Best nature books to read this winter

Winter is the perfect time to curl up with a good book - our team of bookworms have reviewed the best recently released nature books to read in winter 2019.


Satisfy curious minds this year with the gift of knowledge. These dozen delightful titles will suit the walkers, thinkers, growers, makers and wildlife-watchers in your life this Christmas.

Grow your own Botanicals

By Cinead McTernan


Kyle Books, £18.99

Transform your garden or windowsill into a bountiful paradise with these generous plants. Cinead McTernan walks the reader through the care and uses of each botanical, from seed to product. Lavender lemonade, marigold mouthwash, viola syrup or tarragon vinegar anyone? Maria Hodson

The wonders of nature

By Ben Hoare

DK Children, £20

A charming jaunt through the remarkable species that inhabit our planet. Divided into four sections (rocks and minerals, microscopic life, plants and animals), the lively text and beautiful photographs and illustrations make this directory ideal for inquisitive young readers. Maria Hodson

The 12 birds of Christmas

By Stephen Moss

Square Peg, £12.99

This avian interpretation of our best-known carol is an ideal stocking filler for the bird-lover. From the partridge to woodpeckers (the “12 drummers drumming”), naturalist Stephen Moss traces the fortunes of each British species, weaving in compelling folklore, history and bird behaviour. Margaret Bartlett 

The Hedgehog handbook

By Sally Coulthard

Head of Zeus, £9.99

Shy and endearing, the hedgehog is one of our most-loved creatures. This book takes you through a year in a hedgehog’s life, its habits and biology, and includes month-by-month advice on how to help it thrive in your neighbourhood. Margaret Bartlett


By Stephen Rutt

Elliot & Thompson, £12.99

Following a move to Dumfries, birder Stephen Rutt begins a new chapter in his life and a new obsession: with geese. In this compelling book, he delves into the lives and habits of the UK’s most common goose species and looks at the place they hold in our history, culture, and even our festive feasts. Margaret Bartlett

Walks in the Wild

By Peter Wohlleben

Ebury, £14.99

The German forester and best-selling author of The Hidden Life of Trees turns his attention to the wider forest, and presents a handy instruction manual for appreciating and navigating woodlands around the world. Maria Hodson


By Lara Maiklem

Bloomsbury Circus, £16.99

The story of London, told through the Thames’ tidal treasures. For nearly 20 years, author Lara Maiklem has scoured the shores of the capital’s river at low tide, discovering discarded bounty – from Roman hairpins to silver shillings – that evokes long-lost ways of life. Maria Hodson

A Cloud a Day

By Gavin Pretor-Pinney

Batsford, £20

The Cloud Appreciation Society shares its passion for the sky with 365 shots of the phenomenal, ever-changing canvas that shimmers above our heads. The attractive images are accompanied by thoughts, quotations and facts. Put down your phone and look up! Maria Hodson

The Story of Gardening

By Penelope Hobhouse with Ambra Edwards

Pavilion, £35

This hefty, ambitious book takes a roaming overview of the history of gardening, from our early forays into sculpting nature in the Fertile Crescent
to today’s visionary plantings. Maria Hodson


By Catherine Phipps

Quadrille, £25

There’s much more to this beautiful cookbook than salads. Celebrating the versatility of culinary leaves, the delicious recipes – 120 in all – include seaweed and mushroom broth, beef and lemongrass stir-fry and fish in fig leaves. Rabbit food? Hardly. MH

A honeybee heart has five openings

By Helen Jukes

Simon & Schuster, £8.99

With a house that is not yet a home and
a new job full of stress, Helen is given a swarm of bees, and learns how to keep them. With deft and beautiful prose, this is classic modern nature-writing; a synthesis of scientific learning, observation and the author’s response. Julie Brominicks

The New Complete Book of Self-sufficiency

By John Seymour, DK, £25


First written 40 years ago, this enormous, encyclopedic tome is packed full of tips for those keen to embark on the good life of self-sufficiency. Complete with handy illustrations, this is the bible of off-grid life, from growing veg and raising livestock to making wine and powering your plot. Maria Hodson