100 books like Weeds

By Richard Mabey,

Here are 100 books that Weeds fans have personally recommended if you like Weeds. 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 The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World

Paolo Squatriti Author Of Weeds and the Carolingians: Empire, Culture, and Nature in Frankish Europe, AD 750-900

From my list on how plants make human history happen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an early medieval European historian who, in the last decades, branched out into environmental history. Having grown up in semi-rustic conditions, I have always been curious about rural things and past agricultural practices. I watch carefully as plows slice through fields, mind how birds and bees weave together their ecosystems, and pay attention to the phases by which trees put on and take off their leaves. Now a professional historian, my job involves reading a lot of rural and environmental history, so I have developed a good sense of books that mix academic rigor and approachability.

Paolo's book list on how plants make human history happen

Paolo Squatriti Why did Paolo love this book?

“The face that launched a thousand ships,” as Homer would say. Pollan’s witty and well-written treatment of how plants think and act to modulate their environments inspired 21st-century “critical plant studies” in the Anglophone world, including mine.

The book starts you thinking about the thousands of ways plants elbow into your world and how much they matter to your existence on earth, in economic but also spiritual senses. You end up agape in wonder.

By Michael Pollan,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Botany of Desire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A farmer cultivates genetically modified potatoes so that a customer at McDonald's half a world away can enjoy a long, golden french fry. A gardener plants tulip bulbs in the autumn and in the spring has a riotous patch of colour to admire. Two simple examples of how humans act on nature to get what we want. Or are they? What if those potatoes and tulips have evolved to gratify certain human desires so that humans will help them multiply? What if, in other words, these plants are using us just as we use them? In blending history, memoir and…


Book cover of Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses

Jessica J. Lee Author Of Dispersals: On Plants, Borders, and Belonging

From my list on change how you think about plants.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved plants since I was a child – that’s probably why I grew up to become an environmental historian and nature writer! But I longed for stories about plants and nature that didn’t paint them as passive and ours to dominate. And stories that represented the voices of those on the margins of nature writing. I have written three books of nature writing, as well as a nature-themed picture books, and many more shorter essays on the natural world along the way.   

Jessica's book list on change how you think about plants

Jessica J. Lee Why did Jessica love this book?

While many folks turn to Braiding Sweetgrass first, I read Gathering Moss first and was completely enthralled: this is a book that makes the work of science personal.

I love how Kimmerer brings the tiny worlds of moss to life – it’s completely enchanting! It changed my understanding of these tiny plants.

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Living at the limits of our ordinary perception, mosses are a common but largely unnoticed element of the natural world. Gathering Moss is a beautifully written mix of science and personal reflection that invites readers to explore and learn from the elegantly simple lives of mosses.

In this series of linked personal essays, Robin Kimmerer leads general readers and scientists alike to an understanding of how mosses live and how their lives are intertwined with the lives of countless other beings. Kimmerer explains the biology of mosses clearly and artfully, while at the same time reflecting on what these fascinating…


Book cover of The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature

Jessica J. Lee Author Of Dispersals: On Plants, Borders, and Belonging

From my list on change how you think about plants.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved plants since I was a child – that’s probably why I grew up to become an environmental historian and nature writer! But I longed for stories about plants and nature that didn’t paint them as passive and ours to dominate. And stories that represented the voices of those on the margins of nature writing. I have written three books of nature writing, as well as a nature-themed picture books, and many more shorter essays on the natural world along the way.   

Jessica's book list on change how you think about plants

Jessica J. Lee Why did Jessica love this book?

I was enthralled with this book from its very premise: a book about looking closely…really closely. Haskell tracks the growth of a square meter of forest over a year, bringing to life the minutiae of life.

It’s a book that made me want to get down on the ground and get to know the unseen details of every patch of land I encountered. 

By David George Haskell,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Forest Unseen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A biologist reveals the secret world hidden in a single square meter of old-growth forest--a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Pen/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award 

Look out for David Haskell's new book, The Songs of Tree: Stories From Nature's Great Connectors, coming in April of 2017

In this wholly original book, biologist David Haskell uses a one- square-meter patch of old-growth Tennessee forest as a window onto the entire natural world. Visiting it almost daily for one year to trace nature's path through the seasons, he brings the forest and its inhabitants to vivid life.

Each of…


Book cover of The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492

Paolo Squatriti Author Of Weeds and the Carolingians: Empire, Culture, and Nature in Frankish Europe, AD 750-900

From my list on how plants make human history happen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an early medieval European historian who, in the last decades, branched out into environmental history. Having grown up in semi-rustic conditions, I have always been curious about rural things and past agricultural practices. I watch carefully as plows slice through fields, mind how birds and bees weave together their ecosystems, and pay attention to the phases by which trees put on and take off their leaves. Now a professional historian, my job involves reading a lot of rural and environmental history, so I have developed a good sense of books that mix academic rigor and approachability.

Paolo's book list on how plants make human history happen

Paolo Squatriti Why did Paolo love this book?

This book is the most exciting treatment of Columbus’ "discovery" of the Americas because it takes seriously the underlying biology. Now a classic, this was a pioneering study in 1972 that the master environmental historian had a hard time publishing. It is crisply written with hardly a wasted word and teaches you of the wiles of the dandelion, of what travels caught in the fur of dogs or the hooves of horses, and especially in the guts and bloodstream of all organisms as they move from one ecosystem to another.

In the wake of the Covid pandemic, Crosby’s is an important reminder that what moves across space in integrated market systems is not just commodities and that the communities created by trade are also biological communities.

By Alfred W. Crosby Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Thirty years ago, Alfred Crosby published a small work that illuminated a simple point, that the most important changes brought on by the voyages of Columbus were not social or political, but biological in nature. The book told the story of how 1492 sparked the movement of organisms, both large and small, in both directions across the Atlantic. This Columbian exchange, between the Old World and the New, changed the history of our planet drastically and forever. The book The Columbian Exchange changed the field of history drastically and forever as well. It has become one of the foundational works…


Book cover of Unearthing: A Story of Tangled Love and Family Secrets

Jessica J. Lee Author Of Dispersals: On Plants, Borders, and Belonging

From my list on change how you think about plants.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved plants since I was a child – that’s probably why I grew up to become an environmental historian and nature writer! But I longed for stories about plants and nature that didn’t paint them as passive and ours to dominate. And stories that represented the voices of those on the margins of nature writing. I have written three books of nature writing, as well as a nature-themed picture books, and many more shorter essays on the natural world along the way.   

Jessica's book list on change how you think about plants

Jessica J. Lee Why did Jessica love this book?

This is a book I read quite recently that reminded me of why I love gardens: because they teach us about ourselves and offer an opportunity to connect to those around us.

In Unearthing, Maclear unpacks a family secret and reconnects with her mother, but she tells the story through plants and gardens. It’s a book that demonstrates how entwined our human lives are with the natural world.

By Kyo Maclear,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For readers of Crying in H Mart and Wintering, an unforgettable memoir about a family secret revealed by a DNA test, the lessons learned in its aftermath, and the indelible power of love.

Three months after Kyo Maclear's father dies in December 2018, she gets the results of a DNA test showing that she and the father who raised her are not biologically related. Suddenly Maclear becomes a detective in her own life, unravelling a family mystery piece by piece, and assembling the story of her biological father. Along the way, larger questions arise: what exactly is kinship? And what…


Book cover of Anglo-Saxon Crops and Weeds: A Case Study in Quantitative Archaeobotany

Paolo Squatriti Author Of Weeds and the Carolingians: Empire, Culture, and Nature in Frankish Europe, AD 750-900

From my list on how plants make human history happen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an early medieval European historian who, in the last decades, branched out into environmental history. Having grown up in semi-rustic conditions, I have always been curious about rural things and past agricultural practices. I watch carefully as plows slice through fields, mind how birds and bees weave together their ecosystems, and pay attention to the phases by which trees put on and take off their leaves. Now a professional historian, my job involves reading a lot of rural and environmental history, so I have developed a good sense of books that mix academic rigor and approachability.

Paolo's book list on how plants make human history happen

Paolo Squatriti Why did Paolo love this book?

Perhaps not a page-turner, but a deeply engrossing study of how English people grew and foraged for the food that sustained them in the first millennium AD. The great value added here is the reliance on the very latest archaeobotanical data, in other words, on the fossil remains of plants, their seeds, glumes, bits of stems, and their pollens, which archaeologists have begun to salvage from digs and cores, to analyze in labs, and now thanks to McKerracher also to historicize.

The excellent British system of preservation, cataloguing, and online dissemination of archaeobotanical information bears fruit in a book that shows us how complex and sophisticated early medieval farming practices were.

By Mark McKerracher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anglo-Saxon Crops and Weeds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is a growing recognition within Anglo-Saxon archaeology that farming practices underwent momentous transformations in the Mid Saxon period, between the seventh and ninth centuries AD: transformations which underpinned the growth of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and, arguably, set the trajectory for English agricultural development for centuries to come. Meanwhile, in the field of archaeobotany, a growing set of quantitative methods has been developed to facilitate the systematic investigation of agricultural change through the study of charred plant remains. This study applies a standardised set of repeatable quantitative analyses to the charred remains of Anglo-Saxon crops and weeds, to shed light…


Book cover of Tutira: The Story of a New Zealand Sheep Station

Paolo Squatriti Author Of Weeds and the Carolingians: Empire, Culture, and Nature in Frankish Europe, AD 750-900

From my list on how plants make human history happen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an early medieval European historian who, in the last decades, branched out into environmental history. Having grown up in semi-rustic conditions, I have always been curious about rural things and past agricultural practices. I watch carefully as plows slice through fields, mind how birds and bees weave together their ecosystems, and pay attention to the phases by which trees put on and take off their leaves. Now a professional historian, my job involves reading a lot of rural and environmental history, so I have developed a good sense of books that mix academic rigor and approachability.

Paolo's book list on how plants make human history happen

Paolo Squatriti Why did Paolo love this book?

This marvelous account of setting up and running a sheep farm in Hawke’s Bay at the end of the 1800s proves the power of human observation, as well as the amazing literary craft that even average Victorian schooling imparted to its pupils.

Guthrie-Smith meticulously chronicled every tiny change in season and ecology over the course of several years and thus rendered an invaluable description of human impact, specifically capitalistic European impact, on an environment that humans had used more lightly before the advent of European herbivores. His sardonic wit, his keen ecological sensitivity, and his awareness of the big picture into which his small “sheep station” fit separated Tutira from all other English-language accounts of environmental transformation.

By H. Guthrie-Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the "public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank…


Book cover of My Weeds: A Gardener's Botany

Pam Peirce Author Of Golden Gate Gardening,  The Complete Guide to Year-Round Food Gardening in the San Francisco Bay Area & Coastal California

From my list on gaining garden know-how.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was studying plant science in graduate school, I realized that what I really wanted to do was not lab research but to help people understand plants better so they could grow more beautiful and bountiful gardens. To this end, I have written several books, founded the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG), taught horticulture at City College of San Francisco for several decades, and, since 2006, written a column on gardening for the SF Chronicle. My list of books about gardening know-how will painlessly prepare you to grow plants well.

Pam's book list on gaining garden know-how

Pam Peirce Why did Pam love this book?

While you will learn much about the nature and management of weeds from this book, you will also find yourself painlessly learning the basics of botany-- the parts of plants, how they live, how seeds evolved, how ecosystems evolve. While she keeps weeds at bay, Stein favors a garden, as do I, in which the desirable plants may self-sow a bit. It is a gardening philosophy that is current and can produce lovely, serendipitous gardens. 

By Sarah B. Stein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The author of this work tells readers what weeds tell us about our gardens and the lives of all plants. She compares weeding tools and methods, and discusses the uses of weeds.


Book cover of Madder: A Memoir in Weeds

Nicole Walker Author Of Processed Meats: Essays on Food, Flesh, and Navigating Disaster

From my list on science as a story.

Why am I passionate about this?

At a time when people are claiming to “believe” in science or not, books that incorporate science into their personal narratives make it clear that science isn’t a religion—it’s just there for the understanding. Using the natural world to understand humanity (or the lack of it), makes me believe that there are ways humans can be part of the world instead of pretend-masters of it. Each of these books tells a story about identity, growth, self-awareness (or the lack of it) while digging deeply into the earth that sustains us, confounds us, surprises and delights us—as well as sometimes breaks our hearts. I am an author of many books, an editor at Diagram, and a professor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Nicole's book list on science as a story

Nicole Walker Why did Nicole love this book?

Marco Wilkinson writes about his mother who moved from Uruguay to the States, who he knows well, and his father, who he doesn’t. Wilkinson understands his childhood and complicated adulthood as a story intertwined with the plants he’s learned about. In Madder, the narrator details plants’ xylem and their weediness, their Latin names, and their unpredictable growing habits while peeling away the internal systems of his own plant-like self. Wilkinson pairs plant with human to show how growth, thirst, rootedness, and supportive nutrients make for resilient bodies.

Wilkinson takes such care, too, to pull back the weeds and to pull them apart—Thanks to his careful attention to every part of the plant, I can see through the plant as well as inside the workings of the plant. I am physically in the body even though I get that it’s a big metaphor for the mind.

By Marco Wilkinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Madder, matter, mater-a weed, a state of mind, a material, a meaning, a mother. Essayist and horticulturist Marco Wilkinson searches for the roots of his own selfhood among family myths and memories.

"My life, these weeds." Marco Wilkinson uses his deep knowledge of undervalued plants, mainly weeds-invisible yet ubiquitous, unwanted yet abundant, out-of-place yet flourishing-as both structure and metaphor in these intimate vignettes. Madder combines poetic meditations on nature, immigration, queer sensuality, and willful forgetting with recollections of Wilkinson's Rhode Island childhood and glimpses of his maternal family's life in Uruguay. The son of a fierce, hard-working mother who tried…


Book cover of If I Were a Tree

Cindy Jenson-Elliott Author Of Weeds Find a Way

From my list on to get kids outside and exploring nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been getting kids out into nature as an environmental education professional for over 30 years, in the garden, in the mountains, at the seashore, and in nearby nature. My life’s work, whether I am writing or teaching, is to help people experience the wonder of the natural world. I believe that children and adults need access to nature to grow and thrive, to find peace in a busy world, and to connect with each other. I know that, just like weeds, we can find a way to navigate the challenges in our lives when we connect with nature’s sustaining goodness wherever we find it.

Cindy's book list on to get kids outside and exploring nature

Cindy Jenson-Elliott Why did Cindy love this book?

Behind weeds, trees are perhaps the most common plant many kids will encounter in their day to day lives, and another way children can access nature near home and school. And while trees are complex living things at the apex of the plant kingdom, they often are unnoticed and underappreciated. This beautiful lyrical picture book gives children a context to explore what a tree can do through kid-sized comparisons to what children can also do. Use it to help children explore one of the most common features of both urban and rural landscapes: trees.

By Andrea Zimmerman, Jing Jing Tsong (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If I Were a Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Two siblings imagine life as a tree, and envision what they would hear, feel, and see.

If I were a tree, I know how I'd be.
My trunk strong and wide, my limbs side to side,
I'd stand towering tall, high above all,
My leaves growing big, and buds on each twig.
If I were a tree, that's how I'd be.

The sister has camped in the forest many times before. The brother is nervous for his first overnight trip. As the illustrations in this multifaceted picture book show the siblings discovering the woods, the text celebrates the strength and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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