Home Biologist The best nature books: author Beth Shapiro chooses her top 5

The best nature books: author Beth Shapiro chooses her top 5



In his new book Life as we made it, biologist Beth Shapiro traces 50,000 years of human intervention in nature and evolution.

Here, Shapiro chooses his five best books on humans and nature.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural Tale by Elizabeth Kolbert

It is essential that we understand the mess we are making on the planet. I love how Kolbert carefully distinguishes today’s mass extinction event from the previous five, which makes it difficult to argue that we are not responsible for today’s crises: the first step to determine what to do to stop them.

Half-Earth by EO Wilson

I like and strongly disagree with this book. It beautifully sums up the current biodiversity crisis and convincingly argues that we need to do something now. What Wilson is proposing – set aside 50% of the planet and leave nature alone – isn’t practical and won’t solve the problem, but the book is a must read.

Exuberant Garden by Emma Marris

Marris’ anti-Demi-Terre argument highlights the beauty of our landscapes that wouldn’t exist if we didn’t move plants and animals. We can’t set aside half the earth, so let’s make the most of what we have and learn to be better stewards of the lush garden that is our planetary home.

The Story by Richard Powers

This novel made me love and appreciate trees. It made me sad but also joyful and includes American chestnuts which are coming back thanks to biotechnologies.