Book Review: World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil #BookReview #Nature #Memoir #WorldOfWonders

World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

by Aimee Nezhukumatathil


I discovered this book while doing some book shopping on Barnes and Noble’s website. It was advertised as the book of the year. Because I’m a nature lover, it was one I had to try. I was pleasantly enlightened from the first pages.

The essays in this book connect nature to parts of the author’s life from childhood to adulthood and now as a married woman and mother. The writings include facts about plants and animals along with short anecdotes regarding some part of her past. The stories were interesting, and many were eye-opening for me. This book emphasizes–in a fresh, unique way–that there’s so much we can learn from the natural wonders around us if we’d only open our eyes. Some of the connections the author made seemed a tad bit far-fetched, but it was something easily overlooked, and I found most to be beautifully woven.

I know I will search for fireflies all the rest of my days, even though they dwindle a little bit more each year. I can’t help it. They blink on and off, a lime glow to the summer night air, as if to say: I am still here, you are still here, I am still here, you are still here, I am, you are, over and over again. Perhaps I can will it to be true. Perhaps I can keep those summer nights with my family inside an empty jam jar, with holes poked in the lid, a twig and a few strands of grass tucked inside. And for those unimaginable nights in the future, when I know I’ll miss my mother the most, I will let that jar’s sweet glow serve as a night-light to cool and cut the air for me.”

Some favorites include “Firefly,” “Peacock,” “Cactus Wren,” “Corpse Flower,” and “Axolotl.” There was something I enjoyed about nearly every essay. After sharing portions of the book with my older children, it opened up discussion about the importance of encouragement and other thoughts on gratitude, appreciation, and even mindfulness. We all enjoyed the gorgeous and whimsical illustrations by Fumi Nakamura which complement the essays perfectly. 

Nature lovers will enjoy this one. It’s definitely memorable for me, and I’m thankful to have it on my shelf. 


Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads:

  • Publisher : Milkweed Editions; 1st edition (September 8, 2020)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 184 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1571313656
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1571313652


From beloved, award-winning poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil comes a debut work of nonfiction―a collection of essays about the natural world, and the way its inhabitants can teach, support, and inspire us.

As a child, Nezhukumatathil called many places home: the grounds of a Kansas mental institution, where her Filipina mother was a doctor; the open skies and tall mountains of Arizona, where she hiked with her Indian father; and the chillier climes of western New York and Ohio. But no matter where she was transplanted―no matter how awkward the fit or forbidding the landscape―she was able to turn to our world’s fierce and funny creatures for guidance.

“What the peacock can do,” she tells us, “is remind you of a home you will run away from and run back to all your life.” The axolotl teaches us to smile, even in the face of unkindness; the touch-me-not plant shows us how to shake off unwanted advances; the narwhal demonstrates how to survive in hostile environments. Even in the strange and the unlovely, Nezhukumatathil finds beauty and kinship. For it is this way with wonder: it requires that we are curious enough to look past the distractions in order to fully appreciate the world’s gifts.

Warm, lyrical, and gorgeously illustrated by Fumi Nakamura, World of Wonders is a book of sustenance and joy.

Thanks for reading my review. Have you read this book or any other memoirs lately? Feel free to share in the comments section below. Happy reading!

❤️ Mischenko

28 thoughts on “Book Review: World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil #BookReview #Nature #Memoir #WorldOfWonders

  1. David R. Dowdy

    “This book emphasizes–in a fresh, unique way–that there’s so much we can learn from the natural wonders around us if we’d only open our eyes.”

    I learn a lot from nature but often leave with more questions than answers. 🙂

    Thanks for bringing this book (wow – book of the year!) to my attention.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Me too, David. 🙂 I honestly can’t believe I didn’t see this one floating around on Goodreads either. There are plenty of reviews from people who didn’t love it, but I think you’d enjoy this one.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I believe you would enjoy this one, Jen. It’s so unique and different than any other memoir I’ve read, and I’ve found myself thinking about it a lot since. If we don’t chat before, enjoy your weekend! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. starjustin

      Good to see you back Jen! I read your review on this book on goodreads and I loved that you included some of the different plants and animals etc. that were cited in the book.

      I just love the cover. To pull something positive out of all that nature has to offer is a very, very interesting happening.

      Enjoy your year in books. I’m sure it’s going to be a good one for you. 😉👍🏻

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds wonderful, Mischenko. I had to check on a book my work friend told me about because I thought it was the same one. Actually she recommended Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald. She’s also a nature lover. I’ll have to ask her tomorrow if she knows about World of Wonders – I have a feeling she does! Thanks for the review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds like such a lovely, thought-provoking read. I like the extract that you shared and I am curious about the lessons on gratitude since I am currently on a journey of gratitude whereby I try and find 5 things to give thanks about every day. Wonderful review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Diana, I think you’d like this one. I still think about parts of it today and it’s helped me to become more mindful. The way she reflects is what really got me thinking about gratitude. I’ll get back into the book and see if I can find some examples to share. Thank you! ❤️


  4. This book sounds absolutely beautiful Jen. I just checked and my library has it, so I am going to check it out. I love nature and there is so much we can learn from it. We need to learn what we can about how it makes us feel and why we need it, so we can save it before it is too late.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’ll like this one, Carla. The way she connects everything… I think about it often and have become more mindful because of it. It was nice to be able to share parts of it with my kids too. Can’t wait for your thoughts and glad you were able to find a copy! Have a great week. ❤️


        1. No, they were open for awhile, then closed again. We have been going in and out of lockdown, red zone, grey zone etc. Right now we are back in lockdown for a month. We started on Friday, but I still had my kids over for Easter dinner.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Ugh, I didn’t realize that. Our libraries opened up pretty quickly after this whole thing started last year, but they were doing only curbside, and then they finally opened up. Our local library hasn’t received much business, but we’ve been doing mostly curbside anyway. I hope it gets better there soon. ❤️ Hugs

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Late March/April Wrap-Up #Books #BookReviews #Music #ReadingChallenge – ReadRantRock&Roll

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s