100 books like Trace

By Lauret Savoy,

Here are 100 books that Trace fans have personally recommended if you like Trace. 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

Shannan Martin Author Of Start with Hello: (And Other Simple Ways to Live as Neighbors)

From my list on cultivating empathy and connection in a divided world.

Why am I passionate about this?

A dozen years ago, my family moved from a homogeneous community where everyone looked, lived, and believed as we did to a vibrant neighborhood filled with difference and complexity. This shifted something deep inside me and ultimately changed the way I see the world and myself within it. It set me on a path toward understanding how authentic, ordinary community holds the power to transform our world. To live as neighbors is to draw near to each other. I have written three books on this central theme and plan to spend the rest of my life reaching for empathy as our best tool in reclaiming the goodness of humanity.  

Shannan's book list on cultivating empathy and connection in a divided world

Shannan Martin Why did Shannan love this book?

This book is an instant classic. It took me years to finish reading it because I did not want it to end.

Kimmerer’s writing appealed to the dreamer in me while also explaining the science of the natural world in ways that were unforgettable. This beautifully written book connected me to my physical home and the people around me. I will come back to it again and again. 

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

45 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 An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

Rannfrid Thelle Author Of Discovering Babylon

From my list on history about how we know the past.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved stories about people, places, and times other than those I can know myself. As a child, I was fascinated by a book of stories from “the steppes” of Central Asia. My drive to know more has taken me (through books or physically) along the Silk Road, given me tales from ancient Mesopotamia, shown me glimpses into the lives of Orthodox Jewish women, European immigrants to the “New World,” survivors of the transatlantic slave trade or the Korean War, and many other cultures and experiences. I am basically awe-struck by what humans have thought, created, suffered, and sung about throughout times and places. 

Rannfrid's book list on history about how we know the past

Rannfrid Thelle Why did Rannfrid love this book?

This book was exactly what I was looking for when I wanted a “fresh take” on US history.

Dunbar-Ortiz does a radical job in turning the narrative from the standard Eurocentric view, to presenting the history from an indigenous point of view.

By following the story of the area that became the United States from the point of view of the many different nations and communities that originate here, who inhabited the area prior to its colonization by European powers followed by US policies, and who continue to live here, I learned so much about why things are the way they are now.

This book is a must-read for all citizens who wish to be well-informed and live responsibly.

By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller

Now part of the HBO docuseries "Exterminate All the Brutes," written and directed by Raoul Peck

Recipient of the American Book Award

The first history of the United States told from the perspective of indigenous peoples
 
Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million Native people who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocidal program of the US settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. Now, for the first time, acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortizoffers a history…


Book cover of Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt

Mckay Jenkins Author Of Bloody Falls of the Coppermine: Madness and Murder in the Arctic Barren Lands

From my list on environmental justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing books on environmental journalism and teaching Environmental Humanities and Environmental Justice at the University of Delaware for 25 years. Each of these books has made a particularly powerful impression on me and my students in recent years. They are powerful calls for a genuine reckoning with racial and environmental injustice throughout American history

Mckay's book list on environmental justice

Mckay Jenkins Why did Mckay love this book?

An illustrated book of long-form nonfiction that examines poor Black, Indigenous, White, and Migrant communities in the United States, and how they have all been broken by extractive capitalism and racist public policy. Hedges’ writing is intentionally polemical, designed to shatter any illusions about the welfare of our fellow citizens living in communities ruined by racism and industrial-scale environmental degradation. Sacco’s long-form graphic illustrations are equally haunting. I’ve taught this book continually for many years.

By Joe Sacco, Chris Hedges,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon.com and the Washington Post Three years ago, Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges and award-winning cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco set out to take a look at the sacrifice zones, those areas in America that have been offered up for exploitation in the name of profit, progress, and technological advancement. They wanted to show in words and drawings what life looks like in places where the marketplace rules without constraints, where human beings and the natural world are used and then discarded to maximize profit. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is the…


Book cover of Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret

Robin Kirk Author Of Righting Wrongs: 20 Human Rights Heroes Around the World

From my list on women human rights visionaries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a rights advocate since I was a middle schooler planning how to help save the whales. In college, I volunteered in anti-apartheid campaigns, then became a journalist covering the rise of the Shining Path guerrillas in Peru. I wanted my research and words to make change. I spent 12 years covering Peru and Colombia for Human Rights Watch. Now, I try to inspire other young people to learn about and advocate for human rights as a professor and the co-director of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute. I also write fiction for kids that explores human rights themes and just completed The Bond Trilogy, an epic fantasy.

Robin's book list on women human rights visionaries

Robin Kirk Why did Robin love this book?

One of the most important new issues faced by rights advocates is climate change. Macarthur genius award-winner Catherine Coleman Flowers is on the front line of that fight, based on her own childhood as the daughter of an activist Black family in Lowndes County, Alabama. This memoir captures Flowers’ essence: someone who just can’t let an injustice slide by. And she will talk to anyone who might be able to help, including with cleaning up the raw sewage that continues to poison the homes of many poor Alabamians. Flowers clearly describes the link between local rights issues and the global campaign to deal with climate change.

By Catherine Coleman Flowers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The MacArthur grant-winning environmental justice activist's riveting memoir of a life fighting for a cleaner future for America's most vulnerable

A Smithsonian Magazine Top Ten Best Science Book of 2020

Catherine Coleman Flowers, a 2020 MacArthur "genius," grew up in Lowndes County, Alabama, a place that's been called "Bloody Lowndes" because of its violent, racist history. Once the epicenter of the voting rights struggle, today it's Ground Zero for a new movement that is also Flowers's life's work-a fight to ensure human dignity through a right most Americans take for granted: basic sanitation. Too many people, especially the rural poor,…


Book cover of Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape

Bill Murray Author Of Out in the Cold: Travels North: Adventures in Svalbard, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and Canada

From my list on to understand the high north.

Why am I passionate about this?

There’s nothing like personal experience. You have to read the literature, it’s true. That’s how we’ve all met here at Shepherd. But you have to roll up your sleeves and get down to visiting, too, if you want to write about travel. I first approached the Arctic in 1991 and I return above sixty degrees north every year, although I must confess to a secret advantage; I married a Finn. We spend summers at a little cabin north of Helsinki. I know the region personally, I keep coming back, and I invite you, whenever you can, to come up and join us!

Bill's book list on to understand the high north

Bill Murray Why did Bill love this book?

Barry Lopez was a nature writer and environmentalist.

He died on Christmas day 2020, and although we are fortunate to have his valedictory book Horizon, published when his traveling days were pretty well behind him, Arctic Dreams is the real deal, with Lopez as raconteur, but practitioner too, thoroughly in his element.

Lopez writes about exploration and the aurora, animals and the weather, ice and myth and survival and joy. He’s effortless. You’ll learn more than you knew there was to know about the high north, and the pleasure is in the learning.

If you must cut to the chase with these five books, Arctic Dreams is the book, because Barry Lopez got things right.

By Barry Lopez,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

**AS HEARD ON BBC RADIO 4**

'A master nature writer' (New York Times) provides the ultimate natural, social and cultural history of the Arctic landscape.

The author of Horizon's classic work explores the Arctic landscape and the hold it continues to exert on our imagination.

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ROBERT MACFARLANE

Lopez's journey across our frozen planet is a celebration of the Arctic in all its guises. A hostile landscape of ice, freezing oceans and dazzling skyscapes. Home to millions of diverse animals and people. The stage to massive migrations by land, sea and air. The setting of epic exploratory…


Book cover of Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals

Stacy Alaimo Author Of Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self

From my list on thinking of ourselves as the environment.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been passionate about animals, the environment, and social justice since I was a child. As an adult I have been frustrated—even enragedthat so many products and practices are considered safe and “normal” even though they harm wildlife, pets, and people. I think it's bizarre that people imagine themselves as separate from the chemicals they spray in their homes and their yards, even as they breathe in the toxins. I hope that the concept of “transcorporeality,” which urges us to see our own bodies as literally part of the environment, will convince people that environmentalism isn’t optional but is a vital part of human health and social justice.

Stacy's book list on thinking of ourselves as the environment

Stacy Alaimo Why did Stacy love this book?

Alexis Pauline Gumbs, a “queer, black feminist love evangelist and a marine mammal apprentice,” has created an exuberant book—impossible to categorize. Undrowned is everything—a dramatic account of marine mammals’ struggles, a meditation, a call for action, a manifesto, a workbook with activities. Referencing the middle passage as a Black feminist, Gumbs considers the enmeshment of breathing, drowning, and undrowning, looking to “marine mammal kindred” as “teachers, mentors, guides.” I was deeply moved by how this book passionately voices love for whales, dolphins, and seals. But this love isn’t sentimental—it is active. The chapters call readers to do things, such as “listen,” asking how can we “listen across species, across extinction, across harm?” I marvel at Gumbs’ fierce, unabashed love for marine mammals. Gumbs inspires me to take more risks for others.

By Alexis Pauline Gumbs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Undrowned is a book-length meditation for social movements and our whole species based on the subversive and transformative guidance of marine mammals. Our aquatic cousins are queer, fierce, protective of each other, complex, shaped by conflict, and struggling to survive the extractive and militarized conditions our species has imposed on the ocean. Gumbs employs a brilliant mix of poetic sensibility and naturalist observation to show what they might teach us, producing not a specific agenda but an unfolding space for wondering and questioning. From the relationship between the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale and Gumbs’s Shinnecock and enslaved ancestors to…


Book cover of Tales of Two Planets: Stories of Climate Change and Inequality in a Divided World

Bathsheba Demuth Author Of Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait

From my list on humans and their relationship with nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

Bathsheba Demuth is a historian and prize-winning writer, interested in how people, ideas, places, and other-than-human species intersect in the far north. Her interest in these subjects began when she was 18 and spent several years in the Yukon, mushing huskies, hunting caribou, fishing for salmon, and otherwise learning to survive in the taiga and tundra. Now, when not in the Arctic, she lives in Rhode Island, where she is a professor at Brown University.

Bathsheba's book list on humans and their relationship with nature

Bathsheba Demuth Why did Bathsheba love this book?

Any discussion of how people and nature relate to each other in the twenty-first century will come up against the issue of climate change. And there are so many good books to read on the topic – Elizabeth Rush’s Rising comes right to mind, or the collection All We Can Save, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Wilkinson. What Tale of Two Planets offers is a global perspective on rising seas, changing seasons, and damaging weather through genres from poetry to prose to fiction. Each author brings clarity to the science and politics of climate change, but the sections here are also portraits of love for place and community. If you’ve never read a book on climate change before, it’s a great start; if you’ve read them all, there’s something new and beautiful here.

By John Freeman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tales of Two Planets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Building from his acclaimed anthology Tales of Two Americas, beloved writer and editor John Freeman draws together a group of our greatest writers from around the world to help us see how the environmental crisis is hitting some of the most vulnerable communities where they live.

In the past five years, John Freeman, previously editor of Granta, has launched a celebrated international literary magazine, Freeman's, and compiled two acclaimed anthologies that deal with income inequality as it is experienced. In the course of this work, one major theme came up repeatedly: Climate change is making already dire inequalities much worse,…


Book cover of Desert Cabal: A New Season in the Wilderness

Tim Hauserman Author Of Going It Alone: Ramblings and Reflections from the Trail

From my list on Americans going out to discover themselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing about my explorations in the wilderness for over 20 years starting with the first edition of my Tahoe Rim Trail guidebook. I’ve always been fascinated by writers who embark on solo journeys into nature, or just traveling in general, and in so doing discover themselves and what they really want from their lives. While I’ve read my share (and written a few) stories about super feats of human endurance, I find the most satisfaction from reading about ordinary people experiencing life at a scale that makes sense to all of us. 

Tim's book list on Americans going out to discover themselves

Tim Hauserman Why did Tim love this book?

Published 50 years after Desert Solitaire, seventh-generation Utah resident Amy Irvine talks about her respect for Abbey’s impact on her life and writing, while also not holding back on lambasting Abbey for his behavior and hypocrisy. Irvine told Orion magazine, “My goal was not to take Abbey down, but rather to make space for other voices and relationships to the natural world.” While Abbey might be the context for the book, Irvine goes on to deliver a fascinating exploration into her own take on the wonders of wilderness. She can be as hard on herself as she is on Abbey. This book is a great contemporary look at a key question for those of us who explore the wilds: How do we keep from loving it to death? 

By Amy Irvine,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A grief–stricken, heart–hopeful, soul song to the American Desert."

—PAM HOUSTON, author of Deep Creek

As Ed Abbey’s Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness turns fifty, its iconic author, who has inspired generations of rebel–rousing advocacy on behalf of the American West, is due for a tribute as well as a talking to. In Desert Cabal: A New Season in the Wilderness, Amy Irvine admires the man who influenced her life and work while challenging all that is dated—offensive, even—between the covers of Abbey's environmental classic. Irvine names and questions the "lone male" narrative—white and privileged as it is—that…


Book cover of The Promise of Wilderness: American Environmental Politics since 1964

Adam M. Sowards Author Of An Open Pit Visible from the Moon: The Wilderness Act and the Fight to Protect Miners Ridge and the Public Interest

From my list on helping you get deep in the wilderness.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first started reading about wilderness, I accepted it as an obvious thing—a place without people. That lasted a short time before I realized the enormous historical complexity of such places. Rather than places without people, without history, without politics, “wilderness” became a laboratory of American society. I tried to capture that vibrancy in my book An Open Pit Visible from the Moon where I showed all the claims various people made on one wilderness area in the North Cascades. I'm a writer, historian, and former college professor who now calls the Skagit Valley of Washington home. As much as I enjoy studying wilderness, I prefer walking through it and noticing what it teaches.

Adam's book list on helping you get deep in the wilderness

Adam M. Sowards Why did Adam love this book?

At times, what we most need is a deeply researched, carefully argued, and exhaustively covered history of a topic. Turner provides that essential guidebook to wilderness politics after the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Cutting through slogans and ideology, Turner shows pragmatic strategies, evolving practices, and the political nature of wilderness. I turn to The Promise of Wilderness whenever I want to know what happened and why it mattered. And also, because Turner sees wilderness activism as a key component to modern democracy, a lesson in engaged citizenship—and that inspires me. 

By James Morton Turner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Promise of Wilderness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Denali's majestic slopes to the Great Swamp of central New Jersey, protected wilderness areas make up nearly twenty percent of the parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands that cover a full fourth of the nation's territory. But wilderness is not only a place. It is also one of the most powerful and troublesome ideas in American environmental thought, representing everything from sublime beauty and patriotic inspiration to a countercultural ideal and an overextension of government authority.

The Promise of Wilderness examines how the idea of wilderness has shaped the management of public lands since the passage of…


Book cover of After Preservation: Saving American Nature in the Age of Humans

Adam M. Sowards Author Of An Open Pit Visible from the Moon: The Wilderness Act and the Fight to Protect Miners Ridge and the Public Interest

From my list on helping you get deep in the wilderness.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first started reading about wilderness, I accepted it as an obvious thing—a place without people. That lasted a short time before I realized the enormous historical complexity of such places. Rather than places without people, without history, without politics, “wilderness” became a laboratory of American society. I tried to capture that vibrancy in my book An Open Pit Visible from the Moon where I showed all the claims various people made on one wilderness area in the North Cascades. I'm a writer, historian, and former college professor who now calls the Skagit Valley of Washington home. As much as I enjoy studying wilderness, I prefer walking through it and noticing what it teaches.

Adam's book list on helping you get deep in the wilderness

Adam M. Sowards Why did Adam love this book?

Rarely has a collection of essays inspired and perplexed me as much as this one. One chapter argues one thing; the next argues its near-opposite. And both are persuasive! After Preservation is designed to raise fundamental questions about nature, wilderness, and the Anthropocene without providing definitive answers. I didn’t close the book with answers, but I did close it knowing more, thinking harder, and questioning what I believed. If we are meant to save nature—or if we are merely meant to understand why that’s a fraught concept—we’ll need to grapple with ideas and practicalities like these authors do. 

By Ben A. Minteer (editor), Stephen J. Pyne (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From John Muir to the Endangered Species Act, environmentalism in America has always had close to its core a preservationist ideal. Generations have been inspired by its ethos-to protect nature from the march of human development. But we have to face the facts. Accelerating climate change, rapid urbanization, agricultural and industrial devastation, metastasizing fire regimes, and other quickening anthropogenic forces all attest to the same truth: the earth is now spinning through the age of humans. After Preservation takes stock of the ways we have tried to both preserve and exploit nature to ask a direct but profound question: what…


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