Feature

Andrea Wulf's 6 favorite books about nature

The historian and best-selling author recommends works by Lauren Redniss, Barry Lopez, and more

Historian Andrea Wulf is the best-selling author of The Invention of Nature. Her latest book, The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, retells the same story of the pioneering naturalist and explorer, but in a lavishly illustrated graphic novel.

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie by Lauren Redniss (2010).

Category-defying, stunningly beautiful, and utterly mesmerizing, Radioactive represents the perfect marriage between art and science. Redniss' text and magical images take the reader on a biographical and visual journey.

Half-Earth by Edward O. Wilson (2016).

One of the most memorable passages I've ever read about environmental destruction is Wilson's list of the 19 species of freshwater mussels that have gone extinct in Alabama's Mobile River basin. Half-Earth is almost like an obituary: evocative, and in its sparse itemization strangely emotional.

American Eden by Victoria Johnson (2018).

I've always loved stories about forgotten heroes — and with this fantastic biography of early American botanist David Hosack, Victoria Johnson unearthed a brilliant figure. Luckily for Hosack, she's a true scholar and gifted storyteller.

The Moth Snowstorm by Michael McCarthy (2015).

Some books change the way you see things and stay with you forever. This is one of them. It's an unashamed plea for the importance of seeking joy in nature — a joy that humans have experienced for more than 50,000 generations. Our ability to imagine developed as we evolved, McCarthy explains, and our bond with the natural world lies buried in our DNA. It's the best argument I've heard so far for nature appreciation as part of our very essence.

Views of Nature by Alexander von Humboldt (1808).

Humboldt, the most famous scientist of his age, was obsessed with scientific measurements, but he also said that we need to use our imagination to understand nature. In Views of Nature, he combined poetic landscape descriptions with scientific observations, thereby creating the blueprint for nature writing today.

Horizon by Barry Lopez (2019).

Lopez is one of my all-time favorite writers. Like so many others who loved 1986's Arctic Dreams, I waited patiently (or maybe impatiently) many years for a new full-length Lopez nonfiction book. When it finally arrived this year, I devoured it. It's a masterpiece of nature writing that reminds us of the environmental crisis we're facing. I don't know of any other writer who so evocatively and poetically weaves together science, culture, and nature.

Recommended

Major League Baseball owners vote to lock out players
MLB
Strike 1

Major League Baseball owners vote to lock out players

The daily gossip: Dec. 1, 2021
Nic Cage.
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: Dec. 1, 2021

The daily gossip: November 30, 2021
Rihanna.
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: November 30, 2021

The daily gossip: November 29, 2021
Channing Tatum.
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: November 29, 2021

Most Popular

Late night hosts riff on Omicron
Cyber Monday on The Late Show
Last Night on Late Night

Late night hosts riff on Omicron

Police reportedly seize hard drives from Marilyn Manson's home
Marilyn Manson
raid

Police reportedly seize hard drives from Marilyn Manson's home

7 cartoons about Thanksgiving inflation
Political Cartoon.
Feature

7 cartoons about Thanksgiving inflation