The best books that reveal the beauty, threat, and fascination of the natural world

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by the relationship of humanity to nature. When I was young, we moved all the time – my dad was in the military and we moved to a new base every 18 months. All those military bases were located in the British countryside and, in the absence of other forms of continuity, nature became like a best friend. I still walk every day. Reconnecting with trees, grass, the sounds of birds, centres and energizes me. I get my best ideas when walking. But, of course, nature is also threatening – Covid and cancer are natural. I’m fascinated by that juxtaposition and always trying to reflect it in my work.  

I wrote...


By Carol Moreira,

Book cover of Riptides

What is my book about?

Pirate treasure, splintered families, climate change, a determined boy, and a compelling immigrant blend in this adventure for younger teens and middle-grade readers. 

Riptides is a lively, fast-paced novel about a 13-year-old boy in coastal Nova Scotia trying to find his place in the world…Cam O’Connell harvests rockweed for cash and fends off a mean-spirited boy while becoming an ally to a new girl in the community. There’s also danger lurking in the waters along these shores and Cam must use his strength, wits, and willpower to avert disaster.” Lesley Choyce, author of Nova Scotia: Shaped by the Sea“Riptides, like this story, are unpredictable and thrilling. If you want a fast-paced, action-packed story…Riptides is for you.” Alison DeLory, author of Lunar Lifter and Scotia Sinker.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean

Why did I love this book?

The Wave is a brilliant piece of investigative journalism and a very human tale full of rare personalities and fascinating science. Casey trails extreme surfers like Laird Hamilton around the globe as they pursue the thrill and fame of conquering 100-foot waves. She also interviews scientists about the forces that create the kind of monsters that sink our biggest vessels. Until recently, many scientists considered reports of rogue waves no more than sailors’ exaggerations. But now the scientific imperative of understanding them is rising like the waves themselves as they become more extreme, nurtured by the impacts of climate change.  Like many of my favourite books, The Wave blends adventure, nature, and science into a fascinating and thrilling read.

By Susan Casey,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Wave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The have long been mariners' tales of 100-foot rogue waves - gargantuan monsters that sink super-tankers in the blink of an eye.

But waves that high violate the laws of physics, so science has dismissed them as myth. Until now.

In February 2000 the research ship, RRS Discovery, was trapped by a vortex of mammoth waves in the North Atlantic. Amazingly the ship survived and its state-of-the-art equipment registered waves nearing 100-feet. Something scary is brewing in the planet's waters. And with 72% of earth covered by sea, this is serious business.

Cut to Maui, Hawaii, a surf mecca where…

The River

By Peter Heller,

Book cover of The River

Why did I love this book?

This novel is both frightening and gorgeous in its depiction of a wilderness canoe trip gone wrong. The story opens with two young men, with very different personalities but long-time friends, setting out for what they intend to be a relaxing break canoeing whitewater in northern Canada. But the friends get caught up in a terrifying wildfire. The flames’ ferocity and threat are brilliantly evoked, as is the human danger posed by a couple encountered along the river. This is a tale of survival in the wilderness, mystery, and violence. It is all beautifully and movingly captured – witness the forest animals fleeing the flames. In these days of escalating danger posed by climate change, it is a story that seems especially relevant.     

By Peter Heller,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



Two friends
Wynn and Jack have been best friends since their first day of college, brought together by their shared love the great outdoors.

The adventure of a lifetime
When they decide to canoe down the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate the ultimate wilderness experience: no phones, no fellow travellers, no way of going…

Book cover of The Sea Was in Their Blood: The Disappearance of the Miss Ally's Five-Man Crew

Why did I love this book?

This book is based on a real-life tragedy – the deaths of five young Nova Scotia fishermen aboard the Miss Ally, a fishing vessel that was lost with all hands during a storm in 2013. Casey, a journalist and writer, has produced a moving synthesis in this work. He explores the lives, families, and characters of the young men who were lost, and recreates the community they lived in, effectively evoking the fishing culture, the profession’s unique dangers, and the economic imperatives and opportunities. Some may feel he judges the official emergency responders harshly but he is writing from the position of the community, which is always apparent to the reader. He explores the youthful over-confidence and bravado that likely played a role in the tragedy without pointing the cold finger of judgment. 

By Quentin Casey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sea Was in Their Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It was a frigid night in February 2013 when the five young fishermen vanished. The crew of the Miss Ally―a 12-metre Cape Islander from Woods Harbour, Nova Scotia―was fishing for halibut far off the Nova Scotia coast when their boat's spotlight malfunctioned. A vicious winter storm was approaching from her south, and all other boats at the fishing grounds were steaming for shore. Unable to locate his longlining gear, the Miss Ally's young captain decided to stay an extra day to retrieve the gear and, hopefully, a big catch.

Their retreat delayed, the Miss Ally crew ended up pounded by…

Life of Pi

By Yann Martel,

Book cover of Life of Pi

Why did I love this book?

I adore the exuberance of Life of Pi. This book breathes life on every page. Who could not delight in a tale that maroons a teenager alone for 227 days on a shipwrecked vessel with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger? This story blends many elements we know and love but shakes them up to create something unique and novel. There’s the shipwreck, the immigrant journey, the youth alone in perilous circumstances. The reader turns each page desperate to know how young Pi Patel can possibly survive being shipwrecked alone on the Pacific with the wild inhabitants of his parents’ former zoo. The conclusion is unexpected and masterful.   

By Yann Martel,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Life of Pi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After the sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan—and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.

Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi Patel, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with the tiger, Richard Parker, for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his…

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

By Michael Rosen, Helen Oxenbury (illustrator),

Book cover of We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Why did I love this book?

This is my favourite picture book; one I gift to the parents of every newborn I know. In this classic adventure story, a family of children, their dog, and their dad set off one day on a bear hunt. 

In beautifully evoked words and pictures, the story shows the family traipsing through all kinds of landscapes and weather conditions accompanied by the refrain “We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one.” The sounds and sensations of the natural world are brilliantly captured, and there’s a lesson here. The path gets tough and the story emphasizes the importance of persevering and putting one foot in front of the other. “We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it.” Too true. A brilliant conclusion.     

By Michael Rosen, Helen Oxenbury (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked We're Going on a Bear Hunt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gorgeous gift edition of the classic join in story by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. Shake up a snowstorm with this perfect gift for brave hunters and bear-lovers everywhere!

We're going on a bear hunt. We're going to catch a big one. Will you come too? For over a quarter of a century, readers have been swishy-swashying and splash-sploshing through this award-winning favourite. This new gift hardback edition includes a superb snow scene on the cover to add fun and festive flurries to your favourite family adventure story. Follow and join in the family's excitement as they wade through the…

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