While this list is perfect for any time of year, I have to admit it was the approaching celebration of Earth Day that inspired me to write it. I shouldn’t need an excuse to make a list of books for nature lovers, naturalists, and adventurers, but I will gladly take it when it arises.
You may not know this about me, as so much of my current writing consists of books and the slow living lifestyle, but I actually don’t hold a degree in the topics you might expect. In university I pursued a degree in biology. I spent four years pouring over botany textbooks, animal behavior studies, evolutionary theory, and works on the natural sciences. I worshiped geology paradigm shifts, drooled over anthropological histories, and dreamed of archaeological digs. Suffice it to say: I was, and still am, a huge nerd.
The natural sciences are near and dear to my heart, as are many of the books on this list. I made this list both for the well-established nature lover and for those who have yet to be truly inspired by the natural world around them. If you are a nature nerd, I guarantee you’ll find something new to read and enjoy below. However, if you are new to the genre, my hope is that you will find even just one book below that will open your eyes to the beauty of the natural world and your place within it. You may be surprised by what you find!
Don’t be intimidated. These books are not textbooks. They are not dense, frustrating, or overwhelming. What they are is fascinating, enlivening, inspiring, and full of life. Books like this make you look at the world in an entirely new way. I hope that one of these books for nature lovers does just that for you.
If you are not yet botanically inclined, this book is the place to start. Plants to the untrained eye may seem like only green and brown background scenery that fills your average day. My friend, I have news for you. Plants are so much more than background scenery. We often underestimate the inherent connection between ourselves and the plants around us. This book breaks that barrier with fun, candor, and delightful storytelling.
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In Wicked Bugs you’ll discover insects are more fascinating than you may think, especially the way Amy Stewart tells it! Chapters range from the scientific to the anecdotal, framed by stunning illustrations from Briony Morrow-Cribbs, which make a somewhat disturbing topic equally fascinating. You’ll be so filled with stories and strange facts about our many-legged friends you’ll want to bring them up at your next dinner party—the squeamish will have to remain uninvited.
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A damn good book. Journalist James Nestor originally started the odyssey of this work by attending a free diving competition, but this one event sparked something else in him: a wonder for the oceanic world. Nestor takes a literary voyage through the blue depths, carrying us with him as passengers as he discovers the dynamic between marine and mammal, man and water, science and myth. A must read.
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All it takes is one great ornithology experience and you are hooked. Birds are one of the few things in existence that every individual, no matter where in the world, can look out their window and be equally astonished over. They’re a wondrous thing. After reading this book you’ll find yourself pointing out species you never noticed before and taking joy in simple moments of bird watching.More info →
Geology Rocks. There. I said it. By the way, I still need a tshirt that says this very thing, because it’s true! Geology does rock! I very strongly considered getting a masters in this field. Sure, to a newbie rocks may seem like nothing special. But trust me, one good book on the subject and you’ll be smitten. Geology is the story of our world. It is the pages we write our story on. It is the base, the whole, the surrounding you’re so used to seeing you forget to stop and really look at it. Sadly, there are not many popular works to illustrate geology’s genius, I hope this one will be the ticket for you! A truly fascinating subject.More info →
Hunt explores cave dwellings, abandoned subway tunnels, lost underground cities, and the traceable habit of man’s inexplicable pull to the undergound. A fascinating read that at times turns mythic, Will Hunt will leave you questioning the ground beneath your feet. Never again will you look at an access pipe, a cave entrance, or a subway tunnel in the same way.More info →
We are a lot more ape than we like to think... That phrase always comes to mind when I think of this controversial work by Desmond Morris that explains man, his actions and origins, as risen from more animalistic beginnings. I stumbled across this book in my university library when I was working towards my degree in biology. This book has always stuck in my mind. Even now I’m kicking myself for not owning a copy! Whether or not you agree with all that is presented therein, it will give you plenty to ponder over. In fact, I learned more theory and gained more interest in the field from this one book than I gleaned from many of my university-level biology classes.More info →
Long has the jungle been a source of mystery and magic. For ages man has marveled at its twisting depths, its power, and also its unexpected vulnerability. You’ve heard tell of newly discovered species in the amazon and the incredible biodiversity that seems to burst forth from every available crevice. Even the soil seems to have an environment of its own.More info →
Allow me one more indulgence, would you? I remember finding this on a bottom shelf in my local library when I was just a young kid with dreams of scientific study in my future. This was one of the first books I read on the study of chimpanzees. Next of Kin is a fascinating glimpse into the work of Roger Fouts and the surrounding team of scientists who attempted to teach a chimpanzee named Washoe how to communicate through sign language. This story has stayed with me for years as one I remember fondly and with great interest—and I’m not the only one. It currently holds a five-star rating on Amazon. Curious? Give it a read!More info →
I hope you’ll allow me an indulgence into one of my childhood favorites: the study of primates. I spent hours obsessing over man’s incredible relatives, particularly the study of chimpanzees. No better instructor can be found than Jane Goodall, a marvel of a woman if there ever was one. In Through A Window Goodall chronicles her thirty years spent with the chimpanzees in Tanzania. At times harrowing, at times heartbreaking, Through A Window is a phenomenal read.More info →
Author of The Bedside Book of Birds returns with a wildlife miscellany to explore the patterns of predator versus prey with a mysticism and lore that awakens the primal imagination in every reader. This is a beautiful collection, composed within a quality-crafted book, one that will be a welcome addition to any nature lover’s shelves. It is defined as a miscellany and lives up to its name. It contains letters, journal entries, poems, anecdotes, local lore, and more.More info →
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Til next time,
Bex Skoog (formerly Bex Gorsuch) is a Book Blogger and Instagram Influencer who strives to connect readers with their next favorite book and encourages avid bibliophiles to make use of the inspiration found in fiction by implementing story into their day-to-day lives.