It's the most wonderful time of the year and, with so many good books being published and winter vacations approaching, we think it’s quite the season for book reading, too. If you'd like to lay off the eggnog and candied yams and indulge your senses in something with a little more sustenance and a lot less fat, there's quite an array of books from which to choose.
You can view exceptional images from photographer Theo Allofs' Pantanal: South America's Wetland Jewel or read up on your woodland subjects in Firefly Encyclopedia of Trees or even learn about the benefits of nature in Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. And don't forget that it's the season for giving, so share your favorite book with someone else as a gift.
Archipelago: Portraits of Life in the World's Most Remote Island Sanctuary by David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton (National Geographic, 2005; ISBN: 0-7922-4188-6). These two National Geographic photographers captured studio-like images of the wildlife populating a little-known, isolated extension of the Hawaiian Islands. Their beautiful photography is meant to educate people on the area, its life forms and the need to protect it.
Birds of Central Park by Cal Vornberger (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 2005; ISBN: 0-8109-5917-8). New York's Central Park serves as a pit stop for more than 200 species of birds, one-third of the birds in the United States. Photographer Cal Vornberger dedicated three years of his life to photographing the feathered creatures in New York's 843-acre landmark. He also includes stories about capturing the images, tips and a bonus pocket guide.
Pantanal: South America's Wetland Jewel photographs by Theo Allofs (Firefly Books, 2005; ISBN: 1-55407-090-2). Situated in the upper Paraguay River Basin in the center of the South American continent lies one of our planet's most spectacular wetland systems, called the Pantanal. Stunning photographs of caiman, tropical birds and indigenous people, accompanied by text from scientists of Conservation International, detail the environment and the threats to its preservation.
On Safari: The Source for Safaris in East and Southern Africa by David Anderson (Focus on Africa Publications, 2005; ISBN: 0-620-29695-X). With more than 1,000 images, this book includes travel information with stunning coffee-table photographs. On Safari's 560 pages provide all the information you need for 10 of the top game-viewing countries in Africa.
On This Earth: Photographs from East Africa by Nick Brandt (Chronicle Books, 2005; ISBN: 0-8118-4865-5). The book's unique and original black-and-white images show East African wildlife and, in some cases, animals' reactions to the discovery of human artifacts. The photographs convey Brandt's respect for his animal subjects, who, at times, seem to be posing for their portraits.
Origins: African Wisdom for Every Day by Danielle and Oliver Fallmi (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2005; ISBN: 0-8109-5945-3). This book chronicles an entire year—365 images—from everyday African life. Each photo is accompanied by a quote from an African personality. The book's unique size and thought-provoking quotes make it a perfect gift.
Destinations: A Photographer's Journey by André Gallant (André Gallant, 2005; ISBN: 0-9734714-1-7). In this compilation of travel photographer André Gallant's favorite places, he focuses on the knowledge that can be obtained from a photograph. The book gives tips on travel photography, and candid photographs show the tips applied.
Extreme Nature: Images from the World's Edge by Bill Curtsinger (Rizzoli International, 2005; ISBN: 88-544-0078-5). Through his amazing photography, Bill Curtsinger reveals elusive sea creatures in their natural habitat. The author narrates the book, reflecting on the challenges he has encountered photographing wildlife.
Living with Wolves by Jim and Jamie Dutcher (The Mountaineers Books, 2005; ISBN: 1-59485-000-3). This book documents the assimilation of Jim and Jamie Dutcher into a pack of wolves over a six-year period. Brief anecdotes explain how the Dutchers shared life, fear, death and birth with the pack. The book also tells of the relationship between wolves and nature, as well as their interactions in the pack structure.
Botanica by Howard Schatz (Bulfinch Press, 2005; ISBN: 0-8212-6173-8). Studio photographer Howard Schatz has focused his lens on the striking patterns and designs in plant anatomy, creating a book filled with large-scale floral images.
Firefly Encyclopedia of Trees, edited by Steve Cafferty (Firefly Books, 2005; ISBN: 1-55407-051-1). This informative book explains the structure, growth, ecology and location of trees and offers a brief overview of forest management. It provides in-depth information on the most common trees of today and the significance that many have in varying cultures.
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv (Algonquin Books, 2005; ISBN: 1-56512-391-3). Discover what author Richard Louv believes to be the cause of our society's childhood ills: lack of outdoor play. The book provides research on obesity, ADD, ADHD and on how nature can help heal such disorders. In addition, he suggests the ways that outdoor exploration can enhance creativity, academics and morals.
Live! from Death Valley: Dispatches from America's Low Point by John Soennichsen (Sasquatch Books, 2005; ISBN: 1-57061-448-2). Author John Soennichsen gives a vivacious narration of the human and geological history of Death Valley. Intermixed with the historical accounts are fictional short stories and personal experiences set in America's mysterious desert.
North Woods Journal: A Minnesota Nature Calendar by Ryan Marshik and Mark Sparky Stensaas (Stone Ridge Press, 2004; ISBN: 0-9760313-0-2). This journal has room for week-by-week entries alongside images and nature facts that coincide with the calendar. The book allows you to relate the timing of events in your life with those of the wilds of the North Woods.
Valley of the Dunes: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve by Bob Rozinski and Wendy Shattil with text by Audrey DeLella Benedict (Fulcrum Publishing, 2005; ISBN: 1-5591-523-X). Wildlife pros Bob Rozinski and Wendy Shattil provide an intimate look at a spectacular 150-mile stretch of the Rio Grande Rift System in Colorado. The book's many dramatic images include photos of the tallest sand dunes in North America.
Voices of the Land, photographs by Charles Lindsay (Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2004; ISBN: 1-931498-50-4). Charles Lindsay's beautiful images and text by various writers address the role human beings play in wildlife preservation. The brief essays inspire us to think about how we benefit from and can better respect nature. All proceeds from the book go toward land conservation efforts.
Adirondack High: Images of America's First Wilderness, photographs by Hardie Truesdale, text by Joanne Michaels (Countryman Press, 2005; ISBN: 0-88150-674-5). New York's Adirondack Park was the first national park created as a composite of public and private lands. This book includes photographs of the unmanned land and its landmarks and plant life. The captions provide brief histories of those landmarks and the place they share in American history.
Canada by Mike Grandmaison with text by Shelagh Rogers (Key Porter Books, 2005; ISBN: 1-55263-658-5). This book captures the extensive natural beauty within the borders of Canada. The images acquaint the reader with the Canadian wilderness in every season and setting, from rain forests to prairies to icebergs to mountain ranges.
Dances with Light: The Canadian Rockies (Altitude Publishing, 2005; ISBN: 1-55153-230-1) and How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies, both by Darwin Wiggett (Altitude Publishing, 2005; ISBN: 155153-641-2). These books are full of mesmerizing pictures taken in the Rocky Mountains: landforms, tourist activities and wildlife. The second is a small pocket guide detailing specific locations and corresponding tips for shooting in those locations.
Colorado: Wild and Beautiful by Glenn Randall (Farcountry Press, 2005; ISBN: 1-56037-358-X). A composition of 30 years' worth of images captured by Glenn Randall in the Colorado outdoors, the book pictures the mountainous state during all seasons, and the photographer provides captions describing what he went through to obtain the images.