Completely impossible to choose

What is the nation’s favourite nature book?

The shortlist of 10 alleged nature books is open for you to vote for your favourite.

How one can possibly choose between Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by my mate Chris Packham (which is a superb book but not really what I would class a nature book) and The Natural History of Selborne by Gilbert White I really don’t know. Or how to choose between the poems of John Clare (our local poet in these parts) and Wind in the Willows (which again doesn’t strike me as a nature book much more than does Animal Farm).   The list seems a strange one to me, but anything which ecourages people to fall in love with nature has to be a good thing.

Poll closes midnight 25 January.

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8 Comments

  1. Jo says:

    No-one has ever mentioned "A kestrel for a Knave" (Barry Hines - 'Kes') .... the very book that made me realise that even a kid from an inner city could become so involved with the natural world ...... This was my submission ..... although I own 8 out of the 10 on the shortlist ...... Yep - a difficult choice indeed ....

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  2. Paul Lascelles says:

    The Natural History of Selborne from the list would be my choice - it is a great book written in interesting times...In agreement with Mark, I do struggle to work out how the list itself is 'a short list of nature books' - I have a reasonable collection myself of books related to science and nature - many of which would be in the unabridged list - I hope - but some of these I do struggle with as 'books on nature'.

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    • murray marr says:

      Yes, Paul. And the way to prove you right, is to ask which one of these books will still be around 100 years hence? GW has endured and with every passing year will endure the more.

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  3. Paul V Irving says:

    Based on that list, of which I have read most and own many, I did not find my choice difficult, The Peregrine by J.A. Baker. Then those who know me would have been able to predict that with some certainty.

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  4. Miles says:

    ‘Land Lines’ is a two-year project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council [£185k] and is a collaboration between researchers at the Universities of Leeds, Sussex and St Andrews. The project will carry out a sustained study modern British nature writing, beginning in 1789 with Gilbert White’s seminal study, The Natural History of Selborne, and ending in 2014 with Helen Macdonald’s prize-winning memoir, H is for Hawk."

    "We’ll be looking primarily at non-fictional prose"

    Clearly they didn't tell the voting public they were looking primarily at non-fictional prose as that would excluded 4 of the 10 chosen books.

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  5. David Parkin says:

    I agree. It's a bizarre list. As Mark writes - several are not really 'nature' books.
    Maybe it's those books that you go back to read again (and again and again).
    My list would include
    Silent Spring - Rachel Carson - world-changing.
    Island Life - Alfred Russell Wallace - much more lively author than Charles.
    Life of the Robin - David Lack - the first monographs accessible to the 'naturalist'.
    Life on Earth - David Attenborough - dated? Yes, maybe, but still a classic.
    Inglor....No, I didn't write that!

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  6. Christopher says:

    Nothing by Jim Crumley?

    Have to go for John Clare then.

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  7. Alistair says:

    Looks a nonsense list, chosen by a bunch of people I have never heard of. Would like to see a list of all the titles submitted.

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