NWT Recommends: Holiday Reads

Blog post by Emily Mildren & Susannah Armstrong (with contributions from several NWT staff!) on 17 Dec, 2021

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...

...So you get up to read, and you reach for a book. But - oh dear, what a fool of a took! You've forgotten to find yourself a good Christmas tome, and now, you find yourself scrolling your phone...

At Norfolk Wildlife Trust, we're firm believers in the power of nature writing. Fiction or non-fiction, memoir or spotters guide, there's always more to learn and new subjects to inspire you. In our final blog post of 2021, we've brought together the Bûche de Noël of Christmas read recommendations, from our very own staff members. Take a look at their recommendations:

The Way Home: Tales from a Life Without Technology by Mark Boyle

Recommended by Emily Mildren, Online Communications Officer:

"I was gifted this book last Christmas. An ironic choice for someone who works in online communications, I know, but this account of off-grid life, tuning out of the virtual noise and into the land and nature, really hit the spot. This is a book for anyone questioning which technologies actually serve to connect us and which drive us further apart."

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit

Recommended by Helen Baczkowska, Acting Conservation Manager:

"For the environmentally depressed (in fact, for all of us), I really recommend Rebecca Solnit's Hope in the Dark, part of which is about her father trying to save wild land near San Francisco and the rest about how despair is, as she says, one option, but perhaps not the best one."

Where the Animals Go by James Cheshire & Oliver Uberti

Recommended by Caroline Spinks, Assistant Conservation Officer (Planning):

"It's a book you can dip into and, every time you do, it will take you on a journey with all sorts of creatures all over the world. I like it because it combines maps, technology and graphics, and is able to tell real life stories of what happened to a mountain lion roaming in western USA, a rehabilitated turtle, or an ant colony in a box, plus a whole lot more. Plankton tracking is a thing! Also, you get a sense that there are some pretty interesting people who are following these animals. Since the book was published (2016), animal tracking technology has advanced even more so I am hoping for a sequel, when we might learn even more amazing stories of the movement of animals across the planet, if we allow them space to do so that is."

The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us - A Diary by Emma Mitchell

Recommended by Rachael Murray, PR Contact, and Louisa Barnard, Engagement Officer:

"A really thoughtful book about how nature can support our mental health... might be a good one for the short, dark days of winter!" "A great diary, written month by month, about how nature helps mental health and also the science behind it."

What Nature Does For Britain by Tony Juniper

What Nature Does For Britain by Tony Juniper

What Nature does for Britain by Tony Juniper

Recommended by Martin Parker, Fundraising Officer (Claims):

"In an age of climate and nature crises, Tony Juniper doesn't just focus on the problems, but the simple and effective solutions provided by nature. He speaks to a variety of habitat experts and explains the suite of benefits nature-based solutions offer, at a much lower cost than current artificial measures. The issues we face and inaction by decision makers is frustrating, but the solutions provided by the natural environment, managed in the right way, most of which are already being done on a small scale, are inspiring and encouraging."

Wilding by Isabella Tree:

Recommended by Ben Newton, Wilder Connections Habitat Connectivity Officer:

"Eye-opening account of a long-term rewilding project, packed with ecological insight."

Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness

Recommended by Louisa Barnard, Engagement Officer:

"A guide to using nature to help wellbeing by using bird watching to achieve the Five Ways to Wellbeing."

I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain by Anita Sethi:

Recommended by Susannah Armstrong, Online Communications Officer, and Helen Baczkowska, Acting Conservation Manager:

"This powerful book about a journey of reclamation through the natural landscapes of the Pennines is a brilliant exploration of identity, nature and belonging, and brings a refreshing new voice to landscape writing."

A Fish Caught in Time: The Search for the Coelacanth by Samantha Weinberg

Recommended by Adam Houlgate, Broads South Lead Officer:

"It tells the story of how Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, a young woman curator of a small South African museum, spots a strange-looking fish in a trawler's catch that turns out to be a surviving example of a 400-million-year-old 'fossil fish' thought to have been extinct. The book reads like a thriller and is gripping from start to finish. I've recommended it to several friends that don't normally read about natural history and they all loved it."

What Nature Does For Britain by Tony Juniper

Wilding by Isabella Tree

Brendon Chase by 'BB'

Recommended by Ash Murray, West Norfolk Reserves Manager:

"A children's book about three brothers that run away to live in an ancient oak wood (Brendon Chase). I read this many times when I was a boy and it had a major impact on me and is probably the reason I took on a career in nature conservation. The story starts off a little shaky, I think, until the boys run away and then BB's (pen-name for Denys Watkins-Pitchford) passion and knowledge of the countryside and nature shines out. The book includes several of his lovely scraper-board artworks too."

The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann:

Recommended by Kate Martin, HR Manager:

"I have fond memories of cuddling up with my boys, who were around 5 and 7 at the time, and reading this book to them. Alongside the ever important opportunities for putting on silly voices, it creates an interesting way of talking about different habitats, habitat loss, climate change and nature reserves. It gently covers themes of friendship and perseverance too. Perhaps not a bedtime book as there are some sad moments (and an adult pre-read might be best), but one for daytime, and then a visit to see a nature reserve in action."

Countryside Reflections by Ted Ellis

Recommended by Joseph Hamilton, Broads South Trainee:

"A book comprising of diaries and poems about Norfolk's wildlife and the people in it. I enjoy the familiar quality this book has - the poems create beautiful images and the diaries are insightful to daily wonders of Norfolk's wildlife."

Many of the books mentioned in this blog post are available from our supporters, WildSounds. We also stock an excellent selection of nature books in our Visitor Centre shops at Cley Marshes and Hickling Broad. Some of the books may also be available from your local library or bookshop.

Happy reading!

Header image: Bank vole after a snow shower by Jon Kelf

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