Who doesn't love looking at amazing photographs of our planet's species and vistas? It's certainly one of my favorite things to do (aside from staring at the real things), and I am a sucker for books that provide such nourishment for my eyes and brain. A gorgeous new book from National Geographic is on its way to book shelves and does just this very thing. "Sublime Nature" is a collection of some of the best photographs from National Geographic photographers that show Earth at its most elegant, inspirational, peaceful, charming and unique.

Featuring landscapes, plants and wildlife, the collection, edited by Cristina Mittermeier, is broken into four sections: Awe, Grace, Joy and Peace. Each section provides photographs that fall under the theme, and the images are sprinkled with quotes from writers, conservationists, scientists and more, to provide additional food for thought.

What I love most is that the book as a whole is like a meditation tool — pick it up, open to any page, and just simply enjoy. Some familiar favorites are included, photographs that have made the pages of other National Geographic or photographers' books and that never cease to proved a sense of wonder, as well as photographs that surprised me with something new. For instance, I landed on a page featuring a beautiful lichen-covered oak tree only to read the caption and find out the photo was taken in a state park not far from me. Now I can't wait to pick up my camera and go on a hike through that very park to experience such a magical moment first-hand. Such is the inspiration this book gives to readers.

"My hope is that the images and essays in the book will inspire a closer connection with the nature that lies within and around us: infinitely worthy of our respect and care," states Mittermeier. I think the book accomplishes that goal — at least it has for this reader.

"The magnificent images in this book serve as ambassadors to a fast-changing and often careless world," she says. "In an enduring way, this volume brings hope for greater conservation and deeper appreciation for Earth's variety of landscapes." 

 'Sublime Nature' will be released on March 25, 2014. You can pre-order it for $24.92 on Amazon.com. Scroll down to check out a sampling of the images included in its pages.

sublime nature book cover

plane shaddow over flats

George Steinmetz: Flying over the hypersaline waters of Lake Natron, Kenya, a small airplane casts a shadow on the red surface of the lake.

monarch butterflies

Joel Sartore: As the sun shines through a tree canopy, millions of monarch butterflies flutter their wings and take flight from their winter roost in the Sierra Chincua, Mexico.

tree in snow

Tim Laman: The twisted and contorted branches of an ancient bristlecone pine lie silently amid a snowy wooded landscape in California’s White Mountains.

people splashing in water

Cristina Mittermeier: A late-afternoon bath turns into a joyful water fight in the waters of the Iriri River, Brazil.

flower seeds

Victor Mazzara: A dandelion’s delicate seeds fan out like cats’ whiskers.

coral reef

Paul Nicklen: A school of fairy basslets darts to and fro among lettuce coral blooms in the Phoenix Islands in the central Pacific.

leopard seal

Paul Nicklen: An adult leopard seal uses a large chunk of ice to scan its surroundings in the Antarctic Peninsula.

emperor penguin colony

Paul Nicklen: Huddling in tight groups to keep warm, adult king penguins pack together during a blizzard in St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia.

cactus at night

George Steinmetz: The ghostly figures of saguaro cacti stand under a starry sky in Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flats.

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