The best nature books to help us disconnect from modern life

Jacqueline Raposo Author Of The Me, Without: A Year Exploring Habit, Healing, and Happiness
By Jacqueline Raposo

Who am I?

Journalistic interviewer Jacqueline Raposo has created hundreds of stories discussing the human condition for magazines, websites, podcasts, and her book, The Me Without—a personal growth memoir exploring the science and spirit of habit change. Chronically ill and disabled, she’s never uncovered a new app, product, or study as directly beneficial to emotional health as time spent observing the natural world.

I wrote...

The Me, Without: A Year Exploring Habit, Healing, and Happiness

By Jacqueline Raposo,

Book cover of The Me, Without: A Year Exploring Habit, Healing, and Happiness

What is my book about?

At the age of thirty-four, journalist Jacqueline Raposo finds herself chronically sick, single, broke, and wandering in a fog. Weary of trying to solve her problems by adding things to her life, she attempts the opposite and subtracts habits including social media, shopping, sugar, and negative thoughts over the course of one year. In this intimately curated search for self-improvement, Raposo confesses to the sometimes violent and profound shifts in her social interactions, physical health, and sense of self-worth. With the input of doctors, psychologists, STEM experts, and other professionals, she offers fascinating insights into how and why our brains and bodies react as they do to habits, and sheds light on the impact of everyday choices on our mental state. Part memoir, part case study, this book offers an inspiring example of how to forge your own journey, expose your wounds, and help yourself heal. 

The books I picked & why

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Winter: From the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau

By Henry David Thoreau,

Book cover of Winter: From the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau

Why this book?

Modern living requires that we move, consume, absorb, and process quickly—and our bodies can’t always keep up. Thoreau’s journals transport us back to Massachusetts between 1837 and 1860, where his recordings of seeds and birds and worms, his philosophies on man and mankind, and his personal struggles against all else are set against the hush of frozen rivers, crackling fires, and ringing telegraph wires. Especially when read daily, this most prolific botanist, transcendentalist, and introvert of New England history reminds us to value the comfort of contemporary living, but never to forget the value of moving, observing, and living a slow and intentional life.

Anne of Green Gables

By L.M. Montgomery,

Book cover of Anne of Green Gables

Why this book?

Anne Shirley believes in the power of the imagination and leans into it during hard times. And so, in romantically naming the lakes, groves, and rural roadways of her new home, the orphan wins over her new town of prim locals and reminds us that awe of simple pleasures can transform hearts and lives. This is the first of six books in a classic series written for children. But reading as an adult, we regain permission to believe that the natural world is mystical and magical, that we can be transmitters of its loving energy, and that — no matter how old we get —there are many kindred spirits out in the world, wanting to play with us.

A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm

By Edwin Way Teale,

Book cover of A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm

Why this book?

“For us it is a farm with a different kind of harvest,” Teale describes of how his aging Trail Woods farm yields observations, memories, and adventures. Teale has been called a “20th-century Thoreau” for his work as a naturalist, writer, and nature photographer. But in chapters titled A Hammock in the Woods, Stone Fences, The Man in the Brushpile, and more, his expression of love for living things transcends scientific observation; he shares his relationships with stones, plants, and animals so that we recognize they are made not only of earth, but of spirit, too.

Braiding Sweetgrass

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass

Why this book?

A mother, scientist, professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Kimmerer shares stories of the natural world with an unparalleled blend of science and spirit. She tells stories about making maple syrup with her daughters, fighting environmental contamination, and celebrating the indigenous Three Sisters crops with passion, authority, and humility—we follow Kimmerer as a mother, professor, and lifelong student on every page. We feel her awe and respect for the past, present, and future of living things. We find revived awe and respect for the things living in our immediate little worlds, too.

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude

By Ross Gay,

Book cover of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude

Why this book?

Poet Ross Gay is a shape shifter who observes the struggle of living in a human body such with compassion and intelligence and artistry that he not only describes such struggles, but also transports us inside of the elements that create them. In this meditation on love and life and loss, we are soothed by the garden, the beehive, the orchard; by the mourning doves and dung-filled dirt and knots of dead bees that he reaches for to nourish and calm and heal. Gay is very much alive to the living and the dead around him. This collection of poems brings us back to life with gratitude transformed.

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