Welcome back to another edition of Windsor Public Library’s Guest Blogger series. We hope you’re enjoying learning about the reading habits of your fellow Windsorites as much as we’re enjoying sharing them with you. This month’s guest blogger Jennifer Nantais, a local naturalist and educator, shares with us some of her go-to books about ecology and history – two of her favorite subjects!
Three for Thought
As a naturalist and educator, a good working knowledge of local species is a must. As a citizen and nature lover, field guides have always been a great love of mine. Their wealth of identification and ecological information are like a window into the complex world around us. Sometimes it is a good idea to check out different guides before deciding which to include in your personal collection, or just to accompany you on a trip to unwind and experience the great outdoors. Birding is a wonderful activity for experts, hobbyists and beginners, and Sibley’s guide is invaluable. The beautifully drawn images are ideal for identification purposes, highlighting essential details better than any photograph, and the images themselves make for a beautiful edition that is as enjoyable to look through as it is to use.
In addition to the field guide, The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behaviour delves deeper into the fascinating world of birds. Check out one of these editions, even if it’s just to take a trip into your own back yard.
2. Travels in Alaska by John Muir
“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” It’s impossible to appreciate the beauty of nature without reflecting on it. For me, no one does this with greater beauty and poetry than John Muir. A conservationist at a time when the wilderness was considered a mere wealth of resources ready to be exploited and civilized by hard work, John Muir appreciated what nature had to offer to the soul as well as the earth. Whether he’s in the Alaskan frontier or atop a huge Sycamore tree, Muir’s prose is as beautiful today as the landscapes that he worked so hard to protect.
3. Wacousta by John Richardson
My conservation work focuses not only on ecology, but also history, which is why I consider this book relevant to my work. Reading Wacousta was a joy for many reasons; it’s one of the first books written about Canada by a Canadian author, it takes place right in the Windsor/Detroit area, and it’s a spectacular epic adventure. The opening of this book alone will transport you back two hundred years to a time when European settlers were waging war on the First Nations, as well as the entire landscape. The book may be historical fiction, but Richardson was there when our landscape and our history were being shaped, and his depiction of the river and surrounding area is so real, I can still see it when I close my eyes.
On My Nightstand
While I love reading about history and the natural world, I simply have to have something non-work related on the go at all times. I am a huge fan of horror, and have just finished The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I tend to read mostly classics, and am currently reading Ulysses by James Joyce.
I am a naturalist and educator with the City of Windsor as well as the Essex Region Conservation Authority. I can usually be found teaching children or the general public about our local ecology at Ojibway Nature Centre or Hillman Marsh, or dressed as a pilgrim to pass on our shared history at John R. Park Homestead. When I’m not working, I’m usually relaxing with my two cats, Bert and Bailey.