I’ve just been looking back at my reading over this year. Here are the five books I’ve enjoyed most in 2014.
Feral, by George Monbiot
My favourite book of the last 12 months by some margin, Feral explores the topic of rewilding – the idea of letting nature take its course with the landscape, and seeing what ensues. It’s beautifully written and compellingly argued, but ultimately it is love that gives the book its power.
Simple Living in History, edited by Samuel Alexander and Amanda Mcleod
A tour of simple living pioneers from ancient civilizations to the present day, and a diverse and inspiring read. Importantly, it’s focused on the future, on what we can learn from history to move forward beyond our unsustainable consumer society.
Economics, the User’s Guide, by Ha-Joon Chang
Ha-Joon Chang desperately wants more people to take an interest in economics. It’s too important to leave it to the professionals, he argues, and he’s written a book that could not do more to make the subject accessible. And yes, interesting. Funny even. If you only read one book on economics, ever, make it this one.
How to Connect with Nature, by Tristan Gooley
Another book with an infectious love for the land, this one lays down some basic principles for orienting ourselves in the natural world. Nature can be confusing and chaotic, and there is so much to learn. Where to start? How about with our own senses, with the ground beneath our feet. Practical, entertaining and eye-opening, whether or not you consider yourself the outdoor type.
Learning with Nature, by Marina Robb, Victoria Mew, and Anna Richardson
It’s not the kind of thing I normally review, but Green Books’ ‘how-to’ guide for getting children active outdoors was genuinely inspiring. It’s full of simple and ingenious ideas that beg to be tried, all smartly presented and with a real voice of experience. In a culture that doesn’t value an outdoor childhood, this feels like an important book.
It’s a bit of a surprise, but three out of my top five for this year are on appreciating the natural world, and there’s more I could add there. I also loved Tristan Gooley’s The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs, but it’s massive and I’ve got a way to go yet. Bill McKibben’s little book The Comforting Whirlwind is on a similar theme, a quite extraordinary theology of the natural world read through the book of Job that I finished reading but haven’t finished thinking about yet.
What did I miss in 2014 that I ought to pick up?