Welcome to the first post in my Stay-at-Home Book Series! You can get early access to these posts by joining my Patreon!
I am so very fortunate to be able to stay at home during this stressful time and I am so grateful to the first responders and health care workers, those who go out into the world to keep our grocery stores, banks, and other necessary businesses open, as well as keeping the mail and deliveries coming. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am always looking for ways to give back, and in addition to donating money whenever I can, I thought I’d put together some lists of books and activities that have brought me joy to share with you.
When we’re stuck inside for long periods of time, life can feel a bit stifling and lonely. I hope everyone takes some time to get outside and breathe in some fresh air as often as possible. If you’re extra lucky and have an outside space, whether it’s a small balcony or a large backyard, I hope you can plant something this year. Look online for a local nursery that will deliver some starts to you! Consider herbs like basil or mint for a container that will lift your spirits and give you some joy as you watch it grow. Or get some annual flowers like geraniums, snapdragons or salvia that will be bright and cheerful all season long.
I’ve found that having prompts and guided activities to focus on can help me get outside and interact with nature. Here are a few of my absolute favorite books that have sparked exploration and discovery for me.
How to Be an Explorer of the World
by Keri Smith
This is a wonderful collection of prompts and exercises to observe and analyze the world as both an artist and a scientist. These can be done outside in the garden, through a window or even by looking up images online (there are so many botanical garden virtual tours out there!). It includes pages for a field journal, data records and mind maps. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to buy an ebook, so check out your local bookstores that may be open for home deliveries.
The author, Keri Smith, has published other books as well with this sort of relaxed, flowing art style that encourages you to let go of any preconceived notions about what Art should look like. (Another good book by her is Wreck This Journal – as someone who hates to even crease the binding of a book, it’s a strange sort of challenge for me to willingly “wreck” a book!)
These two accounts can hopefully give you some more ideas to explore while you’re stuck at home.
by Gayla Trail
Gayla Trail has been a very influential author in my personal gardening journey. She has a few books about growing edible plants in small spaces and she blogs about her own struggles with chronic illness. Her approach to gardening takes into account things like limited energy and mobility issues, as well as suggestions for a budget-friendly garden. If you’re just getting started, do check out her other books and her website.
Grow Curious was crowdfunded a few years ago and I was lucky enough to contribute to that campaign. It’s now available for purchase online.
Separated into seasons, this book has a collection of exercises meant to deepen your connection with nature near your home. She also categorizes each one so if you’re looking for something quick and creative, it’s easy to find – or if you’d like a long term project that spans an entire season, it’s right there at your fingertips.
What the Robin Knows
by Jon Young
An amazing resource for connecting with and learning more about the natural world! Birds can teach us so much if we start to understand their language. Combined with Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness and The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild, casual observers of nature can start to see the world in a whole new way.
I found that after reading What the Robin Knows, I am so much more aware of all the birds that pass through my garden (including an owl this winter, that was exciting!). I wonder, what are they talking about? And I can revisit this book to get a peek into their conversations. The website for the book has some good resources as well.
The Natural Navigator
by Tristan Gooley
This is a book I’ll return to again and again as I learn to notice the significant details around me in the natural world. It’s organized into sections about the moon, the stars, the weather etc. Now is such a good time to start to notice the patterns around us and learn what they can tell us. Also included are some interesting historical and cultural tangents that would be perfect to use for self-guided research projects.
There are a few other books by this author that would be worth exploring. I haven’t read them yet, but now is probably the perfect time. I found a list of the books here with other information.
A Field Guide to the Familiar
by Gale Lawrence
One last addition to this list is a book I read in college for an Ecology class. It’s old enough that there isn’t an ebook version available, but I do see that there are used copies available online.
I enjoy coming back to this book; its comprised of essays about a certain animal, plant, insect or even a constellation. Seeing these familiar creatures in a new light can be really inspiring and help us appreciate everything around us in these strange times.
There you have it! I hope you enjoy these book suggestions and I hope they give you the inspiration to spend some time outside, however you can. Let me know if you read a book and how you liked it. More suggestions coming soon! Thanks, friends!