Nature Obscura
Kelly Brenner

Book cover image

Narrated By: Erica Sullivan

Duration: 5 hours and 52 minutes

What to expect

A distinctive, funny, inspiring, and intimate dive into urban nature.

With wonder and a sense of humor, Nature Obscura author Kelly Brenner aims to help us rediscover our connection to the natural world that is just outside our front door—we just need to know where to look.

Through explorations of a rich and varied urban landscape, Brenner reveals the complex micro-habitats and surprising nature found in the middle of a city. In her hometown of Seattle, which has plowed down hills, cut through the land to connect fresh- and saltwater, and paved over much of the rest, she exposes a diverse range of strange and unknown creatures. From shore to wetland, forest to neighborhood park, and graveyard to backyard, Brenner uncovers how our land alterations have impacted nature, for good and bad, through the wildlife and plants that live alongside us, often unseen. These stories meld together, in the same way our ecosystems, species, and human history are interconnected across the urban environment.


Nature and the natural world: general interest, Ecological science, the Biosphere, Biology, life sciences

Listen to a sample

“A warm-hearted meditation on the natural wonders that we city dwellers overlook every day, such as the western pondhawk (a dragonfly), licorice ferns, and the charming Anna’s hummingbird, her heart beating 1,250 times a minute—and the perhaps less charming ant-decapitating fly and, yes, Fuligo septima, a.k.a., dog-vomit slime mold . . .Once you read this book you’ll step more carefully, to avoid damaging the myriad tiny worlds that add color and texture to our world.”

Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author

“Impeccably researched and written, Brenner’s smart debut is ideal for those with a deep interest in nature.”

Publishers Weekly

“This unofficial guide to finding wildlife in unexpected areas is wide ranging and companionable. Also included are tips and resources for budding urban naturalists.”

Library Journal

“Readers will be both mesmerized by the surprising poetry of Brenner’s prose and excited to follow her example and discover nature’s marvels in their own surroundings.”


“Gorgeously written and deeply felt, with rigorous research and information at its core.”

Jeff VanderMeer, author of Dead Astronauts

Nature Obscura reveals the living city through delightful encounters with natural neighbors we all ought to know. An attentive, fun, and thoroughly engaging guide, Kelly Brenner will help you become a better naturalist every day.”

Robert Michael Pyle, author of Where Bigfoot Walks

“With observant eyes and beautiful prose, Kelly Brenner draws us all into the hidden depths of the urban wilderness…Nature Obscura inspires everyday wonder, adventure, and wisdom about our changing earth.”