100 books like The Invention of Nature

By Andrea Wulf,

Here are 100 books that The Invention of Nature fans have personally recommended if you like The Invention of Nature. 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 Into the Wild

M. R. Reed Author Of Enthrall

From my list on doing what is right when others are against you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m drawn to the idea of doing what you think is right when others are against you because I’ve always felt the desire to row against the current and just do my own thing. I tend to avoid following the crowd because oftentimes I simply don’t agree with them. Am I being purposely difficult? Maybe. But I fear a society that goes with the flow simply because it’s easier and it doesn’t require them to think for themselves. It’s okay to listen to other people, but before you make any major decisions, ask yourself a question: Is this right for me?

M. R.'s book list on doing what is right when others are against you

M. R. Reed Why did M. R. love this book?

Here’s my confession: I hated Chris McCandless by the time I finished this book. I hated his cockiness and lack of respect for the power of the wilderness.

But you know what I give him credit for? His ability to leave his life of privilege and the courage to go out into the world and forge his own destiny. He did what he thought was best for him despite the pushback he received from his friends and family.

I think I hated him so much because I wanted him to succeed, and he doomed himself through his own hubris. 

By Jon Krakauer,

Why should I read it?

18 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…


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

Chris Fitch Author Of Subterranea: Discovering the Earth's Extraordinary Hidden Depth

From my list on rethink nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

Chris Fitch is a writer, geographer, and storyteller. Formerly a senior staff writer at Geographical, the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society, he has reported from Australia to Kenya, Arizona to the Galápagos Islands, covering global stories on climate change, ecological urbanism, wildlife conservation, cultural revitalisation, sustainable development, geopolitics, science, travel, and more.

Chris' book list on rethink nature

Chris Fitch Why did Chris love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of The World Without Us

Kevin Herbst Author Of The End of Heroes

From my list on SF&F for spring.

Why am I passionate about this?

Starting with Tolkien’s novels as a child, I’ve devoured countless SF&F stories. My love of the genre, particularly high fantasy, combined with the irritatingly fashionable trend of so many fantasy authors to stop writing their stories partway through and leave we readers high and dry, motivated me to start writing, to see if I could create something that I was missing as I hunted for new material to read. As an intense hater of winter, spring always signified to me a time of hope, of new growth, of opportunity, of the ending of difficulty, and the start of a time when all things were possible. 

Kevin's book list on SF&F for spring

Kevin Herbst Why did Kevin love this book?

Much SF&F literature has explored the concept of what the world might look like with fewer (or no) humans.

Weisman’s well-researched book imagines how our environment would recover; how nature might take back control without humans around to continue wrecking it.

He imagines the primacy of nature in a fascinating way and manages to avoid the normative language that might be off-putting, drawing the reader into a place that might as well be 1000 light years away from Earth.

By Alan Weisman,

Why should I read it?

3 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…


Book cover of Half-Earth

Dave Goulson Author Of The Garden Jungle

From my list on rewilding and the biodiversity crisis.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved insects and other wildlife for all of my life. I am now a professor of Biology at the University of Sussex, UK, specializing in bee ecology. I have published more than 400 scientific articles on the ecology and conservation of bumblebees and other insects, plus seven books, including the Sunday Times bestsellers A Sting in the Tale (2013), The Garden Jungle (2019), and Silent Earth (2021). They’ve been translated into 20 languages and sold over half a million copies. I also founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2006, a charity that has grown to 12,000 members. 

Dave's book list on rewilding and the biodiversity crisis

Dave Goulson Why did Dave love this book?

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.    

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…


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

Zuza Zak Author Of Slavic Kitchen Alchemy: Nourishing Herbal Remedies, Magical Recipes & Folk Wisdom

From my list on wild foods and ancient ways.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Communist Poland, and when we emigrated to the UK, I craved the tastes of my childhood. More than that, I missed the culture of foraging, preserving, fermenting, and the stories that accompanied these processes–there was something deeply ingrained in my soul that I have been called to explore within my own work. I have written four books on East European cuisine. Slavic Kitchen Alchemy is rather different from the others because of its focus on herbs, healing, and mythology. The books on this list have inspired me in my own writing, and I will keep returning to them again and again.

Zuza's book list on wild foods and ancient ways

Zuza Zak Why did Zuza love this book?

This is one of those books that takes you into a magical, new world; then you remember that, in actual fact, this is the very same world that we live in. The change of perspective that this book gives you can make you dizzy, as every page is filled with mouth-gapingly awesome facts on the life of mushrooms and what they contribute to life on this planet.

Being Polish, I always felt an affinity with mushrooms and thought that I knew more about them than your average person. In the most wonderful way, this book made me realise that I know nothing, and I love books like that.

By Merlin Sheldrake,

Why should I read it?

18 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…


Book cover of Silent Spring

Frank Holzman Author Of A Radiant Earth: Tools for restoring balanced ecosystems to regenerate and reconnect with the planet.

From my list on ecology, regenerative gardening, and farming.

Why am I passionate about this?

These books fall in line with my community of people who care for the Earth. They were my beginning influences to doing the work I have done over the past five decades and in the countries I have worked to teach people how to develop good stewardship practices on the land they worked. Community development is at the heart of what I do. Healing land heals us and helps us become more whole.

Frank's book list on ecology, regenerative gardening, and farming

Frank Holzman Why did Frank love this book?

This was the most popular environmental book of its time. It opened many people up to the assault on nature. This book motivated me to become part of the environmental solution. This book changed the unbridled use of chemicals used on the environment. It helped get rid of DDT in the US. It was an introduction for me to environmental awareness in the 1960s and 1970s.

By Rachel Carson,

Why should I read it?

9 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…


Book cover of Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China

Maxim Samson Author Of Invisible Lines: Boundaries and Belts That Define the World

From my list on redefining your understanding of geography.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Geography professor at DePaul University with a long-standing obsession with the world, comparing puddle shapes to countries as a small child and subsequently initiating map and flag collections that I cultivate to this day. Having lived in different parts of the UK and the USA, as well as being fortunate enough to travel further afield, I’ve relished the opportunity to explore widely and chat with the people who know their places best. I love books that alter how I look at the planet, and I am particularly intrigued by the subtle ways in which people have shaped our world—and our perceptions of it—both intentionally and inadvertently.

Maxim's book list on redefining your understanding of geography

Maxim Samson Why did Maxim love this book?

How often do we consider the people behind the objects we use every day?

This book offers an unrivalled glimpse into the lives of the female workers who manufacture many of the products we take for granted and, in so doing, provides a human face to China’s rapid development. Through her interactions and interviews, Chang illustrates how the emergence of new industrial metropolises is transforming the opportunities and aspirations of young rural women.

While she does not shy away from showing the grittier aspects of China’s colossal factories, crucially, Chang demonstrates how their workers are autonomous individuals with concerns and dreams both relatable and unfamiliar.

This stimulating read is one of my favourite texts to use with university students, raising, as it does, all sorts of questions about gender, class, culture, and individual agency, but it has much to offer a wider audience, too, not least in providing an important…

By Leslie T. Chang,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Factory Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An eye-opening and previously untold story, Factory Girls is the first look into the everyday lives of the migrant factory population in China.

China has 130 million migrant workers—the largest migration in human history. In Factory Girls, Leslie T. Chang, a former correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Beijing, tells the story of these workers primarily through the lives of two young women, whom she follows over the course of three years as they attempt to rise from the assembly lines of Dongguan, an industrial city in China’s Pearl River Delta.

As she tracks their lives, Chang paints a…


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

Benjamin von Brackel Author Of Nowhere Left to Go: How Climate Change Is Driving Species to the Ends of the Earth

From my list on that help you understand the biodiversity crisis.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a science journalist I have concentrated on the consequences of climate change. It´s the most frightening as fascinating experiment, we conduct with our planet. In 2018 I wrote a book on extreme weather together with climate scientist Freddy Otto from the University of Oxford (Angry Weather). After this I got immersed in a different climate consequence: How it is affecting biodiversity and with it the foundation of our societies. But what I also love is good storytelling. I quickly get bored with texts that have no dramaturgy or that don't give the reader any pleasure—unlike the fantastic and highly relevant books on this list.

Benjamin's book list on that help you understand the biodiversity crisis

Benjamin von Brackel Why did Benjamin love this book?

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.

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…


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

Michael Muthukrishna Author Of A Theory of Everyone: The New Science of Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We're Going

From my list on changing how you see the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of economic psychology at the London School of Economics with affiliations in developmental economics and data science. Before that, I was at Harvard in Human Evolutionary Biology. During my PhD, I took graduate courses in psychology, economics, evolutionary biology, and statistics. I have undergraduate degrees in engineering and in psychology and took courses in everything from economics and biology to philosophy and political science. As a child, I witnessed the civil war in Sri Lanka; a violent coup in Papua New Guinea; the end of apartheid in South Africa, living in neighboring Botswana; and London’s 7/7 bomb attacks. I’ve also lived in Australia, Canada, USA, and UK.

Michael's book list on changing how you see the world

Michael Muthukrishna Why did Michael love this book?

The new science of DNA reveals a lot about how we think about identity.

Humans are a migratory species and our stories are complicated. Ancient DNA don't always match people's stories about their ancestors. Rather than being in a place for thousands of years, sometimes we replaced those who were there before or only the males of the group.

Sometimes we completely replaced the group that was there before but the original group's culture persisted or even replaced the invading culture. The book complicates our understanding of indigeneity and belonging.

By David Reich,

Why should I read it?

4 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…


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

Benjamin von Brackel Author Of Nowhere Left to Go: How Climate Change Is Driving Species to the Ends of the Earth

From my list on that help you understand the biodiversity crisis.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a science journalist I have concentrated on the consequences of climate change. It´s the most frightening as fascinating experiment, we conduct with our planet. In 2018 I wrote a book on extreme weather together with climate scientist Freddy Otto from the University of Oxford (Angry Weather). After this I got immersed in a different climate consequence: How it is affecting biodiversity and with it the foundation of our societies. But what I also love is good storytelling. I quickly get bored with texts that have no dramaturgy or that don't give the reader any pleasure—unlike the fantastic and highly relevant books on this list.

Benjamin's book list on that help you understand the biodiversity crisis

Benjamin von Brackel Why did Benjamin love this book?

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.

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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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