The best books about soil

Many authors have picked their favorite books about soil and why they recommend each book.

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By Erin Yu-Juin McMorrow,

Book cover of Grounded: A Fierce, Feminine Guide to Connecting with the Soil and Healing from the Ground Up

Dr. Erin, a PhD in policy, planning and development from the University of Southern California, shares about everything from goddess history, to permaculture, to the skewed portrayal of spirituality in mainstream media, to how to connect with Great Mother Earth, to how being led to experience an orgy connected her with sacred sexuality. In Grounded, you can prepare to be held in the safest of space as you learn about and navigate so many aspects of spirituality, including spiritual breakdowns, what radical responsibility is, life-changing mantras and body trauma and relationship healing – this book is a favorite for transcending limiting beliefs and taking you to a way of walking the spiritual path with sacredness, ancient truth, embodiment, wildness and integrity. 

Who am I?

I am a shaman, seer, and spiritual teacher who lives in Austin, Texas with my husband Luke Storey, black cat Jelly Bean and dog Cookie. I’m devoted to being of service by living by the calls of inner wisdom, mysticism, energy medicine, and shamanic practices I’ve mastered through studies with spiritual teachers, both of and beyond this world. I lead global courses, events, and talks to reconnect people to their fullest power and confidence through sacred practices. My book was named “a top meditation to try” by O, The Oprah Magazine, and I’ve been called "a leading shaman for expanding others into their full gifts and power" by Forbes.

I wrote...

Animal Power: 100 Animals to Energize Your Life and Awaken Your Soul

By Alyson Charles, Willian Santiago (illustrator),

Book cover of Animal Power: 100 Animals to Energize Your Life and Awaken Your Soul

What is my book about?

Brimming with 100 different vibrant animal illustrations, transformative practices, and captivating stories from around the world, Animal Power is an enlightening guide to the power of the animal realm and how they bring peace, healing, and empowerment to your life.

Learn how to connect with the animal power of the bear for comfort and protection, the leopard for confidence, the seal for healthy relationships, and the peacock for creative inspiration, and many others. The practices are paired with illuminating stories from spiritual teachers around the world, plus sidebars with fascinating details on ancient traditions, global mythology, and scientific trivia. Delivered in an enchanting package overflowing with insight and magic, Animal Power is a celebration of the natural world and an inspiring companion for modern mystics, nature and animal lovers, and the spiritually curious.

Dirt Cheap

By Mark Hoffmann,

Book cover of Dirt Cheap

Birdie really wants a special soccer ball, the XR1000 Super Extreme. She starts selling dirt at 25 cents per bag, and soon has plenty of customers. While she does earn enough to buy the ball, she inadvertently creates a big problem. She has no yard left for playing soccer! What can she sell next in order to buy new soil for her lawn? This determined, creative soccer star’s story will inspire readers to persevere and amend for any oversights in their entrepreneurial ventures.

Who am I?

I have never picked a peck of pickles, but I have been a crossing guard, pet-sitter, and professional gift-wrapper. I’ve worked in department stores, banks, libraries, colleges, and even a middle school cafeteria. Every job has taught me about the value of hard work, allowed me to pursue a passion, and inspired me to connect with all kinds of people. My current job - picture book author - is my favorite! I write to empower and inspire readers with new ideas and encourage them, like my characters, to succeed by maintaining a positive attitude and a growth mindset!

I wrote...

Sloth and Squirrel in a Pickle

By Cathy Ballou Mealey, Kelly Collier (illustrator),

Book cover of Sloth and Squirrel in a Pickle

What is my book about?

Slow, sleepy Sloth and speedy, spunky Squirrel want to buy a tandem bicycle so they can go fast on fun adventures together. But the fancy bike is expensive! The two loveable, unlikely friends get jobs to earn bike money, but find they need lots of pickle packing practice. Sloth and Squirrel in a Pickle celebrates teamwork and ingenuity, offering many opportunities to discuss perseverance and growth mindset with humor and heart.

Teaming with Microbes

By Jeff Lowenfels, Wayne Lewis,

Book cover of Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web

This is a different type of book than the ones listed above but is nonetheless essential for the gardener who wants to enrich rather than deplete their soil. Once you learn about the beneficial fungi, bacteria, and other critters that make up the soil food web, you'll think twice about tearing up their landscape with a rototiller.

Who am I?

If I'm honest, I became a gardener because I like getting dirty. Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Tom Kitten is the story of my childhood (and my adulthood too, only now I don't have to pretend I'm going to stay clean). Of course, high-quality soil leads to high-quality produce, and I deeply adore the flavors of strawberries growing in deep, dark soil. Biting into a juicy, homegrown tomato still warm from the summer sun is bliss.

I wrote...

The Ultimate Guide to Soil: The Real Dirt on Cultivating Crops, Compost, and a Healthier Home

By Anna Hess,

Book cover of The Ultimate Guide to Soil: The Real Dirt on Cultivating Crops, Compost, and a Healthier Home

What is my book about?

Grow twice the fruits and vegetables in half the space on the farm, in the backyard, or in your window. Using simple techniques like soil testing, remineralization, no-till gardening, and soil amendments, The Ultimate Guide to Soil gives you the real dirt on good soil. Maybe next year your neighbor will be envious of you!

The Soul of Soil

By Joseph Smillie, Grace Gershuny,

Book cover of The Soul of Soil: A Soil-Building Guide for Master Gardeners and Farmers

Soil is, without question, the foundation upon which every garden grows, and Grace Gershuny’s excellent follow-up to her classic, Start with Soil, is probably the best plain-spoken explanation of how soil works that you will find. I took soil science in college and barely survived. If only I had known about this book, it might have saved me some heartache and a flirtation with a failing grade. The Soul of Soil teaches you soil science in a fun and friendly way, which is exactly what gardening is meant to be.  

Who am I?

As a gardening instructor and designer, I've been recommending these five books for years. They were the core texts of the Fundamentals of Gardening course I've been teaching at the New York Botanical Garden for over a decade. Since the publication of The New Gardener’s Handbook, which covers all these topics in a more abbreviated way, I still recommend these five books to my students if they want to dig deeper. These books are what I call “keeper texts.” I own fewer and fewer actual gardening books these days, but it's a fact that a copy of each of these excellent resources resides on my office bookshelf where I refer to them frequently. 

I wrote...

The New Gardener's Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Grow a Beautiful and Bountiful Garden

By Daryl Beyers,

Book cover of The New Gardener's Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Grow a Beautiful and Bountiful Garden

What is my book about?

Every new gardener has to start somewhere—and the process can be intimidating. Knowing when and what to plant, how to care for the plants once they’re in the ground, and how to keep pests and diseases away is a lot to take on. Luckily, Daryl Beyers—an expert from the New York Botanical Garden—has written what will be a go-to resource for decades to come.

The New Gardener’s Handbook is a comprehensive overview of the fundamentals of gardening, based on the introductory gardening class that Beyers teaches at NYBG. Readers will learn about soil, plant selection, propagation, planting and mulching, watering and feeding, pruning, and weeds, pests, and diseases. Featuring inspiring photography and helpful illustrations, The New Gardener’s Handbook gives home gardeners a foundation upon which they can grow.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

By Kate Messner, Christopher Silas Neal (illustrator),

Book cover of Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

Year round, I find “wow” moments in gardens with every new blossom, bug and delicious bite discovered. This book takes a child and her grandmother through four seasons filled with such moments, both in the garden above and dirt below. The language is fun with wasps on the prowl and frantic ants storing food for the winter. When carrots sprout, the illustrator shows them both above and below ground. And the night shift is not forgotten, with a skunk ,and bats, and moths for a spider.   

Who am I?

As a writer of dozens of books for children, I always learn much more that can go into each effort. A “wow” moment gets me started. It could be a giant cactus that grows so slowly, frogs that don’t ribbet, maybe a moment with a sea turtle, or thoughts on geology and natural wonders. Each book comes into a hazy focus after tons of research but much gets left out. What goes in? The best “wow” details get woven into an incredible story full of surprise, joy, and admiration for this world of constant change and those struggling to survive.

I wrote...

Yours 'Til Niagara Falls

By Brenda Z. Guiberson, William Low (illustrator),

Book cover of Yours 'Til Niagara Falls

What is my book about?

Wow! Niagara Falls is a misty, glistening, roaring wonder of the world! But it hasn’t always existed. And eventually the powerful eroding flow of water will be no more. Illustrations show many views and moods as the waterfall shares intriguing stories of ancient history and geology, mastodon hunters and explorers, fractured rocks and artifacts, water power and electricity, daredevil challenges and carnivals, a survival route for migrating birds, and a part in the underground railroad. This is the waterfall that drenches visitors with the “mysteries of change across time.”  

For the Love of Soil

By Nicole Masters,

Book cover of For the Love of Soil: Strategies to Regenerate Our Food Production Systems

In this lively book, soil scientist Nicole Masters digs into the global soil crisis and explains how regenerative agriculture can restore degraded land, repair natural cycles, and bring vitality back to ecosystems. The book translates the often complex and technical know-how of soil into understandable terms with case studies from regenerative farmers and ranchers in Australasia and North America. Along with sharing key soil health principles and restoration tools, Masters provides an action plan to heal the planet.

Who am I?

I am an author and former environmental activist who dropped out of the ‘conflict industry’ in 1997 to start the Quivira Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a radical center among ranchers, environmentalists, scientists, and others around practices that improve resilience in working landscapes. For two decades, I worked on the front lines of collaborative conservation and regenerative agriculture, sharing innovative, land-based solutions to food, water, and climate challenges. I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I wrote...

Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey Through Carbon Country

By Courtney White,

Book cover of Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey Through Carbon Country

What is my book about?

Through my work, I learned we can potentially remove a significant amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere through regenerative farming and ranching practices. These include no-till farming, climate-friendly livestock practices, restoring degraded land, and producing nutritious food. By re-carbonizing soils via photosynthesis and biology, regenerative agriculture can sequester atmospheric carbon underground, making it a low-cost “shovel-ready” solution to climate change. Grass, Soil, Hope takes readers on an entertaining journey on how all these practical strategies can be bundled together.

Regenerative agriculture is both an attitude and a suite of practices that restore and maintain soil health. It creates the conditions for life above and below ground by taking its cues from nature, which has a very long track record of growing things. It has multiple co-benefits, including the production of healthy, nutritious food. Each of the books listed below explore a different aspect of regenerative agriculture, all written by authors with ‘dirt under their fingernails.’

Bookshelves related to soil