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.

The books I picked & why

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

By Florence Williams,

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

Why 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.


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

By Richard Louv,

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

Why 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.


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

By Dorceta E. Taylor,

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

Why 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.


Mountains of the Mind: Adventures in Reaching the Summit

By Robert MacFarlane,

Book cover of Mountains of the Mind: Adventures in Reaching the Summit

Why 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.  


Braiding Sweetgrass

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass

Why 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.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in nature, indigenous peoples, and creativity?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about nature, indigenous peoples, and creativity.

Nature Explore 94 books about nature
Indigenous Peoples Explore 11 books about indigenous peoples
Creativity Explore 65 books about creativity

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems, and The Control of Nature if you like this list.