In 2013, Orion Magazine hosted a discussion between celebrated authors Rebecca Solnit and Robert MacFarlane on the evolving genre of nature writing. The far-ranging chat delved into the changing human relationship to nature and place, the power of words to inspire and effect profound change, and the need for an “ecology of nature writing” that holds space for historically suppressed perspectives.

Throughout the talk, both writers provided compelling examples of nature writing at its best: when it pushes the form forward. From Rachel Carson’s seminal Silent Spring to the poetic vignettes of Edward Abbey, find Rebecca Solnit’s recommendations below.


The Maine WoodsWaldenEssays by Henry David Thoreau

The Land of Little Rain by Mary Austen

Death Comes to the Archbishop & My Antonia by Willa Cather

Arctic Adventure by Peter Freuchen

Encounter with an Angry God by Carobeth Laird

Names on the Land by George Stewart

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (also rec’d by Jane Goodall)

Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her by Susan Griffin

The Death of Nature by Carolyn Merchant

Gardens in the Dunes & Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit by Leslie Marmon Silko

Man in the Landscape & Nature and Madness by Paul Shepard

Blood Orchid by Charles Bowden

The Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich

The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin

Tracks by Robyn Davidson

Refuge & Leap by Terry Tempest Williams

Indian Tales by Jaime de Angulo

Dalva & The Shape of the Journey by Jim Harrison

The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer by John Haines

Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez

The Unsettling of America & Collected Poems by Wendell Berry

Raven’s Witness by Richard K. Nelson

The Reindeer People by Piers Vitebsky

The Desert Smells Like Rain by Gary Paul Nabhan

Canaries on the Rim by Chip Ward

West of Everything by Jane Tompkins

Rowing to Latitude by Jill Fredston

Wisdom Sits in Places by Keith Basso

The Other Side of Eden by Hugh Brody

A Small Place & My Garden by Jamaica Kincaid

Hole in the Sky & Owning It All by William Kittredge

The Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder

Tamalpais Walking & The High Sierra of California by Tom Killian & Gary Snyder

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (also rec’d by Laurie Anderson)

Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris

Eaarth, Deep Economy & Oil and Honey by Bill McKibben

The Destruction of the Bison by Andrew C. Isenberg

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Mountains of the Mind & The Wild Places by Rob MacFarlane

Things That Are by Amy Leach

(via Orion Magazine)

Categories: Activists Writers

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