Nature Book Gift Recommendations to Inspire You

Spectacular plant life in Ecuador is also featured along with the many birds. Photo: Robert E. Mumford, Jr.

Spectacular plant life in Ecuador is also featured along with the many birds. Photo: Robert E. Mumford, Jr.

Still working on your gift list this year? You are far from alone. The National Retail Federation says 53 percent of all Americans say they’ll be shopping for Christmas gifts the Saturday before Christmas. And Procrastination Nation seems to get bigger every year thanks to crazy fast shipping deadlines.

If you’re still looking for a gift that will fit anyone and is appropriate for any budget and a recipient of any age or interests, Good Earth Plant Company recommends a little bit of Nature and inspiration.

We’d love to recommend gifts of living walls, moss walls, or replica plant walls, but they are pretty hard to wrap. Instead, how about choosing one of the many excellent nature books available?

It turns out you can still get some of the benefits of exposure to nature just by looking at nature. A 2009 study for the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Biophilia: Does Visual Contact with Nature Impact on Health and Well-Being?” found that looking at photographs of nature can improve your health by decreasing stress, improving focus and attention, and even lowering the number of health-related complaints.

If you aren’t sure where to start, we have several suggestions.

Wicked Plants – Amy Stewart

Earlier this year, I wrote about one of my favorite books, “Wicked Plants” by author Amy Stewart. Amy loves the world of plant villains, especially when they play a role in human history. She writes in the introduction to her book “There is something beguiling about sharing their dark little secrets. And these secrets don’t just lurk in a remote jungle. They’re in our own backyards.” If you have smart kids into monsters and scary stuff, they will love this book. And it’s a super easy read.

The Drunken Botanist – Amy Stewart

For a slightly older gift recipient (over 21!), Amy educates the curious cocktail drinker with all of the herbs, spices, flowers, trees, fruits, and nuts that give the world’s greatest mixed drinks their unique flavors. Human beings have always liked to distill or ferment things, it’s pretty incredible. You might say this book is an intoxicating read, but it’s OK to read and drive! Not. (NOTE: Jim, is something missing here?)

Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life , Richard Louv


Here’s another book by someone I know and highly recommend. Richard’s book addresses the nature needs of adults and the importance of meeting those needs. We’ve written about a lot of these ideas, but I especially like Richard’s smart suggestions for ways to work nature into your life. Give this book to the person who needs to get outside and de-stress!


The Feather Thief, Kirk Wallace Johnson

You will never look at a bird in a museum the same way again after reading this book. It is nonfiction but reads like a mystery thriller. It’s one of Amazon’s picks for best books in 2018. The author tells the story of the theft of 299 rare bird skins from the British Natural History Museum. The investigation is interesting, but you will also learn about rare bird trafficking and fly-fishing along the way.


The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben

One of my favorite blog topics is anything about trees. I’ve written about the world’s largest tree and Japaneses forest bathing. So this 2018 version of Peter’s best selling book had to be on the list. It’s visually stunning, first of all. But unlike some photography books, it’s also interesting to read. It’s appropriate for all ages. It will open your eyes about the complex life inside the forests, and I promise you will look at trees with new appreciation after reading it.


The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh

The artist’s letters to his brother, Theo, explore Vincent Van Gogh’s relationship to nature and his attempts to understand it and depict it in his artwork. One reviewer calls iit “An adventure of the soul” and a “fantastically inspiring” book. There are several different editions available.


Herbarium, Emily Dickenson

You must be wondering why this famous American poet is on the list. Since childhood. Dickenson collected and classified all of the plants growing in her home garden in Amherst, Massachusetts. She pressed and preserved them. The images of her collection in this book reveal how Dickenson’s poetry, symbolism and messages were all inspired by nature, down to the colors she mentions. You don’t have to be familiar with her poetry to enjoy it.


Infinite Wonder: An Astronaut’s Photographs from a Year in Space, Scott Kelly

This is the top selling book in several categories this year on Amazon, and it is easy to see why. Retired astronaut Scott Kelly gathered the best photos he took of Earth during his year long mission on the International Space Station. There are more than 300 pages of amazing photos and they are literally out of this world. It is art plus science good for all ages.


The Exquisite Birds of Ecuador, Bob Mumford

“The Exquisite Birds of Ecuador” is a nature photography book produced by my father, Robert Mumford.

Birds are a favorite subject for nature photographers, and there are a lot of good ones. This is my favorite. I admit I’m biased, because the author is someone I know: my father, Robert Mumford.

His book “The Exquisite Birds of Ecuador” features 322 of my dad’s images of Ecuador’s bird life and other nature images. The book was produced as the result of 16 trips to Ecuador. Ecuador is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world and there are over 1,600 bird species in this one small country, from hummingbirds to Andean condors. So even with 16 trips, my dad captured only a fraction of the region’s bird life. The book is filled with his very best work. Read on!

I could tell you it’s a stunning book but I don’t have to. I can let the rave reviews on Amazon do the talking:

“Words do not do justice in describing this stunning display of our Ecuadorian feathered friends in the book by Robert E. Mumford, Jr. … I was mesmerized from the first page… and when I turned the last, I had the feeling I had been to Ecuador myself, so vivid were the images and thorough the descriptions. I am proud to display this work of art which will invite all who see it to enjoy it as well.”

“Bob has an amazing eye for fine photography and this new book brings out his best. Here, it is not a table book like so many photo books, but one you can pick up now and then and be amazed again how much beauty there is in nature. We have also found it captivates children of all ages once they see the first bird. It was also a big hit with my sister’s nature organizations. Buy one for yourself and one for your local nature group or school.”

“This is a treasure to own and to share.”

While a book can never be a substitute 100 percent for the real thing, both my dad and I would be thrilled if his book or any of the others on this list inspired you to take a hike and look for birds along a local San Diego trial, or go for a walk in the forest, or just appreciate what a beautiful place we live in.

All of our recommended books are available on Amazon, and as long as you order a few days before Christmas, Santa’s helpers should have them to you in time.