10 books like Second Nature

By Michael Pollan,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Second Nature. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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This Changes Everything

By Naomi Klein,

Book cover of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

I read Klein’s No Logo as a teenager and it formed a very deep impression on me, I’ve been a follower of her work ever since. I’m constantly confused and fascinated by people who claim that the climate crisis will be solved by ‘market solutions’ despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary, much of which is skillfully unpacked here. Important and enlightening. 

This Changes Everything

By Naomi Klein,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked This Changes Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Naomi Klein, author of the #1 international bestsellers, The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, returns with This Changes Everything, a must-read on how the climate crisis needs to spur transformational political change

Forget everything you think you know about global warming. It's not about carbon - it's about capitalism. The good news is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.

In her most provocative book yet, Naomi Klein, author of the global bestsellers The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the…


The Gardener's Year

By Karel Capek, Josef Capek,

Book cover of The Gardener's Year

The Czech playwright and polymath (who invented the word “robot”) proves that the lot of the gardener has not improved since this gem was published in 1929. Čapek sets the tone for this charming, often comic view of gardening from the opening sentence: “There are several different ways in which to lay out a garden; the best way is to get a gardener.” He wonders whether “three-year-old cow dung” means dung aged for three years, or from a three-year-old cow; finds reason to question the memories of old-timers; and is convinced that if a gardener entered the Garden of Eden, “he would sniff excitedly and say: ‘Good Lord, what humus!’ ”

The Gardener's Year

By Karel Capek, Josef Capek,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Gardener's Year as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This very entertaining volume with its delightfully humorous pictures should be read by all gardeners." — Nature
"Mr. Čapek writes with sympathy, understanding, and humor." — The New York Times
"Has a mellowness and a charm that give it a high place in the humorous literature of gardening … will delight the amateur gardener, and indeed everyone else." — Saturday Review
The creator of this book is best known internationally as the author of R.U.R., the science-fiction play that introduced the term "robot" to the world. Karel Čapek's satiric gifts take a different turn in this impishly comic book, which…


The Orchard

By Adele Crockett Robertson,

Book cover of The Orchard: A Memoir

The Orchard is a mesmerizing story of one woman’s efforts to save her family farm in Depression-era Massachusetts. It is a glimmering and moving memoir of “Kitty” Robertson’s determination to save the small orchard she inherited from her father, the last thing that linked her family to their history. It is a story of struggle and determination, and she is a heroine who didn’t receive medals or accolades or fortune for accepting the bone-cold physical labor in winters, inherited debt, broken dreams. Somehow she is able to still see the beauty in the grit of farm life in a grim period, spring blossoms in the orchard, the green of summer, the kindness of neighbors as they help each other through challenge after challenge.

In the end, it is a narrative of redemption and victory and reminds me that the life of farming and writing is hard scrapple, but it is…

The Orchard

By Adele Crockett Robertson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Orchard is an exquisitely beautiful and poignant memoir of a young woman's single-handed struggle to save her New England farm in the depths of the Great Depression. Recently discovered by the author's daughter, it tells the story of Adele "Kitty" Robertson, young and energetic, but unprepared by her Radcliffe education for the rigors of apple farming in those bitter times. Alone at the end of a country road, with only a Great Dane for company, plagued by debts, broken machinery, and killing frosts, Kitty revives the old orchard after years of neglect. Every day is a struggle, but every…


The Garden of Invention

By Jane S. Smith,

Book cover of The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants

Gardening, whether in a backyard or a hundred-acre orchard, is an audacious attempt to improve on nature, and Smith’s fascinating hybrid of biography, history, and botany brings to life the most audacious of them all. The only biography on my list, I’ve included it because, in an age where we might be forgiven for thinking it takes millions of corporate dollars and genetic engineers to produce a new plant, The Garden of Invention reminds us how one man’s singular determination, patience, and brilliance can change the world. And produce the perfect potato for McDonald’s French fries.

The Garden of Invention

By Jane S. Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The wide-ranging and delightful history of celebrated plant breeder Luther Burbank and the business of farm and garden in early twentieth- century America

At no other time in history has there been more curiosity or concern about the food we eat-and genetically modified foods, in particular, have become both pervasive and suspect. A century ago, however, Luther Burbank's blight-resistant potatoes, white blackberries, and plumcots-a plum-apricot hybrid-were celebrated as triumphs in the best tradition of American ingenuity and perseverance. In his experimental grounds in Santa Rosa, California, Burbank bred and cross-bred edible and ornamental plants-for both home gardens and commercial farms-until…


Otherwise Normal People

By Aurelia C. Scott,

Book cover of Otherwise Normal People: Inside the Thorny World of Competitive Rose Gardening

Q-tips, cotton balls, and hazmat suits: welcome to the world of competitive rose gardening. Scott’s engaging journey into the underbelly of rose exhibitions will leave you wondering, Are these hobbyists bloomin’ nuts, or simply having more fun than the rest of us? My dark-horse pick, maybe because it reassured me that my own gardening exploits (installing a 10,000-volt electric fence that deters people but not groundhogs, for instance) weren’t so wacky, after all.

Otherwise Normal People

By Aurelia C. Scott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Twice a year America's rose lovers cut the prettiest blossoms off their best plants and travel to the national rose show, where they lovingly groom their precious blooms for hours in a frigid hall in order to contend for the highest honor: the Queen of Show. Doctors. Teachers. Sheet metal mechanics. Lawyers. Truck drivers. Men and women. These are type A gardeners, and for them this is a blood sport. They grow tender roses in the frigid North and disease prone roses in the humid South simply for the challenge. They decorate otherwise lovely yards with paper bags and panty…


Glass, Paper, Beans

By Leah Hager Cohen,

Book cover of Glass, Paper, Beans: Revolutions on the Nature and Value of Ordinary Things

“Where do my coffee and newspaper come from?” Cohen muses one morning in her favorite coffee shop…and she’s off and running, to find the unseen nature and labor that make our everyday lives possible. The most gorgeous, lyrical explanation of alienation and fetishization you’ll ever find, and a model for how to drag nature writing into the 21st century.

Glass, Paper, Beans

By Leah Hager Cohen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Once upon a time we knew the origins of things: what piece of earth the potato on our dinner plate came from, which well our water was dipped from, who cobbled our shoes, and whose cow provided the leather. In many parts of the world, that information is still readily available. But in our society, even as technology makes certain kinds of information more accessible than ever, other connections are irrevocably lost.

In Glass, Paper, Beans, Leah Cohen traces three simple commodities on their geographic and semantic journey from her rickety table at the Someday Café to their various points…


Black Faces, White Spaces

By Carolyn Finney,

Book cover of Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors

American nature-lovers are just Americans who love nature? Not exactly, Finney reminds us. She showcases the baked-in whiteness of American environmentalist ideas and advocacy historically, and carves out space for how African Americans have imagined, enjoyed, experienced, and fought for the “great outdoors”—and draws on both scholarship and her own experiences to do so.

Black Faces, White Spaces

By Carolyn Finney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Faces, White Spaces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why are African Americans so underrepresented when it comes to interest in nature, outdoor recreation, and environmentalism? In this thought-provoking study, Carolyn Finney looks beyond the discourse of the environmental justice movement to examine how the natural environment has been understood, commodified, and represented by both white and black Americans. Bridging the fields of environmental history, cultural studies, critical race studies, and geography, Finney argues that the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial violence have shaped cultural understandings of the ""great outdoors"" and determined who should and can have access to natural spaces.

Drawing on a variety of sources…


Uncommon Ground

By William Cronon (editor),

Book cover of Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature

An oldie but a goodie, and a classic. Cronon’s lead essay “The Trouble with Wilderness” roused ‘90s environmentalism like a brilliant party crasher—but don’t miss Richard White’s “Are You an Environmentalist or Do You Work for a Living,” Giovanna Di Chiro’s “Nature as Community,” and, well, my own “Looking for Nature at the Mall.”

Uncommon Ground

By William Cronon (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a lead essay that powerfully states the broad argument of the book, William Cronon writes that the environmentalist goal of wilderness preservation is conceptually and politically wrongheaded. Among the ironies and entanglements resulting from this goal are the sale of nature in our malls through the Nature Company, and the disputes between working people and environmentalists over spotted owls and other objects of species preservation.

The problem is that we haven't learned to live responsibly in nature. The environmentalist aim of legislating humans out of the wilderness is no solution. People, Cronon argues, are inextricably tied to nature, whether…


Botany for Gardeners

By Brian Capon,

Book cover of Botany for Gardeners

I’ve been recommending Brian Capon’s Botany for Gardeners to my gardening students for years. Unlike your typical botany textbook, it’s written expressly for gardeners, which means it presents all you need to know about botany if you are a gardener, not a scientist or a botany student. The presentation is clear, concise, and conversational, so it feels like learning about botany from a friend…a really smart friend! This book will either take you as far as you need to go in botany, or it will open you up to the world of botany and inspire you to learn more. 

Botany for Gardeners

By Brian Capon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For two decades readers around the world have been fascinated by Brian Capon's crystal-clear descriptions of how plants work. What happens inside a seed after it is planted? How do plants use each other - and animals - to survive? How do they reproduce, and how do they transform nutrients into growth? "Botany for Gardeners" is the most complete, compact, and accessible introduction to the world of botany available. The new edition has been expanded with dazzling scanning electron microscope photographs and even more amazing facts about plants. Especially timely are new essays on food plants: what makes plants edible,…


The Brother Gardeners

By Andrea Wulf,

Book cover of The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obession

Gardening is indeed an obsession, which can drive men and women to madness and penury. It is fuelled by competition, the desire to have the latest, most exotic specimen. Andrea Wulf captures beautifully the mania for American plants which swept across English gardens in the 1700s, as the plant-hunter John Bartram of Virginia teamed up with the London merchant, Peter Collinson, to import boxes of plants and seeds into the UK. If they survived the long sea voyage, they were then nurtured by English aristocrats and their head gardeners, at vast expense, before becoming so common that few gardeners in Europe today know where they came from.

The Brother Gardeners

By Andrea Wulf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of The Invention of Nature, a fascinating look at the men who made Britain the center of the botanical world.

“Wulf’s flair for storytelling is combined with scholarship, brio, and a charmingly airy style. ... A delightful book—and you don’t need to be a gardener to enjoy it.”—The New York Times Book Review

Bringing to life the science and adventure of eighteenth-century plant collecting, The Brother Gardeners is the story of how six men created the modern garden and changed the horticultural world in the process. It is a story of a garden revolution that began…


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