10 books like The Invention of Nature

By Andrea Wulf,

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

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Into the Wild

By Jon Krakauer,

Book cover of Into the Wild

Perhaps no one—including Kerouac—embodies this characteristic restlessness more purely than Chris McCandless, the subject of Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild. McCandless’s story has captured the imagination of legions of readers, myself included (not everyone is on board; there are those who consider McCandless a fool). I’m sure I’m not the only one who read the book in one sitting, unable to set it down. What’s so mesmerizing about McCandless’s story, for those who can’t resist it, is his utter belief (saintly in its way) that the physical journey is in fact a quest, a kind of soul-searching that leads to enlightenment. That his journey ends badly somehow seems to validate his belief. McCandless dared to go to the limits, even if it meant there was no return.

Into the Wild

By Jon Krakauer,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Into the Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Krakauer’s page-turning bestseller explores a famed missing person mystery while unraveling the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

"Terrifying... Eloquent... A heart-rending drama of human yearning." —New York Times

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all…


Defiant Earth

By Clive Hamilton,

Book cover of Defiant Earth: The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene

A profoundly depressing but important explanation of the paradox that the more power humans gain over the Earth, the more the planet we call home will turn against us, a fundamental shift in humanity's relationship with nature, and making our existence ever more precarious.

Defiant Earth

By Clive Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Humans have become so powerful that we have disrupted the functioning of the Earth System as a whole, bringing on a new geological epoch the Anthropocene one in which the serene and clement conditions that allowed civilisation to flourish are disappearing and we quail before 'the wakened giant'. The emergence of a conscious creature capable of using technology to bring about a rupture in the Earth's geochronology is an event of monumental significance, on a par with the arrival of civilisation itself. What does it mean to have arrived at this point, where human history and Earth history collide? Some…


The World Without Us

By Alan Weisman,

Book cover of The World Without Us

When trying to imagine what would happen if civilization collapsed, you run up against some really basic, logistical details. Like, what actually happens to all our stuff, if no one's around to take care of it? Turns out, it falls apart a lot quicker than you'd think. Anyone who's noticed the grass and saplings coming up through the pavement in an abandoned lot after just a couple of years understands this. Now expand that to everything. Weisman's book asks questions about this post-people world I didn't even know to ask and the answers are fascinating.

The World Without Us

By Alan Weisman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The World Without Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Revised Edition with New Afterword from the Author

Time #1 Nonfiction Book of the Year

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

Over 3 million copies sold in 35 Languages

"On the day after humans disappear, nature takes over and immediately begins cleaning house - or houses, that is. Cleans them right off the face of the earth. They all go."

What if mankind disappeared right now, forever... what would happen to the Earth in a week, a year, a millennium? Could the planet's climate ever recover from human activity? How would nature destroy our huge cities and our…


Half-Earth

By Edward O. Wilson,

Book cover of Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life

EO Wilson died just a few weeks ago, at the age of 92. It was a sad day for me, as he has always been one of my great heroes. “E.O.” was a fantastic scientist, a world authority on ants, and sometimes known as the “father of biodiversity”. In this book, he argues that we have no right to drive millions of species extinct and that our own future depends upon setting aside half the Earth for nature.    

Half-Earth

By Edward O. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

History is not a prerogative of the human species, Edward O. Wilson declares in Half-Earth. Demonstrating that we blindly ignore the histories of millions of other species, Wilson warns us that a point of no return is imminent. Refusing to believe that our extinction is predetermined, Wilson has written Half-Earth as a cri de coeur, proposing that the only solution to our impending "Sixth Extinction" is to increase the area of natural reserves to half the surface of the earth. Half-Earth is a resounding conclusion to the best-selling trilogy begun by the "splendid" (Financial Times) The Social Conquest of Earth…


Entangled Life

By Merlin Sheldrake,

Book cover of Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

While studying wildlife, I often slept on a polythene sheet on the floor of a tropical rainforest. In the velvet blackness, I would look down on the tracery of glowing fungal threads everywhere in the leaf litter of the forest floor. In my memory they blend with night flights over human cities: bright trunk roads and byways among the packed ranks of houses, all in a wide and sparkling network. And so it is with the fungal kingdom described here. A vast aspect of life on Earth is revealed that is almost entirely invisible to the naked eye, yet makes life work in all its parts, including us. It's the rich but easy-read kind of book that makes you say, 'well I never!' on every page, from sheer wonder at seeing how fungi join things up in a living world of near-infinite complexity.

Entangled Life

By Merlin Sheldrake,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Entangled Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A “brilliant [and] entrancing” (The Guardian) journey into the hidden lives of fungi—the great connectors of the living world—and their astonishing and intimate roles in human life, with the power to heal our bodies, expand our minds, and help us address our most urgent environmental problems.

“Grand and dizzying in how thoroughly it recalibrates our understanding of the natural world.”—Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—Time, BBC Science Focus, The Daily Mail, Geographical, The Times, The Telegraph, New Statesman, London Evening Standard, Science Friday

When we think…


Silent Spring

By Rachel Carson,

Book cover of Silent Spring

Two years ago I´ve read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring for the first time. I was baffled. It´s a book on the biodiversity crisis in the 50s and 60s, but it seemed like reading a new release. That´s not only because of Carson’s lively and modern way to describe the vanishing of insects and birds because of DDT & Co. It´s also because the spreading of as powerful as disastrous pesticides still continues today as does the view that nature has to serve humans.

Silent Spring

By Rachel Carson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published by Houghton Mifflin in 1962, Silent Spring alerted a large audience to the environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides, spurring revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. "Silent Spring became a runaway bestseller, with international reverberations . . . [It is] well crafted, fearless and succinct . . . Even if she had not inspired a generation of activists, Carson would prevail as one of the greatest nature writers in American letters" (Peter Matthiessen, for Time"s 100 Most Influential People of the Century). This fortieth anniversary edition celebrates Rachel Carson"s watershed…


The Song of the Dodo

By David Quammen,

Book cover of The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions

Not many can manage the task of mastering a complicated subject and turn it into life—which means storytelling—as good as David Quammen. In his books he writes long passages on scientific discourses that sometimes come close to textbooks. But I enjoy reading them, because I learn so much and because he alternates these sections with (often very funny) stories. Stories of people that shape their scientific field, which reads like a good novel. Like in “The song of the Dodo”—a portrait of the scientific field of “Island Biogeography,” which explains why animal and plant species are where they are and why they become extinct when their habitat becomes too small.

The Song of the Dodo

By David Quammen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Compulsively readable—a masterpiece, maybe the masterpiece of science journalism.” —Bill McKibben, Audubon

A brilliant, stirring work, breathtaking in its scope and far-reaching in its message, The Song of the Dodo is a crucial book in precarious times. Through personal observation, scientific theory, and history, David Quammen examines the mysteries of evolution and extinction and radically alters our understanding of the natural world and our place within it.

In this landmark of science writing, we learn how the isolation of islands makes them natural laboratories of evolutionary extravagance, as seen in the dragons of Komodo, the elephant birds of Madagascar, the…


Who We Are and How We Got Here

By David Reich,

Book cover of Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past

This book explains in a wonderful language how we became the humans we are, from the roots in Africa to the spreading across continents. It even reconstructs the genetic fingerprints of Tschingis Kan in the modern human genome along his war routes. From DNA recovered from bones we also learn how waves of migrations with associated pandemics replace one continental gene pool with another one, and how the Americas were inhabited. Every educated person can understand this book. Truly eye-opening. 

Who We Are and How We Got Here

By David Reich,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Who We Are and How We Got Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The past few years have witnessed a revolution in our ability to obtain DNA from ancient humans. This important new data has added to our knowledge from archaeology and anthropology, helped resolve long-existing controversies, challenged long-held views, and thrown up remarkable surprises.

The emerging picture is one of many waves of ancient human migrations, so that all populations living today are mixes of ancient ones, and often carry a genetic component from archaic humans. David Reich, whose team has been at the forefront of these discoveries, explains what genetics is telling us about ourselves and our complex and often surprising…


Under a White Sky

By Elizabeth Kolbert,

Book cover of Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future

I have to start with a confession: I buy many books on the climate and biodiversity crisis—as this is my main focus as a science journalist—but in many cases, I have to quit reading after several chapters. Even if they are of relevance—they often are simply too depressing and a mere accumulation of horrible facts.

This does not apply to the books of Elizabeth Kolbert—which is all the more amazing as her topic is hard stuff: How men alter and destroy nature, which we depend on. But nonetheless: I can´t stop reading it. Kolbert travels far and takes her readers to magical places that appear to be from a different planet. And by this she pulls one deeper and deeper into complicated issues, she manages to explain in a fascinating and readable way.

Under a White Sky

By Elizabeth Kolbert,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Under a White Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sixth Extinction returns to humanity’s transformative impact on the environment, now asking: After doing so much damage, can we change nature, this time to save it?

RECOMMENDED BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND BILL GATES • SHORTLISTED FOR THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE FOR WRITING • ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Washington Post • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Time, Esquire, Smithsonian Magazine, Vulture, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal • “Beautifully and insistently, Kolbert shows us that it is time to think radically about the ways…


The Glass Universe

By Dava Sobel,

Book cover of The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars

This is a very readable account of a group of women working on a project at Harvard University’s observatory in the late nineteenth century. The project involved studying glass-plate negatives of the sky and in doing so learning more about the night sky, the composition of stars, and their evolution. Through the story of these women, Sobel shows the extent to which the university supported and nurtured them, it also brilliantly brings to life these women using their own words to show their awareness of certain injustices. This book is a great way into to understanding science as it properly is: more often than not collaborative and collective rather than the isolating work of a stereotypical lone genius. It is also a great story, engagingly told.

The Glass Universe

By Dava Sobel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Dava Sobel, the "inspiring" (People), little-known true story of women's landmark contributions to astronomy

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Named one of the best books of the year by NPR, The Economist, Smithsonian, Nature, and NPR's Science Friday

Nominated for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

"A joy to read." -The Wall Street Journal

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or "human computers," to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night. At the outset this group included the…


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