Losing Eden: Our Fundamental Need for the Natural World—and Its Ability To Heal Body and Soul

Pantheon. Aug. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9781524749323. $25. NAT HIST
In this intriguing mix of the personal and scientific, British journalist Jones (Foxes Unearthed) examines the relationship between a person’s environment and their health. Jones discloses her experiences with addiction and depression and offers compelling anecdotal evidence for the salutary effects of walking in the marshes and gardening during her recovery. Her story is kept to the background, though, as she surveys the growing body of research on the benefits of connecting with (and costs of being disconnected from) the natural world. (Her geographic focus is mostly Europe, but she does discuss non-European people and places.) Jones explains foundational theories of restorative nature (biophilia, nature deficit disorder, equigenesis) and current modalities (ecotherapy, attention restoration). It’s not only for academics: gardeners will learn microbiological reasons for the therapeutic effect of digging in the dirt; outdoor enthusiasts will savor the evidence that living close to nature can noticeably affect health. The sad irony is that the natural world that could heal us faces spiraling crises as we use and overuse it.
VERDICT Jones writes a lyrical account of human fascination with nature and wilderness. Like other recent works that extoll the psychological benefits of the great outdoors, Jones’s book should find an eager audience.
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