The first books of natural history I can recall reading were David Quammen’s Natural Acts and Bernd Heinrich’s Ravens in Winter. While I know I had read others before, these two stick in my mind due to the power each of them had to demand that I look more deeply at the world around me and ask not just “what” but “why?” Since that time I have read more books by more authors than I would scarcely attempt to count; however given the formative influence both Quammen and Heinrich had on me even before I began to see myself as a naturalist, I still to this day take note whenever I see a new article, essay, or book by either of them.
Such a note was recently taken when I returned from yet another business trip and discovered an advance reading copy of the forthcoming A Naturalist at Large; the Best Essays of Bernd Heinrich. Expected on bookstore shelves this May from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, this collection of Heinrich’s essays, a large portion of which originally appeared in Natural History magazine, cover a range of topics beginning with soil and plant science, to arthropods, to birds and mammals, and finally concluding with more general ecology. All-in-all, a nicely diversified collection from one of the world’s great living general natural history authors.