Losing Eden: Our Fundamental Need for the Natural World and Its Ability to Heal Body and Soul (Paperback)
A fascinating look at why human beings have a powerful mental, spiritual, and physical need for the natural world—and the cutting-edge scientific evidence that proves nature is nurture.
“A powerful and beautifully written survey of the latest scientific research into the vast range of benefits to our minds, bodies, and spirits when we do things outside.” —Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See
Lucy Jones interweaves her deeply personal story of recovery from addiction and depression with that of discovering the natural world and how it aided and enlivened her progress, giving her a renewed sense of belonging and purpose.
Jones writes of the intersection of science, wellness, and the environment, and reveals that in the last decade, scientists have begun to formulate theories of why people feel better after a walk in the woods and an experience with the natural world. She describes the recent data that supports evidence of biological and neurological responses: the lowering of cortisol (released in response to stress), the boost in cortical attention control that helps us to concentrate and subdues mental fatigue, and the increase in activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing the heart and allowing the body to rest.
“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.” —Bill McKibben
“Beautifully written, movingly told and meticulously researched. An elegy to the healing power of nature. A convincing plea for a wilder, richer world.” —Isabella Tree, author of Wilding
About the Author
LUCY JONES was born in Cambridge, England, and educated at University College London. She has written extensively on culture, science and nature. Her articles have been published on BBC Earth and in The Sunday Times, The Guardian and the New Statesman. Her first book, Foxes Unearthed, received the Society of Authors’ Roger Deakin Award. Jones lives in Hampshire, England.
“Did you know that experiencing awe can make us more generous? Or that all human babies, left to their own devices, will eat soil? Or that three-quarters of kids (aged 5-12) in the UK spend less time outdoors than prison inmates? Losing Eden is a powerful and beautifully written survey of the latest scientific research into the vast range of benefits to our minds, bodies, and spirits when we do things outside. It made me want to throw my phone in a drawer and drag my kids outside—so I did!”
“The questions she addresses [in Losing Eden] are at the very heart of how we shall survive what is coming.”
“Impassioned . . . urgent and complex . . . Jones conveys in evocative prose the exuberance of her own rediscovery of nature’s wondrousness, a significant component in her recovery from struggles with addiction and depression . . . These vivid elements of personal experience are interwoven with factual information drawn from a wide array of sources . . . compelling and wide-ranging.”
—Claire Messud, Harper’s
“Beautifully written, movingly told and meticulously researched. An elegy to the healing power of nature, something we need more than ever in our anxiety-ridden world of ecological loss. A convincing plea for a wilder, richer world.”
—Isabella Tree, author of Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm
“A passionate and thorough exploration of the growing scientific evidence showing why humans require other species to stay well.”
“A heartfelt love letter to the outdoors.”
—The Daily Mail
“Compelling . . . The book is not really a memoir; it’s about all of us.”
—The Times Literary Supplement
“Wonderfully intoxicating. In meticulous detail, Jones quests to bring us an impressive array of answers to the question of whether ‘nature connection’ has a tangible effect on our minds, and how and why it does.”
—The Irish Times
“Fascinating . . . Written in such lush, vivid prose that reading it—especially while marooned in a big city under lockdown—one can feel transported and restored.”
“Jones unpicks the science in accessible, moving writing . . . Beautifully written.”
—The Observer, Book of the Day
“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.”
“Both thoughtful and lyrical, this book—which draws on personal experience, research, and interviews with experts from around the globe—offers a powerful plea for humanity to actively seek a more balanced relationship with a planet in crisis. Vibrantly topical.”