The best books on the amazing world of trees

Artur Cisar-Erlach Author Of The Flavor of Wood: In Search of the Wild Taste of Trees from Smoke and SAP to Root and Bark
By Artur Cisar-Erlach

Who am I?

Growing up between the “wood district” in northern Austria and the woodland-rich province of Nova Scotia in Canada many of my favorite childhood memories took place in forests of all shapes and sizes. It must have been this constant exposure that ignited my passion for everything trees and forests and ultimately inspired me to train as a cabinet maker, study woodland ecology and even travel around the world exploring the multitude of fantastic flavor trees have to offer. Along the way, it was the books on this list that kept on fueling my passion and taught me to love trees even more deeply. 

I wrote...

The Flavor of Wood: In Search of the Wild Taste of Trees from Smoke and SAP to Root and Bark

By Artur Cisar-Erlach,

Book cover of The Flavor of Wood: In Search of the Wild Taste of Trees from Smoke and SAP to Root and Bark

What is my book about?

Most people don’t expect wood to flavor their food beyond the barbecue, if at all, and gastronomists rarely discuss the significance that wood has on ultimate taste. But trees and wood have a far greater influence over our plate and palate than you might think. So what does wood taste of? And how has it been used in cooking, distilling, fermenting, and even perfume creation to produce a unique flavor and smell?

To find out the answers to these questions, food communications expert Artur Cisar-Erlach embarked on a global journey to understand how trees infuse the world’s most delectable dishes with the flavor of their wood. His flavor hunt extended into a three-year exploration covering everything from pizza, whisky, cheese, tea, and perfume to quinine, wine, maple syrup, blue yogurt, and more.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is readers supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Story of Trees: And How They Changed the World

By Kevin Hobbs, David West,

Book cover of The Story of Trees: And How They Changed the World

Why this book?

A gorgeously illustrated book detailing how trees changed our world. It is a book exactly to my liking as it perfectly blends scientific information with fascinating stories and insights, making it highly interesting for both the laymen and the professional. It takes pride in being placed on my coffee table where I keep on randomly opening it several times a week, discovering something new every time. This way I am still joyfully reading it, although I have already acquired it months ago. 

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate –Discoveries from a Secret World

By Peter Wohlleben, Jane Billinghurst,

Book cover of The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate –Discoveries from a Secret World

Why this book?

The book that started it all. Much of the current global interest in everything trees was actually inspired by Peter Wohlleben's amazing book. After millennia of both religiously and scientifically defining trees as mere things, his was the first non-fiction book that I have read – no devoured – that finally grants trees the status of a living entity. They are much more like us than we have been led to believe. I am certain that after reading it you will never look at trees the same way again. Can’t recommend it highly enough!

Sprout Lands: Tending the Endless Gift of Trees

By William Bryant Logan,

Book cover of Sprout Lands: Tending the Endless Gift of Trees

Why this book?

A visionary book that sees trees and humankind working together for mutual benefit. Steering clear of both the romanticized image of untouched nature as well as greedy exploitation of natural resources it impressively demonstrates how humans and forests have always thrived from each other. It was this highly positive concept of coexistence with nature that really inspires me to this day.

The Lord of the Rings

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Book cover of The Lord of the Rings

Why this book?

This series of books really needs no introduction. If I had to name one book that sparked my fascination for everything trees and forests like no other it would be this one. Having read it almost religiously every summer holiday J. R. R. Tolkien’s writings about Fangorn forest and its shepherds, the treelike Ents, are still my favorite portrayal of trees. Much like in the book I steadfastly believe that they fight on our side and that only by truly uniting with them will we ever be able to tackle the monumental environmental challenges ahead.

The Overstory

By Richard Powers,

Book cover of The Overstory

Why this book?

A brilliantly written, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about humans, their relationship to trees, and the natural environment. Focusing on several characters whose lives were, sometimes tragically, sometimes heartwarmingly changed by trees they eventually unite to fight against ruthless logging companies. It is definitely not an easy read, but oh so worth it.    

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in trees, Middle Earth, and plants?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about trees, Middle Earth, and plants.

Trees Explore 31 books about trees
Middle Earth Explore 10 books about Middle Earth
Plants Explore 18 books about plants

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Around the World in 80 Trees, The Tree, and Wildwood if you like this list.