Book List, Staff Post

5 Books for the Wild-Hearted

When it came to writing my first blog post for Towne BC, I couldn’t think of a better way to introduce myself than with the thing nearest and dearest to my heart; nature. Outside of the world of books, I feel most at home under the trees with my toes in the grass. So naturally my favorite thing to read would be anything that allows me to explore nature through new eyes. Whether it be a magical land of forest fairies or a collection of thoughtful essays about the importance of trees, I just can’t get enough. The books I chose all come from different genres, different writing styles, and appeal to different audiences, but each one has allowed me to explore the realms of nature through unique and beautiful perspectives.

Each cover links to the book’s page on our website and is followed by my blurb and the publisher’s description!

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah Beth Durst has truly outdone herself with this adventurous trilogy that follows the rise and fall of the queendoms of Renthia. Renthia is a country overrun by forest fairies, but these creatures are not your usual fae folk. The forest spirits of Renthia crave death and destruction of the humans and are only kept under control by their chosen human queen and her unique power to connect with their minds. The setting is what truly made me fall in love with the Queens of Renthia. Villages built through the treetops, magical schools carved into the trunks of ancient trees, and castles built up from the very earth itself. Nature is woven into every aspect of this story; the beauty of glittering mornings in the forest is starkly contrasted with the sheer power and force of nature shown through the forest spirits’ wrath. While Durst connects you to nature in a beautiful and magical way, that’s not to distract from the fierce, loyal, and caring crew of characters she has brought to life. The Queens of Renthia will inspire you to find strength in yourself and a deep connection to the spirit of the Earth. 

Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow…

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still only human, and no matter how strong or good they are, the threat of danger always looms.

Because the queen’s position is so precarious, young women are specially chosen to train as her heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Meanwhile, the disgraced champion Ven has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. When Daleina and Ven join forces, they embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land…before it’s bathed in blood.

Spiritual Ecology edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

A collection of deep, inspirational, and eye opening essays and poetry selected and edited by the talented Llewellyn Vaughn – Lee; Spiritual Ecology is one that will sit with you long after you’ve finished it. Writings collected from leading ecologists, environmental activists, spiritual gurus, and indigenous and native peoples. Through so many powerful perspectives, Spiritual Ecology will make you cry for the Earth while leaving you with the hope for a better future. For anyone that cares deeply about the spirit of Mother Earth and the preservation of nature, I cannot recommend this book enough. 

The first edition of this book fostered the emergence of the “Spiritual Ecology Movement,” which recognizes the need for a spiritual response to our present ecological crisis. It drew an overwhelmingly positive response from readers, many of whom are asking the simple question, “What can I do?” This second expanded edition offers new chapters, including two from younger authors who are putting the principles of spiritual ecology into action, working with their hands as well as their hearts. It also includes a new preface and revised chapter by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, that reference two major recent events: the publication of Pope Francis’s encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home,” which brought into the mainstream the idea that “the ecological crisis is essentially a spiritual problem”; and the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference, which saw representatives from nearly 200 countries come together to address global warming, including faith leaders from many traditions. Bringing together voices from Buddhism, Sufism, Christianity, and Native American traditions, as well as from physics, deep psychology, and other environmental disciplines, this book calls on us to reassess our underlying attitudes and beliefs about the Earth and wake up to our spiritual as well as physical responsibilities toward the planet.

The Wild Wood by Charles de Lint

For fans of Neil Gaiman, Into the Wild Wood takes you on a twisty and mysterious road through the eyes of an introverted artist living deep in the woods of Canada. Haunted by dreams of forest creatures calling to her, appearing in her paintings and artwork; MaryAnn can’t shake the feeling the soul of the forest itself is trying to speak to her. De Lint brings an eerie take on nature’s last cry for help, spun together with MaryAnn’s attempt to overcome her past and rekindle her childhood spirit and connection to the woods. Into the Wild Wood left me with an uncomfortable pit in my stomach and an ache to help save the spirit of the woods.

A young artist returns to her cabin in the deep woods of Canada to concentrate on her illustrations. But somehow, strange and beautiful creatures are slipping into her drawings and sketches. The world of Faerie is reaching out to her for help–and she may be its last chance for survival.

Nature and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson brings unparalleled language to describe the beauty, importance, and mystery of man’s place in nature. He brings forward a deep and contemplative perspective on the aspects of nature that are undeniably important to human existence on Earth, while pointing out our complete and utter lack of appreciation for such a miracle. Written before our time of constant climate threat, instead of focusing on the pain of the earth, Nature is an ode to the forgotten philosophy of nature. Humans have a built-in connection to our natural surroundings. Emerson attempts to understand and explain this connection through thoughtful prose and intelligent language. Nature is an essay not to be overlooked, and may be even more important in this current day and age than even Emerson could have predicted.

A collection of essays from the father of the American transcendentalism, including “Nature,” “Self-Reliance,” “Love,” and “Art.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous essay “Nature” declared that understanding nature was the key to understanding God and reality, and laid the groundwork for transcendentalism. His legacy of boldly questioning the doctrine of his day and connecting with nature will resonate with today’s readers in search of meaning and enlightenment.

Essays include “Nature” (1836) and Emerson’s first series, published in 1841: “History,” “Self-Reliance,” “Compensation,” “Spiritual Laws,” “Love,” “Friendship,” “Prudence,” “Heroism,” “The Over-Soul,” “Circles,” “Intellect,” and “Art.”

Nature and Other Essays joins Gibbs Smith’s best-selling Wilderness series. Standing beside the works of his protégé Henry David Thoreau, as well as John Muir, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and Jack London, these essays are reissued to encourage and inspire philosophers, travelers, campers, and contemporary naturalists.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

If you haven’t read A Psalm for the Wild-Built yet, go read it right now – and then go ahead and read it again. Nothing I could say about this book would serve it justice. Witty, intelligent, introspective, hopeful, and comforting; this book will quickly make a warm and fuzzy little home in your heart. The dialogue between our non-binary tea monk, Dex, and their unexpected (and delightful) companion/robot, Mosscap, is deep, complex, and at the same time will tickle your soul and make you feel full of wonder. Becky Chambers will make you rethink what you know about science fiction in this peaceful journey through the woods, creating friendships, and inspiring hope for a better world (all in less than 150 pages).

In A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Hugo Award-winner Becky Chambers’s delightful new Monk and Robot series gives us hope for the future.

It’s been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.

They’re going to need to ask it a lot.

Becky Chambers’s new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?

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