As we move into July, summer begins in full swing, and many of us are either heading out to our country’s many national parks or—if you’re in the Bay Area like us—trekking through the redwoods or driving along the California coast. No matter your destination, make sure to add one of the below books to your summer reading list. From the Grand Canyon to the origins of American environmentalism, these titles will enhance your summer outdoor adventures.
By Chad Montrie
Since its publication in 1962, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring has often been celebrated as the catalyst that sparked an American environmental movement. Yet environmental consciousness and environmental protest in some regions of the United States date back to the nineteenth century, with the advent of industrial manufacturing and the consequent growth of cities. The Myth of Silent Spring tells this story. By challenging the canonical “songbirds and suburbs” interpretation associated with Carson and her work, the book gives readers a more accurate sense of the past and better prepares them for thinking and acting in the present.
By Shelley Alden Brooks
Big Sur embodies much of what has defined California since the mid-twentieth century. A remote, inaccessible, and undeveloped pastoral landscape until 1937, Big Sur quickly became a cultural symbol of California and the West, as well as a home to the ultrawealthy. This book highlights today’s intricate and ambiguous intersections of class, the environment, and economic development through the lens of an iconic California landscape.
By Stephen Nash
Grand Canyon For Sale is a carefully researched investigation of the precarious future of America’s public lands: our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, monuments, and wildernesses. Taking the Grand Canyon as his key example, and using on-the-ground reporting as well as scientific research, Stephen Nash shows how accelerating climate change will dislocate wildlife populations and vegetation across hundreds of thousands of square miles of the national landscape.
By Craig H. Jones
From ski towns to national parks, fresh fruit to environmental lawsuits, the Sierra Nevada has changed the way Americans live. The Mountains That Remade America combines geology with history to show how the particular forces and conditions that created the Sierra Nevada have effected broad outcomes and influenced daily life in the United States in the past and how they continue to do so today. Drawing connections between events in historical geology and contemporary society, Craig H. Jones makes geological science accessible and shows the vast impact this mountain range has had on the American West.
By Allan A. Schoenherr
In this comprehensive and abundantly illustrated book, Allan A. Schoenherr describes the natural history of California—a state with a greater range of landforms, a greater variety of habitats, and more kinds of plants and animals than any area of equivalent size in all of North America. A Natural History of California focuses on each distinctive region, addressing its climate, rocks, soil, plants, and animals.
By Harry W. Greene
Intellectually rich, intensely personal, and beautifully written, Tracks and Shadows is both an absorbing autobiography of a celebrated field biologist and a celebration of beauty in nature. Harry W. Greene, award-winning author of Snakes: The Evolution of Mystery in Nature, delves into the poetry of field biology, showing how nature eases our existential quandaries. More than a memoir, the book is about the wonder of snakes, the beauty of studying and understanding natural history, and the importance of sharing the love of nature with humanity.