100 books like Second Nature

By Michael Pollan,

Here are 100 books that Second Nature fans have personally recommended if you like Second Nature. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

J.M. Donellan Author Of Killing Adonis

From the list on reminding us why we should eat the rich.

Who am I?

We live in a bizarre era of Elon Musk stans who seem certain that if you work hard you’ll be rewarded not only with ‘fuck you’ money, but ‘fuck everyone’ money. I think any writer worth their salt should at some point tackle the issues of their age in their writing. In our era racism, sexism, climate change, and a range of other social justice issues are all exacerbated through the improper distribution of wealth. You could give a man a fish, and he might eat for a day. Or you could eviscerate the rich, share their wealth, and throw the whole world a parade! 

J.M.'s book list on reminding us why we should eat the rich

Why did J.M. love this book?

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. 

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

Ngoc Minh Ngo Author Of In Bloom: Creating and Living With Flowers

From the list on why everyone loves gardening.

Who am I?

I am a photographer of gardens and botanical still-lifes. I have a passion for plants and flowers and love reading about their historical and cultural significance. I am always curious about the meanings that humankind has ascribed to flowers in different cultures and eras. I have written and photographed three books that revolve around my passion for flowers.

Ngoc's book list on why everyone loves gardening

Why did Ngoc love this book?

This is a very slim volume by the Czech novelist, playwright, and essayist who gave us the word “robot” in a play in 1921. In this book, Capek takes readers through a year, month by month, in his backyard garden in Prague. The writing is full of humor, the tone conversational, with observations that resonate with all gardeners–from the fickleness of the weather to the pleasures of reading plant catalogues in the winter. But the true subject of Capek’s musing is the complexity of human nature. For the writer, the garden is a metaphor for what makes us human. It is ultimately a very hopeful book, and Capek ends it with these words: “The right, the best is in front of us. Each successive year will add growth and beauty. Thank God that again we shall be one year farther on!”  

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

Deirdre Heekin Author Of An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir

From the list on wine, love, and landscape.

Who am I?

I am a winegrower, farmer, writer, photographer, and pop-upeuse. I fell in love with food and wine while living and working in Italy, then returned stateside to create an homage to the people and place that embraced us and taught us so much. That endeavor--the restaurant osteria pane e salute opened with my chef husband Caleb Barber—was where I curated the wine program and became passionate about wines farmed artfully. I began working as a winegrower in 2007, a personal landscape experiment that led me down the rabbit hole of growing and making wine from hybrid varieties focused on regenerative viticulture and low intervention winemaking.

Deirdre's book list on wine, love, and landscape

Why did Deirdre love this book?

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…

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

William Alexander Author Of The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for a Perfect Garden

From the list on a gardening life.

Who am I?

William Alexander’s best-selling gardening memoir, The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for a Perfect Garden has been praised for its fresh, humorous, and honest take on home gardening. The books he’s selected similarly break the mould for garden books, featuring rabid rose gardeners, an obsessive breeder, and a Czech playwright.

William's book list on a gardening life

Why did William love this book?

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.

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

William Alexander Author Of The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for a Perfect Garden

From the list on a gardening life.

Who am I?

William Alexander’s best-selling gardening memoir, The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for a Perfect Garden has been praised for its fresh, humorous, and honest take on home gardening. The books he’s selected similarly break the mould for garden books, featuring rabid rose gardeners, an obsessive breeder, and a Czech playwright.

William's book list on a gardening life

Why did William love this book?

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.

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

Jenny Price Author Of Stop Saving the Planet!: An Environmentalist Manifesto

From the list on revolutionize how Americans think about nature.

Who am I?

I’m a writer, artist, and historian, and I’ve spent much of my career trying to blow up the powerful American definition of environment as a non-human world “out there”, and to ask how it’s allowed environmentalists, Exxon, and the EPA alike to refuse to take responsibility for how we inhabit environments. Along the way, I’ve written Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America and "Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in LA"; co-founded the LA Urban Rangers public art collective; and co-created the “Our Malibu Beaches” phone app. I currently live in St. Louis, where I’m a Research Fellow at the Sam Fox School at Washington University-St. Louis. 

Jenny's book list on revolutionize how Americans think about nature

Why did Jenny love this book?

“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.

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

Jenny Price Author Of Stop Saving the Planet!: An Environmentalist Manifesto

From the list on revolutionize how Americans think about nature.

Who am I?

I’m a writer, artist, and historian, and I’ve spent much of my career trying to blow up the powerful American definition of environment as a non-human world “out there”, and to ask how it’s allowed environmentalists, Exxon, and the EPA alike to refuse to take responsibility for how we inhabit environments. Along the way, I’ve written Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America and "Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in LA"; co-founded the LA Urban Rangers public art collective; and co-created the “Our Malibu Beaches” phone app. I currently live in St. Louis, where I’m a Research Fellow at the Sam Fox School at Washington University-St. Louis. 

Jenny's book list on revolutionize how Americans think about nature

Why did Jenny love this book?

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.

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

Jenny Price Author Of Stop Saving the Planet!: An Environmentalist Manifesto

From the list on revolutionize how Americans think about nature.

Who am I?

I’m a writer, artist, and historian, and I’ve spent much of my career trying to blow up the powerful American definition of environment as a non-human world “out there”, and to ask how it’s allowed environmentalists, Exxon, and the EPA alike to refuse to take responsibility for how we inhabit environments. Along the way, I’ve written Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America and "Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in LA"; co-founded the LA Urban Rangers public art collective; and co-created the “Our Malibu Beaches” phone app. I currently live in St. Louis, where I’m a Research Fellow at the Sam Fox School at Washington University-St. Louis. 

Jenny's book list on revolutionize how Americans think about nature

Why did Jenny love this book?

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.”

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

Daryl Beyers Author Of The New Gardener's Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Grow a Beautiful and Bountiful Garden

From the list on for new gardeners.

Who am I?

As a gardening instructor and designer, I've been recommending these five books for years. They were the core texts of the Fundamentals of Gardening course I've been teaching at the New York Botanical Garden for over a decade. Since the publication of The New Gardener’s Handbook, which covers all these topics in a more abbreviated way, I still recommend these five books to my students if they want to dig deeper. These books are what I call “keeper texts.” I own fewer and fewer actual gardening books these days, but it's a fact that a copy of each of these excellent resources resides on my office bookshelf where I refer to them frequently. 

Daryl's book list on for new gardeners

Why did Daryl love this book?

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. 

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

Roderick Floud Author Of England's Magnificent Gardens: How a Billion-Dollar Industry Transformed a Nation, from Charles II to Today

From the list on the history of the gardening industry.

Who am I?

I love visiting other people’s gardens, great and small. There are many thousands throughout England but, as I surveyed the beauty of the lakes and rolling lawns of one of them, I was struck by a question: how much did it cost? I found that none of the huge number of books on gardening and garden history gave an answer, so (drawing on my experience as an economic historian) I had to try for myself. Fifteen years later, after delving in archives, puzzling out the intricacies of lakes and dams, exploring ruined greenhouses, peering into the bothies in which gardening apprentices lived, England’s Magnificent Gardens is my answer.

Roderick's book list on the history of the gardening industry

Why did Roderick love this book?

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.

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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in gardening, philosophy, and botany?

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