Last Minute Gifts: eBooks for Nature Lovers

Jill Staake

Those last frantic days of shopping are here for those who celebrate Christmas, and if you’re looking for a way to avoid the crowded stores but still get those last couple of gifts before the big day, eBooks may be the way to go. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble allow you to “gift” e-books for the Kindle and Nook, and both offer apps for anyone with a smart phone or tablet. The only caveat to keep in mind is that some books full of illustrations won’t be at their best on basic black and white e-readers, so find out ahead of time if color and illustrations will work for your giftee. Here are some great e-book options that I’ve read or have on my own wish list. (All links are to, but these eBooks should be available from other sellers too.)

For Gardeners

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart

Best For: All e-readers

A quick and fun read about the dangers of plants, from the well-known deadly nightshade to lesser-known evils like azaleas. This book will have you looking at every plant in your garden with new eyes.



What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses by Daniel Chamovitz

Best For: All e-readers

Ever wonder just how a Venus flytrap knows when to close, or a sunflower turns its head to the sun? This book delves into the science of plants, including the latest available research, and explains how they work in language anyone can understand.



The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean

Best For: All e-readers

Anyone who has seen the rare and lovely Ghost Orchid of South Florida can understand the desire to own one themselves, but for horticultural consultant John Laroche, it became more of an obsession. The orchid lovers of South Florida chronicled in this book suffer from “orchidelirium”, and their story will fascinate and amaze even the most dedicated gardeners and garden-lovers.


For Bird Lovers

The Big Year by Mark Obmascik

Best For: All e-readers

Whether or not you’ve seen the movie, this book is worth reading. Armchair birders can’t begin to imagine the travels, travails, and trials of someone competing for the title of Big Year winner. To see 745(!) different species in one year, author Mark Obmascik traveled the country from Alaska to New Jersey and just about everywhere else, and chronicles it all in this book.


Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding by Scott Weidensaul 

Best For: All e-readers, though some photos are included

The “Big Year” folks wouldn’t be where they are today if it weren’t for generations of dedicated birders in America. The book tells the stories bird guides and their authors, and documents the evolution of birding as a recreational activity. Great for both experienced and new birders alike, this book is likely to make you want to grab your binoculars and head out to explore – even if you never have before.


A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Best For: All e-readers

Even the most dedicated birders sometimes need a break from the non-fiction field guides. Fannie Flagg’s heartwarming story tells of a man who has lived his whole life in the city as he first discovers nature in his later years.  A perfect light holiday fiction read for those who already understand the magic of nature, or those who could use a reminder!


For Butterfly Enthusiasts

Lady of the Butterflies by Fiona Mountain

Best For: All e-readers

In the 17th century, not a lot of was known about the life cycle of butterflies, including the fact that caterpillars turned into butterflies. In England, Eleanor Glanville was fascinated by these creatures and spent large amounts of time in the field doing research – which led some to consider her downright insane. This fictionalized version of her life tells the tale a of a woman who was determined to protect the habitat of her beloved butterflies, at all costs.


One Hundred Butterflies by Harold Feinstein

Best For: Larger screen color devices

This book is pure eye candy for those who love butterflies. Feinstein’s photographs have been famously exhibited all over the world, and 100 of the best are gathered here to peruse and enjoy. There’s little information here – just gorgeous photographs to drool over again and again.



The Life Cycles of Butterflies by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards

Best For: Larger screen color devices

Combining beautiful photography with accurate and detailed information, this guidebook will help anyone learn more about what to look for in the world of butterflies. Understanding the complete life cycle of butterflies, from egg to caterpillar, chrysalis to adult butterfly, makes it possible to find and appreciate butterflies on a whole new level.



For Kids and Kids at Heart

One Small Place in a Tree by Barbara Brenner and Tom Leonard

Best For: Larger screen color devices

A beautifully illustrated book showing what happens when you peel away the layers of a single oak tree in the forest, from bears to beetles to bacteria and beyond. Great for grandparents to keep on their own e-readers to share with their grandkids when they come to visit!



Ruby and Rocket (Guest in the Garden) by Dawn Denton

Best For: Larger screen color devices

Author Dawn Denton wants to teach kids how to appreciate the wildlife in their own gardens, and this first book in the series uses a brother and sister pair of hummingbirds to explore the plants that make a garden welcoming for these little creatures. Another great read for grandparents and grandkids.


Caterpillars, Bugs & Butterflies: Take Along Guide by Mel Boring

Best For: Larger screen color devices

Kids are notorious for asking questions, including “What is that?” and “Why, why, why?” This beginner guide book to butterflies and more helps kids find the answers to those questions, whether out in the field or reading at night in bed. Child-friendly descriptions and illustrations make this a must-have for any young naturalist.


And while you’re filling the e-readers of your friends and family with books they’ll love, don’t forget that Birds & Blooms magazine offers a digital edition for the Kindle and Nook – click here to learn more. Did we miss any great e-books for nature lovers? Drop your suggestions into the comments below!

  1. Dawn Denton says

    Just saw that my book, Ruby and Rocket, was featured on your blog post in December! Thank you so much!! Love networking with such an excellent resource like Birds and Blooms!
    Dawn Denton

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