‘Oh, how can I put into words the joys of a walk over country such as this; the scenes that delight the eyes, the blessed peace of mind, the sheer exuberance which fills your soul as you tread the firm turf? This is something to be lived, not read about.’
The words belong to Alfred Wainwright (1907-1991), the beloved British nature writer, illustrator and fellwalker. He was a man deeply connected to the land and all that lived in it.
Recent science backs up what many of us have experienced first-hand: being in nature can help improve our mental wellbeing. Ecotherapy is a form of therapy that focuses on activities done in natural settings. And it’s gaining in popularity across the country.
And whilst Wainwright was correct that the best way to experience nature is to live it, perhaps the next best thing is to read about it. And that’s where the Wainwright Prize comes in.
Celebrating its sixth year, the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize for Nature Writing celebrates the best books about nature, the outdoors and UK travel. It’s supported by White Lion Publishing, the Wainwright Estate and the National Trust.
Seven books were shortlisted for 2019 and the winner will be announced today at an event in the National Trust Arena on BBC’s Countryfile Live at Castle Howard, Yorkshire.
Central to all of the shortlisted books is an examination of our role within wild and urban landscapes; the effect we have on them and the effect they, in turn, have on us. Each book encourages you to re-examine your relationship with nature and reconnect with it.Wainwright Prize
Julia Bradbury, chair of judges, said:
‘Within challenging times and facing a climate crisis, British nature writing continues to blossom. The books that my fellow judges and I have shortlisted for the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize demonstrate the role that nature writing can play in shining a spotlight on wider social, environmental and personal issues.’
If you’re looking to round out your reading list this year, these books should be high on your list.
The 2019 Wainwright Prize Shortlist
The Easternmost House, Juliet Blaxland (Sandstone Press)
Juliet Blaxland lives on a crumbling cliff top on the east coast of Suffolk. The Easternmost House will soon crumble into the sea. This book describes a year living on the edge: a meditation on nature, on coastal erosion, on impermanence and on the changing seasons.
Our Place, Mark Cocker (Jonathan Cape)
Our Place is a radical examination of Britain’s relationship with the land, by one of our greatest nature writers.
Thinking on My Feet, Kate Humble (Aster)
Thinking on My Feet tells the story of Kate’s walking year – shining a light on the benefits of this simple activity.
Time Song, Julia Blackburn (Jonathan Cape)
Told through stories and songs, Time Song is a spellbinding journey in search of this lost land, by one of Britain’s most original writers.
Out of the Woods, Luke Turner (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Dazzling, devastating and highly original, this memoir is about the irresistible yet double-edged potency of the forest, and the possibility of learning to find peace in the grey areas of life.
Wilding, Isabella Tree (Picador)
Part gripping memoir, part fascinating account of the ecology of our countryside, Wilding is, above all, an inspiring story of hope.
Underland, Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton)
In Underland, Robert Macfarlane takes a dazzling journey into the concealed geographies of the ground beneath our feet – the hidden regions beneath the visible surfaces of the world.
We’d love to know which one you pick up and how you find it. Leave us a comment below or tag us on social.