100 books like The Sixth Extinction

By Elizabeth Kolbert,

Here are 100 books that The Sixth Extinction fans have personally recommended if you like The Sixth Extinction. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ 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

Hugh Warwick Author Of Cull of the Wild: Killing in the Name of Conservation

From my list on animals and nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved animals—my adopted parents were not particularly interested, but when I met my biological mother in my mid-30s, I found out where it came from! That innate passion has driven my life. Writers like Jane Goodall were the gatekeepers—showing me the way forward and giving me permission to study and care. We need to learn more about nonhuman animals and the ecosystems that we share to better understand how to redress the damage we have caused. And while facts are important, stories are even more so. Each of these authors manages to weave both together with such great skill.

Hugh's book list on animals and nature

Hugh Warwick Why did Hugh love this book?

I have guru-phobia, so I had avoided this book because so many people I knew were declaring it one of the best books ever and that Robin Wall Kimmerer was wonderful. Stupid, right?! But then I read it and could understand.

More than reading and listening to it, I met the author at a literary festival and was even more impressed by her gentle wisdom. She writes about the importance of reciprocity—about the rest of life being just as important as we are. Her work merges wonderfully with Jane Goodall’s, and I would recommend reading them in tandem. 

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

48 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 Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

Thalia Verkade Author Of Movement: how to take back our streets and transform our lives

From my list on letting you perceive the world differently.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing my first book, I found out how dependent my thinking about the world beyond my doorstep was on language made up by engineers (“Please don’t block the driveway”). Engineering language defined how I saw the street. It was a shock to realize how severely this had limited my thinking about public space but also a liberation to become aware of this: now I could perceive streets in completely new and different ways. The books I recommend all have made me perceive the world differently. I hope they do the same for you. Also, see the recommendations by my co-author, Marco te Brömmelstroet.

Thalia's book list on letting you perceive the world differently

Thalia Verkade Why did Thalia love this book?

This book made me see life on Earth in a new way.

Fungi live mostly underground, much less visible than plants or animals. When Merlin Sheldrake started studying fungi at Cambridge, he did this in the Department of Plant Sciences. There is no Department of Fungi Sciences, which helps explain why scientists know so little about them and why society keeps regarding them as less important than plants or animals.

Merlin explains fungi are closer to animals than plants. They are crucial, fascinating, and intelligent beyond ways Western man has words for. He uses language in a sensitive and creative new way to describe and visualize the fungi world. This book is not for fungi lovers (I’m not one); it is for anyone who wants to expand his view of life.

By Merlin Sheldrake,

Why should I read it?

19 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 The Overstory

Dillon Seitchik-Reardon Author Of Places We Swim California: A Guide to the Best Rivers, Lakes, Waterfalls, Beaches, Gorges, and Hot Springs

From my list on inspire you to explore the natural world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a travel writer, photographer, and lover of wilderness. I am the co-author of three travel guides about swimming: Places We Swim Australia, Places We Swim Sydney, and my new book, listed below. Together with my wife, we write about the connection between water, wilderness, and culture. I am fascinated with how people and nature interact and change one another. All of these books and authors on my list reveal how their experiences in nature have fuelled, anchored them, and inspired their craft. 

Dillon's book list on inspire you to explore the natural world

Dillon Seitchik-Reardon Why did Dillon love this book?

This book forever changed the way that I look at trees. It’s a work of fiction, but elements are inspired by the life and research of ecologist Peter Wohlleben and his amazing discoveries of how trees communicate and cooperate.

It is incredibly well crafted and beautifully woven with ecological research in a digestible way. I admire an author who can weave together so many distinct narratives and lives, including the lives of trees.

It did the rounds in my family. Everybody was reading it across the world at the same time, and we loved chatting about it and discussing how much our minds were blown. 

By Richard Powers,

Why should I read it?

31 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 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

William H. Steffen Author Of Anthropocene Theater and the Shakespearean Stage

From my list on invasive species and their impact on human history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an English professor in New England whose research and teaching interests focus on the Shakespearean Stage and the Environmental Humanities. As an educator, I’m always looking for ways to romanticize the impact that literature can have on the world—either politically, ideologically, or physically. The story that Kim Todd shares about the European Starling proliferating in North America because of a Shakespeare-loving member of a New York Acclimatization Society has changed the way that I look at birds, at Shakespeare, and the world. It has encouraged me to find other stories like this one to share with my students—and to tell a few of my own.

William's book list on invasive species and their impact on human history

William H. Steffen Why did William love this book?

I’m grateful to see how the narrative about Columbus, the Pilgrims, and European colonialism has changed since I was in elementary school, but for someone who was taught that Columbus was a kind of hero-genius, this book was a revelation.

One of its most powerful lessons is how efficient pre-capitalist systems of commerce were; the Incan Empire, which was far bigger than the Holy Roman Empire or the Ottoman Empire, never experienced famine because they prioritized life and well-being over gold and profit. This book also shows how flora in the Americas exploded during the sixteenth century, leading to the Orbis Spike, or the beginning of anthropogenic environmental change.

The lessons from the pre-Columbian, pre-capitalist, and pre-Enlightenment world are invaluable for confronting contemporary problems of American democracy and environmentalism today.

By Charles C. Mann,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked 1491 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology that radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492—from “a remarkably engaging writer” (The New York Times Book Review).
 
Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized…


Book cover of Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm

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?

This book by Isabella Tree is the story of how Isabella and her husband, Charlie Burrell, transformed their massive 3500-acre farm in England (100 times the size of our organic farm in France) from an intensively farmed operation that was losing money into a conservation haven and an icon of rewilding or ‘wilding’ as Isabella has termed it. Questions remain about exactly how this model can work without subsidies and/or a heavy emphasis on tourism (they are less than 2 hours drive from London and offer glamping and more) and where/how serious food production fits into this picture.

That said, the other model of intensive farming at Knepp failed both economically and environmentally. Wilding at Knepp is far kinder to the land and the wider environment. It’s economically successful, employing far more people than it did as an intensive farm, and the environmental benefits are off the charts. This book…

By Isabella Tree,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A poignant, practical and moving story of how to fix our broken land, this should be conservation's salvation; this should be its future; this is a new hope' - Chris Packham

In Wilding, Isabella Tree tells the story of the 'Knepp experiment', a pioneering rewilding project in West Sussex, using free-roaming grazing animals to create new habitats for wildlife. Part gripping memoir, part fascinating account of the ecology of our countryside, Wilding is, above all, an inspiring story of hope.

Winner of the Richard Jefferies Society and White Horse Book Shop Literary Prize.

Forced to accept that intensive farming on…


Book cover of The Ministry for the Future

Akshat Rathi Author Of Climate Capitalism: Winning the Race to Zero Emissions and Solving the Crisis of Our Age

From my list on crash course in our climate choices.

Why am I passionate about this?

Typically, climate journalists share stories of disastrous extreme weather events made more extreme by climate change. But over the past decade, I’ve discovered that every sector of the economy and every country on the planet that I’ve had the privilege to explore has people working on climate solutions. Crucially, in many places, these are now working at scale. 

Akshat's book list on crash course in our climate choices

Akshat Rathi Why did Akshat love this book?

Robinson’s writing project has been to build utopias, but when faced with the climate crisis, he was forced to come up with an optimal outcome rather than an idealistic one.

It transforms a powerful set of ideas into a compelling human story that will undoubtedly influence the real world as it plays out.

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked The Ministry for the Future as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ONE OF BARACK OBAMA’S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR

“The best science-fiction nonfiction novel I’ve ever read.” —Jonathan Lethem
 
"If I could get policymakers, and citizens, everywhere to read just one book this year, it would be Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future." —Ezra Klein (Vox)

The Ministry for the Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, using fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all. Its setting is not a desolate, postapocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us. Chosen by Barack Obama as one of his favorite…


Book cover of A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There

Greg M. Peters Author Of Our National Forests: Stories from America's Most Important Public Lands

From my list on people who love outdoors and want to learn more.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love being outdoors and I’ve been fortunate to spend much of life under the open sky, both professionally and personally. Learning about the landscapes I’ve visited on my outdoor adventures or helped protect through my professional conservation and writing work is both fulfilling and inspiring. Skilled writers deepen my understanding of the diverse, intricate, and complicated natural world. Whether I’m reading to better understand the policies and histories that have shaped our public lands or about the adventurers who inspire me to get out there, I always find immense value and enjoyment when reading about the landscapes we share. 

Greg's book list on people who love outdoors and want to learn more

Greg M. Peters Why did Greg love this book?

Aldo Leopold was a Forest Service ranger stationed in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest when he first began advocating for a new approach to managing national forests. Leopold’s visionary thinking and diligent advocacy resulted in the first-ever Wilderness Area in the U.S.—the Gila Wilderness Area, established in 1922—more than 40 years before the Wilderness Act was passed by Congress in 1964. A Sand County Almanac is Leopold’s best-known work and follows his efforts to restore a patch of cut-over farmland in Wisconsin while also articulating his vision of a land ethic where humans and nature are intertwined and care for people cannot be separated from care for the land. His beautiful writing resonated strongly with me when I first read A Sand County Almanac more than two decades ago, and his vision remains as important now as ever.

By Aldo Leopold,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Sand County Almanac as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac has enthralled generations of nature lovers and conservationists and is indeed revered by everyone seriously interested in protecting the natural world. Hailed for prose that is "full of beauty and vigor and bite" (The New York Times), it is perhaps the finest example of nature writing since Thoreau's Walden.
Now this classic work is available in a completely redesigned and lavishly illustrated gift edition, featuring over one hundred beautiful full-color pictures by Michael Sewell, one of the country's leading nature photographers. Sewell, whose work has graced the pages of Audubon and Sierra magazines, walked…


Book cover of Coming Into the Country

Mike Gerrard Author Of Snakes Alive and Other Travel Writing

From my list on US travel writing chosen by a travel writer.

Why am I passionate about this?

I always wanted to be a writer but never thought I’d become a travel writer. And like many British teenagers, I also had a passion for the USA – its movies, its music, its writers – but never imagined I would end up living in Arizona. I’ve now traveled in the US widely and understand why its landscapes, its people, and its culture have produced so much good travel writing. It’s a country that’s inspiring and surprising in equal measure, ever-changing, vast, and even though I didn’t grow up there it certainly made me who I am. 

Mike's book list on US travel writing chosen by a travel writer

Mike Gerrard Why did Mike love this book?

Before I went to Alaska for the first time, I did some background reading and thankfully discovered this book and the writing of John McPhee. He and Alaska were made for each other. He’s the kind of writer who is interested in everything, and everyone, and conveys his curiosity and his discoveries with enthusiasm. Alaska is unique, as is McPhee’s style of writing, jumping from topic to topic as the mood – and his journey – takes him, and hauling the reader along with him. He’s the kind of traveling companion who’s forever saying: let’s see what’s down there, I wonder how that works, let’s go talk to that guy.

By John McPhee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Coming into the Country is an unforgettable account of Alaska and Alaskans. It is a rich tapestry of vivid characters, observed landscapes, and descriptive narrative, in three principal segments that deal, respectively, with a total wilderness, with urban Alaska, and with life in the remoteness of the bush.

Readers of McPhee's earlier books will not be unprepared for his surprising shifts of scene and ordering of events, brilliantly combined into an organic whole. In the course of this volume we are made acquainted with the lore and techniques of placer mining, the habits and legends of the barren-ground grizzly, the…


Book cover of Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction

Mike Shanahan Author Of Gods, Wasps and Stranglers: The Secret History and Redemptive Future of Fig Trees

From my list on biodiversity, ecology, and extinction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a tropical ecologist turned writer and editor focused on biodiversity, climate change, forests, and the people who depend on them. I did my doctoral research in rainforests in Borneo and Papua New Guinea and have since worked for media organizations and research institutes, and as a mentor to journalists around the world who report on environmental issues. Ecology taught me that everything is connected. Rainforests taught me that nature can leave a person awe-struck with its beauty, complexity, or sheer magnificence. I try to share my passion for these subjects through my writing.

Mike's book list on biodiversity, ecology, and extinction

Mike Shanahan Why did Mike love this book?

This book made me rethink many of my assumptions about biodiversity, extinction risk, and conservation. Telling stories from his travels and from research around the world, biologist Chris Thomas points out a paradox: While species are going extinct at an exceptionally high rate, the number of species in most Belgium or Vermont-sized areas of the world is rising.

Thomas is not denying the threats to species or the need to conserve biodiversity. Far from it. But he argues that conservation is often misguided and inherently unsustainable, trying to achieve a nonexistent ‘wild’ state and ignoring nature’s dynamism. He proposes a new philosophy of conservation, that is human-centered, accepting of biological change, sustainable, and aimed at maximizing biological diversity for future generations.

By Chris D. Thomas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE TIMES, ECONOMIST AND GUARDIAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2017

It is accepted wisdom today that human beings have irrevocably damaged the natural world. Yet what if this narrative obscures a more hopeful truth?

In Inheritors of the Earth, renowned ecologist and environmentalist Chris D. Thomas overturns the accepted story, revealing how nature is fighting back.

Many animals and plants actually benefit from our presence, raising biological diversity in most parts of the world and increasing the rate at which new species are formed, perhaps to the highest level in Earth's history. From Costa Rican tropical forests to the thoroughly…


Book cover of A Fish Caught in Time

Susan Ewing Author Of Resurrecting the Shark: A Scientific Obsession and the Mavericks Who Solved the Mystery of a 270-Million-Year-Old Fossil

From my list on curious creatures from deep time.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was young, I worked on fishing boats in Alaska and developed an affection for weird sea creatures. All manner of unusual marine life would come up on the line, like wild-looking sea stars, pointy-nosed skates, and alien-looking ratfish. Later, I graduated from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks with a degree in Communications. One of my early jobs was with the Washington Department of Wildlife public information department, writing about fish, as well as other wildlife-related topics. When I moved to Bozeman, Montana, I had the opportunity to create content for a museum exhibit on early life forms. That hooked me on all things paleo. It is a joy to write about and share the things I love—like oddball creatures from deep time.

Susan's book list on curious creatures from deep time

Susan Ewing Why did Susan love this book?

This fascinating, nail-biter of a tale has all the elements of a novel: quirky characters, chance encounters, a determined female curator, chase scenes, mystery, and hunt for something that scientists believed existed only in the fossil record. The story begins in 1938 in South Africa on the deck of a trawler, with young Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer picking through a pile of sharks, starfish, and ratfish—to uncover a beautiful, five-foot-long fish with hard iridescent scales and limb-like fins. Weinberg brings the story, and the coelacanth, to life, weaving a narrative as breathtaking as the fish itself. I enjoyed this book immensely!

By Samantha Weinberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Fish Caught in Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gripping story of obsession, adventure and the search for our oldest surviving ancestor - 400 million years old - a four-limbed dinofish!

In 1938, Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, a young South African museum curator, caught sight of a specimen among a fisherman's trawl that she knew was special. With limb-like protuberances culminating in fins the strange fish was unlike anything she had ever seen. The museum board members dismissed it as a common lungfish, but when Marjorie eventually contacted Professor JLB Smith, he immediately identified her fish as a coelacanth - a species known to have lived 400 million years ago,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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