Writing Wild: Women Poets, Ramblers, and Mavericks Who Shape How We See the Natural World

Timber. Apr. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9781604699272. pap. $24.95. LIT
Having read an article in Outside magazine listing “essential” books for explorers, historian and landscape designer Aalto noted 22 of the 25 contributors were white men. In a letter to the publication’s editor, which became this book, the author presented 25 female naturalists, authors, and thinkers, briefly describing their lives and quoting their work. Here, she presents the women’s impressions, amending each section with a list of writers with similar interests in other areas for a fuller bibliography. Aalto writes in an easy, friendly style that makes readers feel as if they are walking the paths of these women with her. She offers casual descriptions of familiar writers, such as Annie Dillard, like a teacher refreshing a past lesson, along with interesting tidbits to keep readers motivated to continue. While this is a wonderful celebration of female nature writers, the list is still predominantly white and American or European, something the author acknowledges. Readers might find it confusing when there is no date or place attributed to a particular piece, or when a section focuses more on the writer’s work but leaves out essential biographical details.
VERDICT As a succinct introduction to women nature writers, this elegant compilation should have a broad reach and inspire readers to seek out more about the authors featured.
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