We celebrate this spring with a fine selection of the most recently published books on nature writing by Portuguese, Spanish, French and British authors.
By Ricardo J. Rodrigues
Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos
Published: March 2015
The Portuguese journalist Ricardo J. Rodrigues has been chasing wolves and writing about them for the last ten years in a newspaper magazine, “Notícias Magazine”. In 2006 he published “Bitcho Bravo. A década dos lobos transmontanos” (“Wild Beast. A decade of the wolves of Trás-os-Montes”), by Dom Quixote publisher. Now, almost ten years later, he returns to the wolf territory to tell us four stories. Real stories.
The war between two armies who are both losing the fight – the Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus) and the people who live in the rural region of the North of the country, that’s being abandoned by its inhabitants and is slowly vanishing – it’s the thread that leads the reader through the 70 pages of the book.
The people and the wolves in this book are real and symbolize centuries of a very difficult relationship. But also a passionate one. These four stories help us understand what’s in stake for the two sides of this war.
By Robert Macfarlane
Published: 5 March 2015
20 British pounds
Robert Macfarlane is an unavoidable name in the literary world of nature writing, with four books already published. This British author, 38, wrote his first book in 2003, “Mountains of the mind” and since then he has drawn high expectations about his writings. In 2007 Macfarlane published “Wild Places” and in 2012 “The Old Ways”.
This March he gives us “Landmarks”, a book about the power of words to influence our sense of belonging to a place. Macfarlane celebrates British nature writers of all times in this glossary with hundreds of words used in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to describe the land, nature and the weather. Many of them have already disappeared, but others have been recently created by the people that live in the countryside. Macfarlane wants to show us that words can be a portal for us to know the landscape and to learn to love it.
By Dominic Couzens
Published: 12 March 2015
18 British pounds (online)
The British ornithologist Dominic Couzens divided the world by continents and selected amazing stories to illustrate the vast diversity of bird behaviours. To help him on this task, there are 120 beautiful coloured photographs.
Each continent has five or six stories and each one reveals truths and analyses myths of the natural world. For instance, which bird is so big, strong and fierce in order to feed stories about its capacity to kill human beings? And what happens in an albatross “divorce”? Are there birds that offer flowers as a way to attract the females of its species?
The author, a birdwatcher guide since 1988, has already published over 30 books about the natural world, specialy about birds.
By Vincent Albouy and François Desbordes (illustrations)
Delachaux et niestlé
Published: 9 April 2015
The French entomologist Vincent Albouy tells in this book 30 fascinating stories about insects, illustrated by François Desbordes. Each story represents a specific group and reveals aspects of the animals that, in a way, are not ordinary.
Some are more famous then others, such as the monarch butterfly and its long migrations or the glow-worms. Albouy, always curious and fascinated by wildlife, writes about all kinds of insects, including the ones that live only for a few hours and those which are used for Medicine purposes.
Albouy is the president of OPIE (Office pour les insectes et leur environment) and was the founder of Ponema, an organization for the development of wild and natural gardens. Desbordes is considered one of the best French nature illustrators.
By Aina Serra Erice and Jose Antonio Marina
Published: 7 April 2015
This is the first book by Aina Serra Erice, a Spanish biologist dedicated to plants. “La invencion del reino vegetal. Historias sobre plantas y la inteligencia humana” (“The invention of the vegetable kingdom. Stories about plants and the human intelligence”) is the result of a cooperation between Erice and the philosopher Jose Antonio Marina and it took five years to write.
This book is a non fiction work about plants and their presence in art and culture, since the classics to our days. Erice and Marina write about the relationship between the human being and the vegetable world and reveal mysteries in History, compare different civilizations and show us compelling scientific data to enhance the wonders of nature.
By Melissa Harrison
Published: 23 April 2015
15,29 British pounds (online)
Melissa Harrison, author that arrived at the literary scene with “Clay”, in 2013 – a book that has won the Portsmouth First Fiction Award – publishes now this story about the differences between the urban world and the countryside.
The plot takes place in Lodeshill, a little place to where Howard and Kitty are moving in, after leaving their life in London. Nature is like a stage where the characters will play their roles, showing to the reader the difficulties of starting a new life in an entirely different place. Harrison – who writes columns for “The Times”, “Weekend FT” and “The Guardian” – gives us characters that are fighting to find a place to belong, in a story about love, loss and land.
By Patrick Barkham
Published: 2 April 2015
20 British pounds
This is the story of 742 miles of coastline in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, told through a series of walks beside the sea. But, above all, Patrick Barkham writes about the way the ocean has influenced the people who live near the shore. The author brings us images of rocks, plants and animals, walks and history.
As he travels along coastal paths, visits beaches and explores coves, Barkham reflectes on the campaign to protect shoreline from tidal erosion and human damage. This book is published to coincide with the 50º anniversary of the National Trust campaign to save British coast.
Barkham writes about History in “The Guardian” and has published other books, such as “The Butterfly Isles” (2011) about England’s butterflies, and “Badgerlands” (2013), about the badger, one of the most enigmatic animals of the country.