100 books like North Country

By Karen Lloyd (editor),

Here are 100 books that North Country fans have personally recommended if you like North Country. 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 Notes from an Island

Irfan Shah Author Of Where Lay My Homeward Path: Selected Short Stories by Edward Thomas

From my list on nature-writing with humans at the center.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and researcher from North Yorkshire, England. Although I’ve written extensively on pre-cinema history (for example, I co-wrote the BAFTA long-listed documentary, The First Film) I have also researched little-known stories connected with the natural world, particularly the beautiful Yorkshire Moors, where I live. My upcoming travelogue The Witches’ Way will combine nature-writing with original historical research, and will be published by Open Space Books in the Autumn. I have long been an admirer of the poetry of Edward Thomas – bringing his long-forgotten fiction to a new audience has been a real passion project of mine.

Irfan's book list on nature-writing with humans at the center

Irfan Shah Why did Irfan love this book?

Tove Jansson was one of my favourite authors as a child, thanks to her magical Moomin series.

Her fiction for adults, too (The Summer Book, Art in Nature) is wonderful. However, I have gone for one of her lesser-known books, Notes from an Island, which is simply a short journal with brief and starkly beautiful diary entries concerning the times she spent with her partner, Tuulikki Pietilä, on a barren and otherwise uninhabited island in the Gulf of Finland.

The book is a collaboration - Pietilä supplied stark, minimalist illustrations - and it also includes sections of a journal contributed by Brunström, the gruff mariner who helped the couple with their trips to and from the island.

Jansson’s writing style is as sparse as the island itself, reflecting the tough conditions, which nevertheless, did not preclude a life of artistic fulfillment for both her and Pietilä. This…

By Tove Jansson, Tuulikki Pietila, Thomas Teal (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Notes from an Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the bitter winds of autumn 1963, Tove Jansson, helped by Brunstroem, a maverick fisherman, raced to build a cabin on a treeless skerry in the Gulf of Finland. The island was Klovharun, and for thirty summers Tove and her beloved partner, the graphic artist, Tuulikki Pietila, retreated there to live, paint and write, energised by the solitude and shifting seascapes.

Notes from an Island, published in English for the first time, is both a chronicle of this period and a homage to the mature love that Tove and 'Tooti' shared for their island and for each other. Tove's spare…


Book cover of The Book of Trespass: Crossing the Lines that Divide Us

Irfan Shah Author Of Where Lay My Homeward Path: Selected Short Stories by Edward Thomas

From my list on nature-writing with humans at the center.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and researcher from North Yorkshire, England. Although I’ve written extensively on pre-cinema history (for example, I co-wrote the BAFTA long-listed documentary, The First Film) I have also researched little-known stories connected with the natural world, particularly the beautiful Yorkshire Moors, where I live. My upcoming travelogue The Witches’ Way will combine nature-writing with original historical research, and will be published by Open Space Books in the Autumn. I have long been an admirer of the poetry of Edward Thomas – bringing his long-forgotten fiction to a new audience has been a real passion project of mine.

Irfan's book list on nature-writing with humans at the center

Irfan Shah Why did Irfan love this book?

This book – a history of the act of trespass – explores our relationship with the natural world in a provocative and highly original way.

Starting with the statistic that the public are excluded from 92% of the land of England, Hayes combines history with a meditation on the implications of excluding large swathes of the population from what is, at the end of the day, their own country.

However, this is not a dry political tract but a lyrical and passionately argued text enlivened by the author’s own exploits, trespassing on land across the country and visiting everything from migrant camps in Calais to music festivals to explore the various uses and abuses of shared land. 

The book is angry and defiant, and – because it has helped spark debate – I see it as something fundamentally hopeful.

By Nick Hayes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER SHORTLISTED FOR THE CWA GOLD DAGGER FOR NON-FICTION 2021 SHORTLISTED FOR THE INDIE BOOK AWARD FOR NON-FICTION 2022 'Brilliant, passionate and political . . . The Book of Trespass will make you see landscapes differently' Robert Macfarlane 'A remarkable and truly radical work, loaded with resonant truths' George Monbiot The vast majority of our country is entirely unknown to us because we are banned from setting foot on it. By law of trespass, we are excluded from 92 per cent of the land and 97 per cent of its waterways, blocked by walls whose legitimacy is…


Book cover of The Wild Isles: An Anthology of the Best of British and Irish Nature Writing

Irfan Shah Author Of Where Lay My Homeward Path: Selected Short Stories by Edward Thomas

From my list on nature-writing with humans at the center.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and researcher from North Yorkshire, England. Although I’ve written extensively on pre-cinema history (for example, I co-wrote the BAFTA long-listed documentary, The First Film) I have also researched little-known stories connected with the natural world, particularly the beautiful Yorkshire Moors, where I live. My upcoming travelogue The Witches’ Way will combine nature-writing with original historical research, and will be published by Open Space Books in the Autumn. I have long been an admirer of the poetry of Edward Thomas – bringing his long-forgotten fiction to a new audience has been a real passion project of mine.

Irfan's book list on nature-writing with humans at the center

Irfan Shah Why did Irfan love this book?

This book really is the full package – an anthology of nature writing encompassing both fiction and non-fiction and travelling across the centuries to provide a vivid and kaleidoscopic celebration of the British Isles.

The book is divided into themes (for example, Woods; Swimming and Moors, Heaths and Mountains) and is not shy of combining classics such as excerpts from W H Hudson’s A Shepherd’s Life with pieces from breakthrough writers such as On Class and the Countryside by Anita Sethi.

For me, personally, part of the joy of this was the mix of the familiar, well-loved tales (and who growing up in Britain in the ’70s and ’80s didn’t love A Kestrel for a Knave) and the newer discoveries (such as Isabella Tree’s Wilding). The book is almost as rich and diverse as British wildlife itself.

By Patrick Barkham (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The very best of British and Irish nature writing selected by the natural history writer Patrick Barkham. The landscapes of Britain and Ireland, together with the creatures and plants that inhabit them, have penetrated deep in our collective imagination. From Gilbert White and Dorothy Wordsworth to Laurie Lee and Nan Shepherd, literature inspired by the natural world has become an integral part of our shared identity, and shaped our relationship with the islands we call home. In The Wild Isles, Patrick Barkham has gathered together a wide array of the very best of British and Irish nature writing, characterized by…


Book cover of In Praise of Paths: Walking through Time and Nature

Irfan Shah Author Of Where Lay My Homeward Path: Selected Short Stories by Edward Thomas

From my list on nature-writing with humans at the center.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and researcher from North Yorkshire, England. Although I’ve written extensively on pre-cinema history (for example, I co-wrote the BAFTA long-listed documentary, The First Film) I have also researched little-known stories connected with the natural world, particularly the beautiful Yorkshire Moors, where I live. My upcoming travelogue The Witches’ Way will combine nature-writing with original historical research, and will be published by Open Space Books in the Autumn. I have long been an admirer of the poetry of Edward Thomas – bringing his long-forgotten fiction to a new audience has been a real passion project of mine.

Irfan's book list on nature-writing with humans at the center

Irfan Shah Why did Irfan love this book?

I have chosen this book because of the idea behind it.

After recovering from a blackout, author Torbjørn Ekelund was told he had developed epilepsy and would not be allowed to drive. As a consequence, Ekelund decided not to be held back by this and instead began to walk everywhere – through urban areas and countryside – looking for any path however obvious or hidden.

In the book that resulted from this new approach to life, Ekelund has not only written about his own experiences but tied them in to a wider meditation on pathways, from the physical to the metaphorical to the spiritual. 

A mix of history, philosophy and travelogue, what I liked about all this is the author’s choice to turn the trauma of an epileptic fit into an opportunity to walk, think, observe and feel more than ever.

By Torbjorn Ekelund, Becky L. Crook (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Praise of Paths as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"What [Ekelund is] addressing is the intention to walk one's way to meaning: the walk as spiritual exercise, a kind of vision quest... A key strategy for finding ourselves, then, is to first get lost."-The New York Times Book Review

An ode to paths and the journeys we take through nature, as told by a gifted writer who stopped driving and rediscovered the joys of traveling by foot.

Torbjorn Ekelund started to walk-everywhere-after an epilepsy diagnosis affected his ability to drive. The more he ventured out, the more he came to love the act of walking, and an interest in…


Book cover of Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England

Owen Wormser Author Of Lawns Into Meadows: Growing a Regenerative Landscape

From my list on regeneration and restoring ecological health.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since my childhood growing up off-grid in rural Maine, I’ve been fascinated by the natural world. Out of that fascination grew an abiding interest in weaving people and the landscape back together, something I’ve focused on and explored for over two decades, both personally and in my capacity as a landscape designer. The books I’ve shared here all provided me with know-how and perspective that has inspired me to pursue ecological regeneration. If you’re interested in these topics you won’t be disappointed! 

Owen's book list on regeneration and restoring ecological health

Owen Wormser Why did Owen love this book?

When European colonists settled North America, they began to significantly alter the landscape in ways that were deeply ignorant of ecological health. Now, over 400 years later, that impact has not lessened. However, over that time, there have been significant ebbs and flows in the landscape relative to how it’s used (or not used). This fascinating book follows that trajectory as it explores the environmental history of New England. Even for those not familiar with this particular region, this book offers a unique window into how dynamic and fluid landscapes and ecosystems can be over the course of time.  

By William Cronon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The book that launched environmental history, William Cronon's Changes in the Land, now revised and updated.

Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize

In this landmark work of environmental history, William Cronon offers an original and profound explanation of the effects European colonists' sense of property and their pursuit of capitalism had upon the ecosystems of New England. Reissued here with an updated afterword by the author and a new preface by the distinguished colonialist John Demos, Changes in the Land, provides a brilliant inter-disciplinary interpretation of how land and people influence one another. With its chilling closing line, "The people…


Book cover of American Environmental History: An Introduction

Nancy C. Unger Author Of Beyond Nature's Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History

From my list on American environmental history.

Why am I passionate about this?

History is my passion as well as my profession. I love a good story! When I was teaching courses in environmental history and women’s history, I kept noticing the intriguing intersections, which inspired me to write Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers. Most of my work focuses on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (1877-1920) and includes two award-winning biographies, Fighting Bob La Follette and Belle La Follette Progressive Era Reformer. I’m also the co-editor of A Companion to the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and have written dozens of op-eds and give public talks (some of which can be found in the C-SPAN online library and on YouTube). 

Nancy's book list on American environmental history

Nancy C. Unger Why did Nancy love this book?

There are many general introductions to American environmental history. This one, by a pioneering leader in the field, is excellent. The comprehensive narrative provides a good mix of facts and interpretation, and Merchant provides as well a list of agencies, concepts, laws, and people, in addition to resource guides to print, film, video, archival, and electronic sources, plus bibliographies and essays on a variety of topics

By Carolyn Merchant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Environmental History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

By studying the many ways diverse peoples have changed, shaped, and conserved the natural world over time, environmental historians provide insight into humanity's unique relationship with nature and, more importantly, are better able to understand the origins of our current environmental crisis. Beginning with the precolonial land-use practice of Native Americans and concluding with our twenty-first century concerns over our global ecological crisis, American Environmental History addresses contentious issues such as the preservation of the wilderness, the expulsion of native peoples from national parks, and population growth, and considers the formative forces of gender, race, and class. Entries address a…


Book cover of Islands of Abandonment: Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape

Emily Grandy Author Of Michikusa House

From my list on to help reconnect with the natural world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write well-researched literary fiction with an ecological focus. Before becoming a biomedical editor, I did clinical research for a leading academic medical center in Cleveland, OH. However, it was only by working at a research institution – and becoming a patient there – that I realized how much science overlooks; it’s only one way of knowing about something. Another way is by building relationships – including with non-human beings. It’s not just people who are complex. Every living thing exists within an intricate, nuanced ecosystem. This sort of knowing, built over long periods, is what facilitates understanding, compassion, and respect for other beings. These are the qualities I hope to share through my writing.

Emily's book list on to help reconnect with the natural world

Emily Grandy Why did Emily love this book?

Islands of Abandonment shares extraordinary examples of nature’s ability to reclaim – and restore – land abused by humans.

In startling vignettes, the author visits numerous abandoned sites, uninhabited by humans for different reasons: from Chernobyl to a no man's land on the island of Cyprus, to factories simply rendered obsolete leaving the surrounding neighborhoods blighted, dangerous and often empty.

I found this book to be, if not hopeful, then cautiously optimistic in its affirmation of nature’s resilience, even in the wake of massive destruction. Cal Flyn’s writing is enviably good: keenly observant, capturing intimate details about these landscapes and the non-human beings who inhabit them in vivid detail.

Unforgettable and illuminating. This is nature writing and investigative journalism at its best.

By Cal Flyn,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Islands of Abandonment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A beautiful, lyrical exploration of the places where nature is flourishing in our absence

"[Flyn] captures the dread, sadness, and wonder of beholding the results of humanity's destructive impulse, and she arrives at a new appreciation of life, 'all the stranger and more valuable for its resilence.'" --The New Yorker

Some of the only truly feral cattle in the world wander a long-abandoned island off the northernmost tip of Scotland. A variety of wildlife not seen in many lifetimes has rebounded on the irradiated grounds of Chernobyl. A lush forest supports thousands of species that are extinct or endangered everywhere…


Book cover of Landmarks

Edward Struzik Author Of Swamplands: Tundra Beavers, Quaking Bogs, and the Improbable World of Peat

From my list on nature and the environment.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've spent a good part of my life exploring the outdoor world for the national parks service, for books, newspapers, and magazines. Each trip down a river, across a lake, up a mountain, or through a desert or swampland reminds me, as Wallace Stegner once suggested, that wilderness is as much a state of mind as it is a complex set of ecosystems. Wilderness is the geography of hope. Without the hope that comes with the wilderness experience, we would be lost. In my explorations, I've come to appreciate how much we still do not know about the natural world and how much hope there is that we can get through the challenges that climate change brings.

Edward's book list on nature and the environment

Edward Struzik Why did Edward love this book?

This is a book about language and how we have lost so many words that clarify our understanding of the natural world. For my book Swamplands, I borrowed from MacFarlane’s glossary of words describing peat. Yarpha, for example, is an Orkney word for peat that is full of fibers and roots, Water-sick is a Cumbrian word for peatlands that are saturated with water. The book reminds us that we need to be more explicit in describing nature in all of its manifestations. It is also addictive. You can start from the middle and read to the beginning or to the end, It never fails

By Robert Macfarlane,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE

From the bestselling author of UNDERLAND, THE OLD WAYS and THE LOST WORDS

'Few books give such a sense of enchantment; it is a book to give to many, and to return to repeatedly' Independent

Words are grained into our landscapes, and landscapes are grained into our words. Landmarks is about the power of language to shape our sense of place. It is a field guide to the literature of nature, and a glossary containing thousands of remarkable words used in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to describe land,…


Book cover of Storied Ground: Landscape and the Shaping of English National Identity

Jeremy Burchardt Author Of Lifescapes: The Experience of Landscape in Britain, 1870-1960

From my list on enhance your understand and enjoyment of landscape.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved the countryside ever since I was a child. Every year we used to stay for a week or two on a beautiful farm hidden away in a hollow of the Leicestershire wolds. I was fascinated by the wildlife and history – the old cottages and churches, local traditions and place names. It’s no accident I became a rural historian! I’m captivated by the strange power of landscape to affect us, subtly weaving itself into our sense of being, and have devoted much of my adult life to trying to understand this. I hope you find the books on the list as rewarding as I have!

Jeremy's book list on enhance your understand and enjoyment of landscape

Jeremy Burchardt Why did Jeremy love this book?

I’ve been lucky enough to hear Paul speak on many occasions. He has a bright engaged manner and restless energy, ideas and examples pouring out almost too quickly to absorb. It’s the intellectual equivalent of standing under a waterfall.

Storied Ground reflects that energy and originality, prompting us to rethink many longstanding assumptions about the relationship between landscape and national identity. Was the English love of landscape a backwards-looking, conservative force, or a reassuring source of continuity that eased our passage into the modern age? Was it true, as Stanley Baldwin once claimed, that ‘England is the country, and the country is England’, or did the civic pride of prospering towns contribute to national identity too?

To these and many other questions, Paul gives surprising, sometimes challenging and always thought-provoking answers.

By Paul Readman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

People have always attached meaning to the landscape that surrounds them. In Storied Ground Paul Readman uncovers why landscape matters so much to the English people, exploring its particular importance in shaping English national identity amid the transformations of modernity. The book takes us from the fells of the Lake District to the uplands of Northumberland; from the streetscapes of industrial Manchester to the heart of London. This panoramic journey reveals the significance, not only of the physical characteristics of landscapes, but also of the sense of the past, collective memories and cultural traditions that give these places their meaning.…


Book cover of Streets of Memory: Landscape, Tolerance, and National Identity in Istanbul

Lisa Morrow Author Of Inside Out In Istanbul

From my list on exploring and understanding Istanbul.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Sydney, Australia born sociologist and writer and back in 1990 I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. After three months in the country I was hooked. I now live in Istanbul and write about the people, culture, and history. Using my less than perfect Turkish language skills I uncover the everyday extraordinary of life in modern Istanbul even though it means I’ve accidentally asked a random stranger to give me a hug and left a butcher convinced I think Turkish sheep are born with their heads on upside down.

Lisa's book list on exploring and understanding Istanbul

Lisa Morrow Why did Lisa love this book?

I’m always seeking to learn more about Istanbul’s multicultural past and Kuzguncuk, on the Asian side of Istanbul, is an area rich in history. The leafy streets and community vegetable garden are now extremely popular with Turkish hipsters, but Mills looked behind the surface by doing an incredible amount of research and conducting fascinating interviews with residents, to bring the past into the present. Jews, Greeks, Armenians, and Turks have always lived together here and in Streets of Memory their individual stories, ethnic histories, and differing memories are carefully woven together to create a deeply nuanced, complex picture of Istanbul.

By Amy Mills,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this study of Kuzguncuk, known as one of Istanbul's historically most tolerant, multiethnic neighborhoods, Amy Mills is animated by a single question: what does it mean to live in a place that once was--but no longer is--ethnically and religiously diverse? ""Turkification"" drove out most of Kuzguncuk's minority Greeks, Armenians, and Jews in the mid-twentieth century, but they left behind potent vestiges of their presence in the cityscape. Mills analyzes these places in a street-by-street ethnographic tour. She looks at how memory is conveyed and contested in Kuzguncuk's built environment, whether through the popular television programs filmed on location there…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in nature, urban sprawl, and environmentalism?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about nature, urban sprawl, and environmentalism.

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