Six readings to immerse yourself in nature

A modern manifesto about gardens, a classic with writings about nature, powerful French and North American novels, an eco-thriller … Our selection for a literary chlorophyll bath.

01. “Manifesto of the emotional garden”, by Arnaud Maurières and Eric Ossart

Preceded by an enthusiastic Gilles Clément, this elegant little book, both in its style and in its form, is undoubtedly the new bible about gardens. Emphasize emotions, focus everything on plants, respect the soil, the climate, use water sparingly, never force nature, but tame it, know plants well, let them live and grow …

Arnaud Maurières and Eric Ossart, creators of about a hundred gardens in France and around the world (Morocco, Mexico, Portugal, etc.), first introduce themselves as gardeners before becoming landscape gardeners. Their “Emotional Garden Manifesto” is as much an intimate account of their experiences as it is a mini-story about the landscape, a poetic guide and a living ode to nature.

Plume de Carotte editions, 239 pages, 19 euros. Release: May 2022.

02. “Almanac of a Sandamt”, by Aldo Leopold

As early as 1948, some enlightened minds were concerned about protecting the environment and lamented that “the ethics of the earth” not taught in school. Among them, the fisherman, the hunter, the forester and the American author Aldo Leopold, author of this classic on “nature writing” inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s philosophy.

From his farm in the sands of Wisconsin, the environmentalist, never tired, wanders his 48 acres of land looking for the seasonal impact on the fauna and flora. Skunks, geese, woodcocks and sunbirds populate his rural almanac, which by its grace and simplicity are all worth the manifestos in favor of the preservation of nature.

New translation by Eric Chédaille, Gallmeister, 288 pages, 23.10 euros. Publication: 1948. French translation: April 2022.

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03. “Human Nature”, by Serge Joncour

“Human Nature” is an “end of the century” novel, covering the years 1976 to 1999. A local novel: its hero, Alexandre, a young farmer from Lot on the edge, is confronted with the crises that shake agriculture and the great projects that threaten the region’s agriculture. Through the life of the boy and his closest, the author of “Dog-Loup” makes us relive fifty years of political and social life, seen from desertification in the countryside and ecological struggles.

In this epic that won the Prix Femina in 2020 and has now been republished in paperback, Serge Joncour explores human nature in all its complexity without embellishment. A country manifesto of reason and anger, crucial to understanding the challenges of the new French rural world.

I read, 480 pp., 8.90 euros. Publication: 2020, January 2022 in paperback.

04. “The Son of Man”, by Jean-Baptiste Del Amo

The latest novel by Jean-Baptiste Del Amo, the FNAC 2021 Prize, is first and foremost a book about filiation – the sons crushed by the tyranny of the fathers – but according to the tragic plot of “The Son of Man” it is finally nature, poetic, wild, that imposes herself as the great heroine.

Because the child, who with his mother forcibly embarked on an isolated mountain hut, by a depressed and jealous father to the point of madness, gradually appears trapped in the magnificent landscapes, the cliffs, the forest and the complicit animals. Faced with the violence of men, which is perpetuated from father to son and confronted with the mirage of love, Del Amo exalts this bond of tenderness and freedom that binds us to nature.

Gallimard, 240 pages, 19 euros. Release: 2021.

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05. “When the Last Tree”, by Michael Christie

We are in 2038, and the “great withering”, a product of global warming, has been overcome by the ecosystem. A moneyless young biologist, Jacinda Greenwood, works as a tourist guide on an island off the coast of British Columbia, home to one of the last primary forests on the planet. One day, the young woman learns from her lawyer ex-boyfriend that she has ties to the owner of the island …

The first eco-novel by Canadian Michael Christie, “When the Last Tree” begins in an anxious near future to better immerse ourselves in the past, exploring the tree structure of a family linked body and soul to trees and trees, both loving and the executioner of nature. A visionary and committed fiction masterpiece.

Translated by Sarah Gurcel. Albin Michel, 608 pages, 22.90 euros. Release: August 2021.

06. “The Botanist”, by Jean-Luc Bizien

Are all means good when the fight is ecologically fair? Olivier Norek already asked himself the question in “Impact”, a very (for?) Documented thriller in which a father destroyed by his child’s death in connection with pollution became an eco-terrorist. Fantasy writer Jean-Luc Bizien takes it up in his almost contemporary thriller (We Are in 2023) inspired by a screenplay by Luc Marescot and Guillaume Maidatchevsky.

He confronts a scientist who is passionate about the nature of the Amazon, with an industrialist accused of burning forests in hundreds of acres. Trial worthy of reality TV, muscular kidnappings, Koh-Lanta-style trials, the hero’s race against time to save his skin: the action novel’s codes are effectively exploited to serve a great cause, the preservation of primary forests.

Fayard black, 464 pages, 19.50 euros. Release: March 2022.

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