Six readings to immerse yourself in nature

A modern manifesto about gardens, classic writings on nature, powerful French and North American novels, an environmental thriller…our pick for the literary chlorophyll bath.

01. “The Emotional Garden Manifesto” by Arnaud Maurier and Eric Ausart

Created by the enthusiastic Gilles Kleiman, this elegant little book is, in both style and form, undoubtedly the new garden bible. Highlight feelings, bet everything on plants, respect the land, the climate, use water in moderation, never force nature, but tame it, know plants well, let them live and grow …

Arnaud Maurières and Eric Ossart, who created about a hundred gardens in France and around the world (Morocco, Mexico, Portugal, etc.) first present themselves as gardeners before becoming gardeners. Their “Sentimental Garden Manifesto” is as much an intimate account of their experiences as it is a landscape mini-story, a poetic guide, and a vibrant poem about nature.

Plume de Carotte Editions, 239 pages, €19. Publication date: May 2022.

02. “The Almanac of the Sand County,” by Aldo Leopold

Already in 1948, some enlightened minds were concerned with protecting the environment and regretted it “Ethics of the Earth” Not studying at school. Among them, American hunter, fisherman and writer Aldo Leopold, author of this classic “natural writing” inspired by the philosophy of Henry David Thoreau.

From his ranch in the sands of Wisconsin, the environmentalist roams, never tired, on his 48-hectare farm researching the effects of the seasons on animals and plants. Skunks, geese, woodland birds, and blackbirds fill his rustic calendar that, in its grace and simplicity, deserves all the data in favor of nature conservation.

New translation by Eric Chiday, Gallister, 288 pages, €23.10. Publication date: 1948. French translation: April 2022.

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03. “Human Nature,” by Serge Goncourt

“Human Nature” is “The End of the Century”, covering the years 1976-1999. A local novel: Its protagonist, Alexander, a young farmer from Lot on the edge of the abyss, faces crises rocking agriculture and major projects threatening the region’s farms. Through the life of the boy and the lives of those close to him, the author of “Dog-Loup” makes us relive fifty years of political and social life, from the angle of rural desertification and environmental conflicts.

In this epic, which won the Prix Femina in 2020 and is now reissued in paperback, Serge Goncourt examines human nature in all its complexities, no frills. An earthly statement of reason and fury, essential to understanding the challenges of the new French rural world.

I read, 480 pages, 8.90 euros. Publication date: January 2020 2020 paperback.

04. “Son of Man” by Jean-Baptiste del Amo

Jean-Baptiste Del Amo’s latest novel, FNAC Award 2021, is first and foremost a book about filiation – sons broken by the tyranny of fathers – but according to the tragic plot of the “Son of Man”, nature, poetic, wild, which imposes itself as the great heroine.

For the child is forcibly set off with his mother towards a secluded mountain chalet, by a dreary and jealous father to the point of madness, he gradually appears as if trapped in the grandiose landscapes, rocks, woods, and complicit animals. In the face of men’s violence that continues from father to son and confronts the mirage of love, del Amo lifts up this bond of tenderness and freedom that binds us to nature.

Gallimard, 240 pages, 19 euros. Publication date: 2021.

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05. “When the Tree Is the Last,” by Michael Christie

We are in the year 2038 and the “great wilt”, a product of global warming, has improved the ecosystem. A penniless young biologist, Jacinda Greenwood, works as a tour guide on an island off the coast of British Columbia that is home to one of the last primary forests on the planet. One day, the young woman learned from her ex-lawyer boyfriend that she had relations with the owner of the island …

Canadian Michael Christie’s first environmental novel, When The Last Tree begins in the unsettling near future to better immerse us in the past, explores the tree structure of a family body and soul linked to trees and wood, both loving. And the executioner of nature. An imaginative masterpiece with a vision and commitment.

Translated by Sarah Gursel. Albin Michel, 608 pages, €22.90. Publication date: August 2021.

06. “The Botanist” by Jean-Luc Besian

Are all means good when the fight is environmentally just? Olivier Noric was asking himself the question in Impact, a highly-documented thriller (also?) in which a father devastated by the death of his child due to pollution becomes an environmental terrorist. It is addressed by fantasy author Jean-Luc Besian in his thriller Almost (We Are in 2023) based on a screenplay by Luke Mariscott and Guillaume Maidachevsky.

A scientist with a passion for Amazonian nature confronts a industrialist accused of burning forests of hundreds of hectares. Reality TV-worthy experience, muscle kidnapping, Koh Lanta-style ordeals, and the hero’s race against time to save his skin: action-narration codes are effectively exploited in service of a great cause, the preservation of primary forests.

Black Viard, 464 pages, €19.50. Publication date: March 2022.

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