Rain coverThe 2015 National Book Award Nonfiction Longlist contains two books classifiable as natural history: Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett and The Soul of an Octopus; A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery.

Curiously, neither of these books was on my radar as no review copies ever arrived. Thus I am uncertain as to which I would prefer to see ultimately chosen as the winner.

Soul Octopus coverBoth these authors have distinguished natural history bibliographies. Barnett is the author of two previous award-winning books about water: Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis and Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.

Montgomery’s is a bit longer, including such widely popular works as Birdology; Adventures with Hip Hop Parrots, Cantankerous Cassowaries, Crabby Crows, Peripatetic Pigeons, Hens, Hawks, and HummingbirdsSearch for the Golden Moon Bear; Science and Adventure in Pursuit of a New Species, and of course, The Good Good Pig.