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Grow Your Perspective With a Good Read

30 April 2020

There are many different ways you can connect with the world around you through literature from reference books to childhood adventures that jump off the page.  The Mersey Forest staff point you in the right direction for a good nature read. As Michelle outlines below, something as simple as a book can change your perspective for life. 

Since we were told by Boris to stay at home, there has been a boom in reading.  Some book retailers saw a spike in sales of up to 400% in the first week of lockdown and the sales monitor recording paperback fiction confirms purchases across the board rising by a third. 

Many of you living in The Mersey Forest are lucky enough to still be able to connect with nature through local woodlands. And whether you are managing to take daily walks or not, we asked our staff how they would learn about nature through words.  Here's four literary works that come through consistently as favourites among our own staff here at The Mersey Forest. 

The Hidden Life of Trees (Peter Wohlleben)

This book can be summarised as being the science behind tree hugging! It will definitely take your knowledge of trees to the next level. The author Peter Wohlleben, a German forester, says he doesn't talk to trees but it is clear he wants the reader to understand how intelligent trees are. Michelle, one of our development officers, says: 

"You will never look at a tree in the same way again after reading this book."

Last Child In The Woods (Richard Louv)

This book has been revised to make it relevant for a global audience.  Stella, a data officer with The Mersey Forest Team, describes it as being:

"All about the relationship of children with nature, how the connections have been made and lost and how they can be remade".  

The author charts how children have become alienated from nature; he guides you through why this matters and how to make a difference. It doesn't go in for sentimentality, and instead offers robust solutions. If you are in any doubt about the negative effects on children of an indoors lifestyle then Louv shines the spotlight on the issue. 

A Country Parish (A W Boyd)

A book with a local twist, it talks about Great Budworth that lies within The Mersey Forest.  Charting the natural history of a parish in Cheshire, it shows how nature has changed the language and characters who live there. Clare, our programmes manager says:

'I have spent many hours trying to track the locations down to see if the trees are still there, so it really is a book which keeps on giving'.

You are more likely to source this book second hand rather than an online version, plus you get the benefit of the colour plates that seem rather precious in today's digital world. 

The Famous Five Series (Enid Blyton)

Louise, our landscape architect, nominated Enid Blyton. Full of enthusiasm, Louise describes her dad's storytelling:

"He inspired me through adventure, danger, risk!"

We're in, and agree with the Country Life writer who says children's fiction is still good for adults as it helps us re-find things we may not even know we have lost. The full Famous Five back catalogue is listed here. Whether they are running away, camping, or on a treasure Island, George and friends were never at home on the X-Box risking rickets!

My Family and Other Animals (Gerald Durrell)

Author Durrell spent part of his childhood in Corfu. Family, pets and nature feature in this book in equal measure and as you'd expect from the title there is never a dull moment. Durrell went on to found a zoo in the Channel Islands. One of our development officers Carl told us:

'I still remember reading it as a child. The descriptions of Mediterranean landscape, flora and fauna are so evocative and inspiring. I've recently read it to my sons and I hope they will continue to be as enthralled by wild things as they are now!'

Why not read it to your own children - before watching it on Netflix - here is one writer's experience of doing just that. 

We will add more books into this blog as we receive nominations from our staff. And you can tweet us @merseyforest with the nature books you love or drop us a line on our Facebook page here.

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