Subtitled 'The animal kingdom and how it shaped me' this is a memoir from Simon Barnes (author of many nature books including How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher.)
Barnes picks out a number of encounters with nature throughout his life and details how they helped him both get closer to nature and to come to terms with that part of his life. How animals helped him find meaning when he was bullied at school, helped him cope with teenage boredom, shaped his career and helped him raise his family.
As in all his books, this is full of enthusiasm for the natural world, though there are more specifically human concerns in this book than in the others of his I've read. There are some really moving moments too, especially the chapter about how Barnes' son Eddie (who has Down's Syndrome) loves tigers, but also the family dog:
'Our dog Gabriel, a black labrador bitch, helped shape Eddie's universe. A deep joy in Eddie's life was to curl up alongside her in her basket. ...She has scarcely uttered a cross word in Eddie's direction, never once snapped: only occasionally when the ear-pulling and tail tugging became too oppressive, she would sighand walk into another room. Because of Gabe, Eddie knew he was living in a world full of kind and generous creatures.'
This is a lovely book, showing how nature can influence our lives.
My Natural History by Simon Barnes published by Short Books.
You can read my other reviews of Barnes' books by following the links below:
How to be Wild.
Birdwatching with your Eyes Closed.