The best books to revolutionize how Americans think about nature & environment

Who am I?

I’m a writer, artist, and historian, and I’ve spent much of my career trying to blow up the powerful American definition of environment as a non-human world “out there”, and to ask how it’s allowed environmentalists, Exxon, and the EPA alike to refuse to take responsibility for how we inhabit environments. Along the way, I’ve written Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America and "Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in LA"; co-founded the LA Urban Rangers public art collective; and co-created the “Our Malibu Beaches” phone app. I currently live in St. Louis, where I’m a Research Fellow at the Sam Fox School at Washington University-St. Louis. 


I wrote...

Book cover of Stop Saving the Planet!: An Environmentalist Manifesto

What is my book about?

We’ve been ​“saving the planet” for decades…and environmental crises just get worse. All this Tesla driving & LEED building & carbon trading seems to accomplish little to nothing—all while low-income communities continue to suffer the most devastating consequences. So why aren’t we cleaning up the toxic messes & rolling back climate change? Also, why do so many Americans hate environmentalists?

Jenny Price says, enough already! — with this short, fun, fierce manifesto for an approach that is hugely more effective, tons fairer, and a great deal less righteous. She challenges you, Exxon, & the EPA alike to think and act completely anew—and to do it now.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Glass, Paper, Beans: Revolutions on the Nature and Value of Ordinary Things

Jenny Price Why did I love this book?

“Where do my coffee and newspaper come from?” Cohen muses one morning in her favorite coffee shop…and she’s off and running, to find the unseen nature and labor that make our everyday lives possible. The most gorgeous, lyrical explanation of alienation and fetishization you’ll ever find, and a model for how to drag nature writing into the 21st century.

By Leah Hager Cohen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Glass, Paper, Beans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Once upon a time we knew the origins of things: what piece of earth the potato on our dinner plate came from, which well our water was dipped from, who cobbled our shoes, and whose cow provided the leather. In many parts of the world, that information is still readily available. But in our society, even as technology makes certain kinds of information more accessible than ever, other connections are irrevocably lost.

In Glass, Paper, Beans, Leah Cohen traces three simple commodities on their geographic and semantic journey from her rickety table at the Someday Café to their various points…


Book cover of Second Nature: A Gardener's Education

Jenny Price Why did I love this book?

A self-critical and often hysterically funny account of what happens when you plant a garden to be “one with nature” and nature has other ideas. Still my favorite Pollan book (his first!), which is saying a lot. Favorite bit: his journey from “living in harmony” with a resident groundhog to an albeit ill-considered act of firebombing.

By Michael Pollan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An account of one man's experience in his garden.


Book cover of Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors

Jenny Price Why did I love this book?

American nature-lovers are just Americans who love nature? Not exactly, Finney reminds us. She showcases the baked-in whiteness of American environmentalist ideas and advocacy historically, and carves out space for how African Americans have imagined, enjoyed, experienced, and fought for the “great outdoors”—and draws on both scholarship and her own experiences to do so.

By Carolyn Finney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Faces, White Spaces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why are African Americans so underrepresented when it comes to interest in nature, outdoor recreation, and environmentalism? In this thought-provoking study, Carolyn Finney looks beyond the discourse of the environmental justice movement to examine how the natural environment has been understood, commodified, and represented by both white and black Americans. Bridging the fields of environmental history, cultural studies, critical race studies, and geography, Finney argues that the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial violence have shaped cultural understandings of the ""great outdoors"" and determined who should and can have access to natural spaces.

Drawing on a variety of sources…


Book cover of Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature

Jenny Price Why did I love this book?

An oldie but a goodie, and a classic. Cronon’s lead essay “The Trouble with Wilderness” roused ‘90s environmentalism like a brilliant party crasher—but don’t miss Richard White’s “Are You an Environmentalist or Do You Work for a Living,” Giovanna Di Chiro’s “Nature as Community,” and, well, my own “Looking for Nature at the Mall.”

By William Cronon (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a lead essay that powerfully states the broad argument of the book, William Cronon writes that the environmentalist goal of wilderness preservation is conceptually and politically wrongheaded. Among the ironies and entanglements resulting from this goal are the sale of nature in our malls through the Nature Company, and the disputes between working people and environmentalists over spotted owls and other objects of species preservation.

The problem is that we haven't learned to live responsibly in nature. The environmentalist aim of legislating humans out of the wilderness is no solution. People, Cronon argues, are inextricably tied to nature, whether…


Book cover of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

Jenny Price Why did I love this book?

Another powerhouse paradigm-shifter—a party crasher for 21st-century environmentalism—and yeah, it’s a doozie. Think we can “save the planet” without challenging an economy that’s fundamentally hard-wired to devastate people and environments? Or that we can use the profit-maximizing economy (here’s looking at you, carbon markets) to reign in the inevitable earth-wide destruction? Think harder and think again.

By Naomi Klein,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked This Changes Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Naomi Klein, author of the #1 international bestsellers, The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, returns with This Changes Everything, a must-read on how the climate crisis needs to spur transformational political change

Forget everything you think you know about global warming. It's not about carbon - it's about capitalism. The good news is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.

In her most provocative book yet, Naomi Klein, author of the global bestsellers The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the…


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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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