Book Review | Connecting With Life: Finding Nature in an Urban World by Martin Summer

Book Review | Connecting With Life: Finding Nature in an Urban World by Martin Summer

Like many city-dwelling nature lovers, nature writer and self-described biophiliac Martin Summer frequently escapes to untouched wilderness to disconnect from his fast-paced, urban life and reconnect with the natural world. But do people need to do this in order to enjoy nature? Is there a way for people to connect with nature without having to travel vast plains, fly across oceans to remote islands or trek through thick forests? Can they really have the convenience of the city and still enjoy nature’s wonders? 

Summer addresses these questions in his 191-page debut book,Connecting With Life: Finding Nature in an Urban World‘, where he sets out convincing arguments for why it is possible for urban-dwellers to connect with nature without having to leave the concrete jungle.

Tracing the human relationship with nature back to our early ancestors right through to the modern-day frenetic pace of urban living, Summer lays the groundwork for his argument, taking a logical, straightforward and ‘can-do’ approach and offering simple, practical and accessible solutions to connecting with nature, regardless of where you live and your level of income.

What readers can expect

The book is divided into four parts: history of nature and humans, the negative impacts of urban living, finding the balance between urban living and nature and how to infuse nature into your everyday urban life.

Summer’s passion for nature is evident throughout the book. Weaving personal anecdotes and travel stories, with data and research studies, he explores several important topics including what it actually means to connect with nature, the problems of pollution (air pollution, noise pollution and light pollution), the case for public green spaces, how the breakneck pace of life negatively impacts health and well-being, finding a compromise between technology and nature, the importance of environmental stewardship and making conscious consumer choices, and how people can deepen the connection with nature through mindfulness, evoking the senses and incorporating biophilic design into their homes.

Meticulously researched with 15 pages of footnotes, Summer presents his case in a clear, digestable, lighthearted format without wallowing in the problems (as books on the environment and climate change sometimes tend to do). He strikes the right balance between story-telling, examining problems and providing solutions. Each topic ends with a concise list of tips, practical advice and calls to action which leaves you with a feeling of hopefulness and optimism; you never feel as though you’re powerless to do anything. And because the book is laid out in this way, it also makes it easy to refer back to should you need to which makes it an ideal reference book.

There’s also bonus resources, examples and extra reading which is accessible through the author’s website; Summer refers to these resources throughout the book and offers the password to the bonus content for readers who want to undertake further learning.


The right book at the right time

Connecting With Life arrives at a pivotal moment in history; governments worldwide have locked down cities and towns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, grinding the travel industry and wider economy to a halt and leaving people stuck in their home with very little physical contact with the outside world. At a time when I haven’t seen my family for six months because new COVID-19 clusters in Melbourne have meant the state government have brought in the strictest coronavirus restrictions in the world including 8pm to 5am curfews, I can’t help think how coincidental it is that Connecting With Life has been brought into the world at this very time. It’s as though Summer had foreseen a pandemic future and decided to write a non-fiction book on the most relevant subject of the present day to give people who are struggling indoors and confined to small living spaces, a sense of hope.

And with 55% of the world’s population currently living in urban areas and the UN projecting that it will climb to 68% by 2050 – that’s more than two-thirds of the world’s population living in close proximity to other human beings – this book really couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Final thoughts

Over the years, I have frequently said that not everyone needs to pack up and leave the city and buy on an off-grid farm in the forest to connect with nature like I did; that no matter where you live, whether you’re in London, New York or Sydney, urban-dwellers can connect with nature wherever they are. Sometimes I’m met with looks of doubt. Now I can just refer urbanites to Connecting With Life. This book serves as inspiration by offering hands-on strategies and practical frameworks that will have city folk turning off their digital devices, becoming more mindful and bringing the outdoors inside.

EWP founding editor Jennifer Nini reads Connecting With Life in her greenhouse. Photo: Ben McGuire.

Furthermore, when I read a book that methodically argues the case that you don’t need to leave the city to enjoy nature, and makes its point well, it’s my duty to share about it. So if you’re living in the city or in suburbia or just confined to your home because of lockdown and want to foster a deeper connection to the life that’s all around you, Connecting With Life is the blueprint you need to help you achieve this.

To get your hands on this insightful book, you can purchase your copy here.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored. Eco Warrior Princess received a copy of Connecting With Life from the author as part of this partnership. All opinions expressed are that of the writer’s. To learn more about our policies, visit this page.

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