Understanding Nature takes a bit of research and reading…

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” -Frank Lloyd Wright-

This bibliography is compiled with a naturalist’s point of view in mind. Recommendations are always welcome in the comments section. Please share titles of nature-related books that are helpful or meaningful for you. It would be great to have a short description and why you like the book.

Bird Identification-

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America

Please click on photo for more information.

An education specialist at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, recommended this book.

It is one of the best bird identification books I’ve ever used. The guide is well-organized, comprehensive, and features over 810 species.

This book and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology app-Merlin Bird Id provide great resources for bird identification and background.

Eco-region Specific Guides- Pacific Northwest Coastal

The Beachcomber’s Guide to Seashore Life in the Pacific Northwest (revised edition)

J. Duane Sept
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The ecology of beaches has fascinated me for many decades. Over the years, I’ve owned a number of guidebooks to assist with the identification of life found along the shoreline in the intertidal pools. This concise guide has been one of the best I’ve found so far.

Scientifically accurate, it assists with a brief reviews for understanding tides, intertidal habitats, harvesting shellfish, protection marine resources, observing intertidal life, and getting the most out of the guidebook itself.

I have an affinity for guidebooks that are well-organized and color-coded. This book is great on both accounts. One can readily locate information about Seshore-

Animals: Sponges,Hydroids, Jellies, Anemonies, Marine Worms, Molluscs and Brachiopods, Arthropods, Moss Animals, Spiny-skinned Animals, Tunicates,Fishes

Plants:  Seaweeds (Green, Brown, Red Algae), Flowering Plants

Lichen:  Seashore lichens

Inspired by Nature- Thoughtful Reads

A Sand County Almanac

A Sand County Almanc“First Published in 1949, Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac is now an established environmental classic. Beginning with a beautifully written description of the seasonal changes in nature and their effect on the delicate ecological balance, the good proceeds to examples of man’s destructive interferon and concludes with a plea for a Wilderness ethic that is even more urgent and timely today than ever before.” (Preface from1966 edition)

This book was recommended by fellow blogger and nature enthusiast from Minnesota,  Judy at Crooked Tracks .

Last Child in the Woods

Richard Louv
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Attention children from Newborn to Ninety-nine (and older)! A copy of this book should be on your library shelf and referred to as needed!

The children and the children-at-heart in the 21st Century face challenges that threaten to remove understanding of, connection with, and need for NATURE.

Out connections with social media, and abilities to be deeply plugged into electronic diversions could spell disaster for healthy physical and emotional development. The fact is: people, and especially children, need healthy doses of real-world experiences that immerse body, soul, and heart into encounters with nature.

Richard Louv coined the phrase,”nature deficit disorder” to describe the effects absence of nature has on children’s development and ability to function successfully in school and later in life. The book is a gold mine for ideas to combat this condition. Included in the text are practical actions that can be taken to “get outside.”

As a parent, grandmother, teacher, and naturalist… I believe this is especially a must-read for parents.

Natural Grace

William Dietrich
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Light-hearted and serious… at the same time. This book is a collection of essays written to spark a passion for  nature’s wonders, and, at the same time, provide a delightful application of the science behind whichever nature topic William Dietrich selects.

This anthology is like a natural history version of a fairy-tale book. Best thing is, the characters and settings are real. All from the Pacific Northwest. Enjoy learning about such things as: jellyfish, dirt, stream life, geology, tides, geoducks, killer whales… and much, much more.

This nature book is sure to please.

Plant Identification-

Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast (revised) Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, Alaska

Pojar and MacKinnon
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This is a must have book for any one who strives to identify native plants in the Pacific Northwest Coast ecoregion. My copy is not yet showing the extent to which it has already been used. I think the book was purposely made of fairly rugged construction because the authors and publisher  knew that owners of this field guide would be referring to it often. I wish I had taken a shot of the copy owned by a member of my Oregon Master Naturalist cadre… his book is a well-loved edition that has seen many a trail, and even more plants.

The format of this book is perfectly organized for ease in locating plant species with color-coded divisions for: Trees, Shrubs, Wildflowers, Aquatics Oddballs, Graminoids (Grasses, Sedges, Rushes), Ferns & Allies, Mosses & Liverworts, Lichens.

The photos, graphics, and maps are very helpful. As are the informative details about the general appearance, leaves, flowers, fruit, and ecology.

But wait… that ‘s not all, the authors also include notes that relate interesting aboriginal and local uses as well as tidbits about the plant’s unique characteristics and origins of names.

Wetland Plants of Oregon & Washington

Jennifer Guard
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I live on a wetland in Oregon and find this plant identification book to be very helpful. It is organized for ease in locating plant species with color-coded divisions for plant communities that thrive in wetland ecosystems: Submerged & Floating, Marshy Shore, Wetland Prairie, Shrub Swamp, Wooded Wetland.

The photos are very clear and helpful, as are the informative details about the growth habits, leaves, flowers, fruits, habitat, natural history, and similar species references.

This guide is often used in conjunction with Pojar & MacKinnon- Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast (revised)

 Writing about Nature-

Interpretive Writing

Please click on photo for more information.
Please click on photo for more information.

Interpretive writing is a new genre to me. The book assisted me in understanding the nuances necessary for writing with an interpretive voice.

Alan Leftridge explains the strategies promoted by the National Association for Interpretation and the National Park Service for written interpretation, with a focus on developing tangibles, intangibles, universals, and interpretive themes in writing, while avoiding trite expressions.

This manual is concise and very easy to follow. As a former writing coach in my school district, I appreciate this book’s condensed attention to: conventions, writing process, and the elements of quality writing.


  1. Hi, Jane: Upon this recommendation, I picked up a copy of Natural Grace. Haven’t gotten much of a chance to sit down with it, but it looks like I’ll enjoy reading it. Thanks for compiling this list.


    1. Hello Jim-
      Thank you for wandering over to this corner of my blog 🙂 I’ve always had a passion for books as well! When I retired from teaching I gave away literally hundreds of books to my students so they could start their own collections at home; and dozens of books to new teachers so they could start their own resource libraries.

      Now that I’m learning to be a Naturalist… my new library begins!!! Digital reading is not enough… we must have the old-fashioned paper as well. Wouldn’t you agree?

      Check back once and a while to see how this collection is going; I’m always excited to get recommendations for books as well.



      1. I have yet to invest in a Kindle, so most of my reading is still paper based books. I like traditional books they don’t need charging, no need to wait for downloads, if you drop them in the bath it is not as bad as dropping an electronic device in the bath….all they require is some light and the ability to read. I always have at least one book in my bag to read on the metro or anywhere I have some time. My blog is mostly a mix of photos (I always carry my camera too) and book reviews.
        The wildlife here in post-Soviet Georgia, I would imagine is very different to North Western US, and there are few books in English. I do have a good book about the vultures of the region, but that is the exception rather than the rule.


  2. Thanks for this, Jane! Looks like lots of good guides. “A Sand County Almanac” – that’s THE Bible for all the nature-converted – and it’s author, Aldo Leopold nature’s Number One Prophet in the 20th Century. (Who do you think will earn the honors in the 21st?)


    1. Hello Kathlin-
      I’m delighted you visited this little section of my blog.
      This list from The New Nature Movement may have the answer to your question.

      I’m intrigued by many of the titles. Perhaps one of the books that helps to inspire children into respecting and encompassing the Natural World into their lives will be a key piece of writing.


    1. Iris, I will have to agree with you whole-heartedly on this! We’ve enjoyed the diverse eco-systems found throughout the Northwest and still find new discoveries even after living here for over 40 years 🙂

      Completion of the Oregon State University coursework to become an Oregon Master Naturalist has been especially enlightening!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing the feedback here, Judy. You provide inspiration to continue building this section of the blog-site! I love having these three magazine columns but have struggled with how to best use this space. The Nature Media idea is a new thought, so I am happy you left your thoughts. More will continue to be added 🙂

      Do you have any nature guides to recommend that are your favorites?


        1. Thank you for the recommendation, Judy. I purchased a copy and added the title to the Nature Media selections. I am in awe of Leopold’s writing style; he paints strong images with his words. His love, admiration, respect, and understanding of the Natural World is already evident… I am still in the beginning section where he describes seasonal observations of the nature cycles evident on his prairie farmlands.


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