Before my son was born, nearly 20 months ago, one of the first child care–related books I read had nothing to do with a birth plan or what to expect in the first year—though both of those subjects would get plenty of attention in the months to come. No, the most intriguing book on the shelf was Last Child in the Woods (2008), by Richard Louv, recommended to me by my wife and a few friends.
Louv makes a graceful and convincing argument about the importance of nature, of getting out in the wilderness, in children’s lives, an argument that has assumed greater urgency as we continue to find ways to both plug in and tune out. On Feb. 7, Outside contributing editor Florence Williams will publish a perfect complement to Louv’s book.
In The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, which we call an “upbeat, brightly conversational account” in a starred review, Williams doesn’t just focus on children and the necessity of nature in their developmental processes. Rather, she explores the crucial role that nature should play in anyone’s life, especially since “we’re increasingly burdened by chronic ailments made worse by time spent indoors, from myopia to vitamin D deficiency to obesity, depression, loneliness, and anxiety, among others.”
My wife and I have always enjoyed a brisk walk in the woods, and we take our son outside whenever we can, but The Nature Fix provides significant research, related through a variety of entertaining anecdotes, to bolster what we already know about the healing powers of the wild—and perhaps convince those who have yet to experience it. As our reviewer wrote, Williams’ latest is a “thoughtful, refreshing book with a simple but powerful message: “Go outside, often, sometimes in wild places. Bring friends or not. Breathe.” Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction and managing editor.