100 books like The Great Work

By Thomas Berry,

Here are 100 books that The Great Work fans have personally recommended if you like The Great Work. 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 Cosmos

Ursula Goodenough Author Of The Sacred Depths of Nature: How Life Has Emerged and Evolved

From my list on an ecospiritual orientation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m working with others to develop what we call a religious naturalist orientation or an ecospiritual orientation, and these books have deeply guided my path and inspired the writing of my own book. 

Ursula's book list on an ecospiritual orientation

Ursula Goodenough Why did Ursula love this book?

Astronomer Carl Sagan can be said to have launched the ecospiritual/religious naturalist trajectory with this book, upon which the TV series was based, later writing: A religion that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later such a religion will emerge.”

Two seminal quotes: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

By Carl Sagan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

* Spacecraft missions to nearby planets
* The Library of ancient Alexandria
* The human brain
* Egyptian hieroglyphics
* The origin of life
* The death of the sun
* The evolution of galaxies
* The origins of matter, suns and worlds

The story of fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution transforming matter and life into consciousness, of how science and civilisation grew up together, and of the forces and individuals who helped shape modern science. A story told with Carl Sagan's remarkable ability to make scientific ideas both comprehensible and exciting.


Book cover of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Andrea Lani Author Of Uphill Both Ways: Hiking toward Happiness on the Colorado Trail

From my list on women in the wild.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Colorado gal living in Maine, where I make the most of the long winters and gloomy springs by spending as much time as I can outside in our 20 acres of woods and fields. I hiked the Colorado Trail twice, in 1996 with my husband and in 2016 with my husband and three kids. My book tells the story of this second hike, as well as the natural and environmental history of Colorado. I’m a Maine Master Naturalist, and I’m passionate about connecting people to the natural world through nature journaling and nature writing workshops.

Andrea's book list on women in the wild

Andrea Lani Why did Andrea love this book?

Until I discovered this book in my early twenties, most of my reading about the natural world had come from male writers who encountered that world in a spirit of discovery and domination.

Dillard’s relationship with the creek she visited seemingly daily was a different approach entirely—she came as an acolyte, ready to watch, listen, and learn what the wild things of that stream had to teach her. Her writing is introspective and contemplative, and it swings wildly between esoteric readings and embodied experiences on the ground, creating a breathless, mind-body reading experience.

By Annie Dillard,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Pilgrim at Tinker Creek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek has continued to change people's lives for over thirty years. A passionate and poetic reflection on the mystery of creation with its beauty on the one hand and cruelty on the other, it has become a modern American literary classic in the tradition of Thoreau. Living in solitude in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Roanoke, Virginia, and observing the changing seasons, the flora and fauna, the author reflects on the nature of creation and of the God who set it in motion. Whether the images are cruel or lovely, the language is memorably beautiful and poetic,…


Book cover of Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement

Robert Zimdahl Author Of Agriculture's Ethical Horizon

From my list on beginning to think about the ethics of agriculture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Several years ago I gave a paper - Human experiments in Teratogenicity - a brief exploration of the use of herbicides in the Vietnam. I was accused of and being a traitor to my discipline and siding with the environmentalists who wanted to diminish herbicide use in agriculture. I wasn't guilty as charged. The accusation encouraged me to explore agriculture's values and ethical foundation. I have continued to explore the ethics of agriculture, question the ethics of the whole agricultural enterprise. I've written, learned, and thought about the application of moral philosophy to agriculture. The book selected will help readers think about the questions and guide those interested in pursuing the application of moral philosophy to agriculture.

Robert's book list on beginning to think about the ethics of agriculture

Robert Zimdahl Why did Robert love this book?

One of the very important agricultural issues is treatment of animals especially those grown in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Singer was among the very first who wrote about how animals are treated by the agricultural enterprise and by people. He was among the first to tell us that animals can suffer and therefore we must consider our moral obligation to any creature that can suffer.

Animal science has made more progress than most other agricultural disciplines in changing the way animals are treated. There is still a long way to go.

By Peter Singer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How should we treat non-human animals? In this immensely powerful and influential book (now with a new introduction by Sapiens author Yuval Noah Harari), the renowned moral philosopher Peter Singer addresses this simple question with trenchant, dispassionate reasoning. Accompanied by the disturbing evidence of factory farms and laboratories, his answers triggered the birth of the animal rights movement.

'An extraordinary book which has had extraordinary effects... Widely known as the bible of the animal liberation movement' Independent on Sunday

In the decades since this landmark classic first appeared, some public attitudes to animals may have changed but our continued abuse…


Book cover of The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Robert Zimdahl Author Of Agriculture's Ethical Horizon

From my list on beginning to think about the ethics of agriculture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Several years ago I gave a paper - Human experiments in Teratogenicity - a brief exploration of the use of herbicides in the Vietnam. I was accused of and being a traitor to my discipline and siding with the environmentalists who wanted to diminish herbicide use in agriculture. I wasn't guilty as charged. The accusation encouraged me to explore agriculture's values and ethical foundation. I have continued to explore the ethics of agriculture, question the ethics of the whole agricultural enterprise. I've written, learned, and thought about the application of moral philosophy to agriculture. The book selected will help readers think about the questions and guide those interested in pursuing the application of moral philosophy to agriculture.

Robert's book list on beginning to think about the ethics of agriculture

Robert Zimdahl Why did Robert love this book?

Wendell Berry is a Kentucky farmer, a prolific author, an environmental activist, cultural critic, and poet.

In this book, one of his many, he raises important questions about the practice of agriculture in the United States and some of the consequences including loss of small farms and communities, the ecological effects, energy use, and agriculture's externalities.

His work has been largely ignored by the agricultural community including most faculty in colleges of agriculture. He writes eloquently about his concern that man was not made to rule the world and his claim that to rule the world we must conquer it.

Humans and agriculture have conquered and ignored and externalized the cultural, environmental, and human costs, which Berry explores in detail. His work has not been ignored by the environmental community.

By Wendell Berry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since its publication in 1977, The Unsettling of America has been recognized as a classic of American letters. In it, Wendell Berry argues that good farming is a cultural and spiritual discipline. Today’s agribusiness, however, takes farming out of its cultural context and away from families. As a result, we as a nation are more estranged from the land—from the intimate knowledge, love, and care of it.

Sadly, his arguments and observations are more relevant than ever. Although “this book has not had the happy fate of being proved wrong,” Berry writes, there are people working “to make something comely…


Book cover of Agricultural Ethics: Research, Teaching and Public Policy

Robert Zimdahl Author Of Agriculture's Ethical Horizon

From my list on beginning to think about the ethics of agriculture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Several years ago I gave a paper - Human experiments in Teratogenicity - a brief exploration of the use of herbicides in the Vietnam. I was accused of and being a traitor to my discipline and siding with the environmentalists who wanted to diminish herbicide use in agriculture. I wasn't guilty as charged. The accusation encouraged me to explore agriculture's values and ethical foundation. I have continued to explore the ethics of agriculture, question the ethics of the whole agricultural enterprise. I've written, learned, and thought about the application of moral philosophy to agriculture. The book selected will help readers think about the questions and guide those interested in pursuing the application of moral philosophy to agriculture.

Robert's book list on beginning to think about the ethics of agriculture

Robert Zimdahl Why did Robert love this book?

Paul Thompson is Professor of philosophy and holds the Kellogg chair in agricultural ethics at Michigan State University.

He was the first philosopher to explore the ethics of agriculture. It might be more correct to say he was the first to explore the lack of a specific ethical foundation for agriculture. He is a prolific writer and has published several books and numerous papers on agricultural ethics.

I have met him, read his work, and have benefited from his knowledge.

By Paul B. Thompson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Presents a collection of essays written over a period of 15 years by agricultural ethicist Paul B. Thompson. The essays address the practical application of ethics to agriculture in a world faced with issues of increased yield, threatened environment, and the disappearance of the family farm.


Book cover of World Hunger and Moral Obligation

Robert Zimdahl Author Of Agriculture's Ethical Horizon

From my list on beginning to think about the ethics of agriculture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Several years ago I gave a paper - Human experiments in Teratogenicity - a brief exploration of the use of herbicides in the Vietnam. I was accused of and being a traitor to my discipline and siding with the environmentalists who wanted to diminish herbicide use in agriculture. I wasn't guilty as charged. The accusation encouraged me to explore agriculture's values and ethical foundation. I have continued to explore the ethics of agriculture, question the ethics of the whole agricultural enterprise. I've written, learned, and thought about the application of moral philosophy to agriculture. The book selected will help readers think about the questions and guide those interested in pursuing the application of moral philosophy to agriculture.

Robert's book list on beginning to think about the ethics of agriculture

Robert Zimdahl Why did Robert love this book?

When I began my career as a professor at Colorado State University I knew my responsibility was to study the kinetics of herbicide degradation and soil and develop systems for weed control in agronomic crops.

During my academic career at Cornell University and Oregon State University no one ever suggested I should take class in philosophy or that agriculture had moral problems. I knew and my professors emphasized agriculture was a worthy and essential human endeavor.

When I first became acquainted with William Aiken and he introduced me to his book my view of agriculture began to change. I realized the value and essential role of moral philosophy to agriculture. I know I was viewed as a traitor to my discipline, but Aiken's book convinced me there was something wrong.

As a professor and educator I had a responsibility to begin to study and write about agricultural ethics.

By William Aiken, Hugh LaFollette,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked World Hunger and Moral Obligation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paperback


Book cover of Everybody's Story: Wising Up to the Epic of Evolution

Ursula Goodenough Author Of The Sacred Depths of Nature: How Life Has Emerged and Evolved

From my list on an ecospiritual orientation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m working with others to develop what we call a religious naturalist orientation or an ecospiritual orientation, and these books have deeply guided my path and inspired the writing of my own book. 

Ursula's book list on an ecospiritual orientation

Ursula Goodenough Why did Ursula love this book?

Philosopher Loyal Rue, an important mentor of mine, coined and developed the concept that our science-based understandings of cosmic, planetary, and biological evolution represent Everybody’s Story, a notion he first proposed in Amythia: Crisis in the Natural History of Western Culture. He writes with lucidity, grace, and deep wisdom, and is frequently quoted in my book.

By Loyal Rue,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everybody's Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This exhilarating tale of natural history illuminates the evolution of matter, life, and consciousness. In Everybody’s Story, Loyal Rue finds the means for global solidarity and cooperation in the shared story of humanity.


Book cover of When God is Gone, Everything is Holy: The Making of a Religious Naturalist

Ursula Goodenough Author Of The Sacred Depths of Nature: How Life Has Emerged and Evolved

From my list on an ecospiritual orientation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m working with others to develop what we call a religious naturalist orientation or an ecospiritual orientation, and these books have deeply guided my path and inspired the writing of my own book. 

Ursula's book list on an ecospiritual orientation

Ursula Goodenough Why did Ursula love this book?

Astronomer Chet Raymo wrote a weekly column for the Boston Globe called Science Musings, and is a masterful storyteller and delightful human being.

Here are some quotes about the nature of scientific inquiry. “Delight in the unexpected is part of the lifeblood of science. Almost alone among belief systems, science welcomes the disturbingly new.” “Science is a spider’s web. Confidence in any one strand of the web is maintained by the tension and resiliency of the entire web.” “Science, like the play of children, satisfies a deep-seated need for escape from the boredom of fixity and the trauma of chaos.”

By Chet Raymo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When God is Gone, Everything is Holy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In what he describes as a "late-life credo," renowned science writer Chet Raymo narrates his half-century journey from the traditional Catholicism of his youth to his present perspective as a "Catholic agnostic." As a scientist, Raymo holds to the skepticism that accepts only verifiable answers, but as a "religious naturalist," he never ceases his pursuit of "the beautiful and terrible mystery that soaks creation." Raymo assembles a stunning array of scientists, philosophers, mystics, and poets who help him discover "glimmers of the Absolute in every particular." Whether exploring the connection of the human body to the stars or the meaning…


Book cover of The Dream of the Earth

Brian Thomas Swimme Author Of Cosmogenesis: An Unveiling of the Expanding Universe

From my list on science books on the universe with a spiritual inclination.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I learned science's story of the universe–that it began as a primordial plasma that transformed itself into stars, galaxies and a living planet that then transmogrified into plants and animals and consciousness–when I learned the details of how the universe began as small as an acorn and then magically transformed that acorn of elementary particles into two trillion galaxies, I was beset with one, piercing, lifelong question: WHY ISN'T EVERYONE WAKING UP EACH MORNING STUNNED OUT OF THEIR MINDS? My entire professional life has been an effort to draw others into this amazement, into life as an ongoing celebration.

Brian's book list on science books on the universe with a spiritual inclination

Brian Thomas Swimme Why did Brian love this book?

Thomas Berry was a cultural historian who studied the cultures of Europe, China, America, India, and the Indigenous worlds with a single burning question in his mind: What is the role of humanity in the universe? Of course, this idea that humanity has a cosmic role is the opposite of the view promoted by modern science of an evolving universe that is going nowhere.

Given his professional background in the humanities, it is surprising that Berry names science as the primary revelation of the divine. He is committed to the idea that the sciences have discovered a common creation story, one that will play an important role for centuries to come. 

When I first met Thomas Berry and asked him about my personal role in the universe, he said simply, "Tell science's story of a developing universe; but tell it with a feeling for its music. That's what the spiritual…

By Thomas Berry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This landmark work, first published by Sierra Club Books in 1988, has established itself as a foundational volume in the ecological canon. In it, noted cultural historian Thomas Berry provides nothing less than a new intellectual-ethical framework for the human community by positing planetary well-being as the measure of all human activity.

Drawing on the wisdom of Western philosophy, Asian thought, and Native American traditions, as well as contemporary physics and evolutionary biology, Berry offers a new perspective that recasts our understanding of science, technology, politics, religion, ecology, and education. He shows us why it is important for us to…


Book cover of Deep Ecology for the Twenty-First Century: Readings on the Philosophy and Practice of the New Environmentalism

Rex Weyler Author Of Greenpeace: The Inside Story

From my list on ecology from an ecologist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Rex Weyler is a writer and ecologist. His books include Blood of the Land, a history of indigenous American nations, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; Greenpeace: The Inside Story, a finalist for the BC Book Award and the Shaughnessy-Cohen Award for Political Writing; and The Jesus Sayings, a deconstruction of first-century history, a finalist for the BC Book Award. In the 1970s, Weyler was a co-founder of Greenpeace International and editor of the Greenpeace Chronicles. He served on campaigns to preserve rivers and forests, and to stop whaling, sealing, and toxic dumping.

Rex's book list on ecology from an ecologist

Rex Weyler Why did Rex love this book?

The best available summary of Deep Ecology. An anthology of seminal essays inspired by Norwegian philosopher and activist Arne Naess, who sought to create an ecological paradigm shift in society – his work influenced the Greenpeace founders. This collection includes essays by Naess, Chellis Glendinning, Gary Snyder, Dolores LaChapelle, Paul Shepard, and others, who examine the ecological tradition from Spinoza and Thoreau to Santayana and ecofeminism. 

By George Sessions,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Deep Ecology for the Twenty-First Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every day, in newspapers and on television, we read and hear about the ongoing destruction of the environment: the greenhouse effect, ozone layer depletion, deforestation, and air and water pollution. Deep Ecology offers a solution to the environmental crisis through a radical shift in human consciousness—a fundamental change in the way people relate with the environment. Instead of thinking of nature as a resource to be used for human needs, Deep Ecology argues that the true value of nature is intrinsic and independent of its utility. Emerging in the 1980s as an influential philosophical, social, and political movement, Deep Ecology…


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