9 Urgent and Inspiring Books That Explore Nature

Five books from the following list, among them Jane Goodall's The Book of Hope

These powerful reads point the way to a brighter future.

It’s easy to find the world’s problems daunting. We’re witnessing extreme weather, wildfires, and drought. What can we actually do? The following new science and nature books introduce you to inspiring individuals who are making a real difference in this critical moment for our planet. Read, hope, and act!

By Joanne Camas

The Book of Hope

By Jane Goodall

When Jane Goodall speaks, our ears perk up. And for good reason: Goodall is a world-renowned naturalist and conservationist. Her boundless passion for preserving our natural world shines through in everything she does, from her groundbreaking chimpanzee research in Gombe National Park to the many books that she’s published. Goodall’s newest release, The Book of Hope is no exception.


The book is presented as a wide-ranging conversation with coauthor Douglas Abrams. Throughout, Goodall addresses the urgent need for global action on the climate crisis. She also looks back on her remarkable career as a conservationist, reveals the life experiences that transformed her into a messenger of hope, and lays out the four reasons she remains hopeful in the face of so much uncertainty: The Amazing Human Intellect, The Resilience of Nature, The Power of Young People, and The Indomitable Human Spirit. Goodall is well aware of the crises we face, yet she reassures us that there is indeed hope for our planet if we step up and act now. We’d all do well to listen.

Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World

By Lisa Wells

Rather than becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed by the climate crisis, author Lisa Wells ventured out into the world in search of people who are living in ways that protect our planet and ensure a livable future. In Believers, Wells chronicles her journey and the inspirational individuals she met along the way. Among the radical experimenters she profiles: nomadic activists working to bring life back to the American desert; families who survived devastating wildfires in California and are now seeking practical ways to rebuild safely; Christian watershed protectors; and a world-class tracker who shares his skills with others. Exquisitely written, Believers is a road map to new modes of living in an ever-shifting and increasingly unstable world.

The Heartbeat of Trees

By Peter Wohlleben

Peter Wohlleben is an experienced forester who manages a sustainable forest and runs a forest academy near his home in Germany. When he writes about trees, he does so with passion, leading you into the heart of the shady green forest with him. In The Heartbeat of Trees, Wohlleben explains the meaningful interactions humans can have with nature, and he tracks current scientific research on the language of the forest; the consciousness of plants; and the shrinking boundary between flora and fauna. Humans have a bad habit of ranking themselves above nature. In this powerful work, Wohlleben makes it clear that we are uniquely connected, and that environmental activism is not just about saving trees, it’s about saving ourselves.

The Brilliant Abyss: Exploring the Majestic Hidden Life of the Deep Ocean, and the Looming Threat That Imperils It

By Helen Scales

Like space, the ocean is vast and dark, mysterious and forbidding. Yet it’s also a place of fathomless natural beauty. In The Brilliant Abyss, Helen Scales dives deep into this aquatic realm, introducing us to the menagerie of marine life that swims beneath the waves. She explains how underwater formations trap and hold tremendous amounts of carbon and warns against the calamitous repercussions of mining our ocean floor and overfishing its waters. The Brilliant Abyss is an impassioned and thoroughly researched clarion call to protect our oceans. It’s also a deep-sea reverie, one that invites us to marvel at the majesty and wonder of the oceanic abyss.

All We Can Save

By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

For years, women activists have been at the forefront of environmental work, often bringing a relatable perspective to what can be a surprisingly divisive issue. All We Can Save is a timely collection of essays by a diverse group of women, leaders with powerful voices who are clear in their commitment to enacting real change to tackle the climate crisis. They include scientists, farmers, teachers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and design experts, and they are of different ages and ethnicities, from around the world – and it’s this mix of viewpoints that makes the bestselling collection so powerful. Climate change is affecting us all, and we all, in turn, have our part to play to fight it.

How I Became a Tree

By Sumana Roy

Time feels as if it’s racing by these days, and Sumana Roy, for one, has had enough. “I was tired of speed,” she writes, “I wanted to live to tree time.” In How I Became a Tree, Roy meditates on the transformative power of trees, using tales from literature as well as religion, philosophy, and botany to entice you into her forest world. Roy’s relaxed, peaceful tree paradise is a tempting destination, but behind the calm, a clear warning sounds: We ignore the necessity of the forest at our peril.

A World on the Wing

By Scott Weidensaul

Just how do birds find their way back to the same nesting grounds year after year? How do they fly tens of thousands of miles through the air, crisscrossing hemispheres on an annual basis? In A World on the Wing, avian expert Scott Weidensaul draws on his extensive fieldwork to answer these questions and more. He analyzes the latest scientific research and brings new findings to life, adding maps, detailed descriptions, and photos to create a comprehensive portrait of the bird world. Weidensaul also looks at human disruption of migratory pathways and bird habitats, introducing us to researchers and bird lovers who urge conservation and climate action to protect our feathered friends.

Finding the Mother Tree

By Suzanne Simard

While we all know that trees are living beings, it may come as a surprise to learn that they’re social, too. Trees are able to cooperate with one another and issue warnings by using a vast network of roots to communicate. Suzanne Simard is a leading researcher on plant communication and intelligence. In Finding the Mother Tree, her first book and a New York Times bestseller, she seamlessly melds her scientific research with stories from her childhood in the forests of British Columbia, chronicling a lifelong love affair with trees. At the center of it all are the Mother Trees, towering growths that nurture the forest and play an essential role in furthering life on this planet.

Diary of a Young Naturalist

By Dara McAnulty

Sometimes a fresh perspective makes all the difference. Dara McAnulty is a 16-year-old environmental activist propelled by his love of nature and his desire to save the planet from ecological disaster. He’s also a talented writer who can describe his experiences with eloquence and beauty, whether it’s the taste of summer’s first blackberries, hearing the trill of a blackbird’s song, or witnessing the feathery scuffles at the garden bird feeder. In his award-winning new book, Diary of a Young Naturalist, McAnulty chronicles his passion for the natural world, documenting his activism and inviting us to see the world through his eyes. McAnulty and his mom and siblings are autistic, and the order and ebb and flow of the natural world hold special appeal. Along with his marine scientist dad, “together, we make for an eccentric and chaotic bunch,” he says. “We’re as close as otters, and huddled together, we make our way in the world.”

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