Books·Gift Guide

10 books for the nature lover this holiday season

If you know someone who loves the great outdoors, they might love these books!

If you know someone who loves the great outdoors, they might love these books! Here are 10 books for the nature enthusiast on your holiday list.

The Wild Heavens by Sarah Louise Butler

The Wild Heavens is a novel by Sarah Louise Butler. (Douglas & McIntyre, Bobbi Barbarich)

The Wild Heavens is a novel about the magic and mystery of nature — and our relationship to it. Over the course of one cold winter day, a young mother Sandy Langley reflects on her grandfather, who was obsessed with a mysterious creature in the woods, their relationship, motherhood and more, while finally coming to terms with the mysteries and tragedies that shaped her life and made her who she is.

Sarah Louise Butler is a writer from British Columbia.The Wild Heavens is her first novel.

Sarah Louise Butler talks about how science, nature and family became major themes in her novel The Wild Heavens.

Magdalena by Wade Davis

Magdalena is a book by Wade Davis. (Adam Dillon, Knopf Canada)

Wade Davis highlights the Magdalena River in Colombia in his latest book, MagdalenaHe tells the story of the river and, along the way, the story of Colombia and the people who rely on the river for their livelihood through a combination of personal travel memoir, journalism and biography. 

Davis is a writer, photographer and filmmaker whose work has taken him to the Amazon, Tibet, Polynesia, the Arctic and beyond. He is a professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia and a former National Geographic explorer-in-residence. He has written several books, including Into the Silence and One River. He was the CBC Massey Lecturer in 2009, giving a talk called The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World.

Ancient wisdom in the modern world can save us from the dangers of climate change, argues Wade Davis. The Canadian anthropologist has spent a lifetime looking into what Indigenous peoples of the world can teach us. Now, 10 years after his 2009 Massey lectures called 'The Wayfinders,' he looks back on what has changed on our planet — for better and for worse. *Originally aired on February 18, 2020.

Into the Planet by Jill Heinreith

Into the Planet is a memoir by Jill Heinerth. (Doubleday Canada)

Jill Heinerth is one of Canada's most renowned cave divers and is one of the few female cave divers working today. She was the first person in history to dive into an Antarctic iceberg and led the team that discovered ancient remains of Mayan civilizations. She was also a go-to expert during the rescue of the young Thai soccer team in 2018. Into the Planet is her story, but it's also an introduction to the drama and adventure of cave diving.

Heinerth is a cave diver. Into the Planet is her first book.

My TNOT: Jill Heinerth

2 years ago
Duration 4:34
Extreme diver and explorer Jill Heinerth recalls her time exploring underneath the Arctic sea ice, and wonders if the photos she took will someday be used as images of 'extinct species.' She also reflects on the time she became the first woman to swim with a wild polar bear.

TreeTalk by Ariel Gordon

TreeTalk is a book by Ariel Gordon. (Mike Deal, At Bay Press)

In the summer of 2017, Ariel Gordon spent two days on a patio in downtown Winnipeg, writing poetry she hung on a tree. She invited people who passed by to participate in her project. When the two days were over, 234 poems hung from the tree. TreeTalk brings these poems together into a single long poem that questions our relationship to nature and explores what it means to live in a city and in nature at the same time.

Gordon is a poet from Winnipeg. She is also the author of the nonfiction book Treed and was a co-editor on the anthology Gush.

Cry Wolf by Harold R. Johnson

Cry Wolf is a book by Harold R. Johnson. (University of Regina Press)

In 2005, 22-year-old University of Waterloo student Kenton Carnegie was killed in a wolf attack near his work camp in northern Saskatchewan. Harold R. Johnson, an experienced hunter and trapper, had been told to stay away from wolves. Johnson takes on wolves and the mythology around them in Cry WolfHe explores Carnegie's death and other wolf attacks and suggests that we should take wolves more seriously.

Johnson is a former Crown prosecutor who has written several works of both fiction and nonfiction. His book Firewater: How Alcohol Is Killing My People (and Yours) was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction. His other books include the novel Corvus, the genre-bending memoir Clifford and the nonfiction work Peace and Good Order.

Two Trees Make a Forest by Jessica J. Lee

Two Trees Make a Forest is a book by Jessica J. Lee. (Hamish Hamilton, Ricardo A. Rivas)

Two Trees Make a Forest is an exploration of how geographical forces are interlaced with our family stories. A chance discovery of letters written by her immigrant grandfather leads Jessica J. Lee to her ancestral homeland, Taiwan. There, she traces his story while growing closer to the land he knew. Throughout her adventures, Lee uncovers surprising parallels between nature and human stories that shaped her family and their beloved island. In the memoir, she also turns a critical eye onto colonialist explorers who mapped the land and named plants, and both relied on and often erased the labour and knowledge of local communities.

Two Trees Make a Forest won the 2020 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

Lee is a British Canadian Taiwanese author, environmental historian, and winner of the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Author Award. Her first book, Turning, was longlisted for the Frank Hegyi Award for Emerging Authors.

Jessica J. Lee won the $60,000 Writers' Trust Hilary Weston Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, for her memoir, Two Trees Make A Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts. She joins us to discuss the connection between family, nature and her ancestral homeland of Taiwan.

Field Notes for the Self by Randy Lundy

Randy Lundy is a Canadian poet and writer. (University of Regina Press, Submitted)

Field Notes for the Self is a series that takes inspiration from the poetic structuring of Patrick Lane, John Thompson and Charles Wright, but their closest cousins may be Arvo Pärt'sThis collection deals with the idea of liberation from personal and inherited trauma and memories of violence inflicted on Lundy's Indigenous ancestors which continue to haunt him. Similar to Randy Lundy's past works, this collection is rooted in observations of the natural world. 

Lundy is a Saskatchewan-based short story writer and award-winning poet. He has published three previous books, Under the Night SunGift of the Hawk and Blackbird Song, which won the Saskatchewan Arts Board Poetry Award in 2019.

The Cree poet Randy Lundy on Field Notes for the Self, and drawing inspiration from what's right in his own backyard.

Ice Walker by James Raffan

Ice Walker is a book by James Raffan. (Simon & Schuster, Jason van Bruggen)

In Ice Walker, explorer and adventurer James Raffan asks readers to look at the Arctic through unexpected eyes: the eyes of a polar bear named Nanu and her family. As climate change changes the Arctic, where Nanu's family has lived and hunted for generations, the bear must figure out how to find food and shelter for her family, on a landscape that is warming up, where precious ice is melting rapidly and everything is changing.

Raffan is a writer, teacher, geographer and adventurer. He has written more than 20 books, including Circling the Midnight Sun, Emperor of the North and Summer North of Sixty. His work has appeared in several Canadian media outlets, including the Globe and Mail, Canadian Geographic and CBC. In 2020, Canadian Geographic named him one of the "90 most influential explorers in the nation's recorded history."

A naturalist channels a mother polar bear to tell the story of environmental change

Imperilled Ocean by Laura Trethewey

Imperilled Ocean is a book by Laura Trethewey. (Goose Lane Editions, Stuart Isett)

Imperilled Ocean by Laura Trethewey follows several different people and their remarkable stories, but they all have one thing in common: the ocean. Imperilled Ocean combines remarkable stories — such as a community living on the water battling eviction to a Ghanian teenager trying to make it to Europe on a life raft — with deep research to paint a portrait of a place that takes up most of the space on this planet, yet we know so little about, in a time when climate change is rapidly changing the ocean and humanity's relationship to it.

Trethewey is a science journalist who specializes in oceans. She is a writer and editor for Vancouver Aquarium's website Ocean.org. Imperilled Ocean is her first book.

Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder by Julia Zarankin

Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder is a book by Julia Zarankin. (Douglas & McIntyre, Submitted by Julia Zarankin)

When she was 35, Julia Zarankin was divorced and changing careers. She decided she needed a hobby, and unexpectedly turned to birdwatching. Her memoir, Field Notes from an Unintentional Birderblends together a blossoming love affair with birding with her own biography — she was born in the Soviet Union, grew up in Canada and spent time living in Paris.

Zarankin is a writer and lecturer based in Toronto. She made the 2020 CBC Short Story Prize shortlist for Black-legged KittiwakeField Notes from an Unintentional Birder is her first book.

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