The Best Nature Books, According to Treehugger Staff

In honor of Earth Day, we share some of our favorite nature reading

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Although we’re dedicated to talking about sustainability all year long, one way Treehugger would like to honor Earth Day is by sharing some of our favorite books about nature, the environment, and ways to address the problems our natural world is facing. From poetry to fiction to investigative journalism, here’s a look at some of the best writing that inspires and informs our own work. 

We hope you’ll find something to help inspire you to get out in nature and also take action to protect it too.

Biophilia

Biophilia

Courtesy of Amazon

“Twenty years ago, I read E.O. Wilson’s book on Biophilia, where he developed his thesis that our bodies genetically have an attraction to natural things. We want to be looking at trees. We want to be looking at green. Even just looking at wood makes you feel better. This book has been very influential for me. It’s one of the reasons I love wood so much, and being up at my cottage looking out at trees.” ~ Lloyd Alter

Tomato Land

Tomatoland

Courtesy of Walmart

“You might not think of tomatoes as a way to exploit human labor, but it’s actually one of the worst. This book describes industrial agriculture at its worst, and you may never want to eat a hot house tomato again or a tomato from Florida again. It makes you want to fix our whole food system.” ~ Lindsey Reynolds 

Ceremony

Ceremony

Courtesy of Amazon

Olivia Valdes recommends this moving work by Native American author and poet Leslie Marmon Silko. The story follows a veterain’s return to the Laguna Pueblo Reservation, and explores trauma and the search for healing.

Over the Edge: Death In Grand Canyon

Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon

Courtesy of Amazon

“It sounds ridiculous, but people have this weird thing where they go to National Parks, and they think it’s safe and nature can’t hurt them. I witnessed this myself at the Grand Canyon, I saw people out on the farthest ledges. I thought, one gust of wind and you are gone! I find it fascinating that people don’t believe in their own mortality.” ~ Molly Fergus 

A Terrible Thing to Waste 

A Terrible Thing to Waste

Courtesy of Amazon

“Harriet Washington's A Terrible Thing To Waste: Environmental Racism And Its Assault On The American Mind dives into the impact of environmental racism on marginalized communities. The subject is heavy but the book presents the social injustices and scientific facts in a digestible manner, weaving in anecdotal experiences. It's informative, educational, and powerful.” ~ Susmita Baral, Treehugger News Editor

Watership Down

Watership Down

Courtesy of Amazon

“When I was seven years old, my mom started reading a book to me called Watership Down, about a bunch of rabbits in search of a home. She would read it to me each night, one chapter at a time, and at some point I couldn’t get enough of this book, and I grabbed it from her and finished the book myself. It’s still my favorite book, I think maybe it’s a stretch to call it a nature book, but the beauty and the charm of it is the rabbits with all their flaws, and traits, and shortcomings. I think it tells us about ourselves.” ~ Christian Cotroneo

The Second Four Books of Poems 

The Second Four Books of Poems

Courtesy of Walmart

Another recommendation from Olivia Valdes, many of W.S. Merwin’s poems explore the natural world. As the title suggests, several early books are collected into the volume, which includes the stark and gripping poem “The River of Bees.”

The Uninhabitable Earth

The Uninhabitable Earth

Courtesy of Amazon

“Every chapter touches on different predictions of what’s to come if we don’t address the climate crisis: food shortages, worse wildfires, worse storms, refugee emergencies. It covers a lot of bases and a lot of statistics. It’s fascinating and really depressing, but it’s an awesome read.” ~ Hayley Bruning

Last Child in the Woods

“I read this a long time ago, when it first came out. It totally shaped my parenting approach. My interest in free-range parenting has come out of this, with this sense that the outdoors and spending time in nature has to be an absolute top priority. It’s up there with nutrition, and education, and sleep for my kids. The book goes into a lot of the studies and the science behind the mental, physical, and emotional benefits that nature gives to you. It’s really powerful.” ~ Katherine Martinko

The Illustrated Guide to Birds of Costa Rica

The Illustrated Guide to Birds of Costa Rica

Treehugger / Margaret Badore

“My dad has a farm in Costa Rica in the middle of the rainforest, and there are all kinds of species of animals that you’ll see there. There are so many birds, and they’re so colorful and they’re so beautiful. My mom would set out fruit in the trees in the backyard, and the birds would flock to it. 

I would just watch them, but because I grew up in that environment, I was never taught about them in a structured way. I never knew their names or where they came from. So a few years ago, I decided to remediate that and I bought The Illustrated Guide to Birds of Costa Rica, so that I could correct that missing part of my life. I started studying the nature around us. I like this one specifically because it’s very detailed. It has a chart with all their habitats, preferences, and food.” ~ Hildara Araya

Note: This book is in print. If you can’t find a copy in a used bookstore or on eBay, check out Photo Guide to Birds of Costa Rica by Richard Garrigues (view on Bookshop.org). 

Mycophila

Mycophilia

Courtesy of Eugenia Bone

“For anyone curious about the seemingly limitless types and properties of mushrooms, this book is a worthwhile read. From truffle hunters to environmental benefits to the pristine farming practices that put white button mushrooms on our grocery store shelves, Mycophila goes beyond the magic mushroom.” ~ Margaret Badore