Five summer reading books for the nature lover

Whether your ideal summer involves hiking every weekend, relaxing in a hammock or on a beach, or huddling inside enjoying the AC, here are five fiction reads nature lovers (and others) will enjoy.


Tall sequoia trees stand against a blue sky
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By Madeline Rothfield, intern


1. The Overstory- Richard Powers

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2019, The Overstory details the lives of 5 different people of all walks of life who interact through their experience with trees. From a troubled war veteran to an artist struggling with her passion, from a computer programmer to a scientist dedicated to unraveling the secrets of the forest, each character brings a unique perspective and emotional depth to the narrative. As the story unfolds, The Overstory delves into the immense power and beauty of trees, illuminating their intricate communication networks and the hidden ecosystems that they sustain. The novel also delves into pressing environmental issues, highlighting the destructive consequences of deforestation and the urgent need for conservation.

2. The Giving Tree – Shel Silverstein

You might have read The Giving Tree as a kid but it will take on an entirely new meaning as an adult. Detailing the relationship between a young boy and a tree, the children’s book follows the pair through decades of time as the young boy grows into a man and uses the tree’s resources. The tree provides everything it can to make the boy happy, apples to sell, branches to use for building and more. It shows us both the joy in interacting with nature’s bounty and the pain in overconsuming and abusing them.

3. The Great Alone – Kristin Hanna

If you’ve ever wondered what modern day frontier living would look like, check out The Great Alone. Set in Alaska, the novel focuses on a troubled young family looking to escape the trauma of the Vietnam War by moving to a less congested area and simpler living. In her writing, Hanna provides lush imagery and beautiful sentiments to describe the experience of living off of the land. Combined with the emotional and deeply realistic narrative portraits, the book takes on a life of its own where Alaska is just as important a character as the protagonist. 

4. Silent Spring – Rachel Carson

The groundbreaking 1962 novel Silent Spring is the book that awakened the world to the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment and human health. After the emergence of the pesticide DDT, Rachel Carson researched and brought to light the potential nationwide destruction of pesticides. Carson urges readers to reconsider the relationship between humanity and nature. Six decades later, the book is just as compelling and relevant.

5. Where The Crawdads Sing

Recently developed into a major motion picture, this book follows the story of one young girl who is brought up by the North Carolina marsh she lives in. The main character Kya leads an isolated life in which she lives in harmony with nature, drawing from the patterns and livelihoods of the plants and animals around her. This book has a distinctively summer feeling and is a perfect way to read your way through nature. 


Lisa Frank

Executive Director, Washington Legislative Office, Environment America; Vice President and D.C. Director, The Public Interest Network

Lisa directs strategy and staff for Environment America's federal campaigns. She also oversees The Public Interest Network's Washington, D.C., office and operations. She has won millions of dollars in investments in walking, biking and transit, and has helped develop strategic campaigns to protect America's oceans, forests and public lands from drilling, logging and road-building. Lisa is an Oregonian transplant in Washington, D.C., where she loves hiking, running, biking, and cooking for friends and family.

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