100 books like Tales of Two Planets

By John Freeman,

Here are 100 books that Tales of Two Planets fans have personally recommended if you like Tales of Two Planets. 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 Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Caro Feely Author Of Cultivating Change: Regenerating Land and Love in the Age of Climate Crisis

From my list on biodiversity, plants and natural magic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a published author specializing in nature, travel, and wine writing, and I have been an organic farmer for nearly two decades on an award-winning estate in France. I’ve written four books about the transformation of our organic farm. In my latest, Cultivating Change, I explore how biodiversity helps us address climate change and how important it is to the health of the land. It is also a human story; like the books below, stories are key to bringing these subjects to life. My list is women authors, not because I set out to do that, but because these books are beautiful, intuitive, and deep, like the women who wrote them.

Caro's book list on biodiversity, plants and natural magic

Caro Feely Why did Caro love this book?

I love, love, love this book. What a gem, a prayer of love to plants and nature, a dense but light book of ‘indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teachings of plants’ as it says in the sub-title.

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a decorated Professor of Botany, a mother, a writer of grace, power, and elegance, a keeper and sharer of indigenous wisdom, and an overall generous human being. If there is one book you read this year, let it be this. It filled my heart with joy, hope, and wonder. I loved her other book, Gathering Moss, too.

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

46 authors picked Braiding Sweetgrass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take "us on a journey that is…


Book cover of Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape

Bill Murray Author Of Out in the Cold: Travels North: Adventures in Svalbard, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and Canada

From my list on to understand the high north.

Why am I passionate about this?

There’s nothing like personal experience. You have to read the literature, it’s true. That’s how we’ve all met here at Shepherd. But you have to roll up your sleeves and get down to visiting, too, if you want to write about travel. I first approached the Arctic in 1991 and I return above sixty degrees north every year, although I must confess to a secret advantage; I married a Finn. We spend summers at a little cabin north of Helsinki. I know the region personally, I keep coming back, and I invite you, whenever you can, to come up and join us!

Bill's book list on to understand the high north

Bill Murray Why did Bill love this book?

Barry Lopez was a nature writer and environmentalist.

He died on Christmas day 2020, and although we are fortunate to have his valedictory book Horizon, published when his traveling days were pretty well behind him, Arctic Dreams is the real deal, with Lopez as raconteur, but practitioner too, thoroughly in his element.

Lopez writes about exploration and the aurora, animals and the weather, ice and myth and survival and joy. He’s effortless. You’ll learn more than you knew there was to know about the high north, and the pleasure is in the learning.

If you must cut to the chase with these five books, Arctic Dreams is the book, because Barry Lopez got things right.

By Barry Lopez,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Arctic Dreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**AS HEARD ON BBC RADIO 4**

'A master nature writer' (New York Times) provides the ultimate natural, social and cultural history of the Arctic landscape.

The author of Horizon's classic work explores the Arctic landscape and the hold it continues to exert on our imagination.

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ROBERT MACFARLANE

Lopez's journey across our frozen planet is a celebration of the Arctic in all its guises. A hostile landscape of ice, freezing oceans and dazzling skyscapes. Home to millions of diverse animals and people. The stage to massive migrations by land, sea and air. The setting of epic exploratory…


Book cover of Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals

Stacy Alaimo Author Of Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self

From my list on thinking of ourselves as the environment.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been passionate about animals, the environment, and social justice since I was a child. As an adult I have been frustrated—even enragedthat so many products and practices are considered safe and “normal” even though they harm wildlife, pets, and people. I think it's bizarre that people imagine themselves as separate from the chemicals they spray in their homes and their yards, even as they breathe in the toxins. I hope that the concept of “transcorporeality,” which urges us to see our own bodies as literally part of the environment, will convince people that environmentalism isn’t optional but is a vital part of human health and social justice.

Stacy's book list on thinking of ourselves as the environment

Stacy Alaimo Why did Stacy love this book?

Alexis Pauline Gumbs, a “queer, black feminist love evangelist and a marine mammal apprentice,” has created an exuberant book—impossible to categorize. Undrowned is everything—a dramatic account of marine mammals’ struggles, a meditation, a call for action, a manifesto, a workbook with activities. Referencing the middle passage as a Black feminist, Gumbs considers the enmeshment of breathing, drowning, and undrowning, looking to “marine mammal kindred” as “teachers, mentors, guides.” I was deeply moved by how this book passionately voices love for whales, dolphins, and seals. But this love isn’t sentimental—it is active. The chapters call readers to do things, such as “listen,” asking how can we “listen across species, across extinction, across harm?” I marvel at Gumbs’ fierce, unabashed love for marine mammals. Gumbs inspires me to take more risks for others.

By Alexis Pauline Gumbs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Undrowned is a book-length meditation for social movements and our whole species based on the subversive and transformative guidance of marine mammals. Our aquatic cousins are queer, fierce, protective of each other, complex, shaped by conflict, and struggling to survive the extractive and militarized conditions our species has imposed on the ocean. Gumbs employs a brilliant mix of poetic sensibility and naturalist observation to show what they might teach us, producing not a specific agenda but an unfolding space for wondering and questioning. From the relationship between the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale and Gumbs’s Shinnecock and enslaved ancestors to…


Book cover of Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape

Adam M. Sowards Author Of An Open Pit Visible from the Moon: The Wilderness Act and the Fight to Protect Miners Ridge and the Public Interest

From my list on helping you get deep in the wilderness.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first started reading about wilderness, I accepted it as an obvious thing—a place without people. That lasted a short time before I realized the enormous historical complexity of such places. Rather than places without people, without history, without politics, “wilderness” became a laboratory of American society. I tried to capture that vibrancy in my book An Open Pit Visible from the Moon where I showed all the claims various people made on one wilderness area in the North Cascades. I'm a writer, historian, and former college professor who now calls the Skagit Valley of Washington home. As much as I enjoy studying wilderness, I prefer walking through it and noticing what it teaches.

Adam's book list on helping you get deep in the wilderness

Adam M. Sowards Why did Adam love this book?

To read Trace is to go on a mesmerizing journey with the wisest of guides. Savoy searches for American identities, and her own multifaceted ones, in the history and memory of landscapes across the continent. Every turn reveals tragic histories and surprising connections and omissions with the most beautiful language. Savoy excavates the palimpsest of stories embedded in landscapes’ histories in a helpful reminder that “nature” is always entangled with the richness and complexity of human life. With each careful word, Savoy deepened my appreciation for how landscape absorbs and reflects its history—and my admiration for her unbelievable gifts as a writer. Trace is one of those books you can read each year and your respect for it grows and the insights from it enlarge your life every time.

By Lauret Savoy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Through personal journeys and historical inquiry, this PEN Literary Award finalist explores how America’s still unfolding history and ideas of “race” have marked its people and the land.

Sand and stone are Earth’s fragmented memory. Each of us, too, is a landscape inscribed by memory and loss. One life-defining lesson Lauret Savoy learned as a young girl was this: the American land did not hate. As an educator and Earth historian, she has tracked the continent’s past from the relics of deep time; but the paths of ancestors toward her―paths of free and enslaved Africans, colonists from Europe, and peoples…


Book cover of Durable Inequality

Paul Ong Author Of Uneven Urbanscape: Spatial Structures and Ethnoracial Inequality

From my list on the underlying foundation of racialized spaces.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an engaged scholar fighting racism. As a person of color, an Asian American raised in Chinatown and a low-income Black neighborhood, the fight is personal. My parents and those before them suffered from and struggled against discriminatory immigration laws that fractured and separated family members. My research and publications as a university professor are tools for exposing and redressing racial injustices, producing and sharing knowledge that leads to reconciliation and restorative justice.  

Paul's book list on the underlying foundation of racialized spaces

Paul Ong Why did Paul love this book?

This book provides a grand sociological theoretical framework to explain how society creates and maintains persistent inequality through grouping.

The author does not anchor his explanation in individual biases and discriminatory acts, which are manifestations of larger fundamental structures and dynamics. The division and organization of the population into categories produce systemic group advantages and enable hierarchical exploitation.

Several organizational mechanisms within and between groups make categorical inequality durable. Race is one of the fundamental ways society is fragmented into enduring and unequal groups.

By Charles Tilly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Charles Tilly, in this eloquent manifesto, presents a powerful new approach to the study of persistent social inequality. How, he asks, do long-lasting, systematic inequalities in life chances arise, and how do they come to distinguish members of different socially defined categories of persons? Exploring representative paired and unequal categories, such as male/female, black/white, and citizen/noncitizen, Tilly argues that the basic causes of these and similar inequalities greatly resemble one another. In contrast to contemporary analyses that explain inequality case by case, this account is one of process. Categorical distinctions arise, Tilly says, because they offer a solution to pressing…


Book cover of The Origins of Unfairness: Social Categories and Cultural Evolution

Paul E. Smaldino Author Of Modeling Social Behavior: Mathematical and Agent-Based Models of Social Dynamics and Cultural Evolution

From my list on (human) behavior that reward working through the math.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated with the relationship between our individual behaviors and the social structures and institutions in which we live—and how these influence each over time. I think this sort of understanding is important if we want to consider the kind of world we want to live in, and how we might get there from where we are. I take insights from many disciplines, from physics and biology to the cognitive and social sciences, from philosophy and art to mathematics and engineering. I am currently a professor of cognitive and information sciences at the University of California, Merced, and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. 

Paul's book list on (human) behavior that reward working through the math

Paul E. Smaldino Why did Paul love this book?

In 2016 I went to a conference in Leuven, Belgium, on computational approaches to understanding science. There I presented a model showing how selection for productivity (good old “publish or perish”) could, over time, degrade the quality of methods used by scientists.

I also met Cailin O’Connor, a philosopher and game theorist who was also studying science with formal models, with a focus on equity, or lack thereof. In this terrific book, Cailin uses game theory and evolutionary dynamics to consider how some social institutions lead to entrenched inequality among people or social classes, as well as how one might combat the forces of unfairness. 

By Cailin O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In almost every human society some people get more and others get less. Why is inequity the rule in these societies? In The Origins of Unfairness, philosopher Cailin O'Connor firstly considers how groups are divided into social categories, like gender, race, and religion, to address this question. She uses the formal frameworks of game theory and evolutionary game theory to explore the cultural evolution of the conventions which piggyback on these seemingly
irrelevant social categories. These frameworks elucidate a variety of topics from the innateness of gender differences, to collaboration in academia, to household bargaining, to minority disadvantage, to homophily.…


Book cover of The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future

Tom Malleson Author Of Against Inequality: The Practical and Ethical Case for Abolishing the Superrich

From my list on economic inequality and how to fix it.

Why am I passionate about this?

There are many big problems in the world today–racism, war, climate change, unaccountable governments, exploitative corporations, and so on. But when you scratch the surface of almost any serious problem, what you find is that the root of the problem is inequality: a minority of people are rich and powerful, while those who suffer the most are typically poor and powerless. I’m so passionate about inequality because, in my eyes, it constitutes the heart and soul of what’s wrong with our world and the key to making things better.

Tom's book list on economic inequality and how to fix it

Tom Malleson Why did Tom love this book?

In this already-classic work, Joseph Stiglitz–Nobel Prize winner and chief economist for the World Bank–describes the ways in which the market has been systematically rigged in favour of the rich and big business, leading to an explosion of inequality and the rise of the 1%.

I love how this book illustrates the ways in which inequality acts as a cancer on society, eating it apart from the inside. But Stiglitz also helped me to understand how such problems can be dealt with a realistic way.  

By Joseph E. Stiglitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The top 1 percent of Americans control some 40 percent of the nation's wealth. But as Joseph E. Stiglitz explains in this best-selling critique of the economic status quo, this level of inequality is not inevitable. Rather, in recent years well-heeled interests have compounded their wealth by stifling true, dynamic capitalism and making America no longer the land of opportunity that it once was. They have made America the most unequal advanced industrial country while crippling growth, distorting key policy debates, and fomenting a divided society. Stiglitz not only shows how and why America's inequality is bad for our economy…


Book cover of Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality

Raoul Martinez Author Of Creating Freedom: Power, Control and the Fight for our Future

From my list on critiquing free-market fundamentalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

It has long been claimed that we face a choice between freedom and equality: that advocates of capitalism favour freedom, while critics prioritise equality. Philosopher Raoul Martinez was never persuaded by this claim, yet it took years of research across a number of disciplines to understand not only how problematic it is, but how foundational to our society and its crises it has become. His journey of discovery culminated in the writing of Creating Freedom, which dismantles this misleading narrative while deepening our understanding of human liberty: the many ways it is subverted and the path to its creation.

Raoul's book list on critiquing free-market fundamentalism

Raoul Martinez Why did Raoul love this book?

Having read Robert Nozick’s philosophical defence of free markets, Anarchy, State and Utopia, in my early twenties, I started searching for a comprehensive rebuttal. With Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality, my search came to an end. Cohen — who sadly is no longer with us — was a gifted analytical philosopher who developed his critique of Nozick and other free marketeers over many years. The book delivers a clear and powerful distillation of his thought, which corroborates the intuition felt by many of us that there is something profoundly wrong with the conflation of freedom with free markets. 

By G.A. Cohen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this book G. A. Cohen examines the libertarian principle of self-ownership, which says that each person belongs to himself and therefore owes no service or product to anyone else. This principle is used to defend capitalist inequality, which is said to reflect each person's freedom to do as as he wishes with himself. The author argues that self-ownership cannot deliver the freedom it promises to secure, thereby undermining the idea that lovers of freedom should embrace capitalism and the inequality that comes with it. He goes on to show that the standard Marxist condemnation of exploitation implies an endorsement…


Book cover of The Culture of Inequality

Mary E. Hawkesworth Author Of Globalization and Feminist Activism

From my list on capitalism’s iniquities.

Why am I passionate about this?

Two weeks before qualifying for his 30-year pension benefits, my father lost his job. This corporate reduction in labor force introduced a debilitating shame to the displaced breadwinner and a new level of precarity to a family with 3 of 4 kids in college. It also shattered the myth that capitalism rewarded individual initiative and hard work. Understanding inequities and the manifold structural forces that can determine an individual’s life prospects became a focal point of my graduate studies and my four decades of university teaching. Using race, gender, and sexuality as analytical tools, my research enriched traditional approaches to political economy.

Mary's book list on capitalism’s iniquities

Mary E. Hawkesworth Why did Mary love this book?

Americans are reared on the myth that we are all created equal.

But this myth can have negative effects in a highly stratified society, where the richest 5% of families have 248 times as much wealth as the second richest 20% of the population and where racial discrimination permeates every aspect of life.

In this classic work, Lewis shows how the myth of equal opportunity “individualizes” success and failure. The belief that each individual earns success or is responsible for failure contributes to a public ethos in which the poor are blamed for their plight and the rich lack compassion for the worst off. 

The book illuminates the profound policy consequences of these beliefs for public education, crime, race relations, and poverty reduction.

By Michael Lewis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Who do America's wars against poverty turn out to be wars against the poor? Why does a nation so committed to fighting crime show such a bad record of combating it and so morbid a fascination with it? Why is American racism so deeply rooted? This study aims to answer these and other questions. Its central thesis is that the national faith in individual initiative and free opportunity has become a breeding ground for guilt about our own limited successes and prejudice against all who exhibit signs of failure.


Book cover of Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality

Joseph D'Agnese Author Of Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence

From my list on the Declaration of Independence that bring the signers to life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Joseph D’Agnese grew up in the Bicentennial-fueled excitement of the 1970s, and spent 1976 fake-playing a fife and sporting a tricorn hat in various school events. Besides teaching him how to get in and out of Revolutionary-period knickers, this experience awakened in him a love for the Founding Era of American history. He has since authored three history titles with his wife, The New York Times bestselling author Denise Kiernan. 

Joseph's book list on the Declaration of Independence that bring the signers to life

Joseph D'Agnese Why did Joseph love this book?

Harvard professor and MacArthur fellow Allen dissects the Declaration word by word to help us understand its importance.

Her central thesis: we cannot have an American republic devoted to liberty without equality. And if that is so, then isn’t our job to somehow live up to the promise of the Declaration? In some ways, this is a very personal book. In unfussy prose, she tells us how she teaches the Declaration to her students and how they are often transformed by these 1,337 words that they would never have bothered to read if they didn’t take her class.

I would argue most Americans have never read them either (nor the U.S. Constitution, for that matter), but I think after hearing Allen’s arguments, you will be moved to do so.

By Danielle Allen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Featured on the front page of the New York Times, Our Declaration is already regarded as a seminal work that reinterprets the promise of American democracy through our founding text. Combining a personal account of teaching the Declaration with a vivid evocation of the colonial world between 1774 and 1777, Allen, a political philosopher renowned for her work on justice and citizenship reveals our nation's founding text to be an animating force that not only changed the world more than two-hundred years ago, but also still can. Challenging conventional wisdom, she boldly makes the case that the Declaration is a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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