Nature writing is booming – but must a walk through the woods always be meaningful? | Zoe Gilbert


This post is by Zoe Gilbert from Books | The Guardian


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When so many of us struggle to find time and money to head outdoors, nature writing offers us vicarious enchantment – regardless of reality

Nature, as both a place and an idea, has become fraught with issues of privilege. Not everyone can access it, nor can they always afford to romanticise it. As biodiversity plummets, our attention becomes bittersweet, leaving nature lovers trapped in an increasingly tragic love story. Yet for any difficulty we may have in facing up to our collective destruction, writing about nature is booming. As readers, we relish these secondhand wanderings, recounted in gorgeous prose. We witness the author’s wonder, and aspire to similar experiences: the natural world as cure, as balm, as wise mentor; wilderness as a fount of authenticity in which we might find our wilder, realer selves.

My own relationship with nature writing is complicated. I am disappointed by my hesitancy when it ...