Books for Mature Teens and Adults

Theme: Natural Wonders

Arctic Dreams - (ISBN: 978-0375727481)

by Barry Lopez

This book shares the insights and experiences a scientist during many long stays in the Arctic. This book differs from most books about harsh landscapes, however, in that the writer imparts sympathy, understanding, and even a oneness with the beautiful environment and its natural life. For an insider’s view of a very different land, try this book.

Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature - (ISBN: 978-0312369347)

by Linda Lear

This remarkable biography traces Beatrix Potter’s interest in observing and drawing nature through its culmination in the self-illustrated Peter Rabbit books. A refreshing look into the life of a privileged person of class, this book shows readers how Potter’s love of the animal world led to ideas about creating literary characters children would love. Potter’s keen observational abilities and her precise renderings of the small animals she adored foster the unique view of her celebrated children’s books. If you enjoy reading biographies, try this look at a British woman who used her natural abilities to create truly original and iconic children’s literature.

Escape to the Mountain: Mid-life Redemption on the John Muir Trail - (ISBN: 978-0978834302)

by Stephen Wade Smith

A practicing chiropractor shares several trips he has taken hiking and exploring mountains. With stunning insight into nature’s offerings, he describes the animals and plants he sees, as well as the relationships with various groups of co-hikers. Take a mini-hike in a natural area near your home. What new things and people are you aware of as you walk quietly with your eyes and ears open?

The Orchid Thief - (ISBN: 978-0449003718)

by Susan Orlean

An investigative reporter delves into the tense competitive world of orchid hunters and growers in this novel-like volume. Her conduit into the hidden competitiveness of orchid specialists is John Laroche, a hunter with more than a touch of the wild side. Orlean gets so drawn into his universe that she, too, picks up the relentless, do-anything quest for the rarest of the rare, the ghost orchid Polyrrhiza lindenii. Laroche ends up in jail due to his less-than-kosher attempts to reproduce the mystery orchid. This book has something for everyone; high society, scientists, schemers, and academics mix in this little known world.

The Prodigal Summer - (ISBN: 978-0060959036)

by Barbara Kingsolver

Three interwoven stories set in the Appalachian Mountains, all with ecological concerns, fill the pages of this well-researched novel. All the characters are concerned about the abuse of nature’s gifts. What balance does the novel finally find between human needs or greediness and the preservation of resources?

Walden - (ISBN: 978-1420922615)

by Henry David Thoreau

This classic began the idea of communing with nature; Thoreau gives up his ordinary life to live simply near a pond in an unoccupied area of Massachusetts. With fascinating detail, he records his daily activities, what he spends, and what he is thinking about as he tries to simplify his life. Walden Pond today is a tourist attraction, but the idea Thoreau developed there has found its way into many conservation movements: going back to nature, using and recycling, and choosing a simpler approach to life. Are there any of his ideas you can incorporate into your routines?

A Country Year: Living the Questions - (ISBN: 978-0395967010)

by Sue Hubbell

Birds in Fall - (ISBN: 9780743287388)

by Brad Kessler

Activities for this Theme

With your entire family, recycle your Christmas tree, stale Christmas cookies, and other snacks to make a winter bird and wildlife feeder


Compare Adaptation ,the movie version of Orchid Thief, to the book. Does seeing the film help you to better picture the elusive Laroche?


Make a simple bird house to attract birds and wildlife to your yard