Book Review: My Favorite Nature Books

If you are into wildlife, look no further for your next book.



Nuttall’s cottontail, the common garter snake, wild lupine and pioneer violet are all native Palouse species.

ISABELLE BUSCH, Evergreen reporter, columnist

I am going to start off with a controversial statement: books are just like movies.

What I mean is, although there are thousands upon thousands of them, it is rare you find a really enjoyable one. So, I have compiled a list of my favorite nature-related reads. 

Unlike many scientific  books – dry, black and white tones that bore readers after mere pages – each book explores wild topics through engaging storytelling that will leave you wanting more.

A good place to start is “The Animal Dialogues,” a collection of wild stories written by Craig Childs. Each story focuses on his encounters with a different species, from being stalked by a cougar to saving a raccoon with pizza. A chapter of Childs’ writing provides the perfect break between classes.

Whether you have taken a class in animal behavior or not, the musings of Bernd Heinrich are fascinating. Out of his many nature-centric books, my favorite title is “Mind of the Raven.” It explores the birds’ behavior, along with the evidence to support their striking level of intelligence. 

If you are more into aquatic life, try Sy Montgomery’s “The Soul of an Octopus,” which examines octopus intelligence, personality and the implications these characteristics have for consciousness in other species. 

Another interesting ocean-based read is “The Book of Eels.” Though it may sound a bit dry, eels are anything but! They are one of those frequently overlooked species that so little is known about. Patrik Svensson does an admirable job presenting their myriad of mysteries and keeping readers engaged.

Research on plant intelligence is also gaining popularity. If you think trees are static, unchanging organisms, think again. In his book “The Hidden Life of Trees,” Peter Wohlleben takes a deep dive into how trees interact, raise their offspring and even may remember past events like drought.

It would not be a true nature book list without mentioning the famed “A Sand County Almanac.” Aldo Leopold’s narrative on the interconnections of plants and animals, as well as how humans are responsible for protecting and maintaining ecosystems, is a must-read for anyone going into the field or just interested in nature in general. 

I just finished it, and the essays near the end take on a much more philosophical viewpoint on nature conservation, something not often seen in most other nonfiction nature books.

Considering the species and spaces that need protection can be the opposite of relaxing, so to lighten the mood, Bill Bryson is the author to turn to. His book “A Walk in the Woods” remains one of my favorites to reread when I need a genuine chuckle. A master of comedic narrative, his true-life tales of adventures along the Appalachian Trail will make you laugh out loud. It is a delight to escape to, no matter the time of day.

Some of these titles are available at the Bookie, where you can relax and try a chapter of the book before you buy. If a title interests you, leaf through a few pages. Books never fail to surprise me when I least expect to enjoy them. The Bookie’s small nature section has plenty of other choices as well if you want to continue your search. But be warned: you may get hooked on nature books!