Book Highlights 2013

This post was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

This year I had the opportunity to read several excellent books ranging in topics from vampire squids to garden insects. Here are five of my favorites, some which are older, some newer, but all very interesting.

The Urban Bestiary

830eaa3251c03fc3142a1562e93c3708 (1)Lyanda Lynn Haupt
Little, Brown and Company
September 17, 2013

When I heard the author of one of my favorite books, Crow Planet had a new book in the works I was very excited. This new book was as fascinating and really fun read. It’s written in the form of the ancient bestiaries and features a great many urban animals that we admire, hate, see and don’t see. There is a great deal of information about each animal featured, some of which you will find very surprising. The author…

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Nature Picture Books:: As The Crow Flies

All day long you’re on the go, you don’t have time to watch a crow…

So begins one of my favorite picture books, As the Crow Flies, by Sheila Keenan and illustrated by Kevin Duggan. Crows are one of my favorite birds, they are fascinating and beautiful to watch. We are lucky to have a couple of sizable crow roosts here in the Seattle area. We’ve been to watch them roost a couple of times and our house is right along one of their nightly roost routes. Needless to say, I was thrilled when we chanced upon this book at our local library. After renewing it the maximum number of times, I had to purchase it because we loved reading it so much.

This book perfectly captures not only the wonderful, and amazing variety of crow behavior, but our own attitudes to them as well. Crows are undoubtedly…

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Nature Picture Books:: Lizi Boyd

Over the last two and a half years I’ve read a staggering number of picture books to my daughter, a large percentage of them nature themed. In this new column feature I’m going to highlight some of our favorite authors, series and individual books.

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One of my favorite books to look at has no words at all, it’s called Inside Outside (affiliate link) by artist and author Lizi Boyd. The book alternates from scenes indoors to scenes outdoors, following a boy, his dog, cat and turtle. Each page has cutouts integrated into the scene which reveal the next page very cleverly bringing the outside, inside and back again.

Nature abounds in all the scenes and even on the inside pages you’ll see paintings of birds and drawings of plants on the walls. Outside the…

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Book Review:: Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden

9781604693881lAs one who spends a fair amount of time crawling around my yard in search of interesting insects, I was, needless to say, excited to see a new book from Timber Press with the title Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control. It’s written by horticulturist and self-proclaimed ‘bug lover’ Jessica Walliser. With a quick glance through the book, it’s easy to see it’s up to the typical high standard of Timber Press books and full of wonderful and inspiring images of beautiful bug-friendly gardens.

As this is not a typical sort of book that gardeners might be drawn to, (usually it’s more along the lines of how to get rid of bugs instead of attract them) Walliser makes several confessions in the introduction which states how she came to love…

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Book Review:: Gardening for the Birds

9781604694093lWhenever I see another book about landscaping or gardening for the birds come out, I’m usually dubious. My shelves are full of generic guides on how to attract birds and unsurprisingly, they’re much the same. They usually focus heavily on bird feeders, bird baths and plants which are often labeled as native, yet are only really native to small portions of the country. It’s a very hard thing to write a book for the whole, giant, diverse continent and nearly every single one I have seen makes little attempt to address this in the plant choices. They instead list various plants, but don’t specify where exactly they are native. My go-to book for a long time has been Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest because it’s so specific to my region and has excellent plant information. Unfortunately, few…

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Book Review:: The Urban Bestiary

The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild is the new book from author Lyanda Lynn Haupt who also wrote one of my favorite books, Crow Planet. It’s one of the books I recommend most often in conversation and blog posts. It’s a book that made me a better urban naturalist and opened my eyes to improved observation skills. Needless to say, I had high expectations from Haupt’s new book, to be released on September 17th. I’m happy to report I wasn’t disappointed.

830eaa3251c03fc3142a1562e93c3708One of the first messages of this book is carried over from Crow Planet and that is the idea of nature as something all around us, all the time, instead of something out there, which we have to put on fancy hiking shoes to visit. Haupt has dubbed it the ‘New Nature’ and is quickly becoming an excellent spokeswoman…

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