The awareness and urge to live a more eco-friendly life is growing by the day. And the world certainly needs people like you wanting to make a positive change.
One of the best ways to learn and become inspired to make positive changes in your life is through reading books on sustainability and the natural environment. The more you know and understand, the more impassioned about our wonderful world you become.
If you’re reading this post now, I know you love books just like me! It’s odds on that you care about sustainability, the environment and the very nature we are a part of.
The list below gives you 15 of the best books on sustainability and nature. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means – there are a tonnes of good books on sustainable living and the natural world to choose from – but it will give you a fantastic starting point and covers a variety of topics. There’s a book for everyone here.
Disclaimer: This blog post comes in partnership with Wordery, the alternative and more ethical online bookshop, who gifted me a number of the books here. The post contains affiliate links. Any subsequent purchases come at no cost to you. You can get 12% off two or more items by using the code TINYECO. Thank you for your support.
15 Best Books on Sustainability and Nature
Take a good look at the list below and choose your next book (or if you’re like me next several books) to inspire you to live more sustainably and in harmony with our natural world.
From understanding how trees work, rewilding projects and sustainable living tips, to sustainability classics, system changes and environmental economics, the list has more than one book for everyone. Let’s get stuck in!
By Isabella Tree
3,500 acres back to nature? This is what the book Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm is all about.
In 2000, the Knepp Estate was close to bankruptcy with its traditional farming ways, so the owners decided to give it back to nature with minimal intervention. The results have been remarkable, and Knepp is now a beacon for conservation in the UK. The owner of the estate is now a board member of Rewilding Britain.
This book offers an enlightening, inspiring and hopeful story of how nature can repair itself when given the chance.
By Naomi Klein
It’s not carbon that’s the bad guy when it comes to climate change, it’s the out-of-control capitalist systems that run the world. This is the message the Klein conveys in this must-read book.
This Changes Everything offers a different perspective on our environmental problems. In doing so, it increases our understanding on the problem and highlights what needs to be done to fix it. It’s not an easy fix as it requires a paradigm shift to dismantle corporate power, but it’s one that may get us out of this environmental hole.
By Rachel Carson
If This Changes Everything is a modern classic, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson is a classic classic.
Published in 1962, Silent Spring gives a voice to nature. It focusses attention on the destruction of wildlife through the use of pesticides and chemical treatments.
On the back of this landmark book, a new public awareness was created and harmful pesticides, such as DDT, were banned in the US in 1972 (it wasn’t banned in the UK until 1986).
By Peter Wohlleben
Wohlleben is a professional forester operating in the Eifel mountains of western Germany. And let me tell you, he loves nature, woodland and the individual trees that make up these remarkable social networks.
Originally written in his native German, The Hidden Life of Trees explores the life, death and regeneration in woodland, as well as the unfounded aspects of trees living as a community, supporting each other, sharing nutrients and looking after each other. This really is a delightful read.
By Michael Braungart and William McDonough
Rather than the standard ‘make, use, recycle’ (that last part if we’re lucky), Cradle to Cradle offers an alternative perspective on making things – from everyday products to institutions. It’s all based on value.
Cradle to Cradle by Braungart (a chemist) and McDonough (an architect) is a visionary book that takes nature as the ultimate model for production: everything gets reused in one way or another and there is no waste. Why can’t human culture be the same?
By Ernst Schumacher
Before writing the book, Schumacher was a highly proclaimed economist and statistician operating in the UK, but he could see that globalisation and excessive consumption were major issues.
His 1973 publication, Small is Beautiful, brought his varied history and deep-thinking ideas into one place. The book puts forward the idea that economies need to be built around communities, not corporations. He argues that his idea will help stop the reckless loss of natural capital that will deprive future generations to come.
By Josh Tickell
Published just before the release of the enlightening sustainability documentary that goes by the same name, Kiss The Ground sets out a simple way to look after our bodies and indeed the Earth: take care of the soil that sustains all life on land.
The book is all about regenerative agriculture and the benefits it can bring to the food we eat, surrounding nature, biodiversity and the environment. As ever, simplicity is the key. It’s a great book and you will learn a lot!
By Richard Powers
There’s a good reason why The Overstory has won a Pulitzer Prize and sold over a million copies. It defies expectations.
The Overstory is the only fictional novel on this list. It pays homage to the humble world of trees through the story of nine characters. Each are summoned in different ways to trees and the natural world, and how they can save needless destruction.
By Edward O Wilson
Edward O Wilson’s book Half-Earth offers a rather radical solution to mass species loss: fully dedicate half of the earth to nature. It’s rewilding but on a huge earth-sized scale.
It may sound grandiose, but this isn’t just a wishful, whimsical idea, Wilson has thought it through and identified areas of the world where this can be done. He also happens to be one of the most influential biologists of the last half century.
By Daniel Chamovitz
What a Plant Knows is a fascinating book that reveals the wonder of plants and how they experience the world around them.
With a combination of scientific research, concepts and brilliant storytelling, this book is both informative and easy to read.
11. Entangled life
By Merlin Sheldrake
Published in September 2021, Entangled Life tells us about the mind-altering world of fungi. The rather unassuming kingdom of fungi, containing around 144,000 species, is perhaps the unheralded key of our world.
Fungi play an vital role in most of nature’s processes, including symbiotic relationships with the roots of plants, and could help shape our very future.
By Jen Gale
The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide shows how small, simple ideas can be slotted into our everyday lives to make a big difference.
It’s an empowering book for those who care about the planet and our environment, but often feel like living more sustainably is too much hard work! The key here is ‘ish’ – there’s no perfect, catch-all solution.
Living a more sustainable requires small steps that compound over time, and this books gives great, practical tips to achieve that.
By Paul Hawken
Drawdown is a fully-fledged plan put together by a coalition of researchers, scientists and policymakers to reverse climate change. It’s been put together and edited by environmentalist and author Paul Hawken.
The techniques and solutions featured in the book are viable on a global scale, and should they be enacted over the next 30 years, may see the peak of greenhouse gas emissions start to tail off and perhaps even decline.
14. Rewild Yourself
By Simon Barnes
Enthusiastic, passionate and persuasively written, Rewild Yourself gives 23 ways to bring the magic of nature closer to home.
This book will help to bring nature back into focus with practical and simple ways to attract mammals, birds, insects and creatures back to where you will. Such a fantastic idea. I’m hoping to implement a few of these ideas myself! If you’re interested in this area, check out my blog on how to rewild your garden.
By Aldo Leopold
Another classic for the list. To many, Aldo Leopold is one of the fathers of wildlife preservation and management.
This book contains self-contained chapters, such as ‘Thinking Like a Mountain’ and ‘The Land Ethic’, which put forward the idea that humans have to life in balance with other lifeforms. In fact, it’s true for the world that we do.
Leopold’s famous book is short and to the point, but carries big significance for how the natural world is perceived.
And there are my 15 books on sustainability, the environment and nature that I’d encourage you to read. There are many more than could have been added to the list, but these should offer a great starting point for anyone looking to expand their knowledge in this area.
It’s likely that I’ll keep adding to this list over time so that it stays relevant – give it a bookmark and have a look back from time to time. With that being said, if there are any book titles that you think I’ve missed and should definitely be on a best sustainability books list, just drop me a message and let me know.