The best books on nature by naturalists

The Books I Picked & Why

A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There

By Aldo Leopold

A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There

Why this book?

Every modern student of wildlife and wild places has either been assigned this book, or felt obliged to pick it up from the sheer volume of references harking back to it. Written in the 1940s, A Sand County Almanac is a slim but weighty book of essays by the wildlife professor Aldo Leopold, whose prophet’s eye and poetic prose so eloquently celebrate the wild while damning our abuse of it. Or in the words of Leopold himself, who always said it best, “There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot.”


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Under the Sea-Wind

By Rachel Carson

Under the Sea-Wind

Why this book?

Rachel Carson will forever be known for Silent Spring, her courageous, farsighted warning of our pesticidal poisoning of the world. But it was her three ocean-oriented books preceding Silent Spring that best showcase her artistic melding of meticulous research with her wide-eyed sense of wonder. And none more so than Under The Sea Wind, her first and most intimate work, tracing the seasonal travails of fish and shorebirds—living, heroic creatures we come to know by name—through their inspiring, interlocking circles of life.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod

By Henry Beston

The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod

Why this book?

In 1925, Henry Beston had a 20 x 16 beach cottage built for him on a Cape Cod dune overlooking the Atlantic. He went there for what was to be a two-week stay and left some two years later, with his chronicle condensed into “a year of life on the great beach of Cape Cod”—what Rachel Carson said was the only book that influenced her writing. His poetic ruminations on wheeling shorebirds and schooling fish, on sea and sky, surf and sand and roaring storm, of nights walking barefoot on the beach, leave you smelling the salt spray and breathing to the rolling rhythm of the waves.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Desert Solitaire

By Edward Abbey

Desert Solitaire

Why this book?

Like Henry Beston, Edward Abbey brought fresh, penetrating eyes to an epic, seductive landscape that inspired him to his greatest art. In Desert Solitaire, Abbey weaves his two years as an itinerant park ranger in Arches National Monument in southeast Utah, and his various forays into the surrounding canyon country, into one year’s tale of revelation. Abbey’s rebellious, anti-establishment musings and biting commentary are what have made him an icon of the environmental movement. But it is his talent for so palpably conveying this magical land of naked rock and cathedral canyon and brilliant sky that keeps us fellow desert rats forever returning for yet another season in the wilderness with him.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Voyage of the Beagle

By Charles Darwin

The Voyage of the Beagle

Why this book?

In December of 1831, a 22-year-old Charles Darwin set sail aboard HMS Beagle out of Plymouth, England, on a five-year voyage around the world. Upon returning, he published his notes—hence this book—and after 19 years of ruminating on his observations he birthed his earth-shaking masterpiece, On The Origin of Species. It is that fact—knowing the end of the story before even Darwin—that makes this book more than just another chronicle of a momentous expedition. It is a privileged peek at a nascent genius on his journey toward rewriting the very history of natural history.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists

Distantly Related Book Lists

Random Book Lists