New nature writing has been gaining popularity in the English-speaking world. Using participant observation of a book group, this paper finds that reading such ecological writing can facilitate reader shifts in perceptions and the valuing of non-human organisms and the more-than-human world. Shifts are enabled when readers experience reading as an imagined conversation with knowledgeable, friendly author/narrators. Readers construct representations of author/narrators using textual and extra-textual information. Evaluative, narrative and aesthetic feelings, alongside inferences about author/narrators’ abilities to provide accurate natural history information, evoke intellectual pleasure in readers which can transform difficult emotions. By modelling a self that values nature and brings together science and poetic language, author/narrators of ecological writing offer an alternative vision of the self that challenges problematic dualisms in society. Such a sense of self was adopted and developed upon within book group discussions, highlighting the importance of aesthetic, emotional and relational contexts for using ecological literature in environmental education.
- book clubs