It’s not often that one comes across a non-fictional book that defies easy categorisation. Harini Nagendra’s ‘Nature in the City: Bengaluru in the Past, Present and Future‘ is one such book.
Yes, as the title suggests, the book is about Nature. But, unlike most books about Nature that look at Nature in a natural, untouched by human activities setting, this book is about how Nature is adopted within a highly urban area. Yes, there are quite a few books about trees in cities, but this is possibly one of the first attempts to analyse Nature as a whole within an urban setting.
As you start reading it, you realise that the book goes much beyond Nature. It looks at such varied topics as history, geography, religion, culture and entertainment within an urban setting, all keeping the context of Nature in mind.
The book draws primarily on the author’s extensive research in this space. Professor Nagendra is Professor of Sustainability at Azim Premji University, Bangalore and has authored multiple papers and books on this topic.
There is always the worry with books on such topics that it could drift into a drab, scientific exercise. It is to the author’s credit that this book avoids that trap and manages to retain a very human, familiar feel. The way the extensive material has been broken down into chapters also makes for an easy reading.
I would love to see similar books for other Indian cities as well.