100 books like Life in the Treetops

By Margaret D. Lowman,

Here are 100 books that Life in the Treetops fans have personally recommended if you like Life in the Treetops. 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 The Overstory

Culley Holderfield Author Of Hemlock Hollow

From my list on books in which nature is a teacher.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up fascinated by the natural world, in particular by the hemlock trees in a hollow in the North Carolina mountains where my family owned a cabin. Later, the hollow and that cabin would provide inspiration for my novel, Hemlock Hollow, in which a scientist wrestles with the ghosts of her past. Those hemlocks are in decline now due to the hemlock wooly adelgid, an invasive species working its way through the Appalachian Mountains. In many ways, my writing takes the grief of losing something so dear as grist for stories that center the power of place over time, and I’m drawn to other books that do the same.

Culley's book list on books in which nature is a teacher

Culley Holderfield Why did Culley love this book?

What’s not to love about a book structured as a tree? This is a vast, episodic novel that takes traditional storytelling and turns it on its head.

A cast of characters connect through stories that grow from seed to trunk to limb. I finished this long read and immediately wanted to start again. It’s the kind of book that rewards a second or third pass. Complex, rife with science and faith and desperate longing, this book is a celebration of the tree, a clarion call to return our attention to our roots before it is too late.

One of Powers’ characters asks, “What do all good stories do?” He answers, “They kill you a little. They turn you into something you weren’t.” I think that’s true of all of these books, and most definitely this one.

By Richard Powers,

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked The Overstory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of-and paean to-the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers's twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours-vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see…

Book cover of Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

Carl F. Nathan Author Of An Arrow's ARC: Journey of a Physician-Scientist

From my list on a life in science or medicine.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, I experienced “otherness.” My family was hard up amidst affluence. Typecast as Jewish, where that was a rarity, we were met with suspicion and unease. Being a woman held my mother back from her preferred profession. Racism was rampant; my growing appreciation of it and efforts to intervene added to “otherness.”  My childhood was shadowed by illness, including my mother’s cancer. These influences drew me to medicine and science. Both are a way to overcome “otherness” and to protect one’s family, even as my sense of family expanded. Medicine forges extraordinary bonds between doctor and patient. Science brings people together from diverse backgrounds to share goals. These connections make meaningful stories. 

Carl's book list on a life in science or medicine

Carl F. Nathan Why did Carl love this book?

I love how Simard weaves her life story together with the story of what she discovered.

I empathize with her standing up to rejection, even ridicule, to overcome being an “outsider,” both for her discoveries and for being a woman in science. I admire that she is equally attuned to the details of how trees and the fungi beneath them collaborate and communicate as she is to the industrial, societal, and climatological implications.

Through it all, she expresses the message that life is sustained and shaped by a web of interactions within species and among them.

By Suzanne Simard,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Finding the Mother Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • From the world's leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest—a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery

“Finding the Mother Tree reminds us that the world is a web of stories, connecting us to one another. [The book] carries the stories of trees, fungi, soil and bears--and of a human being listening in on the conversation. The interplay of personal narrative, scientific insights and the amazing revelations about the life of the forest make a compelling story.”—Robin Wall…

Book cover of The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature

Jessica J. Lee Author Of Dispersals: On Plants, Borders, and Belonging

From my list on change how you think about plants.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved plants since I was a child – that’s probably why I grew up to become an environmental historian and nature writer! But I longed for stories about plants and nature that didn’t paint them as passive and ours to dominate. And stories that represented the voices of those on the margins of nature writing. I have written three books of nature writing, as well as a nature-themed picture books, and many more shorter essays on the natural world along the way.   

Jessica's book list on change how you think about plants

Jessica J. Lee Why did Jessica love this book?

I was enthralled with this book from its very premise: a book about looking closely…really closely. Haskell tracks the growth of a square meter of forest over a year, bringing to life the minutiae of life.

It’s a book that made me want to get down on the ground and get to know the unseen details of every patch of land I encountered. 

By David George Haskell,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Forest Unseen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A biologist reveals the secret world hidden in a single square meter of old-growth forest--a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Pen/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award 

Look out for David Haskell's new book, The Songs of Tree: Stories From Nature's Great Connectors, coming in April of 2017

In this wholly original book, biologist David Haskell uses a one- square-meter patch of old-growth Tennessee forest as a window onto the entire natural world. Visiting it almost daily for one year to trace nature's path through the seasons, he brings the forest and its inhabitants to vivid life.

Each of…

Book cover of The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature's Great Connectors

Ellen E. Wohl Author Of Dead Wood: The Afterlife of Trees

From my list on trees, living and dead.

Why am I passionate about this?

I study streams and rivers and it took me a while to recognize that many of the streams that flow through forests should have far more downed wood pieces and logjams than are commonly present. The lack of wood in streams reflects a long history of deforestation along rivers, as well as actively pulling wood out of rivers for navigation and flood control. As I’ve come to appreciate dead wood and the many benefits it creates for a wide range of inland, coastal, and marine ecosystems, I’ve also become increasingly interested in the lives that trees live before they become dead wood.

Ellen's book list on trees, living and dead

Ellen E. Wohl Why did Ellen love this book?

Haskell uses ultrasensitive microphones to record the sounds that trees make. We learn the sounds of trees in distress, trees living their daily lives, and trees responding to the passing seasons. This book made me look at trees and forests in an entirely new way and helped me to imagine all the unseen and unheard activities going on around me. It’s like spying on the trees and learning their fascinating secrets.

By David George Haskell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


“Both a love song to trees, an exploration of their biology, and a wonderfully philosophical analysis of their role they play in human history and in modern culture.” —Science Friday
The author of Sounds Wild and Broken and the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Forest Unseen visits with nature’s most magnificent networkers — trees 

David Haskell has won acclaim for eloquent writing and deep engagement with the natural world. Now, he brings his powers of observation to the biological networks that surround all species, including humans. Haskell repeatedly visits…

Book cover of The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest

Meeg Pincus Author Of Make Way for Animals! A World of Wildlife Crossings

From my list on nonfiction on helping wildlife.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lover of wildlife and have written several nonfiction picture books on the topic, including Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery, Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood’s Celebrity Cougar Built a Bridge for City Wildlife, and Ocean Soup: a Recipe for You, Me, and A Cleaner Sea. I’m also a humane educator, which inspires the focus of all my nonfiction picture books on “solutionaries” helping people, animals, and the planet. At heart, my books—which have won Golden Kite Nonfiction and Eureka! Nonfiction Honors and more—aim to inspire compassion, inclusivity, and positive action. 

Meeg's book list on nonfiction on helping wildlife

Meeg Pincus Why did Meeg love this book?

I picked this book because it’s a great reminder that plants are wildlife, too—and they’re as important and as endangered as animals! It’s also a truly fascinating story of the woman who figured out how to study the rainforest canopy, a hundred feet in the air! I love how this book tells one woman’s inspiring story while at the same time inspiring kids to care and learn more about the much-needed flora on our planet.

By Heather Lang, Jana Christy (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Leaf Detective as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

John Burroughs Association Riverby Award
Honorable Mention, Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award

This picture book biography tells the story of Meg Lowman, a groundbreaking female scientist called a "real life Lorax" by National Geographic, who was determined to investigate the marvelous, undiscovered world of the rainforest treetops.

Meg Lowman was always fascinated by the natural world above her head - the colors, the branches, and, most of all, the leaves and mysterious organisms living there. Meg set out to climb up and investigate the rain forest tree canopies - and to be the first scientist…

Book cover of The Arbornaut: A Life Discovering the Eighth Continent in the Trees Above Us

Cheryl Rickman Author Of Tree Glee: How and Why Trees Make Us Feel Better

From my list on trees to make you cherish and delight in nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

When my mother, Denise, died aged 43, 17-year-old me arrived back to the place where I’d made mud pies and happy memories that would never be the same again. I climbed my favourite apple tree, between Earth and sky and clung to the trunk. While I crumbled, my tree stood tall, cool – its sturdiness momentarily reassuring. Ever since then the constancy and stability of trees have offered me sanctuary and made me feel grounded and protected. They’ve refreshed and relaxed me; they’ve made me feel connected – to my past, to the present moment and to the natural world. They’ve flooded me with fascination, leading me to learn more about their impact on wellbeing.

Cheryl's book list on trees to make you cherish and delight in nature

Cheryl Rickman Why did Cheryl love this book?

As much as I love a book about nature, I love books about (and by) badass pioneering women. Meg Lowman is one of these - one of the first-ever tree-top scientists.

It was she who invented one of the first treetop walkways and she shares her amazing story in this book. I love how brave and fearless she was, just climbing hundreds of feet of unchartered territory, solo, into the canopies of Australia's rainforests and how her discoveries literally saved swathes of it.

The book is filled with hope and achievable calls to action as well as her pioneering tale of exploring parts tree that had not yet been explored. A reminder of the importance of trees and also how much those who live in forests matter to their conservation.

By Meg Lowman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the world's first tree-top scientists, Meg Lowman is both a pioneer in her field - she invented one of the first treetop walkways - and a tireless advocate for the planet. In a voice as infectious in its enthusiasm as in its practical optimism, The Arbornaut chronicles her irresistible story.

From climbing solo hundreds of feet into Australia's rainforests to measuring tree growth in the northeastern United States, from searching the redwoods of the Pacific coast for new life to studying leaf-eaters in Scotland's Highlands, from a bioblitz in Malaysia to conservation planning in India to collaborating with…

Book cover of Zonia's Rain Forest

Laura Resau Author Of Stand as Tall as the Trees: How an Amazonian Community Protected the Rain Forest

From my list on children’s pictures set in South America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I feel passionate about spreading the word about all the fantastic children’s literature set in South America. As an author and a multilingual mom whose son enjoys learning about his Latin American heritage, I’ve always brought home stacks of picture books—in Spanish and English—that celebrate Latin American cultures and settings. I’ve loved traveling to the Andes mountains and the Amazon rain forest as part of my children’s book collaborations with Indigenous women in those regions. Most of all, I love transporting young readers to these inspiring places through story.

Laura's book list on children’s pictures set in South America

Laura Resau Why did Laura love this book?

Several years ago, I took a beautiful and eye-opening trip to an Indigenous-run ecolodge in the Amazon Rain Forest.

Tragically, the following year, the community was displaced after an oil company invaded and destroyed their forest. So, I connected strongly to this book, which tells the story of Zonia, an Indigenous Asháninka girl living in the Peruvian Amazon, who forms playful and sacred bonds with her plant and animal friends.

But when she comes across felled trees, she must respond to the forest’s call for help. The illustrations are sweet and warm, inviting readers to take part in Zonia’s experiences. And when we witness the stark devastation, we feel her despair and her call to action.

I loved this book that encourages us all to support Indigenous and environmental rights.

By Juana Martinez-Neal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Zonia's Rain Forest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A heartfelt, visually stunning picture book from Caldecott Honor and Robert F. Sibert Medal winner Juana Martinez-Neal illuminates a young girl’s day of play and adventure in the lush rain forest of Peru.

Zonia’s home is the Amazon rain forest, where it is always green and full of life. Every morning, the rain forest calls to Zonia, and every morning, she answers. She visits the sloth family, greets the giant anteater, and runs with the speedy jaguar. But one morning, the rain forest calls to her in a troubled voice. How will Zonia answer?
Acclaimed author-illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal explores the…

Book cover of The Singing Line

Peter Grose Author Of Ten Rogues: The unlikely story of convict schemers, a stolen brig and an escape from Van Diemen's Land to Chile

From my list on the history of Australia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve now written four books, of which three are Australian history. My first two books were World War 2 military history. My publishers persist in calling each book a best-seller, and who am I to disagree? I live in France and my third book A Good Place To Hide is about a French community that rescued Jews from the Nazis. My fourth book Ten Rogues took me back to Australian history, telling the story of a bunch of ten convicts who in 1834 nicked a brig and sailed it from Tasmania to Chile without a map or a compass.

Peter's book list on the history of Australia

Peter Grose Why did Peter love this book?

This really is quite an extraordinary book, published on 1 January 1999. Alice Thomson is a British journalist who came to Australia to write a history of the overland telegraph line connecting Darwin to Adelaide. The line was built by her great-grandfather Charles Todd, a young English engineer. It is partly a touching love story, part a great historical narrative, and part a fascinating travel book. To do her research, Alice Thomson and her husband came to Australia and drove the length of the old telegraph line, picking up anecdotes and atmosphere along the way. As an aside, I mention that a seamless line of women in Alice Thomson’s family have borne the name Alice. Alice Springs was named after Charles Todd’s young wife Alice. The dry river that runs through Alice Springs is called the Todd River.

By Alice Thomson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This work charts the author's journey in the footsteps of her great-great grandfather, Charles Heavitree Todd, the man who strung the telegraph across Australia. It brings together a mix of family history and exploration with a young couple's trek, as they follow the same line 150 years later.

Book cover of Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape

Peter Stanley Author Of Bad Characters

From my list on Australian military history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Research Professor in history at UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy. I now mostly write on the military history of British India history but for 27 years I worked at the Australian War Memorial, Australia’s national military museum, where I became Principal Historian. Much of my career was devoted to Australian military history and more than half of my 40 or so books are in that field. That puts me in a good position to comment upon what I think are the five best books in the field of Australian military history (my own excepted, of course). 

Peter's book list on Australian military history

Peter Stanley Why did Peter love this book?

Ken Inglis, an Australian who began as a scholar of religion in Victorian Britain, discovered in the 1980s that he wanted to understand the way war (which had been neglected by Australians more interested in organised labour or ‘the Bush’) had shaped the nation in the twentieth century. He found that war memorials, a pervasive feature of the Australian landscape, provided a key to that question. Based on a huge national survey and the labour of willing volunteers, in 1998 he, at last, published his magisterial Sacred Places, a study of ‘war memorials in the Australian landscape’. Rightly revered by those fortunate to have known him as a wise and humane scholar, Ken’s book – successively revised as anniversaries and war memorials proliferated – appeared in three prize-winning editions. Ken died in 2017, mourned as a key pioneer in understanding how war has permeated Australia’s modern history.

By K.S. Inglis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Sacred Places" spans war, religion, politics, language and the visual arts. Ken Inglis has distilled new cultural understandings from a familiar landscape.

Book cover of The Timeless Land

Patsy Trench Author Of The Worst Country in the World

From my list on the beginnings of colonial Australia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Pom, as Aussies would say, born and bred in England to an Australian mother and British father. I emigrated to Australia as a ten-pound Pom way back when and though I eventually came home again I’ve always retained an affection and a curiosity about the country, which in time led me to write three books about my own family history there. The early days of colonial Australia, when around 1400 people, half of whom were convicts, ventured across the world to found a penal colony in a country they knew almost nothing about, is one of the most fascinating and frankly unlikely stories you could ever hope to come across. 

Patsy's book list on the beginnings of colonial Australia

Patsy Trench Why did Patsy love this book?

A bold and broad-sweeping book, written in the 1940s, described as a novel but featuring a mix of real and fictional characters, The Timeless Land is a beautifully imaginative telling of the arrival of the First Fleet in what became Sydney in 1788, as seen through the eyes of the Aboriginal people, the Governor and his officers, convicts and the odd settler. The depiction of the part-real, part-invented Aboriginal people may cause raised eyebrows nowadays, but the book is based on thorough research and written with great imagination and sensitivity. I love the mix of the real and the imaginary, while never distorting the facts. It’s a brilliant way to paint a vivid portrait of a subject, I’ve done it myself (if I may be presumptuous enough to bracket myself with Ms. Dark).

By Eleanor Dark,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An outstanding literary achievement, meticulously researched and deeply felt, this portrait of the earliest days of the European settlement of Australia remains unrivalled. the year 1788: the very beginning of European settlement. these were times of hardship, cruelty and danger. Above all, they were times of conflict between the Aborigines and the white settlers. Eleanor Dark brings alive those bitter years with moments of tenderness and conciliation amid the brutality and hostility. the cast of characters includes figures historical and fictional, black and white, convict and settler. All the while, beneath the veneer of British civilisation, lies the baffling presence…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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