The best books on Sense of Place, recommended by Patrick Galbraith

Novelists, non-fiction writers and poets all attempt to create immersive and atmospheric settings in their books—what is called a ‘sense of place’ in literary terms. Here, the British journalist Patrick Galbraith selects five books that explore and evoke a sense of place—including works by Joan Didion, Mark Kurlansky and John McPhee.

The best books on Natural History, recommended by David George Haskell

Natural history can offer a “portal into wonder and astonishment,” says David George Haskell, the biologist and award-winning author of nonfiction works including Sounds Wild and Broken and The Forest Unseen. But natural history books, in the past, have also been guilty of reinforcing prejudices. Here he recommends five natural history books that celebrate the diversity of life.

The best books on Islands, recommended by Gavin Francis

Generations of writers, explorers and armchair travellers have found a focal point of fascination in the idea of the remote island. Why so? Gavin Francis, the award-winning writer, explains the everlasting appeal of the lonely isle – and why the fantasy is at least as powerful as the salt-sprayed reality – as he selects five of the best books on islands.

The best books on Summer, recommended by Melissa Harrison

Temperatures ratcheting, tinderbox conditions, a pressure cooker atmosphere… summer is a handy literary shorthand for rising tensions. But in the natural world, summer is a quiet time when the flowers die back and the fruits and seeds are ripening. Here, Melissa Harrison—the novelist, nature writer and podcaster—recommends five of the best summer books, for those who like to read in step with the seasons.

The best books on Pets For Young Kids, recommended by Catherine Rayner

Feathered, scaly or furry, children form powerful and enriching bonds with their pets. If you don’t have room in your house (or lifestyle) for a multitude of birds and beasts—you can always read about them in books! Catherine Rayner, one of the UK’s leading creators of children’s picture books and devoted animal lover, recommends her favourite illustrated picture books celebrating pets.

The Best Nature Books of 2020, recommended by Charles Foster

Charles Foster—the barrister, ethicist and bestselling author of Being a Beast—selects five brilliant nature books that reflect a new boom in nature writing in 2020, many of which ask us to examine more closely the interconnectedness of all things.

Books on the Deep Future, recommended by David Farrier

What trace of our lives will we leave, and what stories might they tell about us? In Footprints, David Farrier explores how our generation will be remembered in the traces it leaves behind in myths, stories… and the fossil record. Here he talks to Caspar Henderson about books to help reflect on ‘the deep future.’

Fresh Voices in Nature Writing, recommended by Jessica J. Lee

Writing about nature and landscape need not be stuffy or traditionalist. Jessica J Lee, editor of The Willowherb Review—a literary journal dedicated to diversity in nature writing—recommends five books that offer a breath of fresh air: encompassing the whole of life, from sex in the woods to birding in the city.

The Best of Nature Writing 2019, recommended by Charles Foster

What do we talk about when we talk about nature? Almost everything, says the academic and bestselling author of Being a Beast, Charles Foster. Here he selects five of the best works of nature writing in 2019; books that seek to connect us more deeply with the non-human world.

The best books on Wilderness, recommended by Mark Boyle

Author and environmentalist Mark Boyle lived for three years without money; now he lives entirely off-grid and eschews all forms of modern technology, in search of a wilder way of living—and of being more in tune with the natural world. Here he discusses his literary inspirations: the best books on wilderness.

The Best Nature Books of 2018, recommended by Charles Foster

There has been a rash of books about epiphanic incursions into wilderness—but the best nature writing digs too into the complexities of our relationship with the natural world, says Charles Foster, the bestselling author of Being A Beast. Here, he discusses the best nature books of 2018.

The best books on Dogs, recommended by José Castelló

Next time you look at your cute pooch, remember its DNA is the same as that of a wolf. José Castelló, author of the delightful field guide, Canids of the World: Wolves, Wild Dogs, Foxes, Jackals, Coyotes, and Their Relatives recommends some of the best books to read on dogs and other canids.

The best books on Predators, recommended by Nick Pyenson

The predators that stalked our ancestors have been marginalised to the brink of extinction, but these animals still fill us with awe, says Nick Pyenson. They play a vital role in life on Earth, and we need to understand them if we are to survive.

The best books on Trees For Younger Readers, recommended by Neal Layton

Award-winning author and illustrator Neal Layton is passionate about the natural world—especially trees. Among his five recommendations are trees that provide raw materials for building, food and profit; trees that are perfect for climbing; lofty enchanted trees full of adventure; and small yet perfect Christmas trees. Each has a story to tell.

The best books on Honeybees, recommended by Helen Jukes

Humanity has a long history of keeping bees. But what do we really know about them? Beekeeping memoirist Helen Jukes selects five books that examine both the behaviour of bees as individuals and colonies as ‘superorganisms.’

Laura Dassow Walls on Henry David Thoreau

Again and again we return to the question: how should we live? To Henry David Thoreau, the 19th-century author, philosopher and naturalist, the answer was simplicity itself. Here his biographer Laura Dassow Walls selects five key texts that explore the Thoreauvian way of thinking.

The best books on Evolution, recommended by Jerry Coyne

Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne tells us why Darwin is still essential reading and sifts the vast amount of more recent writing on evolution for books that are both inspiring to scientists and accessible to general readers. He picks the best books on evolution.

The best books on Spiders, recommended by Lawrence Bee

You don’t have to be a professional arachnologist to study and get excited about spiders—nor do you need to travel away from home. The author of Britain’s Spiders, Lawrence Bee, recommends all the books you need to become an amateur arachnologist.

The Best Nature Writing of 2017, recommended by Charles Foster

Sales of nature books have been booming, but only the most exacting of authors get right to the heart of our own interconnectedness with the natural world, says Charles Foster, bestselling author of Being A Beast. Here, he chooses five of the best books of nature writing published in 2017.

The best books on Ocean Life, recommended by Helen Scales

We plunder the ocean for food, dump our waste in it, respect its wildlife less than land-based creatures. Why? Is it a case of “out of sight, out of mind”? Marine biologist Helen Scales tells us what’s down there and what we’re doing to it.

George Monbiot — with An Essential Reading List

Writer and investigative journalist George Monbiot recommends books that have shaped him, and that are crucial reading for those wishing to navigate the current economic and environmental crises.

The best books on Trees, recommended by David George Haskell

‘The wood that frames our houses, holds up our furniture, and gives us paper arrives with signs of its ecological history purged.’ We’re a long way from the campfire where our relationship with trees got going. Here, David George Haskell takes us back, deep into the forest.

Amy Liptrot chooses the best of Nature Writing

Amy Liptrot, whose bestselling memoir The Outrun won the 2016 Wainwright Prize for nature writing, talks to Five Books about her favourite writing about landscape—and how her immersion in island life helped her recover from alcoholism.

The best books on Cultural Evolution, recommended by Joe Henrich

What role did culture play in human evolution? Why did human brains get so big so quickly? When and why did inequality first emerge in human society? Harvard professor and author Joe Henrich picks some of the best books for understanding ‘cultural evolution.’

The Best Biology Books, recommended by Sean B Carroll

What do molecules in a cell have in common with lions in the Serengeti? They all follow rules, says scientist and author Sean B Carroll. He chooses the best books on biology, from the death of the dodo to the discovery of DNA.

The best books on The Anthropocene, recommended by Gaia Vince

In 2015 Gaia Vince became the first woman to win the Royal Society’s science book of the year prize for her book, Adventures in the Anthropocene. She spent two years on the road investigating how communities across the world are coping with climate change. Here, she shares the five best books on climate change and the Anthropocene – the geological epoch of man.

The Best Vaccine Books, recommended by Seth Mnookin

The history of vaccines is fascinating, and we highly recommend all the books discussed in this interview with Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus and Professor of Science Writing at MIT. These are gripping reads that tell the story of vaccines, medicine’s greatest life-saver, and the risks people took to find them.

Books on the Wonders of The Universe, recommended by Philip Plait

Philip Plait urges us to remember that “science isn’t an encyclopedia of facts to memorise. It’s alive.” The astronomer and author of the acclaimed Bad Astronomy blog discusses books that can’t help but light the fire of interest in all things astronomical. He looks at how we can date the age of the universe, the danger of solar flares, and why Pluto is no longer classed as a planet.