The best books about ecology from an ecologist

Who am I?

Rex Weyler is a writer and ecologist. His books include Blood of the Land, a history of indigenous American nations, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; Greenpeace: The Inside Story, a finalist for the BC Book Award and the Shaughnessy-Cohen Award for Political Writing; and The Jesus Sayings, a deconstruction of first-century history, a finalist for the BC Book Award. In the 1970s, Weyler was a co-founder of Greenpeace International and editor of the Greenpeace Chronicles. He served on campaigns to preserve rivers and forests, and to stop whaling, sealing, and toxic dumping.


I wrote...

Greenpeace: The Inside Story

By Rex Weyler,

Book cover of Greenpeace: The Inside Story

What is my book about?

Greenpeace: The Inside Story is the first comprehensive eye-witness account of the human drama behind the creation of the world's largest direct-action environmental group. Greenpeace founder and Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Rex Weyler brings us the amazing story of an idea that changed the world, and the adventures, clashes, pitfalls and heroics of the people who fought for it.

The book reveals the roots of ecology and the influence on Greenpeace of legends such as Gandhi, Einstein, Rachel Carson, and Martin Luther King Jr. The story is enhanced through cameo appearances by the CIA, Allen Ginsberg, Bonnie Raitt, Brigitte Bardot, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, The Grateful Dead, Pope Paul VI, Courtney Love, and Richard Nixon.

The books I picked & why

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Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity

By Gregory Bateson,

Book cover of Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity

Why this book?

My all-time favourite ecology book, playfully but rigorously exploring complexity, co-evolution, a living systems language, and knowledge itself. “The major problems in the world,”  Bateson warned, “are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.” In Bateson’s world, all divisions of nature are arbitrary. We only witness relationships, not things in themselves. Bateson links our mental process with evolutionary process and urges ecologists to see those patterns that connect the apparent parts of the whole. 

Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity

By Gregory Bateson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mind and Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A re-issue of Gregory Bateson's classic work. It summarizes Bateson's thinking on the subject of the patterns that connect living beings to each other and to their environment.


Tao Te Ching

By Lao Tzu, Gia-fu Geng (translator), Jane English (translator), Toinette Lippe (translator)

Book cover of Tao Te Ching

Why this book?

Perhaps the world’s first ecological vision, likely compiled between 600 and 300 BC, advocating direct communion with nature and a life lived by an environmental ethic. Taoism trusts and follows natural processes. Effective action starts with a sense of sacredness in the natural world. Legend tells us that the author, a revered sage, fled society for a life of contemplation in the wilderness. A mountain Pass Keeper begged him to record his philosophy, which he did in little more than a thousand characters. This book helps me avoid feeling depressed about the state of the world. My favorite English translations are the Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English updated translation and Ursula Le Guin’s Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way.

Tao Te Ching

By Lao Tzu, Gia-fu Geng (translator), Jane English (translator), Toinette Lippe (translator)

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Tao Te Ching as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For nearly two generations, this bestselling translation of the Tao Te Ching has been the standard for those seeking access to the wisdom of Taoist thought. Now Jane English and her long-time editor, Toinette Lippe, have refreshed and revised the translation, so that it more faithfully reflects the Classical Chinese in which it was first written, while taking into account changes in our own language and eliminating any lingering infelicities. This beautiful oversized edition features over a hundred new photographs by Jane English that help express the vast spirit of the Tao. Also included is an introduction by the well-known…


The Limits to Growth

By Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis Meadows

Book cover of The Limits to Growth

Why this book?

Written fifty years ago, this book articulated the ecological crisis in which we remain but few understand. The authors vividly show that human numbers, consumption, and economy cannot grow forever. The researchers tracked industrialisation, population, food, energy, material resources, and pollution through 1970, projected out to 2100, and predicted that the early stages of global collapse (depleted soils, global heating, biodiversity collapse, pandemics) would appear about now, early in the 21st century. Our current crises, many studies, and Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, confirm their projections: They nailed it.

If you are interested, in 2003 they published Limits to Growth: The 30-year Update.

The Limits to Growth

By Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis Meadows

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Limits to Growth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Examines the factors which limit human economic and population growth and outlines the steps necessary for achieving a balance between population and production. Bibliogs


Deep Ecology for the Twenty-First Century: Readings on the Philosophy and Practice of the New Environmentalism

By George Sessions,

Book cover of Deep Ecology for the Twenty-First Century: Readings on the Philosophy and Practice of the New Environmentalism

Why this book?

The best available summary of Deep Ecology. An anthology of seminal essays inspired by Norwegian philosopher and activist Arne Naess, who sought to create an ecological paradigm shift in society – his work influenced the Greenpeace founders. This collection includes essays by Naess, Chellis Glendinning, Gary Snyder, Dolores LaChapelle, Paul Shepard, and others, who examine the ecological tradition from Spinoza and Thoreau to Santayana and ecofeminism. 

Deep Ecology for the Twenty-First Century: Readings on the Philosophy and Practice of the New Environmentalism

By George Sessions,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Deep Ecology for the Twenty-First Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every day, in newspapers and on television, we read and hear about the ongoing destruction of the environment: the greenhouse effect, ozone layer depletion, deforestation, and air and water pollution. Deep Ecology offers a solution to the environmental crisis through a radical shift in human consciousness—a fundamental change in the way people relate with the environment. Instead of thinking of nature as a resource to be used for human needs, Deep Ecology argues that the true value of nature is intrinsic and independent of its utility. Emerging in the 1980s as an influential philosophical, social, and political movement, Deep Ecology…


Steady-State Economics

By Herman E. Daly,

Book cover of Steady-State Economics

Why this book?

Want solutions? Start with our failed economic system. Daly, a World Bank senior economist, examines the economic restructuring necessary to live on a finite planet. He corrects the errors of classic economics by showing that a human economy is a subsystem embedded in a finite, fragile ecosystem, maintained by extracting limited resources and exporting waste. A steady-state economy accounts for the limits of both resources and waste. 

Steady-State Economics

By Herman E. Daly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Steady-State Economics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


First published in 1977, this volume caused a sensation because of Daly's radical view that "enough is best." Today, his ideas are recognized as the key to sustainable development, and Steady-State Economics is universally acknowledged as the leading book on the economics of sustainability.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in ecology, environmentalism, and Tao Te Ching?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about ecology, environmentalism, and Tao Te Ching.

Ecology Explore 50 books about ecology
Environmentalism Explore 121 books about environmentalism
Tao Te Ching Explore 8 books about Tao Te Ching

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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