This list was curated by our Books Editor based on books she’s read or sampled and books that have great Goodreads reviews.
Connecting with nature, no matter where you live, can be incredibly grounding, great for stress reduction, and can boost your mood, according to a 2010 research review. One small study showed that even just looking at pictures of greenery and nature can have a restorative effect on your nervous system.
To celebrate Earth Day and all the glories of Mother Nature, we rounded up 16 books with major green vibes. Starting a little collection of succulents? Want to make healing botanical salves? Looking for more opportunities to surround yourself with green spaces, gardens, and forests? Let these books be your gateway.
1. Wild Creations: Inspiring Projects to Create plus Plant Care Tips & Styling Ideas for Your Own Wild Interior by Hilton Carter
Calling all plant parents! If you need inspo for your indoor plant oasis, you need this book. In Hilton Carter’s previous books he’s shared gorgeous glimpses of plant-filled homes. But in this masterpiece, he takes you through the steps to DIY 25 projects and plant hacks (plus super useful, honest plant care tips!).
Projects like making a wall-mounted planter, preserved moss wall art, or your propagation station will have you ready to get creative and design your wild interior. This book is a visual stunner you’ll want to leave out on your coffee table — next to just the right plant.
This stunningly illustrated book is a treasure, especially if you love both exquisite books and plants. You’ll learn interesting botanical facts — did you know bamboo is actually a grass (the tallest kind)? Or that banana trees are actually not trees, but giant herbs?
The fun facts paired with colorful illustrations make this something to truly lose yourself in.
This book would make the perfect gift, but you might want to get yourself a copy too. It’s brimming with whimsy and joyful illustrations that highlight free-spirited living.
It’s a lifestyle “field guide” to wandering, gathering, savoring, and pondering the many aspects of nature and the beauty, solace, and glimmers to be found there. You’ll find inspirational quotes alongside the illustrations, as well as little lists of places to visit, things to do, and what to bring. There are even a few recipes (strawberry pie, anyone?).
If you love the book, you’ll find How to Be a Wildflower Card Deck with 78 symbols from nature to be a visual feast.
4. Floret Farm’s Discovering Dahlias: A Guide to Growing and Arranging Magnificent Blooms written by Erin Benzakein, Julie Chai, and Jill Jorgensen, and photographed by Chris Benzakein
Dahlias no doubt deliver a punch of color to your garden, and now this book does the same for your coffee table or bookshelf. It’s simply brimming with botanical beauty. But it’s not just for looks. It’s a fantastic resource to successfully grow (and arrange) dahlias of all kinds.
The first part is instructional and the second part is a stunning visual guide to more than 350 of this farmer-florist’s favorite varieties, arranged by color. Who knew there were so many shapes, sizes, and colors of these jovial blooms? Even if you have no intention of growing dahlias, this book leaves you feeling like you’ve just walked through a field of flowers. #Bliss
5. Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine by Rosalee de la Forêt, and Emily Han
This book is written by the education director for LearningHerbs and registered herbalist Rosalee de la Forêt and naturalist, herbalist, and educator Emily Han.
The duo put together this hefty book designed to deepen appreciation of the world, complete with 75 recipes and healing remedies. We love the detailed instructions and photography, which make for quick learning once you start prepping herbs.
This book takes plants to a *magical* level.
Juliet Diaz is a seer, healer, and Indigenous Taino Cubana descended from a long line of healers in Higuayagua. She also has a master of science in herbal medicine and has put together this magnificent book to help others get in touch with themselves, with plants, and tap into the human-Earth connection.
She writes intimately about her experience with plants and provides detailed pages on the properties of 200 herbs, flowers, tress, and fruits.
This book took us by surprise with its lyrical, contemplative pages dedicated to, wait for it, a tree. We know it sounds super granola, but trust us when we say it’s a genuinely moving work of art.
The author spent 2 years studying an 800-year-old Honywood Oak in North Essex, England, and writes in depth about the relationship between humans and trees, and the myths, legends, and science surrounding them. This book is like an ecological meditation and has us wanting to go forest bathing ASAP.
8. Wild + Free Nature: 25 Outdoor Adventures for Kids to Explore, Discover, and Awaken Their Curiosity by Ainsley Arment
Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, teacher, or looking to reconnect with your inner child, this book shares fun ideas for getting outdoors to explore, learn, and connect with your surroundings. Each section is contributed by a parent and it’s been curated by the founder of the WILD + FREE community.
We especially love the ideas of keeping a nature journal with your kids (whether outside or at a museum!), going on wildflower adventures, or making a mud kitchen.
The art of bonsai (small trees that mimic the shape of full-size ones) is an ancient one and this book, written by one of Japan’s bonsai masters, does not disappoint. It covers over 70 types of bonsai (with more than 1,000 photos) and how to care for them.
The pages are attractively laid out and even if you’ve never thought about trying your hand at keeping bonsai before, it’s hard to look through this book without getting obsessed with these mini trees.
10. The Gardener’s Guide to Succulent: A Handbook of Over 125 Exquisite Varieties of Succulents and Cacti by Misa Matsuyama
Succulents are a low-maintenance way to add greenery and living energy to your home or garden, and can be the perfect little desk-side or sofa-side companions due to their small size and unique characteristics.
This striking guidebook takes you through more than 125 varieties of both succulents and unique cactus species, how to care for them, and arrange them — with beautiful photos throughout.
11. World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
At 160 pages, this is a slim volume that you might devour in 1 weekend like we did, but you’ll be thinking about it long after you finish.
Celebrated poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil has created a collection of nature essays that are so much more than learning about the strange wonders of the natural world (did you know an octopus’s brain can stretch itself to make room for food when it eats?!).
It’s also a memoir, with the interesting facts braided together seamlessly with the author’s own life and reveries. Also, the cover design is stunning.
12. Ancient Remedies: Secrets to Healing with Herbs, Essential Oils, CBD, and the Most Powerful Natural Medicine in History by Dr. Josh Axe
Whole health often encompasses a balance of different types of treatment and healthcare. This book is a good place to start.
In it, Dr. Axe writes about ancient healing practices, what you can do to create a home “ancient pharmacy” kit — including nourishing foods, herbs, essential oils, and CBD — and dozens of recipes, from fig bars to carrot ginger soup.
As always, we recommend discussing any changes or additions to your diet with your healthcare professional.
Seeking more mindfulness in your life? This book will show you how to use nature to meditate and connect with the present moment.
The author — a wellness, mindfulness, and recovery educator — guides readers with playful exercises so that you can explore through the senses, movement, creativity, and the elements. It also contains a detailed guide to 52 plant correspondences to focus on each week of the year, like contemplating a strawberry together with heart-centeredness.
14. Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake
Sometimes, changing your perspective can be just what you need to expand your view of the world, and even the way you live. The world of fungi is incredibly fascinating and surprisingly integral in most of life’s processes.
In this book, biologist Merlin Sheldrake takes readers through the world from the point of view of all kinds of fungi, from yeast and psychedelics to the largest organisms on the planet: fungi that range for miles underground. Just think of the conversation starters you’ll have at your next Zoom gathering.
15. Plant-Powered Beauty, Updated Edition: The Essential Guide to Using Natural Ingredients for Health, Wellness, and Personal Skincare (with 50-plus Recipes) by Amy Galper and Christina Daigneault
Plants have been a powerful addition to skin care and beauty for thousands of years, and if you’re into preparing some DIY skin care, this is a fantastic book to start with.
In addition to recipes, you’ll find essential info on deconstructing beauty labels, the difference between following a recipe and formulating one, how the skin works, and how to use essential oils and create synergies. Plus super helpful ingredient charts for carrier oils, butters, waxes, clays, and more will turn your medicine cabinet into your beauty counter and apothecary.
Naturalist and writer Lyanda Lynn Haupt explores how, in these times of crisis, we can best live upon this endangered planet. She writes of her experiences, such as walking barefoot in the woods, and invites readers to similarly reimagine our relationship with nature, even down to examining the language we use to describe and think about it.
One early reviewer writers, “Haupt’s witness shows us how to regain the sacred, how to claim sisterhood with all living things, how to embrace the darkness, and how to heal the earth and ourselves.”
Out May 4.
Naomi Farr is the books editor and a copy editor at Greatist. She loves focusing on all things books, beauty, wellness, and mental health. She’s also a YA fantasy writer and bookstagrammer. You can find her (and her cat) @avioletlife.