The best books about connecting to nature—no matter where you live

Who am I?

As a journalist who explores the intersection of human health and planet health, I've long been fascinated by how stepping outside into a healthy environment can boost our well-being. I also believe that we are more likely to take positive climate actions when we have a rich connection to the natural world around us, so a lot of my work focuses on helping people get out into nature—whatever that looks like for them.

I wrote...

Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us

By Emma Loewe,

Book cover of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us

What is my book about?

Return To Nature explores how eight distinct landscapes impact our mental and physical health: grasslands, deserts, forests, mountains, oceans, rivers, icy terrain, and cities. The book weaves together new research and ancient knowledge on how every inch of the natural world can be a salve for the stress, anxiety, and burnout of today’s age. Over the course of this landscape-to-landscape guide, you’ll pick up fresh ideas on how to restore yourself in the nature around you—be it a sprawling forest or a row of street trees. You’ll also learn about meaningful actions we can all take to give back to the landscapes that give so much to us.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative

Why did I love this book?

In this engaging read, science journalist Florence Williams travels the world to cover the research on the health benefits of exploring the outdoors. What I love about Florence’s writing is her ability to play the guinea pig so that readers can put themselves in her shoes—in this case, hiking boots.

By Florence Williams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Nature Fix as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For centuries, poets and philosophers extolled the benefits of a walk in the woods: Beethoven drew inspiration from rocks and trees; Wordsworth composed while walking over the heath; Nikola Tesla conceived the electric motor while visiting a park.

From forest paths in Korea to islands in Finland to eucalyptus groves in California, Florence Williams investigates the science at the confluence of environment, mood, health and creativity. Delving into new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strengthen our relationships. As our lives shift indoors, these ideas-and the answers they yield-are…

Book cover of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Why did I love this book?

It’s mind-boggling for me to even consider the amount of research and interviewing that went into this genre-establishing tome. In it, Louv shares the stories of hundreds of kids to prove that there is a new disorder plaguing young people today: A lack of connection to the world outside their front doors.

By Richard Louv,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Last Child in the Woods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

 The Book That Launched an International Movement
“An absolute must-read for parents.” —The Boston Globe
“It rivals Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.” —The Cincinnati Enquirer
“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” reports a fourth grader. But it’s not only computers, television, and video games that are keeping kids inside. It’s also their parents’ fears of traffic, strangers, Lyme disease, and West Nile virus; their schools’ emphasis on more and more homework; their structured schedules; and their lack of access to natural areas. Local governments, neighborhood associations, and even organizations devoted to the outdoors…

Book cover of The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection

Why did I love this book?

This book exposes the troubling roots of the American conservation movement and explores how racism continues to keep people out of our public spaces. I’d consider it an illuminating must-read for anyone who loves this planet and its people and wants to usher us into a more inclusive era of outdoor exploration.

By Dorceta E. Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rise of the American Conservation Movement as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this sweeping social history Dorceta E. Taylor examines the emergence and rise of the multifaceted U.S. conservation movement from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century. She shows how race, class, and gender influenced every aspect of the movement, including the establishment of parks; campaigns to protect wild game, birds, and fish; forest conservation; outdoor recreation; and the movement's links to nineteenth-century ideologies. Initially led by white urban elites-whose early efforts discriminated against the lower class and were often tied up with slavery and the appropriation of Native lands-the movement benefited from contributions to policy making, knowledge about the…

Mountains of the Mind

By Robert Macfarlane,

Book cover of Mountains of the Mind

Why did I love this book?

Nobody uses language like Robert Macfarlane, and I’m always amazed (and a little envious!) when I’m reading his transportive prose. All of his books are fantastic, but this history of the mountaineering movement, mixed with his own experiences navigating trails, is a nice introduction to his masterful way of stringing words together.  

By Robert Macfarlane,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mountains of the Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Once we thought monsters lived there. In the Enlightenment we scaled them to commune with the sublime. Soon, we were racing to conquer their summits in the name of national pride.

In this ground-breaking, classic work, Robert Macfarlane takes us up into the mountains: to experience their shattering beauty, the fear and risk of adventure, and to explore the strange impulses that have for centuries lead us to the world's highest places.

Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Why did I love this book?

At this point, it’s almost cliché to include Braiding Sweetgrass in a roundup of environmental books, but if ever there was a book worthy of being shared over and over, it’s this one! As an acclaimed plant ecologist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Kimmerer is the master of marrying science with faith. To read her accounts of the natural world is to brush against magic.

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

39 authors picked Braiding Sweetgrass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take "us on a journey that is…

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