For centuries, scholars have analyzed the countless ways that humans exist as part of a greater, global ecosystem. From Charles Darwin’s scientific observations on natural selection in the Galapagos Islands to ecologist Aldo Leopold’s pioneering of environmental ethics to David Attenborough’s decades of documenting nature through film, naturalists of all professional and socioeconomic backgrounds and fields of study have brought their own unique lenses to a universal experience—our relationship to the natural world around us. A naturalist is anyone who’s willing to do some introspection, assessing their own actions and impact as they reach towards a more sustainable existence.
Be it fiction, memoir, or fact, the following reads explore some of the ways that humans and their environment interact—from the foods we eat to our own mental health and everything in between, these authors have discovered that nature is an integral part of our lived experience. In the pages of their stories, you’ll find personal anecdotes and scientific research urging you to appreciate, preserve, and participate in the delicate dance of Earth’s ecosystems.
The California Field Atlas by Obi Kaufmann
Kaufmann offers a richly illustrated and informative exploration of California’s diverse ecosystems, wildlife, and natural history. Through detailed maps, vibrant artwork, and insightful prose, Kaufmann captures the ecological complexity and cultural significance of the state, crafting a comprehensive and reflective portrait of California’s unique and interconnected natural world.
Losing Eden: Why Our Minds Need the Wild by Lucy Jones
This examination of the intrinsic connection between nature and mental well-being explores how our disconnection from the natural world impacts our psychological health. Balancing personal reflection with scientific insights, Jones advocates for a rekindling of our relationship with nature to foster a more balanced and resilient human psyche in our modern, technology-driven lives.
The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan
A captivating journey through the lens of four plants—apple, tulip, marijuana, and potato—examining how these species have co-evolved with humans and influenced our desires. Pollan’s exploration delves into the intricate relationship between plants and people, revealing the ways in which our relationships with our botanical counterparts shape both human culture and the natural world.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
A poetic exploration of indigenous wisdom and scientific knowledge, intertwining personal narrative with botanical teachings. Kimmerer, a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, shares a reflection on the reciprocal relationship between humans and the natural world, inviting readers to embrace a more harmonious and sustainable connection with the Earth.
The Overstory by Richard Powers
A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that weaves together the lives of nine characters, all connected by their profound relationships with trees. As their paths intersect, the book unfolds into a sweeping exploration of environmentalism, the interconnectedness of all living things, and the power of nature to shape our destiny.