77 books like Nature Obscura

By Kelly Brenner,

Here are 77 books that Nature Obscura fans have personally recommended if you like Nature Obscura. 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 Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution

Kristin Poling Author Of Germany’s Urban Frontiers: Nature and History on the Edge of the Nineteenth-Century City

From my list on nature in the city.

Who am I?

I have always been both a nature lover and committed urbanite, and those twin passions have shaped my approach to history. My very first published writing (when I was ten years old) was an essay about a willow tree in an urban park I loved in Minneapolis, MN. Now, as a historian, I have written about guerrilla gardening in the shadow of the Berlin wall, forestry outside Detroit, and working-class foraging practices in the nineteenth century. My interest in urban nature remains not just academic, but personal. On weekends, you’ll find me mapping native and invasive species with my ten-year-old son along the River Rouge in Dearborn, MI.

Kristin's book list on nature in the city

Kristin Poling Why did Kristin love this book?

An evolutionary biologist and an excellent storyteller, Menno Schilthuizen gives a lively, upbeat survey of the myriad ways in which nonhuman life adapts to urban environments. Schilthuizen frames the city as one of nature’s many engineered environments: just as beetles evolved to live in anthills and whole-food webs rely on beaver-constructed wetlands, human cities provide homes for plant and animal life all over the world. This story goes far beyond peppered moths adapting to smog-stained trees. Schilthuizen delves into concepts like preadaptation and fragmentation to provide a nuanced and varied picture, allowing a more precise understanding of what is new in the Anthropocene and drawing connections between cities from Singapore to Paris.

By Menno Schilthuizen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Darwin Comes to Town as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We are marching towards a future in which three-quarters of humans live in cities, more than half of the landmass of the planet is urbanized, and the rest is covered by farms,pasture, and plantations. Increasingly, as we become ever more city-centric, species and ecosystems crafted by millions of years of evolution teeter on the brink of extinction - or have already disappeared.

A growing band of 'urban ecologists' is beginning to realize that natural selection is not so easily stopped. They are finding that more and more plants and animals are adopting new ways of living in the seemingly hostile…


Book cover of Seeing Trees: A History of Street Trees in New York City and Berlin

Kristin Poling Author Of Germany’s Urban Frontiers: Nature and History on the Edge of the Nineteenth-Century City

From my list on nature in the city.

Who am I?

I have always been both a nature lover and committed urbanite, and those twin passions have shaped my approach to history. My very first published writing (when I was ten years old) was an essay about a willow tree in an urban park I loved in Minneapolis, MN. Now, as a historian, I have written about guerrilla gardening in the shadow of the Berlin wall, forestry outside Detroit, and working-class foraging practices in the nineteenth century. My interest in urban nature remains not just academic, but personal. On weekends, you’ll find me mapping native and invasive species with my ten-year-old son along the River Rouge in Dearborn, MI.

Kristin's book list on nature in the city

Kristin Poling Why did Kristin love this book?

Maples, magnolias, oaks, and ailanthus: from the native to the exotic, from the carefully cultivated to the weedy and unwanted, Dümpelmann tells the history of the trees that line our city streets in two complementary case studies. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, trees became yet another technology of urban planning, bent to human designs by tree surgeons, dendroscopes, and all manner of other fantastic inventions. Dümpelmann avoids the pathos of the solitary tree sandwiched between asphalt and concrete. Instead, her story is one of flourishing mutualism: as trees became urbanized, cities became naturalized. Urban trees tell very human stories of war and politics and peace, but also resist our control, and make the city a little bit wild. 

By Sonja Dümpelmann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A fascinating and beautifully illustrated volume that explains what street trees tell us about humanity's changing relationship with nature and the city

"A deep . . . dive into urban society's need for-and relationship with-trees that sought to return the natural world to the concrete jungle."-Adrian Higgins, Washington Post

Winner of the Foundation for Landscape Studies' 2019 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize

Today, cities around the globe are planting street trees to mitigate the effects of climate change. However, as landscape historian Sonja Dumpelmann explains, the planting of street trees in cities to serve specific functions is not a new phenomenon.…


Book cover of The New Wilderness

Christine Grillo Author Of Hestia Strikes a Match: A Novel

From my list on engaging in world-building.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved to dip into speculative worlds as a way of gaining a new perspective on conundrums in the real world. In the real world, so many of us are plagued by concerns or frustrations having to do with connection and commitment, and those concerns transcend whatever place or moment we’re living in. So, by dropping those concerns into a surreal setting, I get another way to tussle with them.

Christine's book list on engaging in world-building

Christine Grillo Why did Christine love this book?

As a writer who’s interested in what comes next—after climate change, after fascism—I love how Diane Cook uses broad brush strokes to show us the future, without going into too much history or detail.

Instead of hyper-focusing on what the future holds for us, Cook directs our attention to one small, outlier community that’s doing weird things. This is a great technique: she paints a picture of a future world by painting a picture of a fringe group that’s trying desperately to be different from the main one.

A mother-daughter drama drives the plot forward, and we learn about the rules and ruminations of the fringe group as the characters sort out their power struggles.

By Diane Cook,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The New Wilderness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'THE ENVIRONMENTAL NOVEL OF OUR TIMES.' Lemn Sissay, Booker Prize judge

From an acclaimed Guardian First Book Award finalist comes a debut novel 'brutal and beautiful in equal measure' (Emily St. John Mandel)

Longlisted for the DUBLIN Literary Award 2022

A Guardian Best Science Fiction Book of the Year

A 'Best Book of the Year 2020' according to BBC Culture * An Irish Times Best Debut Fiction of 2020

Bea's daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away, her lungs ravaged by the smog and pollution of the overpopulated metropolis they call home.

The only alternative is to build a life in…


Book cover of Motor City Green: A Century of Landscapes and Environmentalism in Detroit

Kristin Poling Author Of Germany’s Urban Frontiers: Nature and History on the Edge of the Nineteenth-Century City

From my list on nature in the city.

Who am I?

I have always been both a nature lover and committed urbanite, and those twin passions have shaped my approach to history. My very first published writing (when I was ten years old) was an essay about a willow tree in an urban park I loved in Minneapolis, MN. Now, as a historian, I have written about guerrilla gardening in the shadow of the Berlin wall, forestry outside Detroit, and working-class foraging practices in the nineteenth century. My interest in urban nature remains not just academic, but personal. On weekends, you’ll find me mapping native and invasive species with my ten-year-old son along the River Rouge in Dearborn, MI.

Kristin's book list on nature in the city

Kristin Poling Why did Kristin love this book?

Nature takes on different meanings in the landscape of the post-industrial city. On a city block in the middle of a shrinking city, the return of green space can signify abandonment, disinvestment, and decay instead of healing, flourishing, or balance. Cialdella brings much needed nuance and historical context to the place of nature in postindustrial Detroit, providing a wider range of stories about the ways in which gardens and green, from the wide expanse of Belle Isle to urban potato patches and backyard sunflowers, have helped connect communities to the city and each other. Nature in the city doesn’t replace people; it helps them flourish.

By Joseph Stanhope Cialdella,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Motor City Green as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Motor City Green is a history of green spaces in metropolitan Detroit from the late nineteenth- to early twenty-first century. The book focuses primarily on the history of gardens and parks in the city of Detroit and its suburbs in southeast Michigan. Cialdella argues Detroit residents used green space to address problems created by the city's industrial rise and decline, and racial segregation and economic inequality. As the city's social landscape became increasingly uncontrollable, Detroiters turned to parks, gardens, yards, and other outdoor spaces to relieve the negative social and environmental consequences of industrial capitalism. Motor City Green looks to…


Book cover of Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability

Mary Soderstrom Author Of Concrete: From Ancient Origins to a Problematic Future

From my list on to design a workable, walkable, wonderful city.

Who am I?

I like to say I'm a born-again pedestrian. After a childhood in car-friendly Southern California, I moved first to the San Francisco Bay Area and then to Montreal. There I discovered the pleasures of living in walkable cities, and over the years I've explored them in a series of books about people, nature, and urban spaces in which the problems of spread-out, concrete-heavy cities take a front-row seat. The impact of the way we've built our cities over the last 100 years is becoming apparent, as carbon dioxide rises, driving climate changes. We must change the way we live, and the books I suggest give some insights about what to do and what not to do.

Mary's book list on to design a workable, walkable, wonderful city

Mary Soderstrom Why did Mary love this book?

David Owen cares about cities and climate change, but the solution he suggests may seem counter-intuitive. At least it seemed so to me, until I began to look around at my own relatively sustainable city, Montreal. Owen argues that dense cities are really more environmentally friendly than spread out ones, and if we're going to get a handle on carbon emissions we are going to have to live closer together.  He doesn't advocate high rises all over as Le Corbusiier would, but a mixture of housing heights tied to effective public transportation. He presents workable ideas that can change the world. 

By David Owen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this remarkable challenge to conventional thinking about the environment, David Owen argues that the greenest community in the United States is not Portland, Oregon, or Snowmass, Colorado, but New York, New York. Most Americans think of crowded cities as ecological nightmares, as wastelands of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams. Yet residents of compact urban centers, Owen shows, individually consume less oil, electricity, and water than other Americans. They live in smaller spaces, discard less trash, and, most important of all, spend far less time in automobiles. Residents of Manhattan- the most densely populated place in…


Book cover of Resilient Cities: Overcoming Fossil Fuel Dependence

Mark Diesendorf Author Of Sustainable Energy Solutions for Climate Change

From my list on for transitioning to a sustainable society.

Who am I?

I was originally trained as a physicist, but the shock of discovering that my PhD thesis, on physical conditions in the solar interior, was being used to improve the design of hydrogen bombs, changed the direction of my research. I decided to do science in the public interest, instead of for the military and big business, and broadened into interdisciplinary research. Eventually, I became Professor of Environmental Science and Founding Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at University of Technology Sydney, Australia. Nowadays, I’m an honorary Associate Professor at UNSW Sydney, researching the energy transition, ecological economics and sustainable development. 

Mark's book list on for transitioning to a sustainable society

Mark Diesendorf Why did Mark love this book?

What does it mean to be a resilient city in the age of a changing climate and growing inequity? As urban populations grow, how do we create efficient transportation systems, access to healthy green space, and lower-carbon buildings for all citizens? Resilient Cities responds to these questions, revealing how resilient city characteristics have been achieved in communities around the world. A resilient city is one that uses renewable and distributed energy; has an efficient and regenerative metabolism; offers inclusive and healthy places; fosters biophilic and naturally adaptive systems; is invested in disaster preparedness; and is designed around efficient urban fabrics that allow for sustainable mobility. 

By Peter Newman, Timothy Beatley, Heather Boyer

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What does it mean to be a resilient city in the age of a changing climate and growing inequity? As urban populations grow, how do we create efficient transportation systems, access to healthy green space, and lower-carbon buildings for all citizens? Peter Newman, Timothy Beatley, and Heather Boyer respond to these questions in the revised and updated edition of Resilient Cities. Since the first edition was published in 2009, interest in resilience has surged, in part due to increasingly frequent and deadly natural disasters, and in part due to the contribution of our cities to climate change. The number of…


Book cover of Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change

R Bruce Stephenson Author Of Portland's Good Life: Sustainability and Hope in an American City

From my list on urban design for human health and happiness.

Who am I?

I was fortunate to grow up in a typical 1960s neighborhood where the good life was an option. This was the storyline in The Wonder Years, and it was not just saccharine reminiscence. The physical environment defined sustainability: suburbs marked the distinction between country and city, obesity was not an epidemic, Nature-Deficit Disorder was unknown, most children walked to school, and vehicle miles traveled were 50 percent lower. If home sizes were smaller, face-to-face interaction was more prevalent and despair less common. I’ve worked to extend this privilege of place on sustainable lines because it is essential to solving the existential crises of our time—structural racism and climate change.  

R's book list on urban design for human health and happiness

R Bruce Stephenson Why did R love this book?

“Our cities and towns have been on a high carbon diet—and our metropolitan regions have become obese,Peter Calthorpe states. Plying a generation of path-breaking work, he reveals how shifting to urbanism, “compact and walkable development,” can mitigate climate change and secure health and happiness. The metrics he presents are essential reading. Three types of neighborhoods—urban, compact, and sprawl—are assessed for their impact on land consumption, energy use, infrastructure, and utility cost, vehicle miles traveled, and greenhouse gas emissions. The information delivers a clear message: technology will not save us, but a lifestyle change will. It is “not radical,” Calthorpe writes, “but simply a shift from large lot single family homes” to the “streetcar suburbs” that once flourished in American cities. This seemingly simple solution is a vast undertaking, but the blueprint is fresh, and the next step requires, as Olmsted averred, “the best application of the arts of…

By Peter Calthorpe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the beginning of his career, Peter Calthorpe has been a leading innovator in sustainable building projects, sustainable development, and walkable communities. A leader in the New Urbanism Movement, he is an important resource for solutions to current problems of urban sprawl, suburban isolation, and the related problems of outsized energy consumption and an outsized share of world emissions. According to 'Ecological Urbanism', relentless and thoughtless development have created a way of living that brings us to a point of reckoning regarding energy, climate change and the way we shape our communities. The answer to these crises is 'Sustainable Development',…


Book cover of New York Recentered: Building the Metropolis from the Shore

Jonathan H. Rees Author Of The Fulton Fish Market: A History

From my list on the history of New York City.

Who am I?

I’m Professor of History at Colorado State University Pueblo and have published eight books, mostly about the history of food. After encountering Up in the Old Hotel for the first time during the early 1990s, I started reading New York City history in my spare time. The Fulton Fish Market: A History is my way to blend my expertise with my hobby. Each of these books are beautifully written, informative, and fun. If you’re interested in the history of New York City and you’re looking for something else to read, I hope you’ll find my book to be the same.

Jonathan's book list on the history of New York City

Jonathan H. Rees Why did Jonathan love this book?

Speaking of consolidation, I wanted to throw in a book that is both shorter and not yet a classic so that even people who are deep into this subject will find something new to read. 

Schlichting’s book is a history of the development of New York City edges. As a New Jerseyite who barely spent any time outside of midtown Manhattan while growing up, most of these places might as well as have been the ends of the earth, but they’re still important because they’re still part of the City. 

I’m sure a lot of New Yorkers will feel the same way, which will make the history of the Upper East River or Flushing Meadows seem fresh and new to you too.  

By Kara Murphy Schlichting,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked New York Recentered as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The history of New York City's urban development often centers on titanic municipal figures like Robert Moses and on prominent inner Manhattan sites like Central Park. New York Recentered boldly shifts the focus to the city's geographic edges--the coastlines and waterways--and to the small-time unelected locals who quietly shaped the modern city. Kara Murphy Schlichting details how the vernacular planning done by small businessmen and real estate operators, performed independently of large scale governmental efforts, refigured marginal locales like Flushing Meadows and the shores of Long Island Sound and the East River in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.…


Book cover of Our Better Nature: Environment and the Making of San Francisco

Chris Carlsson Author Of Hidden San Francisco: A Guide to Lost Landscapes, Unsung Heroes and Radical Histories

From my list on how San Francisco turned out like it did.

Who am I?

I’ve lived in San Francisco since I was 20 in 1978. I helped launch Processed World in 1981, Critical Mass in 1992, and Shaping San Francisco in 1998. I’ve been co-directing and co-curating the archive at foundsf.org since 2009, and have been fully immersed for years in gathering and presenting local history online, on bike and walking tours, during Public Talks, and most recently on Bay Cruises. I have published three books of my own and edited or co-edited seven additional volumes, much of which covers local history. The more I’ve learned the more I’ve realized how little I know!

Chris' book list on how San Francisco turned out like it did

Chris Carlsson Why did Chris love this book?

Philip Dreyfus has written a fantastic one-stop ecological history of San Francisco that properly puts the city’s evolution into the natural systems on which it was built. Too many histories overlook the basic questions of water, topography, and climate and how human activity, that is work, has altered those over time. Dreyfus starts with an eloquent description of pre-contact life on the windy, foggy, sand-dune-covered peninsula, and methodically takes us through the sequences of urbanization, including the struggle over green spaces and parklands, water provision, and ultimately the surrounding bay itself. Few cities have benefited as much as San Francisco from the activism of previous generations that in our case, saved the bay, blocked freeway construction, and halted nuclear power.

By Philip J. Dreyfus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Better Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few cities are so dramatically identified with their environment as San Francisco - the landscape of hills, the expansive bay, the engulfing fog, and even the deadly fault line shifting below. Yet most residents think of the city itself as separate from the natural environment on which it depends. In Our Better Nature, Philip J. Dreyfus recounts the history of San Francisco from Indian village to world-class metropolis, focusing on the interactions between the city and the land and on the generations of people who have transformed them both. Dreyfus examines the ways that San Franciscans remade the landscape to…


Book cover of Whole Earth Discipline

K. Ullas Karanth Author Of Among Tigers: Fighting to Bring Back Asia's Big Cats

From my list on the world’s most popular wild animal.

Who am I?

This is a unique tale of exciting personal encounters with wild tigers as well my hard science that revealed their mysterious world. Readers will experience the conflicts, violence, and corruption, inherent to struggle to recover the charismatic, dangerous predator. Among Tigers is not the usual doomsday prophecy, but a clear roadmap for how we can grow tiger populations to new levels of abundance. While it does not gloss over the very real challenges, overall, it delivers a message of reasonable hope to nature lovers worldwide. I have scientifically researched tigers and, fought passionately to save them, making me uniquely qualified to tell this story like no one else can. 

K.'s book list on the world’s most popular wild animal

K. Ullas Karanth Why did K. love this book?

I love tigers and nature. But through a half-century of experience and science in my own struggle to save tigers in an ancient, crowded nation aspiring for modernity and prosperity for its citizens, I have realized that we cannot hope to rewind the clock of material progress back to save wild nature by rejecting technology. Brand, the original counter-culture Guru, boldly shook off such baggage at an advanced age, and became a passionate, early advocate of ecomodernism, which tries to decouple human needs from nature in an effort to save nature through tools of modern science. I arrived independently at similar conclusions after years of hard scientific study of tigers, as well as my lived experiences of Indian society in transition. I believe Brand’s clearheaded manual provides a succinct introduction to ideas I have outlined in my own book as a framework to get to a world harboring ten times…

By Stewart Brand,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An icon of the environmental movement outlines a provocative approach for reclaiming our planet

According to Stewart Brand, a lifelong environmentalist who sees everything in terms of solvable design problems, three profound transformations are under way on Earth right now. Climate change is real and is pushing us toward managing the planet as a whole. Urbanization?half the world?s population now lives in cities, and eighty percent will by midcentury?is altering humanity?s land impact and wealth. And biotechnology is becoming the world?s dominant engineering tool. In light of these changes, Brand suggests that environmentalists are going to have to reverse some…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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