60 books like A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth

By Henry Gee,

Here are 60 books that A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth fans have personally recommended if you like A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Caro Feely Author Of Cultivating Change: Regenerating Land and Love in the Age of Climate Crisis

From my list on biodiversity, plants and natural magic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a published author specializing in nature, travel, and wine writing, and I have been an organic farmer for nearly two decades on an award-winning estate in France. I’ve written four books about the transformation of our organic farm. In my latest, Cultivating Change, I explore how biodiversity helps us address climate change and how important it is to the health of the land. It is also a human story; like the books below, stories are key to bringing these subjects to life. My list is women authors, not because I set out to do that, but because these books are beautiful, intuitive, and deep, like the women who wrote them.

Caro's book list on biodiversity, plants and natural magic

Caro Feely Why did Caro love this book?

I love, love, love this book. What a gem, a prayer of love to plants and nature, a dense but light book of ‘indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teachings of plants’ as it says in the sub-title.

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a decorated Professor of Botany, a mother, a writer of grace, power, and elegance, a keeper and sharer of indigenous wisdom, and an overall generous human being. If there is one book you read this year, let it be this. It filled my heart with joy, hope, and wonder. I loved her other book, Gathering Moss, too.

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

46 authors picked Braiding Sweetgrass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take "us on a journey that is…


Book cover of Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong about the World--And Why Things Are Better Than You Think

Gerard Pasterkamp Author Of Painted Science: The history of scientific discoveries, explorers and technological developments captured in painting

From my list on trying to explain basics in human behavior and decision making in a scientific manner.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scientist in the field of medicine, and I like to read books that provide a surprising insight into our thinking and decision-making with a scientific basis. It is special how we think we are acting rationally while much of our action is influenced by the environment and news that comes our way. Some of the books in my list provide special insights that are refreshing and hold a mirror up to us.

Gerard's book list on trying to explain basics in human behavior and decision making in a scientific manner

Gerard Pasterkamp Why did Gerard love this book?

It's amazing how our thinking is influenced by a biased statement. This book shows that there is still hope when you look at the real facts.

The author asks a number of questions that require basic knowledge of everyday data that we read a lot about in the press. Questions such as: "How many people in the world are illiterate?" or "How many women are not educated?" are answered incorrectly by politicians, bankers, and scientists, those who determine our policy.

It is confronting to realize that more questions could have been answered correctly by simply guessing.

By Hans Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Ola Rosling

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Factfulness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases.' BARACK OBAMA

'One of the most important books I've ever read - an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world.' BILL GATES

*#1 Sunday Times bestseller * New York Times bestseller * Observer 'best brainy book of the decade' * Irish Times bestseller * Guardian bestseller * audiobook bestseller *

Factfulness: The stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts.

When asked simple questions about global trends - why the world's population is increasing; how…


Book cover of Make Thrift Mend: Stitch, Patch, Darn, Plant-Dye & Love Your Wardrobe

Orsola de Castro Author Of Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary  Act

From my list on for fashion revolutionaries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an internationally recognised opinion leader in sustainable fashion. My career started as a designer with the pioneering upcycling label From Somewhere, which I launched in 1997. My label’s designer collaborations include collections for Jigsaw, Speedo, and 4 best-selling capsule collections for Topshop. In 2006, I co-founded the British Fashion Council Initiative Estethica at London Fashion Week, which I curated until 2014. In 2013 I co-founded Fashion Revolution, a global campaign with participation in over 90 countries. I'm a regular keynote speaker and mentor, and Associate Visiting Professor at Middlesex University. My first book Loved Clothes Last is published by Penguin Life, Corbaccio Editore in Italy and in France by Edition Marabou.

Orsola's book list on for fashion revolutionaries

Orsola de Castro Why did Orsola love this book?

The best book on mending, maintaining, and repairing clothes, ever. Beautifully written, inspirational, and easy to use, this is the definitive practical guide to all techniques related to clothing longevity.

I am nowhere near as good at mending as the author of this book, but I have found her techniques to be both practical and fairly simple, and the beautiful images make trying compelling.

By Katrina Rodabaugh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Make Thrift Mend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Slow fashion expert Katrina Rodabaugh, bestselling author of Mending Matters, teaches readers how to mend, patch, dye, and alter clothing for an environmentally conscious, reimagined wardrobe

Slow fashion influencer Katrina Rodabaugh follows her bestselling book, Mending Matters, with a comprehensive guide to building (and keeping) a wardrobe that matters. Whether you want to repair your go-to jeans, refresh a favorite garment, thrift-shop like a pro, alter or dye clothing you already have-this book has all the know-how you'll need. Woven throughout are stories, essays, and a slow fashion call-to-action, encouraging readers to get involved or deepen their commitment to changing…


Book cover of The Golden Thread

Orsola de Castro Author Of Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary  Act

From my list on for fashion revolutionaries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an internationally recognised opinion leader in sustainable fashion. My career started as a designer with the pioneering upcycling label From Somewhere, which I launched in 1997. My label’s designer collaborations include collections for Jigsaw, Speedo, and 4 best-selling capsule collections for Topshop. In 2006, I co-founded the British Fashion Council Initiative Estethica at London Fashion Week, which I curated until 2014. In 2013 I co-founded Fashion Revolution, a global campaign with participation in over 90 countries. I'm a regular keynote speaker and mentor, and Associate Visiting Professor at Middlesex University. My first book Loved Clothes Last is published by Penguin Life, Corbaccio Editore in Italy and in France by Edition Marabou.

Orsola's book list on for fashion revolutionaries

Orsola de Castro Why did Orsola love this book?

A very detailed and beautifully written history of the textile industry throughout time, this book really underlines how our industriousness has turned into a multibillion-dollar industry, disregarding many of the principles and values it stems from.

As a go-to a history of the textile industry, you can’t read much better than this, an unbroken thread of useful knowledge for whoever thinks fashion is frivolous.

By Kassia St. Clair,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Golden Thread as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From colorful 30,000-year-old threads found on the floor of a Georgian cave to the Indian calicoes that sparked the Industrial Revolution, The Golden Thread weaves an illuminating story of human ingenuity. Design journalist Kassia St. Clair guides us through the technological advancements and cultural customs that would redefi ne human civilization-from the fabric that allowed mankind to achieve extraordinary things (traverse the oceans and shatter athletic records) and survive in unlikely places (outer space and the South Pole). She peoples her story with a motley cast of characters, including Xiling, the ancient Chinese empress credited with inventing silk, to Richard…


Book cover of Earth Logic

Orsola de Castro Author Of Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary  Act

From my list on for fashion revolutionaries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an internationally recognised opinion leader in sustainable fashion. My career started as a designer with the pioneering upcycling label From Somewhere, which I launched in 1997. My label’s designer collaborations include collections for Jigsaw, Speedo, and 4 best-selling capsule collections for Topshop. In 2006, I co-founded the British Fashion Council Initiative Estethica at London Fashion Week, which I curated until 2014. In 2013 I co-founded Fashion Revolution, a global campaign with participation in over 90 countries. I'm a regular keynote speaker and mentor, and Associate Visiting Professor at Middlesex University. My first book Loved Clothes Last is published by Penguin Life, Corbaccio Editore in Italy and in France by Edition Marabou.

Orsola's book list on for fashion revolutionaries

Orsola de Castro Why did Orsola love this book?

Exploring an earth-centric view of business for the future, envisioning regenerative systems where fashion can support, rather than deplete our planet’s finite resources, this book challenges the concept of growth and offers real alternatives.

This book feels challenging, but is rooted in common sense, it may seem out there and unrealistic, but being about Earth it actually makes it feel not just possible but eminently doable.

By Kate Fletcher,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change, and Consumerism

Tanja Hester Author Of Wallet Activism: How to Use Every Dollar You Spend, Earn, and Save as a Force for Change

From my list on to equip you to fight for change.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent 20+ years working on the question of how social and environmental change happens, from my long-time career in progressive politics to my current work writing about the most pressing issues of our time through an economic lens, and occasionally talking about them on my podcast, also called Wallet Activism. So I know well how intimidating it can feel to get involved, whether it’s worrying your voice isn’t needed (trust me, it is!) or not knowing the nuts and bolts of where to start. But we have so much power when we act collectively, and I want you to feel personally invited to take action.

Tanja's book list on to equip you to fight for change

Tanja Hester Why did Tanja love this book?

My secret theory (or formerly secret, anyway) is that if books had best friends, my book's BFF would be this book. Aja and I were clearly on the same wavelength when writing our books, and there are many common threads, but Consumed takes a much deeper dive into consumerism broadly and the fashion industry specifically, tying environmental and worker exploitation concerns together seamlessly. You’ll come away with real resolve to consume much less, as well as clarity on how to push producers of goods you buy to do much, much better.

By Aja Barber,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

***

'This powerful, speaking-truth-to-power book is an essential read for everybody who wants to stop feeling clueless and helpless about the impacts of cosumerism, and start doing their part to help create a more sustainable world' - Layla Saad

'A critique on what we buy, how it's made and the systems behind it that make an unfair and broken cycle' - New York Times

'The book is a blueprint for anyone who wants to do better' - VOGUE

'SUCH integrity. Aja is no bullsh*t.' - Florence Given

'Consumed takes us through the hideously complex topic of fashion and sustainability, from…


Book cover of Existential Physics: A Scientist's Guide to Life's Biggest Questions

Brian Clegg Author Of What Do You Think You Are? The Science of What Makes You You

From my list on making the deep mysteries of science approachable.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a science writer with over 40 books published. Science is central to all our modern lives—but for many people it feels remote, and difficult to understand. I love the opportunity to communicate science—to turn it from a collection of facts into stories that people can relate to. I always read popular science before I got into writing, but, if anything, I read it even more now. My own background is physics and math—and I enjoy reading and writing about that—but sometimes, it’s particularly interesting to pull together different aspects of science that affect all of us, crossing disciplines and uncovering the wonders that science bring us.

Brian's book list on making the deep mysteries of science approachable

Brian Clegg Why did Brian love this book?

I love the way that theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder makes use of her knowledge of the subject to tell us more about our relationship with life, the universe, and everything. This is no dry science text—we discover why past, present, and future seem different, what we know (and can’t know) about how everything began and how it will end, whether or not the concept of free will makes scientific sense and more. What is particularly fascinating is the revelation that some apparently scientific theories have no basis in science—and that science can’t disprove some beliefs that scientists often criticize.

By Sabine Hossenfelder,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"An informed and entertaining guide to what science can and cannot tell us." -The Wall Street Journal

"Stimulating . . . encourage[s] readers to push past well-trod assumptions [...] and have fun doing so." -Science Magazine

From renowned physicist and creator of the YouTube series "Science without the Gobbledygook," a book that takes a no-nonsense approach to life's biggest questions, and wrestles with what physics really says about the human condition

Not only can we not currently explain the origin of the universe, it is questionable we will ever be able to explain it. The…


Book cover of The World According to Physics

Brian Clegg Author Of What Do You Think You Are? The Science of What Makes You You

From my list on making the deep mysteries of science approachable.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a science writer with over 40 books published. Science is central to all our modern lives—but for many people it feels remote, and difficult to understand. I love the opportunity to communicate science—to turn it from a collection of facts into stories that people can relate to. I always read popular science before I got into writing, but, if anything, I read it even more now. My own background is physics and math—and I enjoy reading and writing about that—but sometimes, it’s particularly interesting to pull together different aspects of science that affect all of us, crossing disciplines and uncovering the wonders that science bring us.

Brian's book list on making the deep mysteries of science approachable

Brian Clegg Why did Brian love this book?

In this compact hardback, physicist Jim Al-Khalili outlines in a straightforward way what he describes as the “three pillars of physics”. These don’t overlap much with the physics many of us will have done at school: they are relativity, quantum theory, and thermodynamics. Yet Al-Khalili shows how these three topics help us understand how everything works. In an approachable way, without a single equation, we get a feel for the power of physics. Al-Khalili’s personality and enthusiasm shine through.

By Jim Al-Khalili,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World According to Physics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Quantum physicist, New York Times bestselling author, and BBC host Jim Al-Khalili offers a fascinating and illuminating look at what physics reveals about the world

Shining a light on the most profound insights revealed by modern physics, Jim Al-Khalili invites us all to understand what this crucially important science tells us about the universe and the nature of reality itself.

Al-Khalili begins by introducing the fundamental concepts of space, time, energy, and matter, and then describes the three pillars of modern physics-quantum theory, relativity, and thermodynamics-showing how all three must come together if we are ever to have a full…


Book cover of Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand: Fifty Wonders That Reveal an Extraordinary Universe

Brian Clegg Author Of What Do You Think You Are? The Science of What Makes You You

From my list on making the deep mysteries of science approachable.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a science writer with over 40 books published. Science is central to all our modern lives—but for many people it feels remote, and difficult to understand. I love the opportunity to communicate science—to turn it from a collection of facts into stories that people can relate to. I always read popular science before I got into writing, but, if anything, I read it even more now. My own background is physics and math—and I enjoy reading and writing about that—but sometimes, it’s particularly interesting to pull together different aspects of science that affect all of us, crossing disciplines and uncovering the wonders that science bring us.

Brian's book list on making the deep mysteries of science approachable

Brian Clegg Why did Brian love this book?

Sometimes you don’t want an intensely detailed exploration of a topic, but rather a series of interesting articles—and these 50 ‘wonders that reveal an extraordinary universe’ are an ideal way of dipping into some of the strangest and most wonderful aspects of modern science. Although each topic only lasts a few pages, it’s enough to get you interested and is bound to make you tell someone nearby about it. When you’ve read one, it’s hard not to go on and read a few more.

By Marcus Chown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A mind-bending journey through some of the most weird and wonderful facts about our universe, vividly illuminating the hidden truths that govern our everyday lives.

Fact: You could fit the whole human race in the volume of a sugar cube.

Fact: The electrical energy in a single mosquito is enough to cause a global mass extinction.

Fact: You age more quickly on the top floor than on the ground floor.

So much of our world seems to make perfect sense, and scientific breakthroughs have helped us understand ourselves, our planet, and our place in the universe in fascinating detail. But…


Book cover of When Time Is Short: Finding Our Way in the Anthropocene

Larry L. Rasmussen Author Of The Planet You Inherit: Letters to My Grandchildren When Uncertainty's a Sure Thing

From my list on wisdom amid planetary uncertainty.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been engaged as a teacher of religion and ecology since the first Earth Day 50 years ago. That has entailed writing some prize-winning books, Earth Community, Earth Ethics (1996) and Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (2013). Now I want to pass along distilled learnings to my grandchildren as they face a planet in tumult. The form—love letters—and the audience—future generations as represented by my grandkids—moves me to focus on effective communication of a highly personal sort to young people on matters vital to their lives. It’s a nice bookend near the end of my own life.

Larry's book list on wisdom amid planetary uncertainty

Larry L. Rasmussen Why did Larry love this book?

I am well aware of the threats to human society and the planet. I welcome anyone who understands them and has thought them through, then turns to sources of wisdom to guide us. Beal does all this and taps sources of wisdom readily available to us (in his case he draws on major biblical themes and does so with a critical eye for both their benefit and harm).

By Timothy Beal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Time Is Short as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With faith, hope, and compassion, acclaimed religion scholar Timothy Beal shows us how to navigate the inevitabilities of the climate crisis and the very real—and very near—possibility of human extinction

What if it’s too late to save ourselves from climate crisis? When Time is Short is a meditation for what may be a finite human future that asks how we got here to help us imagine a different relationship to the natural world.

Modern capitalism, as it emerged, drew heavily upon the Christian belief in human exceptionalism and dominion over the planet, and these ideas still undergird our largely secular…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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