12 books like The Arbornaut

By Meg Lowman,

Here are 12 books that The Arbornaut fans have personally recommended if you like The Arbornaut. 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 The Overstory

Culley Holderfield Author Of Hemlock Hollow

From my list on books in which nature is a teacher.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up fascinated by the natural world, in particular by the hemlock trees in a hollow in the North Carolina mountains where my family owned a cabin. Later, the hollow and that cabin would provide inspiration for my novel, Hemlock Hollow, in which a scientist wrestles with the ghosts of her past. Those hemlocks are in decline now due to the hemlock wooly adelgid, an invasive species working its way through the Appalachian Mountains. In many ways, my writing takes the grief of losing something so dear as grist for stories that center the power of place over time, and I’m drawn to other books that do the same.

Culley's book list on books in which nature is a teacher

Culley Holderfield Why did Culley love this book?

What’s not to love about a book structured as a tree? This is a vast, episodic novel that takes traditional storytelling and turns it on its head.

A cast of characters connect through stories that grow from seed to trunk to limb. I finished this long read and immediately wanted to start again. It’s the kind of book that rewards a second or third pass. Complex, rife with science and faith and desperate longing, this book is a celebration of the tree, a clarion call to return our attention to our roots before it is too late.

One of Powers’ characters asks, “What do all good stories do?” He answers, “They kill you a little. They turn you into something you weren’t.” I think that’s true of all of these books, and most definitely this one.

By Richard Powers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of-and paean to-the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers's twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours-vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see…


Book cover of Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

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?

Dr. Suzanne Simard is also a professor of Forest Ecology, but like Robin Wall Kimmerer (above), she has created a readable and personal book about her subject. Her research, undertaken over decades, set out to prove that trees communicate and cooperate and that they help each other, both within a species and between different species.

Her gripping story includes how she overcame a Male Chauvinist work environment and proved that a weed-killed monoculture was far from the most optimal way to manage forests. Her book is a reminder of how little we know of the incredibly complex biosphere we are privileged to be part of.

By Suzanne Simard,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Finding the Mother Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • From the world's leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest—a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery

“Finding the Mother Tree reminds us that the world is a web of stories, connecting us to one another. [The book] carries the stories of trees, fungi, soil and bears--and of a human being listening in on the conversation. The interplay of personal narrative, scientific insights and the amazing revelations about the life of the forest make a compelling story.”—Robin Wall…


Book cover of The Giving Tree

Gary Bernard Author Of The Moth and the Sun

From my list on picture books that promote creativity and critical thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always found the art of storytelling to be important. It’s taken me to places I’ve dreamed of as well as places others have created. Drawing has always been my passion, and the desire to entertain audiences of all ages has matured with time. When I realized I could make my own stories and illustrate them, it was clear that it was something I wanted to do. I always appreciated books that spoke up to me rather than down or too simply. The books on this list do just that.

Gary's book list on picture books that promote creativity and critical thinking

Gary Bernard Why did Gary love this book?

I wasn’t the strongest reader as a child, but the simple, wavy line drawings drew me in. They told the story just as well as the words, and the level of emotion behind them brings me back every time.

The book’s profound message of what “giving” is, together with the passage of time and the bond between the two characters, is not only intriguing for all ages, but demonstrates what love, kindness, and simple friendship mean. Everything about it marked me and created a long-standing change in my thinking.

By Shel Silverstein,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Giving Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

As recommended by Meghan Markle as the one book she can't wait to share with her child - the timeless fable about the gift of love

Once there was a little tree ... and she loved a little boy.

So begins the classic bestseller, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.

Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk ... and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree…


Book cover of The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest

Meeg Pincus Author Of Make Way for Animals! A World of Wildlife Crossings

From my list on nonfiction on helping wildlife.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lover of wildlife and have written several nonfiction picture books on the topic, including Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery, Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood’s Celebrity Cougar Built a Bridge for City Wildlife, and Ocean Soup: a Recipe for You, Me, and A Cleaner Sea. I’m also a humane educator, which inspires the focus of all my nonfiction picture books on “solutionaries” helping people, animals, and the planet. At heart, my books—which have won Golden Kite Nonfiction and Eureka! Nonfiction Honors and more—aim to inspire compassion, inclusivity, and positive action. 

Meeg's book list on nonfiction on helping wildlife

Meeg Pincus Why did Meeg love this book?

I picked this book because it’s a great reminder that plants are wildlife, too—and they’re as important and as endangered as animals! It’s also a truly fascinating story of the woman who figured out how to study the rainforest canopy, a hundred feet in the air! I love how this book tells one woman’s inspiring story while at the same time inspiring kids to care and learn more about the much-needed flora on our planet.

By Heather Lang, Jana Christy (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Leaf Detective as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

NSTA/CBC Best STEM Book
John Burroughs Association Riverby Award
Honorable Mention, Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award

This picture book biography tells the story of Meg Lowman, a groundbreaking female scientist called a "real life Lorax" by National Geographic, who was determined to investigate the marvelous, undiscovered world of the rainforest treetops.

Meg Lowman was always fascinated by the natural world above her head - the colors, the branches, and, most of all, the leaves and mysterious organisms living there. Meg set out to climb up and investigate the rain forest tree canopies - and to be the first scientist…


Book cover of Life in the Treetops: Adventures of a Woman in Field Biology

Ellen E. Wohl Author Of Dead Wood: The Afterlife of Trees

From my list on trees, living and dead.

Why am I passionate about this?

I study streams and rivers and it took me a while to recognize that many of the streams that flow through forests should have far more downed wood pieces and logjams than are commonly present. The lack of wood in streams reflects a long history of deforestation along rivers, as well as actively pulling wood out of rivers for navigation and flood control. As I’ve come to appreciate dead wood and the many benefits it creates for a wide range of inland, coastal, and marine ecosystems, I’ve also become increasingly interested in the lives that trees live before they become dead wood.

Ellen's book list on trees, living and dead

Ellen E. Wohl Why did Ellen love this book?

I have been fortunate enough to go on canopy walkways through tropical forests and the diversity of colors, shapes, scents, and sounds are fascinating. Lowman describes how the first scientists to venture into the unexplored world of the forest canopy actually got up there and what they found. Lowman tells the story of her own life in the canopy, providing a window into how scientists work, and explaining how she has balanced a research career featuring international travel and motherhood.

By Margaret D. Lowman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Forest canopies have been characterized as one of the last biotic frontiers on Earth: tree crowns have been difficult to study scientifically because access to them has been so challenging. During the past two decades, however, methods for canopy access have greatly improved. In this book a pioneer canopy scientist describes the mysteries of the treetops-their inhabitants, flowers and fruits, growth and mortality, patterns of diversity, and plant and animal interactions. Margaret Lowman writes about different canopy access techniques in conjunction with the scientific hypotheses she was addressing while using each one. She also portrays the life of a field…


Book cover of Zonia's Rain Forest

Laura Resau Author Of Stand as Tall as the Trees: How an Amazonian Community Protected the Rain Forest

From my list on children’s pictures set in South America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I feel passionate about spreading the word about all the fantastic children’s literature set in South America. As an author and a multilingual mom whose son enjoys learning about his Latin American heritage, I’ve always brought home stacks of picture books—in Spanish and English—that celebrate Latin American cultures and settings. I’ve loved traveling to the Andes mountains and the Amazon rain forest as part of my children’s book collaborations with Indigenous women in those regions. Most of all, I love transporting young readers to these inspiring places through story.

Laura's book list on children’s pictures set in South America

Laura Resau Why did Laura love this book?

Several years ago, I took a beautiful and eye-opening trip to an Indigenous-run ecolodge in the Amazon Rain Forest.

Tragically, the following year, the community was displaced after an oil company invaded and destroyed their forest. So, I connected strongly to this book, which tells the story of Zonia, an Indigenous Asháninka girl living in the Peruvian Amazon, who forms playful and sacred bonds with her plant and animal friends.

But when she comes across felled trees, she must respond to the forest’s call for help. The illustrations are sweet and warm, inviting readers to take part in Zonia’s experiences. And when we witness the stark devastation, we feel her despair and her call to action.

I loved this book that encourages us all to support Indigenous and environmental rights.

By Juana Martinez-Neal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Zonia's Rain Forest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A heartfelt, visually stunning picture book from Caldecott Honor and Robert F. Sibert Medal winner Juana Martinez-Neal illuminates a young girl’s day of play and adventure in the lush rain forest of Peru.

Zonia’s home is the Amazon rain forest, where it is always green and full of life. Every morning, the rain forest calls to Zonia, and every morning, she answers. She visits the sloth family, greets the giant anteater, and runs with the speedy jaguar. But one morning, the rain forest calls to her in a troubled voice. How will Zonia answer?
Acclaimed author-illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal explores the…


Book cover of The World Was My Garden: Travels of a Plant Explorer

Jane S. Smith Author Of The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants

From my list on changing how you think about plants and gardens.

Why am I passionate about this?

All my writing starts with the question, How did we get here? As the granddaughter of a grocer and the daughter of a food editor, I grew up wondering about the quest for new and better foods—especially when other people began saying “new” and “better” were contradictions. Which is better, native or imported? Heirloom or hybrid? Our roses today are patented, and our food supplies are dominated by multi-national seed companies, but not very long ago, the new sciences of evolution and genetics promised an end to scarcity and monotony. If we explore the sources of our gardens, we can understand our world. That‘s what I tried to do in The Garden of Invention, and that’s why I recommend these books.  

Jane's book list on changing how you think about plants and gardens

Jane S. Smith Why did Jane love this book?

David Fairchild was one of the early leaders of the US Department of Agriculture, traveling the world like a botanical Indiana Jones to gather cuttings and learn about local methods of cultivation and pest control.  He introduced thousands of new crops to the United States, from mangos to soybeans. Wouldn’t you love to list “plant explorer” as your job description?

By David Fairchild,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

David Fairchild wrote this book to describe his extensive world travels and his work introducing new plant species to the United States. In addition to sharing his legendary tropical botanical expertise, Fairchild provided graphic accounts of native cultures he was able to see before their modernization. He was an accomplished photographer and illustrated the book himself.

This is his personal story of his experiences, traveling endlessly, absorbing information about plant life and sending back cuttings to experiment with, investigating plant disease, and so on. His training and experiences in European laboratories and his travels brought him into contact with most…


Book cover of Murder Most Florid: Inside the Mind of a Forensic Botanist

Tim Sullivan Author Of The Monk

From my list on forensic investigation in murder cases.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated with crime and crime fiction. From my early obsession with the novels of Raymond Chandler to my embarrassingly late discovery of Agatha Christie. I directed epsiodes of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett for Masterpiece theatre, which was a dream come true. But it frustrates me when television dramas tread roughshod over forensic science, making absurd claims for what can be done, when the truth, as mundane as it often can be, is so much more fascinating. To this end I have just graduated with an Mlitt from the University of Dundee in Crime Fiction and Forensic Investigation. I hope this will lend my books an air of authenticity and dramatic drive.

Tim's book list on forensic investigation in murder cases

Tim Sullivan Why did Tim love this book?

On a slightly lighter note, although still involved in the solving of murder, this book is written by a forensic botanist.

It’s about how dirt, seeds, and grasses can be utilised in solving crime. An unusual and unique career and all the more fascinating because of it. He talks about his frustration with dealing with some police officers who don’t appreciate how important this science can be.

It’s a brilliant demonstration of how simple, old botanical observations are still relevant and can be crucial in solving a murder in an age of DNA and digital analysis. All of this explained in language that we can all understand.

By Mark A. Spencer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dr Mark Spencer is a forensic botanist - in other words, he helps police with cases where plants can unlock clues to solve crimes, from murder and rape to arson and burglary.

Murder Most Florid is an enthralling, first-person account that follows Mark's unconventional and unique career, one that takes him to woodlands, wasteland and roadsides, as well as police labs, to examine the botanical evidence of serious crimes. From unearthing a decomposing victim from brambles to dissecting the vegetation of a shallow grave, Mark's botanical knowledge can be crucial to securing a conviction.

More widely, this gripping book challenges…


Book cover of To Speak for the Trees: My Life's Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest

Ellen Dee Davidson Author Of Wild Path to the Sacred Heart

From my list on women’s true stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a woman, I am passionate about valuing the voices of women equally with those of men. When we listen to each other, we will be able to come into a better balance that will help us restore ourselves and our Earth. We need the visions of women to help guide us through these challenging times! I’m also passionate about the wild beauty of nature, especially trees, and spend lots of time hiking and meditating in the ancient redwood forests near my home. This has helped me heal and expanded my perception. In a way, being in the forest has brought me home to myself. 

Ellen's book list on women’s true stories

Ellen Dee Davidson Why did Ellen love this book?

To Speak for the Trees is one of my favorite books ever, partly because I love trees, and partly because of my own Celtic heritage from my maternal line. Diana Beresord-Kroeger, a scientist in biochemistry and botany, begins with her childhood in Ireland. After losing her parents at a young age, she is raised in the ancient Celtic nature wisdom and Druid beliefs by an entire community, and literally taught the language of trees: Ogham. Blending scientific discoveries about trees and the importance of forests to our species' survival, this book is a fast and delightful read that I won’t forget. I feel enriched from having been blessed to spend time with such a brilliant woman through the pages of her book. 

By Diana Beresford-Kroeger,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked To Speak for the Trees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Diana Beresford-Kroeger - a world-recognised botanist and medical biochemist - has revolutionised our understanding of the natural world with her startling insights into the hidden life of trees. In this riveting memoir, she uncovers the roots of her discoveries in her extraordinary childhood in Ireland. Soon after, her brilliant mind bloomed into an illustrious scientific career that melds the intricacies of the natural world with the truths of traditional Celtic wisdom. To Speak for the Trees uniquely blends the story of Beresford-Kroeger's incredible life and her outstanding achievement as a scientist. It elegantly shows us how forests can not only…


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