THE FOREST UNSEEN: A Year's Watch in Nature by David George Haskell (2013)
An unexpectedly poetic observation of a single square metre patch of old-growth Tennessee forest, in the tradition of Charles Darwin’s meticulous deductions but in language that is more appealing to a modern reader.
THE YEAR OF THE HARE by Arto Paasilinna (2014)
Translated from the Finnish, a journalist accidentally injures a hare, splints its leg and – tucking it into his jacket – heads off for a year of adventure among trees and forest folk. A charming and optimistic story, deliciously full of irony and Finnish humour.
A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles (2016)
Just after the Russian revolution an aristocrat is confined to a luxury hotel, which becomes his world, full of vivid characters and relationships. Delightfully observed, funny and poignant.
ALL THE TEA IN CHINA by Kyril Bonfiglioni (1978)
A swashbuckling romp, hilarious and saucy, following the exploits of a young mariner in the early 19th century as he pursues fame, fortune, women and opium.
THE BOTANY OF DESIRE by Michael Pollan (2001)
Pollan writes eloquently about a handful of plant species, highlighting the close relationship between them and humans, attempting to take a plant’s-eye view. His essays on potatoes and apples inspired me to entwine plant science with history and culture in my own writing.
FINDING THE MOTHER TREE by Suzanne Simard (2021)
Dr Simard’s scientific work on the hidden fungal networks that convey information and the products of photosynthesis between trees, is enlivened by her own surprising personal journey from logger to environmentalist.
DARK EMU by Bruce Pascoe (2018)
An important and gripping revelation of the extent and sophistication of Australian aboriginal agriculture and food production. The ‘huntergatherer’ tag was a convenient lie that worked to justify dispossession of aboriginal lands.