The best books on the nature and the environment

Who am I?

I've spent a good part of my life exploring the outdoor world for the national parks service, for books, newspapers, and magazines. Each trip down a river, across a lake, up a mountain, or through a desert or swampland reminds me, as Wallace Stegner once suggested, that wilderness is as much a state of mind as it is a complex set of ecosystems. Wilderness is the geography of hope. Without the hope that comes with the wilderness experience, we would be lost. In my explorations, I've come to appreciate how much we still do not know about the natural world and how much hope there is that we can get through the challenges that climate change brings.


I wrote...

Swamplands: Tundra Beavers, Quaking Bogs, and the Improbable World of Peat

By Edward Struzik,

Book cover of Swamplands: Tundra Beavers, Quaking Bogs, and the Improbable World of Peat

What is my book about?

Traveling globally, Edward Struzik travels with scientists and indigenous people, exploring the haunting past of the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia, the exotic plant-rich tropical bogs in Hawaii, the remnants of an ancient peatland in the Mojave Desert, and places where polar bears, turtles, and rattlesnakes den in peat. What he learns along the way is that peatlands play an outsized role in regulating climate, filtering water, mitigating floods, and wildfire, and providing refuge for new and critically endangered species such as the Bornean orangutang and the Red-cockaded woodpecker.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of E. O. Wilson: Biophilia, the Diversity of Life, Naturalist

Edward Struzik Why did I love this book?

I took a course from Ed Wilson when I was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT and Harvard. Each one of his classes was a revelation, as were his books. He won the Pulitzer twice for On Human Nature and The Ants. But I particularly enjoyed The Diversity of Life. It was engaging and so prophetic – a sequel, as someone once said, to Darwin’s Origin of the Species.

By Edward O. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked E. O. Wilson as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A landmark collected edition of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and world-renowned biologist, illuminating the marvels of biodiversity in a time of climate crisis and mass extinction.

Library of America presents three environmental classics from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner E. O. Wilson, a masterful writer-scientist whose graceful prose is equal to his groundbreaking discoveries. These books illuminate the evolution and complex beauty of our imperiled ecosystems and the flora, fauna, and civilization they sustain, even as they reveal the personal evolution of one of the greatest scientific minds of our age. Here are the lyrical, thought-provoking essays of Biophilia, a field biologist's…


Book cover of Desert Solitaire

Edward Struzik Why did I love this book?

The book struck a chord because I worked in a remote national park (Kluane National Park and Reserve, along the Yukon/Alaskan border) early in my career as Abbey did. Like him, I was incensed by the push to exploit wilderness more for the enjoyment of people than for the plants and animals that dwell there. What makes this book stand out is that it is lyrical as well as angry. It makes you laugh and want to do something to right the wrongs that have been done to nature.

By Edward Abbey,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Desert Solitaire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'My favourite book about the wilderness' Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

In this shimmering masterpiece of American nature writing, Edward Abbey ventures alone into the canyonlands of Moab, Utah, to work as a seasonal ranger for the United States National Park Service.

Living out of a trailer, Abbey captures in rapt, poetic prose the landscape of the desert; a world of terracotta earth, empty skies, arching rock formations, cliffrose, juniper, pinyon pine and sand sage. His summers become spirit quests, taking him in search of wild horses and Ancient Puebloan petroglyphs, up mountains and across tribal lands, and down the…


Book cover of Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape

Edward Struzik Why did I love this book?

I was the Arctic bureau chief (a one-person show) for a now long-forgotten news chain, living in the Northwest Territories of Canada when Lopez was there collecting stories for this book. It was fun to read because I had visited many of the places he explored and knew almost all of the scientists he profiled. What the book lacks because of its largely Eurocentric view of the polar world is made up by the fact it turned so many people onto the much neglected polar world.

By Barry Lopez,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Arctic Dreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**AS HEARD ON BBC RADIO 4**

'A master nature writer' (New York Times) provides the ultimate natural, social and cultural history of the Arctic landscape.

The author of Horizon's classic work explores the Arctic landscape and the hold it continues to exert on our imagination.

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ROBERT MACFARLANE

Lopez's journey across our frozen planet is a celebration of the Arctic in all its guises. A hostile landscape of ice, freezing oceans and dazzling skyscapes. Home to millions of diverse animals and people. The stage to massive migrations by land, sea and air. The setting of epic exploratory…


Book cover of Landmarks

Edward Struzik Why did I love this book?

This is a book about language and how we have lost so many words that clarify our understanding of the natural world. For my book Swamplands, I borrowed from MacFarlane’s glossary of words describing peat. Yarpha, for example, is an Orkney word for peat that is full of fibers and roots, Water-sick is a Cumbrian word for peatlands that are saturated with water. The book reminds us that we need to be more explicit in describing nature in all of its manifestations. It is also addictive. You can start from the middle and read to the beginning or to the end, It never fails

By Robert Macfarlane,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE

From the bestselling author of UNDERLAND, THE OLD WAYS and THE LOST WORDS

'Few books give such a sense of enchantment; it is a book to give to many, and to return to repeatedly' Independent

Words are grained into our landscapes, and landscapes are grained into our words. Landmarks is about the power of language to shape our sense of place. It is a field guide to the literature of nature, and a glossary containing thousands of remarkable words used in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to describe land,…


Book cover of Wolf Willow: A History, a Story, and a Memory of the Last Plains Frontier

Edward Struzik Why did I love this book?

Stegner was an American writer who viewed nature not only as a complex set of ecosystems but as a state of mind. In a letter to Congress, he famously stated that we need to preserve wilderness as a means of “reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.” Wolf Willow stands out for me because it speaks of a place on the prairies that I have explored. It is also storytelling at its best.

By Wallace Stegner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Enchanting, heartrending and eminently enviable' Vladimir Nabokov

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wallace Stegner's boyhood was spent on the beautiful and remote frontier of the Cypress Hills in southern Saskatchewan, where his family homesteaded fro 1914 to 1920. In a recollection of his years there, Stegner applies childhood remembrances and adult reflection to the history of the region to create this wise and enduring portrait of pioneer community existing in the verge of a modern world.

'Stegner has summarized the frontier story and interpreted it as only one who was part of it could' The New York Times Book Review


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Radio Free Olympia

By Jeffrey Dunn,

Book cover of Radio Free Olympia

Jeffrey Dunn Author Of Radio Free Olympia

New book alert!

Who am I?

I’ve always been a child of the woods. I preferred to leave my home and wade a creek or explore a hillside. Nothing compared to the sight of a black snake or the feel of a mud puppy. School was a torture until an English teacher introduced me to Richard Brautigan and then read my first serious story to the class. Since then, this dyslexic nature lover has become a dream fisher and history miner with a Ph.D. in English Literature and Cultural Studies. Retired from forty-one years of teaching, I now write and publish cultural fiction.

Jeffrey's book list on where imagination and nature run free

What is my book about?

Embark on a riveting journey into Washington State’s untamed Olympic Peninsula, where the threads of folklore legends and historical icons are woven into a complex ecological tapestry.

Follow the enigmatic Petr as he fearlessly employs his pirate radio transmitter to broadcast the forgotten and untamed voices that echo through the wilderness. Venture deeper and encounter Baie, the founder of Wildsisters, a cranberry-infused roadhouse that offers solace to lost and wayward women. When a newborn is kidnapped, Baie and her community must unite to recover what has been stolen. Yet, their quest for justice extends beyond the realm of human characters—it must also be served for the fragile flora, the diverse fauna, and the very essence of the natural world.

Radio Free Olympia

By Jeffrey Dunn,

What is this book about?

Unleash the Power of the Wilderness in Radio Free Olympia


Discover the captivating allure of Washington's untamed Olympic Peninsula in Radio Free Olympia, an extraordinary literary masterpiece that immerses readers in a mesmerizing realm of visionaries, folklore legends, and historical icons. With an enchanting blend of magical realism and cultural fiction, the brilliant wordsmith Jeffrey Dunn artfully intertwines multiple narratives, crafting an intricate ecological tapestry that resonates deeply within the soul.


Embark on a riveting journey alongside the enigmatic Petr, a foundling whose path leads him deep into the heart of the majestic mountain rainforest. Armed with nothing but a…


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