The best books to make you rethink nature

Who am I?

Chris Fitch is a writer, geographer, and storyteller. Formerly a senior staff writer at Geographical, the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society, he has reported from Australia to Kenya, Arizona to the Galápagos Islands, covering global stories on climate change, ecological urbanism, wildlife conservation, cultural revitalisation, sustainable development, geopolitics, science, travel, and more.


I wrote...

Subterranea: Discovering the Earth's Extraordinary Hidden Depth

By Chris Fitch,

Book cover of Subterranea: Discovering the Earth's Extraordinary Hidden Depth

What is my book about?

Subterranea peels back the outer layer of the earth and reveals the fascinating hidden underground spaces that you cannot see from above the ground. Lavishly illustrated and packed with maps and photographs of little-explored locations, Subterranea is the unique, untold, and utterly unforgettable story of our planet from the inside.

These places include the poisonous caves in Mexico, full of deadly hydrogen sulphide, where the toughest fish in the world manage to survive; the magnificent Roman sunken palace that was lost beneath the streets of Constantinople for centuries; the ‘Door to Hell’ that was accidentally created by Soviet gas explorers in the 1970s and has been on fire for nearly half a century; and the drug-smuggling tunnels between Mexico and the USA.

The books I picked & why

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The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt's New World

By Andrea Wulf,

Book cover of The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt's New World

Why this book?

An impressive and in-depth biopic of the German explorer Alexander von Humboldt. Wulf is our guide though his personal and working life, as well as the remarkable process by which he came to comprehend the incredibly complex web of life, and led to our modern appreciation for the natural world.

The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt's New World

By Andrea Wulf,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Invention of Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2015 COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD

WINNER OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY SCIENCE BOOK PRIZE 2016

'A thrilling adventure story' Bill Bryson

'Dazzling' Literary Review

'Brilliant' Sunday Express

'Extraordinary and gripping' New Scientist

'A superb biography' The Economist

'An exhilarating armchair voyage' GILES MILTON, Mail on Sunday

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) is the great lost scientist - more things are named after him than anyone else. There are towns, rivers, mountain ranges, the ocean current that runs along the South American coast, there's a penguin, a giant squid - even the Mare Humboldtianum on the moon.

His colourful adventures read…


Into the Wild

By Jon Krakauer,

Book cover of Into the Wild

Why this book?

Following a young dreamer into the wilds of Alaska, a stark warning of why disappearing into nature for a life of solitude might not be quite as romantic as one imagines.

Into the Wild

By Jon Krakauer,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Into the Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Krakauer’s page-turning bestseller explores a famed missing person mystery while unraveling the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

"Terrifying... Eloquent... A heart-rending drama of human yearning." —New York Times

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all…


Defiant Earth: The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene

By Clive Hamilton,

Book cover of Defiant Earth: The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene

Why this book?

A profoundly depressing but important explanation of the paradox that the more power humans gain over the Earth, the more the planet we call home will turn against us, a fundamental shift in humanity's relationship with nature, and making our existence ever more precarious.

Defiant Earth: The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene

By Clive Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Humans have become so powerful that we have disrupted the functioning of the Earth System as a whole, bringing on a new geological epoch the Anthropocene one in which the serene and clement conditions that allowed civilisation to flourish are disappearing and we quail before 'the wakened giant'. The emergence of a conscious creature capable of using technology to bring about a rupture in the Earth's geochronology is an event of monumental significance, on a par with the arrival of civilisation itself. What does it mean to have arrived at this point, where human history and Earth history collide? Some…


The World Without Us

By Alan Weisman,

Book cover of The World Without Us

Why this book?

What would happen to the Earth if humans suddenly disappeared? Weisman shows that while some aspects of nature could recover surprisingly quickly, humans have managed to pollute so widely and in such remote pockets of the planet that our presence could still be traceable thousands of years from now.

The World Without Us

By Alan Weisman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The World Without Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Revised Edition with New Afterword from the Author

Time #1 Nonfiction Book of the Year

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

Over 3 million copies sold in 35 Languages

"On the day after humans disappear, nature takes over and immediately begins cleaning house - or houses, that is. Cleans them right off the face of the earth. They all go."

What if mankind disappeared right now, forever... what would happen to the Earth in a week, a year, a millennium? Could the planet's climate ever recover from human activity? How would nature destroy our huge cities and our…


Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life

By Edward O. Wilson,

Book cover of Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life

Why this book?

As radical as they go. Wilson argues the case for identifying parts of the planet that can be restored to a pre-human state of ecological equilibrium, and setting aside half the planet's surface for no reason other than to allow these environments to rewild to their former glory.

Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life

By Edward O. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Half-Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

History is not a prerogative of the human species, Edward O. Wilson declares in Half-Earth. Demonstrating that we blindly ignore the histories of millions of other species, Wilson warns us that a point of no return is imminent. Refusing to believe that our extinction is predetermined, Wilson has written Half-Earth as a cri de coeur, proposing that the only solution to our impending "Sixth Extinction" is to increase the area of natural reserves to half the surface of the earth. Half-Earth is a resounding conclusion to the best-selling trilogy begun by the "splendid" (Financial Times) The Social Conquest of Earth…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the American West, environmental degradation, and Germany?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the American West, environmental degradation, and Germany.

The American West Explore 103 books about the American West
Environmental Degradation Explore 17 books about environmental degradation
Germany Explore 340 books about Germany

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Alchemist, Mortality, and Becoming Enlightened if you like this list.