Monday, October 7, 2019

Book Review: The Naturalist's Notebook by Nathaniel T. Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich

The Naturalist's Notebook: An Observation Guide and 5-Year Calendar-Journal for Tracking Changes in the Natural World Around You is a beautiful, hardcover book that is an excellent purchase for any person who loves the great outdoors. Whether the reader's interest is plants, climate, gardening, birds or other outdoor pursuits, this is a perfect place to jot a daily note about the experience.


Appreciating and documenting the natural world.

The Naturalist's Notebook: An Observation Guide and 5-Year Calendar-Journal for Tracking Changes in the Natural World Around You by Nathaniel T. Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich is part how-to write field notes, part inspirational, and part 5-year calendar. This book is a way to document and appreciate your natural surroundings.


"In the words of writer Richard Mabey, natural history is "a meeting place for wild life and human feeling" - Nathaniel T. Wheelwright 

The illustrations are wonderful. If you click the Amazon link, you'll be able to view some of the artwork using the "Look Inside" feature. I love these type of illustrations.




The pages are thick paper rather than thin paper or glossy paper. This paper stock is good for keeping the journal entries from bleeding through the pages as well as compliments the rustic illustrations. 

The written portion of the book is clearly written by people who love our natural world. Their passion translates from the page to the reader - motivating the reader to immediately begin being more aware outdoors.

The written chapters are:
  • Chapter One - Being Attentive
  • Chapter Two - How to Become an Observant Naturalist I
  • Chapter Three - How to Become an Observant Naturalist II
  • Chapter Four - A Naturalist's Toolbox
  • Chapter Five - Simple Experiments as a Way of Learning
  • Chapter Six - Knowing Nature Where You Are
  • Epilogue - Bird by Bird


Followed by a 5-Year Calendar-Journal. The calendar grid is numbered in such a way that you can begin on any date and any year, by adding the year in the blank spot on the left side of the pages and writing under the number that corresponds with the date. 
  • The Naturalist's Notebook ends with:
  • Personal Glossary for Abbreviations and Symbols
  • Useful Books
  • Metric Conversion
  • Timelines for Species and Events You Follow
  • Acknowledgements
  • About the Authors


I am really happy to have this notebook that both validates my love of the natural world that surrounds me as well as helps me to think about my observation skills. This book also helps me to appreciate the efforts of those who came before me. This is not an in-depth study of people such as Lewis and Clark, Henry David Thoreau, and others. But it does remind us of what a great impact their documentation of the natural world had on us. Or a biology text book. 

This book is a timely and important reminder that the natural world is important and lessons come from our own personal awareness and appreciation of the changes and seasons around us. 

Related Link:

I already sometimes document the natural world around me when I'm camping in the mountains. It is easy to notice the wildlife, weather, and plants while I'm at The Shack. I sometimes document through photography but I want to become better at documenting things more specifically. For example: exactly where and when I saw this beautiful newt. I'd like to increase my chances of finding one in the future. As the terrain there changes, I hope newts continue to live there. 

found during my hike in April




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9 comments:

  1. Sounds like an interesting book, Dawn Rae, as you said for anyone who loves the outdoors.

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  2. What a perfect fact based and journal-type book for anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors observing nature.
    And a terrific way to document your visits to and eventual move to The Shack, which, from your past shared photos and writings look to be "nature at its best". :)

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  3. It sounds like an fabulous book of guidelines for studying nature. I love the idea of "taking notes" in a journal. There was a time when I could remember certain sighting by date relations (like seeing a specific bird on my birthday). However, as I have gotten older, I don't seem to have that same recall. I would love to be able to write down awesome discoveries, noted with specifics like dates and places, in a single journal. What an awesome book!

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  4. I love this sort of book. I once used similar journals for gardening when I lived on rural land. Now I don't have as much time to spend in my garden or out walking. But this would make a wonderful gift for someone who spends a lot of time observing nature as I did when I was still in Templeton.

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  5. This would certainly be a lovely gift for anyone who enjoys the "great outdoors". While I don't have a yard to ponder anymore, I'm sure that trips to natural reserves and such could be added to this lovely diary of sorts. I think I know one or two people who would love a copy of this book!

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  6. The older I get, the more I understand the importance of appreciating and marveling at the natural beauty that surrounds us. This would be a wonderful, inspirational gift!

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  7. I'm always amazed at the reviews and recommendations here. I would have NEVER known about this if I hadn't of read your review. This is an excellent concept for a book, and I can see how it would be appealing to people especially the outdoor-types. There are a few of those types in my family. What a wonderful gift idea as well.

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  8. This is my kind of book. I love documenting the beauty and wonder of the natural world. Thanks for the review and recommendation. Hope you get to enjoy more newt encounters in your corner of the world.

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  9. Thanks for introducing me to this book - what a great idea!

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