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Nature and Ecology Books to Read This Spring

Books about the outdoors to be enjoyed from the comforts of your favourite cozy chair. 

Welcome to January! If you love to be outside, then these books are for you, situating you amid the wonders of nature and winter with the turn of every page. If the outdoors are too cold for your liking, however, than this reading list is still the ticket, enabling you still to partake in winter adventures (and even some warmer ones) from the comforts of your favourite cozy chair. 


Book Cover Winter Sports

Winter Sports, by Lady Aberdeen

Part of a series of work by Canadian women writers between 1639 and 1914, Winter Sports was a journal written by Lady Aberdeen, who was the wife of Canada's Governor General during the late 19th century. She writes about learning to enjoy sledding in Ottawa, partaking in winter festivals and other activities that would have been foreign to her as an Englishwoman living in Canada. 

Book Cover Lucy Tries Short Track

Lucy Tries Short Track, by Lisa Bowes, illustrated by James Hearne

This is the second book in the Lucy Tries Sports series (with Lucy Tries Soccer forthcoming in the spring). In this volume, Lucy attempts speed skating and discovers that skimming across the ice at high speeds is not as easy as it looks. Turns out there is a possibility of crashing! But Lucy overcomes her fears and proves herself in this book that's designed to get children active and interested in sports. 

Book Cover Canada Rocks

Canada Rocks: the Geologic Journey, by Nick Eyles and Andrew Miall

Okay, a book about rocks might not immediately inspire passion, but how cool is it to discover that rocks discovered in Halifax's Point Pleasant Park were once part of Morocco? Or that fossils in a road cut in Cache Creek, British Columbia once lived in a sea that covered China? The story of how our country was made (quite literally) is one that's rich with surprises. 

Stories of the Aurora

Stories of the Aurora, The Myths and Facts of the Northern Lights, by Joan Marie Galat (February)

The facts of the aurora borealis are as fascinating as its legends, and Joan Marie Galaet explores both in this new book for young readers, illustrated by Lorna Bennett. In addition to the science behind the lights, the book includes note of many legends surrounding the event including tales of the afterlife from the Inuit, a European and Mi'kmaq fairy tale and even a story from the ancient Romans on what an Aurora could possibly mean. 

Caribou Run

Caribou Run, by Richard Kelly Kemick (March)

Following the caribou through their annual cycle of migration, Kemick experiments with formal and thematic variations that run from lyric studies of the creature and its environment, to found poems that play with the peculiar poetry of scientific discourse, to highly personal poems that find resonance in the caribou as a metaphor and a guiding spirit. 

Book Cover Clean Sweep

Clean Sweep: Frank Zamboni's Ice Machine, by Monica Kulling, illustrated by Renné Benoit

While the zamboni machine is not actually part of nature, those who love hockey and skating could not imagine the world without it. In this, the latest in her picture book series of biographies of inventors, Kulling chronicles the life of Frank Zamboni who'd sought a faster alternative to the hour and half it took to resurface the ice rink he owned. It took nine years for his design to be perfected, the result being the Model A, which "cleaned the ice in one sweep around the rink." 

Book Cover Tokyo Digs a Garden

Tokyo Digs a Garden, by Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka (March)

This beautiful book is a visual delight with illustrations by Hatanaka, whose work we know from Drive: A Look at Roadside Opposites and Work: An Occupational ABC. Lapping's story is just as fantastical, and the images and words are perfectly complementary. It's Jack and the Beanstalk goes wild in this book about magical seeds which sprout and take over a city. But is this a problem to be surmounted, or a new way of living to be embraced?

Book Cover Time and a Place

Time and a Place: An Environmental History of Prince Edward Island, by Edward MacDonald; Irené Novaczek & Joshua MacFadyen (June)

With its long and well-documented history, Prince Edward Island makes a compelling case study for thousands of years of human interaction with a specific ecosystem. The pastoral landscapes, red sandstone cliffs, and small fishing villages of Canada’s “garden province” are appealing because they appear timeless, but they are as culturally constructed as they are shaped by the ebb and flow of the tides. Bringing together experts from a multitude of disciplines, the essays in Time and a Place explore the island’s marine and terrestrial environment from its prehistory to its recent past. 

Book Cover Ice Diaries

Ice Diaries: An Antarctic Memoir, by Jean McNeil (March)

A year ago McNeil, whose work has been short-listed for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Journey Prize, spent a year as writer-in-residence with the British Antarctic Survey, and this memoir is the story of her experiences, as well as subsequent travels to Greenland, Iceland, and Svalbard, culminating in a strange event in Cape Town, South Africa, where she journeyed to make what was to be her final trip to the southernmost continent. Mixing travelogue, popular science, and memoir to examine the history of our fascination with ice, McNeil unexpectedly finds herself confronting her own upbringing in the Maritimes, the lifelong effects of growing up in a cold place, and how the climates of childhood frame our emotional thermodynamics for life. 

Spirit of the Wild

Spirit of the Wild: A Lyrical Colouring Book, by Erica Neuman and Dawn Sprung (May)

Get on the adult colouring book bandwagon with this book that features twenty-five of the most iconic birds and mammals of Western Canada based on the paintings of renowned wildlife artist Erica Neumann, each page including a poem by Dawn Sprung about the animal depicted. Spirit of the Wild promises to provide a relaxing and fulfilling pastime for mature colourers of all ages.

Book Cover Fifty Percent of Mountineering

Fifty Percent of Mountaineering is Uphill: The Life of Canadian Mountain Rescue Pioneer Willi Pfisterer, by Susanna Pfisterer (May)

Susanna Pfisterer has recreated the story of her father's who came to Canada from Austria in the 1950s to become a legend in the field of mountaineering and safety in the Rocky Mountains. For more than 30 years, Willi Pfisterer was an integral part of Jasper's alpine landscape, guiding climbers up to the highest peaks, and rescuing them from perilous situations.

The Bold and the Cold

The Bold and the Cold: A History of 25 Classic Climbs in the Canadian Rockies, by Brandon Pullan

This is not a guidebook. Rather, it is a narrative history by the people who risked life and limb to establish long, difficult, and sometimes scary climbs. Over the past 100 years, climbers have been pushing standards in the Canadian Rockies. From long alpine ridges to steep north faces, the Rockies are synonymous with cutting-edge ascents. Peaks such as Robson, Chephren, Kitchener, the Twins, and Alberta elude the many and reward the few.

Book Cover Victory Garden for Bees

Victory Garden for Bees: A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees, by Lori Weidenhammer (March)

We're taking notice of this one after Mark L. Winston's Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive won the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction. In her book, Weidenhammer investigates the growing problem of bee mortality and offers practical measures we can all take to help. Just as citizens banded together to produce Victory Gardens to offset the perilous food shortages of World Wars I and II, now a similarly vital level of collective effort is needed to make our gardens into lifesaving shelters for these essential creatures.

Book Cover Downstream

downstream: reimagining water, by Dorothy Christian and Rita Wong (June)

downstream: reimagining water brings together artists, writers, scientists, scholars, environmentalists, and activists who understand that our shared human need for clean water is crucial to building peace and good relationships with one another and the planet. This book explores the key roles that culture, arts, and the humanities play in supporting healthy water-based ecology and provides local, global, and Indigenous perspectives on water that help to guide our societies in a time of global warming. The contributions range from practical to visionary, and each of the four sections closes with a poem to encourage personal freedom along with collective care.