Tag Archives: Nature

My Life with the Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall

Overview

Title: My Life with the Chimpanzees
Author: Jane Goodall
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Conservation, Memoirs, Nature, Non-fiction,
Pace: Slow
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 1988

Thoughts

I absolutely loved In the Shadow of Man. This wasn’t quite as good, but still, it was wonderful. I think, though, that anything by Jane Goodall will leave me feeling pretty damn happy. I mean, she’s a goddamn icon and an inspiring woman. My Life with Chimpanzees gives a much broader outline of Goodall’s personal history and a brief overview of her entire lifetime. Where In the Shadow of Man focused on the short time period in which Goodall started her work at Gombe, My Life with the Chimpanzees was a much broader overview of a whole lifetime.

This was a very simple read. The language in this novel was very accessible and obviously geared towards a younger audience. Each chapter covers a very large chunk of Goodall’s life and only gives a brief glimpse into each moment of her history and journey towards being the internationally recognised figure that she is. It makes for a quick and very easy read. But one that I will possibly try to sink my teeth into again in the future.

I enjoyed how the last three chapters of this novel really focus on the future of our planet. It’s not about Goodall’s own experiences like the rest of the novel, but rather about what she hopes for the future. It’s a bit of a cold dose of reality because there are so many things truly wrong with the world. But it’s also incredibly hopeful. A balance that is hit perfectly.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It wasn’t as in depth as most of the memoirs that I’ve been reading, and it was definitely only a snapshot into the world of Gombe and Goodall. But it was also a great overview. And now I want to pick up even more Goodall books

<- My Friends the Wild ChimpanzeesPerformance and Evolution in the Age of Darwin ->

Image source: Booktopia

A Wild Life by Martin Hughes-Games

Overview
A Wild Life by Martin Hughes-Games

Title: A Wild Life
Author: Martin Hughes-Games
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: BBC, Media, Nature
Dates read: 17th – 18th August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Corsair
Year: 2016
5th sentence, 74th page: Every dead tree sticking up out of the water had its own osprey.

Synopsis

The frozen wastes of the Southern Ocean; the tropical rainforests of South America, the scorching grasslands of Africa, the dizzy heights of the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas: Martin Hughes-Games has been to every continent on earth filming natural history programmes.

We all know Martin as a member of the BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch team, but before his presenting days he spent many years behind the camera producing wildlife documentaries. During a career spanning more than three decades, he has captured the extraordinary life and diversity of the animal kingdom on film – from bloodthirsty bats and man-eating tigers, to huge elephant seals and tiny but ever so painful centipedes.

Warmly told with humour and an inimitable style, and packed with insightful facts from the natural world, II A Wild Life II has to be one of the natural history books of the year.

Thoughts

This was a phenomenal novel. I’m a huge fan of BBC documentaries and all things nature. But I’d never really thought of reading something by a producer of these shows. Now I feel like this is a whole new, untapped area to sink my teeth into…

Each chapter in this novel features a different moment of production challenge in Hughes-Games adventures. They’re almost like separate, short stories. And each is as intense and intriguing as the last.

Encompassing the world and the many different ecosystems we have, you get to go on some very exciting journeys. Not only this, but the stories span the decades, giving insight into times and practices that may not quite be possible anymore.

There were so many moments in this that I don’t think I’ll forget. But the tales of the Mahout are probably the ones that struck me most deeply. Probably because they’re far out of my experience that I just can’t quote fathom it. Which, if I’m being honest, is frequently why I read…

This is an amazing book. Not only filled with nature and adventure, but also the challenges and intricacies of production that I had never even considered before.

<- Gorillas in the MistThe Outrun ->

Image source: Goodreads

Born Free by Joy Adamson

Overview
Born Free: The Full Story by Joy Adamson

Title: Born Free
Author: Joy Adamson
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Conservation, Memoirs, Nature
Dates read: 3rd – 15th January 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Pan
Year: 1960
5th sentence, 74th page: It was evident therefore that after having camped here for three months we try to choose a better home for her.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

‘In the back of the car were three lion cubs, tiny balls of spotted fur, each trying to hide its face. They were only a few weeks old and I took them on my lap to comfort them. The third cub was the weakling in size, but the pluckiest in spirit. I called her Elsa, because she reminded me of someone of that name.’

With these immortal words, conservationist Joy Adamson introduced the world to Elsa the lioness, whom she had rescued as an orphaned cub and raised at her home in Kenya. But as Elsa had been born free, Joy made the heartbreaking decision that hte mature lion must be returned to the wild, despite the incredible bond they shared.

Since the first publication of Born Free in 1960, and its sequels Living Free and Forever Free, generations of readers have been inspired and moved by the remarkable interaction between Joy and Elsa. Here is the chance to discover the full story in this 50th anniversary edition, in the words of the woman who walked with the lions.

Thoughts

I’ve been meaning to get to this book for a very long time. But it just seems to be sitting there, gathering dust. Which meant that I really needed to sink my teeth into this. Born Free is one of those books that I have picked up and put down more times than I can remember. Which made me very, very glad when I finally put aside the time to actually read this and experience the wonderful world of Elsa.

I’m incredibly glad that I read this novel. It’s definitely one of those stories that needs to be read at least once. And I found the journey of Elsa enthralling and fantabulous. However, I didn’t necessarily love Adamson’s writing. It was just a little… lacking. Which made it harder and harder to get into the tale. Particularly after the point in the story in which Elsa dies. It’s interesting what happens with her cubs, but I just didn’t feel that attached.

As someone who has done some work in conservation and read many, many reports on relocation, rewilding and releases, it was intriguing to read about one of the first cases of releasing a wild animal. The trials and tribulations which Adamson and Elsa went through are not only fascinating, but you can also see some of the mistakes that were built upon in today’s exercises.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. And, because of the awesome content, one that I would suggest to others. But it wasn’t the kind of book that I will pick up again and again. I won’t give away my copy, but I also won’t be diving to pick it up again.

<- WildingBabylon’s Ark ->

Image source: Goodreads

An Elephant in My Kitchen by Francoise Malby-Anthony

Overview
An Elephant in My Kitchen by Francoise Malby Anthony

Title: An Elephant in My Kitchen
Author: Francoise Malby-Anthony
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Africa, Conservation, Nature
Dates read: 11th – 13th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Sidgwick & Jackson
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘That feisty French temperament will take her places,’ I laughed.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

A chic Parisienne, Francoise never expected to find herself living on a South African game reserve. But then she fell in love with conservationist Lawrence Anthony and everything changed. After Lawrence’s death, Francoise faced the daunting responsibility of running Thula Thula without him. Poachers attacked their rhinos, their security team wouldn’t take orders from a woman and the authorities were threatening to cull their beloved elephant family. On top of that, the herd’s feisty new matriarch Frankie didn’t like her.

In this heart-warming and moving book, Francoise describes how she fought to protect the herd and to make her dream of building a wildlife rescue centre a reality. She found herself caring for a lost baby elephant who turned up at her house, and offering refuge to traumatized orphaned rhinos, and a hippo called Charlie who was scared of water. As she learned to trust herself, she discovered she’d had Frankie wrong all along…

Filled with extraordinary animals and the humans who dedicate their lives to saving them, An Elephant in My Kitchen is a captivating and gripping read.

Thoughts

This book is… amazing. And seriously wonderful. And it made me cry. Repeatedly. And not cute, little tears. But big, fat, I kind of hate the world tears. Which I, honestly think, was the whole point. It most definitely drove home the horrors of poaching and the evils of humanity… which I already knew about. But, still, it was… intense.

An Elephant in My Kitchen is just as brilliant as the three books written by Lawrence Anthony. It is so driven by passion and love for nature. Driven by love and care. Honestly, reading these words was like talking with a friend. Or a kindred spirit. It also seriously makes me want to return to the beauty of South Africa…

The thing that makes this novel so much sadder and more tear jerking than Lawrence Anthony’s three novels is the fact that this focuses a lot closer to home. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still sad what happens in Lawrence’s novels, but there is a lot more action throughout the story. Instead, Francoise is based at home and trying to rescue orphan babies. It’s completely heartbreaking when she’s talking about the plight of babies and orphans. And the horrible lengths that people will go to to kill them…

Francoise does a great job of highlighting and promoting the importance of conservation and the horrors of poaching in this novel. She also shows the resilience and strength that she’s shown after Lawrence’s death. This is a journey of hope and survival. One that I most certainly won’t forget anytime soon.

<- The OutrunPlanet Elephant ->

Image source: Goodreads

Wilding by Isabella Tree

Overview
Wilding by Isabella Tree

Title: Wilding
Author: Isabella Tree
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Biology, Conservation, Nature, Non-fiction
Dates read: 9th – 26th April 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: Well on the way to recovery in Europe, they have already been spotteed in the Oostvaardersplassen and are likely soon to be bredding in the reserve.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Forced to accept that intensive farming of the heavy clay soils of their farm at Knepp in West Sussex was driving it close to bankruptcy, in 2000 Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell tok a spectacular leap of faith and handed their 3,500 acres back to nature. With minimal human intervention, and with herds of free-roaming animals stimulating new habitats, their land is now heaving with life. Rare species such as turtle oves, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies are now breeding at Knepp and biodiversity has rocketed.

The Knepp project has become a leading light for conservation in the UK, demonstrating how letting nature take the driving seat can restore both the land and its wildlife in a dramatically short space of time, reversing the cataclysmic declines that have affected most species elsewhere in Britain over the past five decades. Part gripping memoir, part fascinating account of Britain’s rural ecology, Wilding is, above all, an inspiring story of hope.

Thoughts

I bought this book in a sale because it looked mildly interesting, and I do love anything that discusses issues with the natural environment. What I got was an experience that I NEVER expected. One that just completely blew me away and swept me off my feet. Plus, I was reading it at a time that I was beginning the process of removing myself from the rigours of academia and ecology… something which is mentioned frequently in this book. It helped to seriously crystallise some of my thoughts.

This is a very interesting and somewhat inspiring book. As someone who wants to buy land and then “rewild” it, there were a number of practicalities which were presented in this novel. Yet, it was more than that – the terminology of rewilding, the different projects around the world and the many different issues that were faced were seriously delved into. Yet, instead of being dry, as many writers like this can be, Tree is able to recount her adventures and experiences in an engaging and intriguing manner. One that makes it seriously difficult to put this book down.

One of the biggest boundaries that constantly appeared throughout this novel was that of coming up against bureaucracy. Fighting constantly against a bureaucracy that tends to need specific details for any kind of funding. Which, in and of itself then limits the outcome of the project – by placing restrictions on what we are aiming for, what we are aiming for becomes restricted. It’s a definite issue and fallacy within the conservation community that I tend to find frustrating, and it was interesting to read about it from the other point of view.

This is an amazing book for anybody who is interested in conservation to read. It is engaging, intriguing and incredibly insightful. The amount of information that Tree manages to impart is seriously impressive – especially since she does it in such a approachable and enlightening way.

<- Chesapeake RequiemBorn Free ->

Image source: Goodreads

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Overview
Image result for book cover lab girl

Title: Lab Girl: A Story of Trees, Science and Love
Author: Hope Jahren
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Memoirs, Nature, Science
Dates read: 21st – 27th October 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Fleet
Year: 2016
5th sentence, 74th page: I started to leave, but hesitated when Bill looked up at last.

Synopsis

Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also so much more.

Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.

Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home.

Thoughts

This book is absolutely freaking amazing!!! Not just because it is written so well and about the natural sciences. But also because I connected completely to what Hope Jahren was saying. She recalls her years in her PhD, the weirdness that is her obsession and just life as an academic in general. I might just be starting out in that life… but there was so much that was relatable. And it made me feel better about all of my multiple freak-outs and insecurities…

Lab Girl has most certainly become my all-time favourite memoir. Partly because it is in an area that I am more intimately familiar with than almost any other. But also because it deals with a lot of hidden issues in life. Talks about mental health. Focuses on what it takes to become who you want to be. Yet weaves throughout botanical knowledge and scientific principles that almost feel like coming home.

There is no one in the world that doesn’t have to deal with self-doubt. That doesn’t feel like others are judging them and querying their every move. That make them think they are somehow less. Add to that a mental health issue and being a female in a traditionally male-dominated career… it’s a tough world out there. And Jahren faces up to the realities of this fearlessly. Yet, she does so with a healthy dose of humour and light that doesn’t feel bitter and contrived. That doesn’t make you angry at the system, just understanding of the challenges faced.

Hope’s relationship with Bill is amazing. All throughout, he is her voice of sanity and reason. The person who has her back and supports her no matter what she does. We all need someone like that in our lives. Whether it is a co-worker, a friend or a lover… it doesn’t matter the amazing power of their relationship made me so incredibly jealous. I don’t know that I’ve ever had someone totally appreciate my world in that way, and it is something that I would love to find in my professional life – someone who is obsessed with invertebrates just as much as I am.

This is one of those memoirs that I’m never, ever going to forget. It is intense, wonderful and intriguing. The perfect miss of personal anecdotes, science and the telling of reality merge together fantastically. I can understand why it was on a summer reading list, and I’m so glad I succumbed to the compulsion to buy it!!!

<- A Gift from DarknessWhen Breath Becomes Air ->

Image source: Wikipedia