81 books like Our National Parks

By John Muir,

Here are 81 books that Our National Parks fans have personally recommended if you like Our National Parks. 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 Jungle

David Amadio Author Of Rug Man

From my list on working life.

Why am I passionate about this?

The blue-collar everyman lives on the periphery, coming and going with little fanfare. But what does he think and feel? How does he view the world? I became interested in these questions while working for my father’s rug business. I started as a part-timer in the early 90s, straddling the line between academe and the homes of the rich. He employed me for the next twenty years, supplementing my income as I found my way as a university professor. The books listed led me to a deeper appreciation of my father’s vocation, but only in writing Rug Man did I come to understand the true meaning of work. 

David's book list on working life

David Amadio Why did David love this book?

Jurgis Rudkus, the protagonist of Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel The Jungle, is a Lithuanian immigrant who comes to Chicago at the turn of the 20th century to work in the city’s notorious meat-packing industry.

Described as a “very steady man” who “does not easily lose his temper,” Jurgis reminds me of my father, Jerry. Like Jurgis, my father’s solution to most of life’s problems is to just work harder, regardless of the personal consequences.

In the novel, Jurgis injures himself on the job and Sinclair captures not only his physical agony but the more formidable dread of not being able to provide for his family, the working-man’s greatest fear.

Often panned for over-politicizing Jurgis’s plight, The Jungle elevates an anonymous member of the laboring class and presents him as a symbol of virtue, valor, and hope.

By Upton Sinclair,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First serialized in a newspaper in 1905, The Jungle is a classic of American literature that led to the creation of food-safety standards.

While investigating the meatpacking industry in Chicago, author and novelist Upton Sinclair discovered the brutal conditions that immigrant families faced. While his original intention was to bring this to the attention of the American public, his book was instead hailed for bringing food safety to the forefront of people's consciousness.

With its inspired plot and vivid descriptions, Upton Sinclair's classic tale of immigrant woe is now available as an elegantly designed clothbound edition with an elastic closure…


Book cover of Preserving Nature in the National Parks: A History

Megan Kate Nelson Author Of Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America

From my list on America’s National Parks.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Colorado and visited national parks all over the country on summer vacations with my family. Now I write about U.S. Western history while living outside Boston, Massachusetts. My most recent book, The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West (Scribner 2020) was a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History. I have written about the Civil War and the U.S. West for The New York TimesWashington PostThe Atlantic, Smithsonian Magazine, and Civil War Monitor. Scribner will publish my next book, Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America, on March 1, 2022. 

Megan's book list on America’s National Parks

Megan Kate Nelson Why did Megan love this book?

Sellars’ book is a detailed history of national park management, which you might think would be dry and boring. But this fast-paced account of the evolving tension between aesthetic/touristic development and ecological preservation in the park system is fascinating. Along the way, Preserving Nature in the National Parks makes a ground-breaking argument about how declining interest in biological science shaped the Park Service’s long-term approach to administration. This book, like Muir’s, had an impact on the park system itself. Since its publication, the Park Service has been reevaluating its attention to science and ecological preservation and working to change its conservation policies. 

By Richard West Sellars,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Preserving Nature in the National Parks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book traces the epic clash of values between traditional scenery-and-tourism management and emerging ecological concepts in the national parks, America's most treasured landscapes. It spans the period from the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 to near the present, analyzing the management of fires, predators, elk, bear, and other natural phenomena in parks such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Great Smoky Mountains.

Based largely on original documents never before researched, this is the most thorough history of the national parks ever written. Focusing on the decades after the National Park Service was established in 1916, the author…


Book cover of Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks

Megan Kate Nelson Author Of Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America

From my list on America’s National Parks.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Colorado and visited national parks all over the country on summer vacations with my family. Now I write about U.S. Western history while living outside Boston, Massachusetts. My most recent book, The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West (Scribner 2020) was a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History. I have written about the Civil War and the U.S. West for The New York TimesWashington PostThe Atlantic, Smithsonian Magazine, and Civil War Monitor. Scribner will publish my next book, Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America, on March 1, 2022. 

Megan's book list on America’s National Parks

Megan Kate Nelson Why did Megan love this book?

Neither Muir nor Sellars pay much attention to Indigenous communities living in or near national parks—Dispossessing the Wilderness puts the lie to the claim that Native peoples were afraid of or have vanished from these places. Spence examines the Indigenous histories of Yellowstone, Glacier, and Yosemite, and concludes that while white federal officials expended a tremendous amount of energy promoting the myth that the nation’s national parks are “uninhabited wildernesses,” Indigenous communities have continued to claim them in various ways. Compelling and wide-ranging in its analysis, this is a must-read for fans of the national park system.

By Mark David Spence,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dispossessing the Wilderness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book examines the ideal of wilderness preservation in the United States from the antebellum era to the first half of the twentieth century, showing how the early conception of the wilderness as the place where Indians lived (or should live) gave way to the idealization of uninhabited wilderness. It focuses on specific policies of Indian removal developed at Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Glacier national parks from the early 1870s to the 1930s.


Book cover of Crimes Against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation

Megan Kate Nelson Author Of Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America

From my list on America’s National Parks.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Colorado and visited national parks all over the country on summer vacations with my family. Now I write about U.S. Western history while living outside Boston, Massachusetts. My most recent book, The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West (Scribner 2020) was a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History. I have written about the Civil War and the U.S. West for The New York TimesWashington PostThe Atlantic, Smithsonian Magazine, and Civil War Monitor. Scribner will publish my next book, Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America, on March 1, 2022. 

Megan's book list on America’s National Parks

Megan Kate Nelson Why did Megan love this book?

Indigenous communities and land dispossession are the subjects of Crimes Against Nature, although Jacoby also brings white transgressors of federal policy into his book about the dark history of the American conservation movement. The rural communities he describes engaged in survival practices that quickly became defined and punished as crimes: hunting, fishing, tree-cutting, and foraging. Jacoby includes eastern parks in his assessment, writing about the Adirondacks before turning to Yellowstone and Grand Canyon. At the heart of this beautifully written book is the tension between what constitutes private and public space in American history, and how rural white and Indigenous Americans have often lived in the borderlands between them.

By Karl Jacoby,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Crimes against Nature reveals the hidden history behind three of the nation's first parklands: the Adirondacks, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon. Focusing on conservation's impact on local inhabitants, Karl Jacoby traces the effect of criminalizing such traditional practices as hunting, fishing, foraging, and timber cutting in the newly created parks. Jacoby reassesses the nature of these "crimes" and provides a rich portrait of rural people and their relationship with the natural world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


Book cover of Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-To-Zion Journey Through Every National Park

Megan Kate Nelson Author Of Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America

From my list on America’s National Parks.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Colorado and visited national parks all over the country on summer vacations with my family. Now I write about U.S. Western history while living outside Boston, Massachusetts. My most recent book, The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West (Scribner 2020) was a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History. I have written about the Civil War and the U.S. West for The New York TimesWashington PostThe Atlantic, Smithsonian Magazine, and Civil War Monitor. Scribner will publish my next book, Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America, on March 1, 2022. 

Megan's book list on America’s National Parks

Megan Kate Nelson Why did Megan love this book?

I’m not usually a fan of memoir, but Knighton’s book about his visits to each of the nation’s 63 national parks in the wake of a cancelled wedding has it all: history, environmental science, and witty takes. In each chapter, he brings several parks together in a consideration of a single theme: “Water” (Arkansas Hot Springs, Biscayne), for example, and “Mystery” (Crater Lake, Congaree). It’s an effective structure that highlights how national parks can surprise you with the meanings they embody, and the connections they have to one another. This is a book for readers who want to get a look at all of America’s national parks, through a modern lens. 

By Conor Knighton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Leave Only Footprints as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A delightful sampler plate of our national parks, written with charisma and erudition.”—Nick Offerman, author of Paddle Your Own Canoe

From CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Conor Knighton, a behind-the-scenery look at his year traveling to each of America's National Parks, discovering the most beautiful places and most interesting people our country has to offer

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY OUTSIDE

When Conor Knighton set off to explore America's "best idea," he worried the whole thing could end up being his worst idea. A broken engagement and a broken heart had…


Book cover of The House of Mirth

Jan Eliasberg Author Of Hannah's War

From my list on exploring the world from a female point of view.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised to believe that I could do everything a man could do, just as Ginger Rodgers did, “backwards and in high heels.” My discovery that social expectations and boundaries for women were vastly different than those for men came as an enormous shock, and struck me as deeply, tragically unfair. I take strength from women in history, as well as from fictional female characters, who passionately pursue roles in a man’s world that are considered transgressive or forbidden. As a glass-ceiling-shattering female film and television director I take inspiration from women who have the gritty determination to live on their own terms. And then tell it as they lived it.

Jan's book list on exploring the world from a female point of view

Jan Eliasberg Why did Jan love this book?

This novel’s power remains intact every time I read it, even as the nature of the tragedy seems to shift – from the perils of living by one’s looks (my teenage reading) to the cruelty of the world towards women (my young adult reading) to the struggle for personal freedom in a money-obsessed culture (my more recent readings).

Edith Wharton’s novel is a masterpiece, both electrifying and relevant, and worth re-reading as often as possible. 

Once you finish the book, watch the Terence Davies-directed film, starring the luminous Gillian Anderson as Lily Bart.

By Edith Wharton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A bestseller when it was published nearly a century ago, this literary classic established Edith Wharton as one of the most important American writers in the twentieth century-now with a new introduction from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan.

Wharton's first literary success-a devastatingly accurate portrait of New York's aristocracy at the turn of the century-is considered by many to be her most important novel, and Lily Bart, her most unforgettable character. Impoverished but well-born, the beautiful and beguiling Lily realizes a secure future depends on her acquiring a wealthy husband. But with her romantic indiscretion, gambling debts, and a maelstrom…


Book cover of Up From Slavery

Thomas Bailey & Katherine Joslin Author Of Theodore Roosevelt: A Literary Life

From my list on Theodore Roosevelt read in the White House.

Why are we passionate about this?

We live in the countryside of southwest Michigan in a farmhouse dating back to the 1830s on land once owned by James Fenimore Cooper. The land itself has stories to tell that intrigue us as readers and writers ourselves. Katherine’s passion for the writings of Jane Addams and Edith Wharton led her to Theodore Roosevelt, a kindred male voice in American literature at the turn of the twentieth century. Tom’s passion for environmental writers and activism led him to the books and essays of the 26th President, who believed that good writing sometimes leads to good laws! As professors and writing partners, we are delighted every time we can introduce readers to the literary Theodore Roosevelt.

Thomas' book list on Theodore Roosevelt read in the White House

Thomas Bailey & Katherine Joslin Why did Thomas love this book?

Theodore Roosevelt read the book and loved his philosophy and way of telling a life story. Autobiography is at the heart of American literature. Washington, the founder of the Tuskegee Institute and Roosevelt’s contemporary in age and thinking, was the first writer the President invited to lunch at the White House, controversial as that invitation came to be. We love the book because, in this day of reconsidering Black history, the reader can see how Washington’s notion of self-reliance, captured in his famous admonition, “Cast down your bucket where you are,” helps to define the quest for economic and social freedom for people of color in the early 20th century. Readers will discover a compelling man with an engaging writing style who speaks to the struggles within American society that persist to this day.

By Booker T. Washington,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Up From Slavery as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1901, ‘Up From Slavery’ is an eloquently written book by Booker T. Washington, an American educator, author, speaker, and counselor to several presidents of the United States. Booker T. Washington was a prominent leader of the African-American community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Washington was born into slavery but would become a prolific author who wrote broadly about his life experiences and the challenges facing African-Americans during his time.
In this, Washington describes events in an extraordinary life that began in bondage and culminated in worldwide recognition for his many accomplishments. In simply written…


Book cover of The Virginian

Mark Warren Author Of Indigo Heaven

From my list on Westerns that don’t thrive off of gunfights.

Why am I passionate about this?

Because I grew up in the 1950s and ’60s, my supply of heroes was liberally doled out by the 130+ Western series that dominated nighttime television in those decades. My parents allowed me one program per week. It was a Western. I was soon interested in history, to know what really did happen in the American West, and so I came to understand the great discrepancies between fact and TV. The truth, for me, is so much more interesting than the myth. As a Western historian, I've done my share of historical research, but I still gravitate toward fiction as a writer. I love the freedom to engage my characters’ thoughts and emotions.

Mark's book list on Westerns that don’t thrive off of gunfights

Mark Warren Why did Mark love this book?

This is where the “Western novel” began.

By reading this book, people of the early 20th century were introduced to a prototype protagonist who would be duplicated (with variations) for generations to come. Authors who followed this lead were Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour, Jack Schaefer, Charles Portis, Elmer Kelton, and I.

As a boy I found my heroes in the format of the lone common man who faced up to adversities that cut against his moral code.  These protagonists played a large part in shaping my values. Even though the characters were fictitious, the lessons were real. The inspiration hit home.

Wister’s influence on later writers remains intact for good reason. His work was the historical beginning of the “Western,” which, to many folks, serves as the quintessential American story.

By Owen Wister,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Still as exciting and meaningful as when it was written in 1902, Owen Wister's epic tale of one man's journey into the untamed territory of Wyoming, where he is caught between his love for a woman and his quest for justice, has exemplified one of the most significant and enduring themes in all of American culture.

With remarkable character depth and vivid descriptive passages, The Virginian stands not only as the first great novel of American Western literature, but as a testament to the eternal struggle between good and evil in humanity and a revealing study of the forces that…


Book cover of Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park

Karen Barnett Author Of Ever Faithful

From my list on national park adventures and misadventures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am endlessly inspired by the beauty and majesty of our national parks. As a former seasonal ranger at Mount Rainier National Park and Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park, I was frequently surprised by the incredible scrapes that visitors could get themselves into. Of course, I wasn’t immune, and I experienced a few misadventures of my own. These books are great reminders to always respect your limits and be aware of your surroundings. Since I now write novels set in our national parks, I enjoy reading some of these real adventures—it provides great fodder for the imagination. 

Karen's book list on national park adventures and misadventures

Karen Barnett Why did Karen love this book?

I listened to the audiobook of Death in Yellowstone as I was traveling to the park to do research for my novel. The author’s gripping descriptions of every fatality in the park opened my eyes to the potential dangers and adventures to be had in this wild place. I was a little spooked, to tell you the truth, but my respect for the power and grandeur of Yellowstone’s features and wildlife increased dramatically.

By Lee H. Whittlesey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death in Yellowstone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The chilling tome that launched an entire genre of books about the often gruesome but always tragic ways people have died in our national parks, this updated edition of the classic includes calamities in Yellowstone from the past sixteen years, including the infamous grizzly bear attacks in the summer of 2011 as well as a fatal hot springs accident in 2000. In these accounts, written with sensitivity as cautionary tales about what to do and what not to do in one of our wildest national parks, Whittlesey recounts deaths ranging from tragedy to folly—from being caught in a freak avalanche…


Book cover of Yellowstone: A Journey Through America's Wild Heart

Becky Lomax Author Of Moon USA National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 63 Parks

From my list on US national parks from science to thrillers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up hiking and camping with my family in the national parks of Washington. Isn’t that what everyone did in summer? Later, I learned how wrong I was. That most people had never seen a glacier, stood on a mountaintop, walked through a rainforest, gazed at the size of a grizzly, skied past erupting geysers, or rafted a rushing river. These experiences have shaped who I am. I return to the haunts of national parks, from deserts to mountains and remote islands, because they wow me and feed my soul. 

Becky's book list on US national parks from science to thrillers

Becky Lomax Why did Becky love this book?

Since Yellowstone is within a day’s drive, I’ve visited it many times in all seasons. While it’s a fave for volcanic activity and abundant wildlife, its unnaturally straight boundaries are at odds with topography and animal needs. With stunning photography, David Quammen dives into the complexities of how everything in the national park expands into a greater interconnected ecosystem. Nothing shows it better for Yellowstone than his stories of the annual elk migrations, the return of wolves, and the intricacies of food webs. In short, no parks, including Yellowstone, are islands unto themselves, and their preservation means looking at the bigger picture. Quammen addresses the issues with skill from his decades as a science writer for National Geographic and his personal witness of living in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

By David Quammen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Best-selling author David Quammen takes readers on a breathtaking journey through America's most inspiring and imperilled ecosystem - Yellowstone National Park. Filled with amazing images captured by eight National Geographic photographers over an extensive two year deployment in the park, it is unlike any Yellowstone book before it. Yellowstone's storied past, rich ecosystem and dynamic landscape are brilliantly portrayed in a captivating mosaic of photographs and eloquently written text that blend history, science and research from the field.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Yellowstone, National Parks, and Teddy Roosevelt?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Yellowstone, National Parks, and Teddy Roosevelt.

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