News Room

An Ode to Our Planet

Today is Earth Day, and from the fish swimming in the deepest depths of the sea to the birds flying high in the stratosphere above, we’re reflecting on everything to love about the planet that we and millions of other species of flora, fauna, and fungi call our own. These seven books range in subject from marine biology to botany, meteorology, and even astronomy, but the message of each is clear—this beautiful, strange, singular little blue dot is a home unlike any other in the universe, and it’s the only one we’ve got.


The Brilliant Abyss by Helen Scales

A golden era of deep-sea discovery is underway, and in The Brilliant Abyss, marine biologist Helen Scales eloquently and passionately brings to life the majesty and mystery of an alien realm that nonetheless sustains us, while urgently making clear the price we could pay if it is further disrupted. The Brilliant Abyss is at once a revelation and a clarion call to preserve this vast unseen world.

“Vivid . . . [Outlines] some of the staggering biological creatures that have already been uncovered—with the promise that many more await discovery . . . Stylish, eloquent . . . Enthralling and richly expressed and highlights how closely our lives depend on the deep.”—Robin McKie, Guardian



Orbital by Samantha Harvey

A slender novel of epic power, Orbital deftly snapshots one day in the lives of six women and men hurtling through space—not towards the moon or the vast unknown, but around our planet. Selected for one of the last International Space Station missions of its kind, these astronauts and cosmonauts—from America, Russia, Italy, Britain, and Japan—have left their lives behind to travel at a speed of over seventeen thousand miles an hour as the earth reels below. Profound, contemplative and gorgeous, Orbital is a gift—a moving elegy to our humanity, environment, and planet.

“Harvey makes an ecstatic voyage with an imagined crew on the International Space Station, and looks back to Earth with a lover’s eye . . . An Anthropocene book resistant to doom.”Guardian


In Ascension by Martin MacInnes

When a trench is discovered in the Atlantic ocean, young microbiologist Leigh joins the exploration team, hoping to find evidence of the earth’s first life forms—what she instead finds calls into question everything we know about our own beginnings. Exploring the natural world with wonder and reverence, In Ascension is a compassionate, deeply inquisitive epic that reaches outward to confront the greatest questions of existence, looks inward to illuminate the smallest details of the human heart, and shows how, no matter how far away, we will always attempt to return to the people and places we call home.

“Few novels toggle so beautifully between the minute and the vast, the personal and the theoretical, the quotidian and the extraordinary, the knowable and the unfathomable. In Ascension raises big questions about the universe and humanity’s place in it. Even better, it evokes wonder at every turn.”—Heller McAlpin, Wall Street Journal


The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery

An international best seller endorsed by policy makers, scientists, writers, and energy industry executives from around the world, Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers helped bring the topic of global warming to national prominence. Along with a riveting history of how climate change has shaped our planet’s evolution, Flannery offers specific suggestions for action for both lawmakers and individuals, from investing in renewable power sources like wind, solar, and geothermal energy, to offering an action plan with steps each and every one of us can take right now to reduce deadly CO2 emissions by as much as 70 percent.

“An authoritative, scientifically accurate book on global warming that sparkles with life, clarity, and intelligence . . . The secret . . . seems to be confident knowledge joined to a storyteller’s gifts and a writer’s determination to get it just right–a rare combination, and a powerful one.”—Washington Post


H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

When Helen Macdonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer, she’d never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer’s eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.

“Helen Macdonald’s beautiful and nearly feral book, H Is for Hawk, reminds us that excellent nature writing can lay bare some of the intimacies of the wild world as well. Her book is so good that, at times, it hurt me to read it. It draws blood, in ways that seem curative.”—Dwight Garner, New York Times


Untamed by Will Harlan

A combination of Henry David Thoreau and Jane Goodall, Carol Ruckdeschel is a self-taught scientist who has become a tireless defender of sea turtles on Cumberland Island, a national park off the coast of Georgia and the country’s largest and most biologically diverse barrier island. In recent years, steel magnate Carnegie and the National Park Service have clashed with Carol over the island’s future. What happens when a dirt-poor naturalist with only a high-school diploma tries to stop one of the wealthiest families in America? Untamed is the story of an American original standing her ground and fighting for what she believes in, no matter the cost.

Untamed doesn’t aim to be another book about sea turtles, but rather one about how some people are passionately in love with wild places. It’s a profound, inspiring biography of a unique American woman who’s earned her place alongside Huck Finn, Thoreau and other heroic wanderers.”—Kevin Begos, Associated Press


Second Nature by Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan has established himself as one of our most important and beloved writers on modern man’s place in the natural world.  Second Nature is a manifesto not just for gardeners but for environmentalists everywhere, capturing the rhythms of our everyday engagement with the outdoors in all its glory and exasperation. With chapters ranging from a reconsideration of the Great American Lawn, a dispatch from one man’s war with a woodchuck, to an essay about the sexual politics of roses, Pollan has created a passionate and eloquent argument for reconceiving our relationship with nature.

“As delicious a meditation on one man’s relationship with the Earth as any you are likely to come upon.”—New York Times Book Review