Today many of us live indoor lives, disconnected from the natural world as never before. And yet nature remains deeply ingrained in our language, culture and consciousness. For centuries, we have acted on an intuitive sense that we need communion with the wild to feel well. Now, in the moment of our great migration away from nature, science has begun to catch up, with more and more evidence emerging to confirm its place at the heart of our psychological wellbeing. So what happens, asks acclaimed science journalist Lucy Jones, as we lose our bond with the natural world – might we also be losing part of ourselves?
Delicately observed and rigorously researched, Losing Eden is an enthralling journey through this new research, exploring how and why connecting with the living world can so drastically affect our health. Travelling from forest schools in East London, to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, via Poland's primeval woodlands, Californian laboratories and ecotherapists' couches, Jones takes us to the cutting edge of human biology, neuroscience and psychology, and discovers new ways of understanding our increasingly dysfunctional relationship with the earth. Urgent and uplifting, Losing Eden is a rallying cry for a wilder way of life – for finding asylum in the soil and joy in the trees – which might just help us to save the living planet, as well as ourselves, from the destructive clutches of ecological grief.
Lucy Jones is a writer and journalist based in Hampshire, England. She previously worked at NME and the Daily Telegraph, and her writing on culture, science and nature has been published in BBC Earth, BBC Wildlife, the Guardian, TIME and the New Statesman. Her first book, Foxes Unearthed, was celebrated for its 'brave, bold and honest' (Chris Packham) account of our relationship with the fox, winning the Society of Authors' Roger Deakin Award 2016.
"Earnest, painstakingly-researched [...] A heartfelt love-letter to the outdoors"
– Daily Mail
"The benefits of experiencing nature may be far greater than is commonly appreciated [...] A fascinating exploration of the new science of our connection to the natural world [...] written in such lush, vivid prose that reading it, one can feel transported and restored."
– New Statesman
"Urgent, accessible, moving [...] A beautifully written, research-heavy study about how nature offers us wellbeing"
"Losing Eden provides the evidence of how nature makes us calmer, healthier, happier, even kinder. Jones moves between close biological evidence – how our parasympathetic nervous system is triggered when we're in nature, how bacteria found in soil increases stress resilience – to large-scale environmental studies. The book is shot through with personal experience [...] but is] not really a memoir; it's about all of us."
"An absorbing book [...] more than just a scientific treatise: Jones writes beautifully about nature and her own experiences of its healing power"|
– Country and Townhouse
"Beautifully written, movingly told and meticulously researched, Losing Eden is an elegy to the healing power of nature, something we need more than ever in our anxiety-ridden world of ecological loss. Woven together with her own personal story of recovery, Lucy Jones lays out the overwhelming scientific evidence for nature as nurturer for body and soul with the clarity and candour that will move hearts and minds – a convincing plea for a wilder, richer world."
– Isabella Tree, author of Wilding
"By the time I'd read the first chapter, I'd resolved to take my son into the woods every afternoon over winter. By the time I'd read the sixth, I was wanting to break prisoners out of cells and onto the mossy moors. Losing Eden rigorously and convincingly tells of the value of the natural universe to our human hearts"
– Amy Liptrot, author of The Outrun
"Fascinating [...] the connection between mental health and the natural world turns out to be strong and deep – which is good news in that it offers those feeling soul-sick the possibility that falling in love with the world around them might be remarkably helpful. And those who fall in love with the world might protect it, a virtuous cycle that would make a real difference in the fight for a workable planet."
– Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?