May is International Mental Health Awareness Month and, as the month draws to a close it’s important that we keep conversations about mental health going. One way to do this is through reading and, here at Books that Matter, we are big fans of self care through books. Inspired by the nature theme of Mental Health Awareness Week which ran from 10-16 May, here are some reading suggestions for books that address themes around wellbeing and its connection with the natural world. We hope you will find something here that piques your interest and that you’ll want to add to your to-be-read list.
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
As a child Helen Macdonald always wanted to become a falconer, years later when her father died, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk as a way of processing her grief. She bought Mabel for £800 on a Scottish quayside and took her home to Cambridge, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals. H is for Hawk is an account of Macdonald’s struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk’s taming and her own untaming.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings – asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass – offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our relationship with the rest of the living world.
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years, is terminally ill, their home is taken away and they lose their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall. The Salt Path is the story of coming to terms with grief and the healing power of the natural world.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State – and she would do it alone.
The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams
From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to eucalyptus groves in California, Florence Williams investigates the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain. Delving into brand-new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives increasingly shift indoors, these ideas – and the answers they yield – are more urgent than ever.
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