There are many books that address ideas of nature and environmentalism.  A mix of non-fiction, fiction, personal essay and futuristic fiction – here is a short list of  five important and fun reads about our relationship with the world around us.

A Sand County Almanac

by Aldo Leopold

Considered by many to be the first, and one of the greatest, books of environmental writing, Leopold’s collection of essays and drawings A Sand County Almanac was published about a year after Leopold’s death in 1945.  The most famous essay is “The Land Ethic” in which Leopold looks to extend ethics to land and nature, he says “The extension of ethics to this third element in human environment is, if I read the evidence correctly, an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.” You can visit the Aldo Leopold Foundation here.

Silent Spring

By Rachel Carson

Published in 1962, Silent Spring is cited as having changed the course of history in environmental thinking – responsible for the banning of DDT and other laws concerning our environment. Carson examines the use of pesticides and their effects, primarily on birds. The book is often credited as a beginning point for modern American environmentalism.

Ill Nature

By Joy Williams

Published in 2001, Ill Nature is a collection of essays that cover a range of nature and ecological concerns.  Most of the essays are fun to read and humorous, but not without passion and concern.  She says “Joyce Carol Oates suggests that the reason writers-real writers, one assumes-don’t write about Nature is that it lacks a sense of humor and registers no irony.  It just doesn’t seem to be of the times-these slick, sleek, knowing, objective, indulgent times.”  Williams is a nature writer that contradicts what Oates suggests.

All Over Creation

By Ruth Ozeki

All Over Creation is about a small potato farmer that gets pulled into big farm politics. A criticism of Monsanto type seed ownership and a look into an extreme environmentalist group, the story is told at several angles that make the book a thorough and enjoyable read on many levels.  This fiction feels like it could be non-fiction and has all the great ingredients of a great story that will be as educational and life changing as it is entertaining and just plain fun to read. A good read that raises many questions about the state of modern farming and rights of ownership for farmers.


By Ernest Callenbach

Ecotopia was published in 1975 and is a futuristic look at what a perfect solitary human ecosystem would look like, a bio dome without the dome. In the novel, Ecotopia is the result of a union of California, Oregon and Washington that looks to create a stable ecosystem cut off from the rest of the United States.  After 20 years of existence Ecotpoia allows its first American visitor, a reporter from New York.  A sort of travel diary of the reporter’s journey into and around Ecotopia, the novel sets up and challenges ideas of what a perfect ecosystem would be like and how that would contrast with common Western beliefs and ideals.