be so rushed, right? It’s funny how the beach, a hill walk, a cracking vista, staring at forest or a swim in cooling water can soothe even the most frenetic of heads. All those things are natural, outdoorsy and have been scientifically proven to calm us, reduce anxiety and in some cases, actually give us energy.
When we’re stuck in a routine and we’re seeking a bit of life in the country when its never going to be a reality, sometimes escaping in a jolly good book is a wonderful antidote. We’ve listed 5 excellent books on nature, admittedly that’s a broad topic so I’ll elaborate. These are books that will either make you think a little harder about where we are now as a race, turning our back on the natural environment or inspire you to adopt a little more greenery in your life. They are also books that will help put traffic, job routine, stress, digital devices and other societally driven pressures into perspective. We’re all about being active and we’re all about being in the great doors. Do read on…
The subheading for Richard Louv’s bestselling book is ‘Saving our children from nature deficit disorder’. Have things really got that bad? Are we bringing up our children ignorant to the fact they’re suffering from a nature based disorder? Certainly in the UK, you don’t see a lot of kids climbing trees, building dens or just generally messing about outside. The X-box, the iPad and the on-demand TV services are taking over, childhood obesity is on the rise. Will it stop? The kids are growing, the changes in obesity levels are significant in the UK (have you been to the USA recently, childhood obesity is approaching worrying levels). This book isn’t just one big ‘moan’, though it does lay out quite candidly what’s happening right now but Louv also suggests coping strategies and future methods in ensuring there will once again be children in the woods!
Do your kids permanently have their eyes glued to smart phones or tablets? Do you remember being outside a lot more as a child and things seem a little more ‘indoors’? Well it’s becoming a reality, childhood obesity is soaring and the concept of Nature Deficit Disorder is upon us. Louv spells it out and offers workable solutions.
If this book and it’s concepts grip you, try reading Richard Louv’s Vitamin N, An Essential Guide to a Nature Rich Life. The pleasing thing about Richard Louv’s work is that it’s inclusive and progressive, he’s not advocating we all sell up and go and live as hermits in the woods. He gets it, on many levels, well worth a read.
If the Last Child in the Woods resonates, why not try Louv’s other best seller, Vitamin N. This book offers 500 practical ways to enrich your family life through immersing yourselves in nature. It combats depression, stress, anxiety issues that are becoming more and more prominent these days.
What a book this is. If you feel a slight existential niggle that things are a bit staid and melancholy and you’re just not quite feeling it, nor nailing down exactly why you’re regularly feeling a bit below par, you really do have to get a copy of this book, Go Wild. John Ratey, is actually Harvard Medical Professor, Dr John Ratey MD with quite the CV. His co-writer, journalist Richard Manning has an excellent grasp of what’s going on here and together with Ratey puts together a sanity-saving blueprint of how to deal with the need to reset yourself, digitally detox and live a much, much healthier life both physically and mentally. The guys discuss eating, sleeping, exercise, stress, relaxation and spending time with friends…humans are social animals after all. The subheading for the book is “Free Yourself from the Afflictions of Civilisation” and it could almost become a manifesto. Ratey isn’t suggesting we drop out, simply that we need to realign ourselves with our ancestors more primal instincts. Life does feel a little busier these days. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, it’s an excellent read and could just change the way you see the world, learning from our past but adapting it seamlessly for the future.
Reconnect with your primal self and begin to see the world a bit differently without leaving the society within which you live. From exercise to diet to meditation tips, Ratey is bang on the money here. A superb book.
George Monbiot can be a bit controversial in his forthright views but I think in this regard, that’s a very good thing. This book is a sledgehammer of ideology compared to the first two books we’ve mentioned in this review but it’s possible, well true, that Monbiot has a point. In fact he’s got quite a few of them relating to how wonderful our natural world would look if we let ‘rewilding’ happen. Some examples include the fact that the uplands of England and Wales are ‘sheepwrecked’, in that no new life can germinate due to the white plague that patrol the hills and therefore cause barren hilltops fraught with erosion issues and little life apart from sheep. Monbiot doesn’t like sheep.
Monbiot is excited by the topic of rewilding, he’s pro wolves, boars and lynx to be rebred into the British countryside. Oh and he dislikes the white plague. By this he means sheep. It feels like you’re in the wild reading this book. You need this book on your shelf.
Professor Stephan Harding is based at the Schumacher College and is a prominent authority when it comes to the Gaia Theory. A definition may help – taken from Wikipedia “Gaia theory or the Gaia principle, proposes that living organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic and self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet.” Essentially, everything on the earth is deeply interconnected and we’re part of it. What a load of ‘Mumbo jumbo’ say his doubters but Harding backs up his theories with science and when you think, long and hard about it, it has to be right, right!?
If you need a book to synergise with any feelings you may have about the interconnectedness of living things, then this is worth a read. Make a cup of earthy coffee and dig in. Stephan Harding’s work is blessed with insight (both scientific and hypothetical), and knowledge. In fact Harding’s work is very understated.