July 09, 2018

Diana Chaplin
Canopy Director & Eco-Storyteller.

Love nature AND reading? Us too! That’s why we’ve compiled this ultimate list of great books about nature and trees. Just in time for {nerdy nature-loving} summer reading! We'll keep this list going indefinitely as new titles come to our attention, so if you don't see your favorite just leave a comment and we might just add it.

(Oh, and if you're concerned about the paper waste of books, scroll down, we have a way to offset that)

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben - A fascinating and intimate account of how trees grow, socialize, interact with their environment, and even feel. Beautifully written and drawing on groundbreaking scientific discoveries, this book reads like a wondrous fairy tale of the forest that will take your breath away.

Kiss The Ground by Josh Tickell - Discover just how incredible the soil beneath our feet really is, and how it has the potential to reverse climate change, feed the world, and improve your health. Beyond focusing on soil, this is a thoroughly researched exploration of the history, politics, and ecology of agriculture.

The Man Who Planted Trees by Jim Robbins - This is the story of a man who set out on a mission to reforest the world by cloning the oldest, largest, and most resilient trees - champion trees - to create a Noah's Ark of tree genetics. It's also the story of a New York Times journalist who had his doubts. Through narrative and research, we uncover incredible human accomplishments and the essential role of trees in our survival.

What A Plant Knows by Daniel Chamovitz – Ever wonder if your plants have feelings? This absorbing and often surprising book looks at how plants respond to touch, sound, smell, sight, and even memory. Using the latest research in genetics, Chamovitz reveals that we may have more in common with trees and flowers than we realize!

Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson – First published in 1836, this epic philosophical essay looks at humanity, spirituality, and nature. It lays the foundations for transcendentalism: the idea that the natural world is divine and that accepting its divinity will allow us to become one with our surroundings. If you feel like delving into big questions like “What is matter?” then this one is for you.

Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer – A beautiful examination of an often overlooked element of our natural world: moss. Through a series of personal essays, Kimmerer explores what moss can teach us in both a scientific and spiritual sense, looking at its biological importance as well as its significance in Native American culture.

Wilderness Essays by John Muir – A classic collection by Scottish-American naturalist, environmental philosopher, and wilderness activist, John Muir (aka “John of the Mountains”). During the late 1800s, Muir explored the American West and wrote of its beauty, contributing to the establishment of Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park and many other wilderness areas.

The Living Forest by Robert Llewellyn & Joan Maloof - A brilliant visual exploration of the forest through poetic and factual writing, coupled with stunning photography. Each chapter explores a different element of the forest - trees, plants, water, insects, wildlife, bacteria - all of which are shown to be connected in a magnificent web of life. The perfect coffee table book.

Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman - A playfully illustrated and colorful display of the function, structure, and personality of the natural world. Combining art and science, along with a little bit of humor, this book will leave you creatively inspired.

The Moth Snowstormby Michael McCarthy - Part environmental manifesto, part memoir, this heartfelt book invokes the inherent connection we all have with nature. From his earliest memories of being sparked with joy at the sight of butterflies to present reflections of the global collapse of earth's natural systems, McCarthy's words ring with emotion and a call to action towards a more positive approach to restoring ecological balance.

Teaching the Trees by Joan Maloof – This is a collection of beautifully written natural history essays by biologist and founder of the Old Growth Network, Joan Maloof. Each one will teach you something new about the way trees and all living things interact, and will inspire you to be the best steward possible for our natural world.

The Nature Fix by Florence Williams – Why does a walk in the woods do us so much good? This book explores the amazing benefits that connecting with nature has on our health and happiness, investigating cutting edge research from around the world.

Beyond Words by Carl Safina – A must-read for animal lovers! Using field observations and new discoveries about the brain, this book gives some powerful insights into what animals think and feel. Through amazing stories of empathy, joy, grief, anger, and love, Safina makes us question how we set humans and animals apart.

Wise Trees by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel - A beautifully photographed coffee table book that explores some of the world's most historic and inspiring trees. Through captivating storytelling, the authors reveal how trees can shape our lives, traditions, and feelings about nature.

The Sacred Balance by David Suzuki - A thoroughly researched and riveting exploration of the rapid pace with which our natural world is changing, and what it means for humankind's place within the ecosystem. Our deep spiritual needs, and the global needs for resources and sustainability are fascinatingly explored, along with the power of love for nature.

The Songs of Trees by David George Haskell - Eloquent writing is paired with thoughtful observation of the nature world to create a reading experience that will fill you with awe. Haskell repeatedly visits a dozen trees, sharing how they are interconnected with other life around them, as well as with humans through history, ecology, and wellness.

Nature’s Temples by Joan Maloof – This passionately written book will give you a comprehensive introduction to old-growth forests. Exploring the complex world that stretches from the tallest trees to the tiniest insects, this book will make you cherish the fragile majesty of our ancient forests more than ever before.

The Overstory by Richard Powers - A novel of epic proportions. There is a world alongside ours―vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

Botanicum by Kathy Willis & Katie Scott - A brilliantly illustrate guide to plant life. From flowers to trees, bulbs to leaves, you'll gain scientific insights while enjoying a colorful feast for the visual senses. This book will inspire you to run outside and take a much closer look at the plant world around you!

The Forest Unseen by David George Haskell – A fascinating look at the ecology of forests and what they can tell us about the entire natural world. Focusing on a single square meter of old-growth Tennessee forest, biologist David Haskell tells the story of the life that flourishes  beneath the surface through all four seasons.

Spiritual Ecology by several authors - The first edition of this book sparked the spiritual ecology movement, which recognizes the need for a deeper connection with the natural world. Through a collection of essays by Joanna Macey, Thich Nhat Hanh, Wendell Berry and many others, the reader is stirred from within towards an awakening to nature's spirit.

Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plotkin - A visionary ecopsychology of human development that reveals how fully and creatively we can mature when soul and wild nature guide us. An approach to both personal growth and cultural transformation.

The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins & Christopher Bird - A bestseller that explores the rich psychic universe of plants, including how they respond to human nurturing, how they communicate, and other creative abilities.

The Great Work by Thomas Berry - The great work referred to in this book is the transition away from humans having a destructive influence on the planet, towards a presence that is benign or mutually beneficial. Berry goes through the ethics, politics, economics, education needed to move towards sustainability and a social appreciation of the earth that sustains us.

That's the end of our list... for now!

And in case you're thinking about how books are made of paper, which is made from trees, we've got a friendly way to help offset that. Just make One Tree Planted your charity of choice on Amazon, and Amazon will make a small donation to us every time you shop. It comes out of their pocket, not yours, but you'll still get the tree-loving kudos and new trees planted to make up for all the books you love to read. Setup is quick and simple. Just log in to your Amazon account, make your selection right here, and give yourself a high five!

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