Six new books impressed by the pure world

Wanderland, by Jini Reddy

Follow author Jini on a whimsical journey to connect with the magic of the British countryside in this entry for the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing. On her travels, which range from a coast-to-coast pilgrimage to a trip with a group of women who worship the goddess, she seeks to build a more spiritual, closer relationship with nature and better understand where we humans belong in it. Jini was born in Canada to Indian parents and has an ironic, unique perspective on the nature of the wilderness and the beauty of our countryside. (Bloomsbury, £ 16.99)

The Lost Spells of Robert Macfarlane & Jackie Morris

A companion piece to Macfarlane and Morris’ The Lost Words, this pocket-sized spellbook delves into the vocabulary we use to name our flora and fauna, including the mundane and often unsung – like barn owl, silver birch, jay, and jackdaw. His ‘magic poems’ are hymns to nature, life-giving incantations to read out loud and remember the great miracle in small things. The words are paired with beautiful illustrations that add to the fascination of the book – feather-light brushstrokes that will make you follow in the footsteps of the red fox, in the slipstream of the dark Clearwing moth and deep into a forest world that comforts in a time and comforts the loss. (Penguin Books, £ 14.99)

An opinion leader on London Green Spaces by Harry Adès & Marco Kesseler

London is a uniquely green city with around 3,000 parks. It is a place where loyalty to the “best” green spaces is high. So make yourself comfortable and let this highly selective, subjective guide to London’s finest green pieces inspire you to reach an agreement or reason. A total of 50 locations, from Kensington Gardens to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, are recorded with maps and recommended walks. Whether you want a scenic stroll or a secluded picnic spot, this guide will show you where and why to go. (Hoxton Mini Press, £ 9.95)

The nature of nature, by Enric Sala

It’s hard to dream about the natural world and not feel alarmed about its uncertain, fragile future. Then who better to show us how to value our world than National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Enric Sala, who brings his enviable wealth of first-hand experience to this insightful read. In his airy, easy-to-follow style, Sala untangles the complex webs of nature to show us how deeply all living species are connected – and most importantly, how important they are in supporting human life. It is a passionate, intelligent request for us to do everything possible to protect our planet at a critical moment in its history. There’s also a foreword from Prince Charles, a longtime environmentalist. (National Geographic, £ 18.99)

Secret Britain, by Mary-Ann Ochota

The TV host, best known for her time on Channel 4’s Time Team, takes us on a tour of the ancient stone circles, geoglyphs, and outdoor places of worship that continue to shape our landscape – if you know how to spot them. Britain is full of centuries-old wonders: small, magical places and objects that can be the key to understanding our enduring relationship with the natural world and our distant ancestors. The guide reveals 70 of the UK’s most fascinating places and artifacts and the history behind them. These include the largest artificial hill in Europe and footpaths that are now almost invisible in the landscape. If there was ever a time to learn how to read our landscape to discover amulets to ward off evil, then this is probably the right one. (Frances Lincoln, £ 20)

The Botanical City, by Hélèna Dove & Harry Adès

Get the details of the little ones and locals in this exquisitely illustrated botanical guide to the urban plants that lurk on our doorsteps and by the roadside, as well as in our parks and wild corners. In collaboration with the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, kitchen gardener Hélèna Dove and travel writer Harry Adès offer fragrant information, revealing the ancient lore about plants such as sneeze root, bastard balsam and fat hen, as well as useful tips on using urban plants and mushrooms in life today (and avoid getting poisoned while at it). The beautiful illustrations come from a rare 18th century book in Kew’s library called Flora Londinensis. (Hoxton Mini Press, £ 25)

Published in the September / October 2020 issue of National Geographic Traveler (UK)

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