We bring you our pick of wildlife must-read books you really should take with you on your next tour:
Life on Earth (David Attenborough)
It is testament to the man and the TV series that Life on Earth remains as inspiring now as when it was first screened some 42 years ago. In fact, I’d say this is the most important wildlife book since Darwin’s On the Origin of Species – an examination of animal and plant life, covering the evolution of some amazing creatures. Attenborough’s incredible ability to communicate shines through on every page, and this 2018 updated edition has wholly new photos.
Britain’s Trees (Jo Woolf)
Pretty much every corner of Britain is home to one of these remarkable ecosystems. What am I talking about? Trees, of course. During lockdown, I was exploring woods near my home, where there are yew trees that are 500 years old. It’s staggering to think they were saplings when Henry VIII was knocking about. And that’s the approach Jo Woolf takes in this fascinating book, marvelling at the mystery, folklore and history of Britain’s trees. More anecdote than field guide, it’s an entertaining and enthralling celebration of the noble tree.
Wild Signs and Star Paths (Tristan Gooley)
Curious minds will find plenty to entertain in any of Tristan Cooley’s books. The author specialises in discovering the natural world and the clues that Mother Nature leaves to unlock her mysteries. So, whether you’re looking to understand The Secret World of Weather or How to Read Water, the writer has it covered. In this book, he lists 52 keys that will open your eyes, ears and mind to the world around you. From reading stars to forecasting weather and predicting animal behaviour, the book picks out nuggets of natural knowledge that will serve you well when you’re out on tour.
Feral (George Monbiot)
Guardian columnist and passionate environmentalist George Monbiot has something of a reputation for outspoken views on humankind’s stewardship of the countryside, and in this personal and interesting book, he takes a look at rewilding – allowing nature to return the land to its original state and repair ecosystems. Although many will be at odds with the author’s political views, the book was well received by both left – and right – wing press. It’s thought-provoking stuff, but are we quite ready, as Monbiot suggests, for the return of wild bears here in the UK?
Blue Planet II (James Honeybourne, Mark Brownlow)
With the Blue Planet II TV series and book, executive producers James Honeybourne and Mark Brownlow built on the success of the original, with amazing new sequences such as an octopus hiding in oyster shells to escape sharks and Galapagos sea lions hunting yellowfin tuna. The film sequences of animal behaviour are remarkable, but perhaps the greatest legacy of Blue Planet II will be its success in drawing the public’s attention to micro plastics in the oceans and their dire consequences for saline and humankind.
Wild Nights Out (Chris Salisbury)
This enjoyable book celebrates both wildlife and night-time. In fact, it seeks to reclaim the nights for us, showing them to be a place not of fear, but of adventure and encounter. It’s perfect for a touring holiday, particularly if you are entertaining children, because there are lots of fun activities, from discovering nocturnal creatures to learning the night sky. There are tips for leading night-time nature outings and advice on enjoying a campfire, including the best singalongs and how to tell stories and riddles. Here’s one for you: ‘You feed me, and I live. You give me something to drink, and I die. What am I?’
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