The best of Mabey's BBC Wildlife magazine pieces.
Richard Mabey has been described as Britain's greatest living nature writer. He is certainly the best living British nature writer that I have read—and I have read a fair few. He is one of those authors whose name alone on the cover is good enough reason to buy a book.
A Brush With Nature is a collection of Mabey's favourite pieces from his long-running column in BBC Wildlife magazine. Rather than group the pieces chronologically, he has grouped them into broad themes ranging from his own personal roots, to other nature writers, to issues affecting the natural world.
Mabey is at his best when writing about our own individual relationships with nature, and what we get out of them. He is also wonderfully unsentimental and pragmatic at times about our self-appointed stewardship of nature: nature doesn't need looking after; leave it alone and it will look after itself. He is also occasionally nice and cynical about environmentalism: "In the sense of crisis in which all environmental science is taught today," he says, "I sometimes feel that real living things get lost in a vague green haze". Exactly.
Like I said, Mabey's name on the cover is recommendation enough. A damn good read.