Exploring our connection to the natural world, our place in the ecosystem and the beauty we can find all around us, here are some of our top winter reads that will leave you feeling cosy, comforted and inspired.
Curl up with our favourite winter reads
The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us by Emma Mitchell
Isn’t it a joy to find a book that looks as beautiful as it reads? Emma Mitchell’s powerful account of how nature remedies our mental health is also full of gorgeous photographs and illustrations that guide us through her year of life-saving nature connection. It’s a raw and moving account of living with severe depression, but is also full of hope. Emma finds solace in ‘every day’ encounters with wildflowers and starlings, she collects natural treasures we can all find on our streets and in our parks, and weaves in some fascinating science to illustrate just how accessible (and essential) nature is for our wellbeing.
Wanderland: A Search for Magic in the Landscape by Jini Reddy
Wanderland is nature writing with a difference – a refreshing new take on our connection with place and the meaning of ‘Otherness’. In searching for the magical over the course of a year, Jini Reddy doesn’t just explore windswept coast paths, meander through labyrinths and dive into secret springs; her pilgrimage is also an intensely personal reflection on her multicultural roots, her place in the natural landscape and ‘our limited perceptions about the nature of Nature’.
The His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
Though not your classic ‘nature books’, The Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass offer the ultimate escape on dreary winter nights, with a more subtle exploration of environmental stewardship and human connection to nature. The trilogy follows Lyra Belacqua and her daemon, Pantalaimon (a living embodiment of her soul in animal form), on a magical, terrifying, fantastical journey to the frozen North and beyond. Each book brings Lyra closer to her destiny and transports you to a world of witches, Dust, armoured bears, love, evil and redemption.
Rain: Four Walks in English Weather by Melissa Harrison
Next time you see rain pouring outside, open this little book and devour it in one sitting. As you follow Melissa Harrison on four walks in different kinds of rain it will completely change how you look at the mizzle, drizzle or deluge outside. Paired with fascinating scientific insights, snippets of local history and meditations on our relationship with the natural world, Rain is a vivid and poetic 100-pager that will show you what you missed each time you watched the downpour from behind a pane of glass.
Dark Skies: A Journey into the Wild Night by Tiffany Francis
As we lose more light and struggle to find time to connect with nature during daylight hours, pick up this book, throw convention out of the window and embrace the winter darkness. In Dark Skies, Tiffany Francis inspires us with a year of nocturnal adventures that re-evaluate our relationship with twilight. By hiking through the haunted yew forests of Kingley Vale, swimming in 24-hour daylight in Finland and searching for the northern lights in 24-hour darkness in Norway, she uncovers an intoxicating new world and forges a deep connection with both nature and our ancient ancestors.
The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd
The Living Mountain is a powerfully-observed, lyrical exploration of Nan Shepherd’s connection with the Cairngorm mountains: a connection we can all use as inspiration for our own wild adventures, whether they be up that same mountain range or during a winter stroll in a local wood. Because though the Cairngorms are vast and imposing, Nan’s connection with them is forged through the simple relationship with nature that we all have at our core. These aren’t just peaks to be scaled, they are each an entity to be respected and explored in the most minute detail.
‘For as I penetrate more deeply into the mountain’s life,’ Nan writes. ‘I penetrate also into my own… To know Being, this is the final grace accorded from the mountain.’
Why not try crafting your own love letter to a treasured wild place this winter?
The Grassling by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett
If you’re looking for a winter read that will truly transport you, pick up The Grassling. Elizabeth-Jane Burnett’s powerful memoir walks a line between poetry and prose, taking the reader on a journey through the Devon landscapes she knew as a child, re-explored, now, as she tends to her terminally ill father. The lilting language will sweep you away on an exploration of not only the Devon countryside, but how the land we think we know shapes us and speaks to us.
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
Sometimes all we need during winter is a spark of joy, and My Family and Other Animals is a beacon. Written by naturalist and conservationist Gerald Durrell, the book brings to life the adventures and misadventures of his eccentric family during their time on the Greek island of Corfu between 1935 and 1939. As Gerry roams, free-range, about the island, fills the family home with animals and observes his family’s exploits as if they too were wild things, you will forget all about the gloomy winter outside. My Family and Other Animals is laugh-out-loud funny and a wonderful ode to the purest, most child-like fascination with nature.
What are you favourite books to read during winter? Tell us all about them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the #GoWildWinter hashtag.