Articles in nature
A classic nature guide gets an elaborate, beautiful update.
The whole sweep of the Gulf of Mexico’s nature and history is the subject of a fascinating and passionate new book.
The world’s most endangered population of grizzly bears is the subject of a powerful, haunting new book
Can birds – any species of bird, anywhere in the United States – survive their contact with humanity? A new book looks at the science and the sobering numbers.
A gruesomely fascinating new book looks at the weird and unsettling phenomenon of venom in animal kingdom. Justin Hickey reviews.
Olivia Laing’s digressive natural history of the 42-mile-long River Ouse is filled with philosophical meditations, childhood memories, and of course the ghost of Virginia Woolf.
The overflowing diversity of Australian bird life is the subject of Tim Low’s captivating new book
Who can measure the worth of a nightingale’s song? Why scientists can, you silly thing!
For a century, humans have been searching for any sign of extraterrestrial life, intelligent or otherwise. A new book tells the story of that quest – and keeps its geeky hope alive.
Snake expert Ted Levin argues in his captivating new book that the American rattlesnake is as misunderstood as it is miraculous.
A new book takes a revisionist look at the evolutionary history of the dog.
According to a new book, not only did God design life, but deep down inside, we all know it. Steve Donoghue remains unconverted.
An emotionally and physically damaged young woman finds healing by helping some of the most unlucky dogs on Earth in Shannon Kopp’s touching new book
This year in our annual Summer Reading feature, our writers recommend favorite books that take us on journeys – through time, around the world, or just out of ourselves.
Part II of our Summer Reading feature brings more books about exploration and travel.
Coyotes have successfully infiltrated almost every niche of the American landscape and folklore. Justin Hickey tours Coyote America by Dan Flores.
As the haze and heat of summer kick into full swing, the folk of Open Letters break out their annual Summer Reading recommendations!
A fascinating new book reveals the wonders that are visible once humans stop thinking of fish as merely food with fins.
It has three hearts, eight tentacles, and a brain of startling and utterly alien complexity – it’s the octopus, and a heartfelt book takes readers inside the cephalopod world.
A stirring, eloquent new book makes a wide-ranging case for the brainpower of birds
The heroic efforts to save the lives of the black rhinos of Zimbabwe are at the heart of a thrilling new book
A lovely new volume offers a selection of Henry David Thoreau’s heartfelt writings about flowers
Only one dog out of every five on Earth is somebody’s pet; the rest are roamers in streets and city dumps. A fascinating new book looks at the lives of the canine majority.
Nearly 40 years ago, Washington State’s Mount St. Helens volcano erupted, killing 57 people and spewing hundreds of tons of molten ash into the atmosphere. A gripping new book tells the story.
Birds, bees, mice, bats – a wide array of animals are crucial to the pollination of the plants of the world. A stunning new book shows us their world.
An enterprising bird-artist takes readers inside the nests of a dozen species
A sumptuous new book lays a vast roll call of frogs before the reader and opens a window onto the strange world of the world’s most popular amphibian.
A new book offers a fascinating look at a complex and turbulent alien world – the one beneath our feet
A young explorer enters the Amazon in search of a legendary river that boils as it flows.
A sweeping new overview of the sciences has big ambitions – and some odd sticking points
A family from New Jersey moves to the wilds of Minnesota and learns a whole new way to think about food
A stirring account of one wild family of critically-endangered Siberian tigers
In Zachary Thomas Dodson’s visionary and inventive debut novel, a violent past and a dystopian future are woven together into a tale of families, legacies … and bats. Justin Hickey reviews Bats of the Republic.
A gorgeously-illustrated new book looks at the long and gaudy history of life on Earth
In the Ethiopian city of Harar, spotted hyenas roam the streets at night, cleaning up the day’s garbage better than any human crew could do. A fascinating new book tells the story.
Now in paperback: a thorough – and thoroughly interesting – study of the actual physical dimensions of the little pond whose name Henry David Thoreau made immortal
The huge environmental problems facing India form the backdrop for Meera Subramanian’s fantastic first book
In his brilliant new book, Jedediah Purdy argues that humanity must face the collapse of nature using the three tools it knows best: politics, policy, and cold, hard cash
A lively new book explores the minds and behaviors of many of Earth’s cetaceans
In his beautifully-written new book, ecologist Carl Safina takes a broader look at the emotional and mental lives of nonhuman animals
Far from the popular image of ravenous killing machines, wolves are actually surprisingly cautious predators who carefully weigh the risks they take, as a stunning new study illustrates
The success of the documentary Blackfish has thrown a spotlight on orcas not as the “killer” whales of the ocean but as victims; a dazzling new natural history broadens the picture to show us truly magnificent alien beings.
Tens of thousands of years ago, humans domesticated canines and thereby changed the dynamics of life on earth – a change humanity then continued by domesticating other species. A fascinating new book details the process
Millions of years ago, hominids began walking upright – thus expanding their field of view and freeing their hands for mischief and took-making. A new book celebrates the result.
Now in paperback: a new rumination on the nature of the post-wildlife world mankind has built
The ecstasy and anguish of falling in love have been the stuff of poetry for thousands of years – but do they boil down to the workings of serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline? Jane Schmidt reviews a new look at romantic love.
A group of rescuers in Southern California treat the most delicate patients imaginable: injured hummingbirds
A genuinely thought-provoking new work of science-writing probes the nature – and even the value – of noise
The quintessential modern classic of gardening-literature gets a very nice reprint
A nature enthusiast looks at the countless little lives taking place on his small rural French meadow-farm
Michael Pye’s new book provides a rich history of the North Sea in human culture – and pokes holes in some crass nationalist myth-making along the way. Matt Ray reviews The Edge of the World.
In his moving account, now in paperback from New World Library, David Helvarg recounts the wonders and wealth of the world’s oceans
Cuckoos use other species of birds to raise the young they abandon, and they’ve been doing it for thousands of years without getting arrested. An absorbing new book isn’t precisely rooting for them, but still …
An extremely winning new book explores the enormous ways eight particular animal kinds have altered the course of human life on Earth
These fairies of the air are among the most beautiful sights of summer. They’re also 300 million years old and honed killing machines. A new book of photography shows us dragonflies as we’ve never seen them.
A new book details the terrible destruction caused by a record-breaking series of tornadoes that struck the American South in 2011
Species arrive, thrive, and then go extinct – but after the long and frightful reign of Homo sapiens … what?
When Homo sapiens appeared in Europe 45,000 years ago, most of the long-established species there – including the Neanderthals – began to disappear. Did Homo sapiens wipe them out? And if so, did they have help from somebody right there in your living room?
Ron Howard’s adaptation of Nathaniel Philbrick’s bestselling In the Heart of the Sea will soon appear, but even the trailers raise rich questions: Why does this story still have the power to fascinate? A Moby-Dick fan ponders.
Stalking the pages of Thomas Pierce’s debut story collection, where the surreal shares quarters with the ordinary, are dwarf mammoths, genetically modified guard dogs, baby Pippin monkeys, and a parakeet named Magnificent.
In the vastness of the world’s oceans, some mammals have evolved brains and language … and culture? A fascinating new book looks at the inner lives of whales and dolphins
For centuries, women have handed down much more than recipes from their kitchens: they have shared the special alchemy that transforms the mundane into the magical.
An environmentalist writes an energetic and – despite everything – optimistic clarion call to better and smarter thinking about how mankind can ease its disastrous impact on nature
World after world detected by powerful long-range telescopes are being shown to possess oceans – probably radically different from those of Earth; a new book looks at water worlds, our own and others
It’s summer at last, and you won’t find any relief from the heat in our editors’ round-up of the hottest books they know.
Having tried therapy and medication to treat his anxiety disorder, Scott Stossel turned to writing. His new book, part memoir, part cultural history, may be an essential document of our agitated age.
Throughout its history, humankind has been both terrified by and obsessed with monsters – hence the booming ‘cryptid’ industry, traversing the globe in search of legendary beasts like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. A new book looks at the science and psychology behind our modern bogeymen.
What you don’t know about bacteria can hurt you, and a new addition to the Oxford Very Short Introduction series aims to set that straight.
It became entangled with the imperial hopes of a nation and inspired the design of one of the most significant buildings of the 19th century, the Crystal Palace: a new book explores the remarkable story of the Amazonian water lily.
They breathe poison gas and eat old bones and stones; they are sightless, deaf, and ageless; they flourish in temperatures that would melt iron or freeze concrete; and they live on the strangest planet in the known universe: Earth
Our feature continues, as more Open Letters folk share their annual Summer Reading recommendations!
He travelled the fledgling United States shooting birds, wiring them into poses, and then painting them for eternity – he was John James Audubon, and his epic “The Birds of America” has a beautiful, gargantuan new edition from Abbeville Press
New York artist Christo wants to drape 5.9 miles of silvery fabric over a 42 mile stretch of the Arkansas River. The sketches are lovely, but locals and environmentalists are horrified. Who’s in the right?
What do Christopher Marlowe and the newly discovered Higgs boson particle have in common? Anthony Lock explores the connection, by way of unified fields.
Their brains – their digits – their eyes – their locomotion – their families – their staggeringly long reign over the planet Earth: it’s all here, and much, much more. The greatest dinosaur reference work just got even better.
Can plants see and smell and hear? Can they think? Daniel Chamovitz’s “field guide” to the botanical senses poses those provocative questions, but how well does it answer them?
Computers – search engines, interactive databases, digital archives – have the potential to change academic research in ways the previous twenty centuries couldn’t have imagined. But are those changes improvements – or the end of expertise as we know it? Or both?
A stunning – and miraculously hopeful – update to DK’s legendary guide to animals
Could you actually be hurting the environment by going green and moving to the suburbs? A new book champions that oft-maligned human invention: the big city.
Nicholson Baker’s provocative new book is an attempt at mainstream literary pornography, but does it suffer from the same performance anxiety as other novelistic efforts to depict sex?
Religion is one of those subjects that are too important to be polite about. But can we at least agree to disagree respectfully about the meaning of life?
For millions of years, polar bears have ruled the North, inspiring fear and reverence in all the human cultures ringing the Arctic. A new work of natural history studies the great white bear – and wonders if we’re watching the final act.
Adam Nicolson chronicles his work bringing Sissinghurst castle and its grounds up to date–the delusions of a “hippie-squire” or the worthy restoration of a storied estate?
America’s ever-expanding suburbs have brought us right to the doorstep of the wild – and brought the wild to our doorstep – redefining both worlds in the process.
The elephants of South Africa and the right whales of the North Atlantic are enormous, complex – and confronted with a growing human population. Two books estimate their chances.
Jonathan Safran Foer is not the first, but is certainly the most famous, to investigate the ethics of eating animals. Megan Kearns studies both the style and the substance of his argument, with an eye to his less acknowledged allies in vegetarianism
Two books by Jeff Mynott and Colin Tudge explore why it is that birds have such a hold on our hearts. Honoria St. Cyr adds her observations – on the books and on those little marvels around the feeder.
In Following the Water, David C. Carroll has written another paean of praise to the gentle world of pond turtles. But is he writing about a lost world? Tuc McFarland hopes not.
The late Roger Deakin celebrates his beloved trees one last time in Wildwood, and Bryn Haworth gladly finds himself within a dark forest.
Peter Ackroyd’s Thames: the Biography is a rambling, list-laden account of the much-storied river. Our London correspondent Bryn Haworth tests the waters.
Three new books trek the red rocks of Mars, and although they don’t exactly admit it, they’re in search of one thing: signs of life. Astrid Van Sarisgaard tells us what they discover, or don’t.
All life on Earth is bound to our vast and complex oceans, the subject of The Smithsonian Institute’s new exhibit. Ben Soderquist dives into its companion volume: Ocean: Our Water, Our World.
It has been a part of every human life since mankind was born – but how much does any of us know about lightning? Terry Soderquist reviews John S. Friedman’s Out of the Blue and tries to fill in the gaps on this most scarifying of natural phenomena.
Tuc Macfarland was forever changed when he first heard whalesong, something he shares in common with the men and women exploring those haunting sounds in David Rothenberg’s Thousand Mile Song.
Becka Podlertz decries the blinkered arrogance of all animal researchers, just as she celebrates the unique and thought-provoking contribution of Maddalena Bearzi and Craig B. Stanford in their new book, Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins
Jonah Lehrer’s Proust Was a Neuroscientist attempts to reconcile the ageless turf war between the arts and sciences, but, as Lianne Habinek reports, Lehrer’s propositions may leave both sides feelings shortchanged.
Gun-and-net-toting naturalists seldom produce a better writer than William Beebe. In this regular feature, Steve Donoghue revisits the science writing of a more invasive age.
Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us has an irresistible premise: what
would happen on Earth if human beings suddenly disappeared? Steve
Donoghue cheerfully follows Weisman’s lead.