Nature and Environmental Book Reviews

Short List of Best Nature and Environmental Books

 

 

Environmental Psychology - Ecopsychology

The developing field of Environmental Psychology (aka. Ecopsychology) posits that there is a post-industrial alienation between human beings and the natural world . . . learn more about Environmental Psychology - Ecopsychology»

The books recommended below celebrate the wonder of the natural world, and call us to awaken our consciousness to act as responsible citizens of the planet. They explore the intimate connection between the human spirit and Nature and show how the health and vitality of the human spirit is related to one's connection with the Earth.

Recommended Books on Environmental Psycholgy - Ecopsychology

Between SpeciesBetween Species: Celebrating the Dolphin-Human Bond
Toni Frohoff and Brenda Peterson

This interesting collection brings together essays by writers, scientists, poets and even musicians, all of whom claim some ambassadorship to the cetacean world. Fascinating and thought-provoking. 2003, Sierra Club Books

 


Coming Back to LifeComing Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World
Joanna R. Macy

Many of us feel called upon to respond to the ecological destruction of our planet, yet we feel overwhelmed, immobilized, and unable to deal realistically with the threats to life on Earth. At the interface between spiritual breakthrough and social action, Coming Back to Life discusses with extraordinary insight the angst of our era - the pain, fear, guilt and inaction it has engendered - and then points forward to the way out of apathy. 1998, New Society Publishers


The Dream of the EarthThe Dream of the Earth
Thomas Berry

Berry explores human - Earth relations and seeks a new, non-anthropocentric approach to the natural world. He says that our immediate danger is not nuclear war but industrial plundering. He urges movement and education toward a "biocracy" that will heal the earth. "This volume quite possibly is one of the ten most important books of the 20th century." Dr. Donald B. Conroy 2006, Sierra Club Books


The Earth Has a SoulThe Earth Has a Soul: The Nature Writings of C. G. Jung
Meredith Sabini, editor

In these writings from his Collected Works, pioneering psychoanalyist C.G. Jung speaks for the natural mind, the source of the evolutionary experience and accumulated wisdom of our species. Through examples from his own life, he shows how healing one's living connection with Nature contributes to a sense of wholeness. In this book Jung shows us what we have lost and how we might find it again. 2002, North Atlantic Books


The Earth Only EnduresThe Earth Only Endures: On Reconnecting with Nature and Our Place In It
Jules Pretty

The Earth Only Endures is about our relations with nature, animals and places. Focusing on themes of connections and estrangement, it offers directions for an optimistic future. We are rendering our own world inhospitable, and in the process risk losing what it means to be human. This book reminds us of our connectedness to that world, and so inspires us to reclaim that relationship 2009, Earthscan Publications


Ecopsychology
short list

Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind
Allen D. Kanner

This pathfinding collection shows how the health of the planet is inextricably linked to the psychological health of humanity, individually and collectively. Ecopsychology is both a new beginning for environmentalism and a revolution in modern psychology. 1995, Sierra Club Books

 

 


Evening ThoughtsEvening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community
Thomas Berry

Noted cultural historian Thomas Berry opens our eyes to the full dimensions of the ecological crisis facing us, framing it as a crisis of spiritual vision. Applying his formidable erudition in cultural history, science, and comparative religions, he forges a compelling narrative of creation and communion that reconciles modern evolutionary thinking and traditional religious insights concerning our integral role in Earth's society. While sounding an urgent alarm at our current dilemma, Berry inspires us to reclaim our role as the consciousness of the universe and thereby begin to create a true partnership with the Earth community. 2006, Sierra Club Books


The Great TurningThe Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community
David C. Korten

In The Great Turning Korten argues that corporate consolidation of power is merely one manifestation of what he calls "Empire": the organization of society through hierarchy and violence that has largely held sway for the past 5,000 years. The Great Turning traces the evolution of Empire from ancient times to the present day but also tells the parallel story of the attempt to develop a democratic alternative to Empire. Finally, Korten draws on evidence from varied sources to make the case that "Earth Community"--a life-centered, egalitarian, sustainable alternative to Empire based on democratic principles of partnership--is indeed possible. And he outlines a grassroots strategy for beginning the momentous turning toward a future of as-yet unrealized human potential. 2007, Berrett-Koehler Publishers


The Great WorkThe Great Work: Our Way into the Future
Thomas Berry

The future can exist only if humans understand how to commune with the natural world rather than exploit it. Berry says, "Already the planet is so damaged and the future is so challenged by its rising human population that the terms of survival will be severe beyond anything we have known in the past." Berry reveals why we need to adore our blessed planet, while also examining why we are culturally driven toward exploiting nature. 2000, Harmony/Bell Tower


Green PsychologyGreen Psychology: Transforming our Relationship to the Earth
Ralph Metzner

According to environmental psychologist Metzner, the greatest environmental threat that we face is the depletion of the human spirit. Since Western culture is not based on living harmoniously with the earth --seeking dominance instead of partnership with nature --we have created a pathology that has led to a massive destruction of the human spirit and a frightening worship of consumerism to fill the void. This book upholds the need for an ecological ethic based upon deep interaction with nature and the timeless wisdom of indigenous cultures. 1999, Park Street Press


Landscape and MemoryLandscape And Memory
Simon Schama

Schama presents a wide-ranging meditation on the role of nature in Western civilization from ancient times to the present. He argues that Europeans and Americans have been shaped by nature as much as they themselves have shaped nature, and discusses the impact of sacred or mysterious rivers, forests, and mountains in forging the Western imagination. Individuals discussed include the expected (e.g., Henry David Thoreau) as well as some surprises (e.g., Louis XIV and Hitler). He brings together familiar and not-so-familiar stories to create a fresh reappraisal of more than 2000 years of history. 1996, Vintage


A Language Older than WordsA Language Older Than Words
Derrick Jensen

A Language Older Than Words relates the extraordinary journey of one man striving to save his own spirit and our planet's. Comparing his physically and sexually abusive father's destruction of his family with humankind's systematic destruction of civilization, New York Times Magazine contributor Jensen tells a story about the hope for regeneration in a landscape of human and natural desolation. In lyrical prose, Jensen calls for accountability and urges people "to live in dynamic equilibrium with the rest of the world." He demonstrates the complexity of the problems we face by examining an array of environmental and sociopolitical atrocities, including the Holocaust, the reckless production of plutonium to further space exploration and the maltreatment of indigenous peoples by self-serving neighbors. His visceral, biting observations always manage to lead back to his mantra: "Things don't have to be the way they are." 2004, Chelsea Green


Listening to the LandListening to the Land: Conversations About Nature, Culture and Eros
Derrick Jensen

In this far-ranging and heartening collection, Derrick Jensen gathers conversations with environmentalists, theologians, Native Americans, psychologists, and feminists, engaging some of our best minds in an exploration of more peaceful ways to live on Earth. Included here is Dave Foreman on biodiversity, Matthew Fox on Christianity and nature, Jerry Mander on technology, and Terry Tempest Williams on an erotic connection to the land. With intelligence and compassion, Listening to the Land moves from a look at the condition of the environment and the health of our spirit to a beautiful evocation of eros and a life based on love. 2004, Chelsea Green


Meeting the Tree of LifeMeeting the Tree of Life: A Teachers' Path
John Tallmadge

Tallmadge was a child of the late sixties with a Yale doctorate in comparative literature under his arm and an empathy for nature in his soul. Meeting the Tree of Life is a graceful, erudite compendium of natural history, travel, literary interpretation, and personal adventure as Tallmadge recounts the years after he left the army at age 26, until he became a dedicated English professor at age 40. He takes us along on his hikes to the High Sierra, Katahdin, and the Deeps and Canyonlands where, like some knight-errant, he proves himself over and over. If his teaching tenure is denied, Tallmadge realizes he has learned nature's lessons: just as water overcomes through nonresistance and the jack pine needs fire to release its seeds, man endures through spirit and faith. 1997, University of Utah Press


Nature and MadnessNature and Madness
Paul Shephard

Nature and Madness examines the human animal in relation to the natural environment, showing the kinds of psychic disjunctions and troubles that have developed over the generations that humans have been seeking to distance themselves from the world. Shepard locates the source of much of those troubles in the invention of agriculture, an act that gave humans the false idea that nature can be controlled and micromanaged - an idea that has found expression in such things as dam-building and genetic engineering. Environmental destruction, writes Shepard, is a "mutilation of personal maturity," a failure of emotional development; continuing the metaphor, he adds that "the only society more frightful than one run by children ... might be one run by childish adults." Shepard calls on his readers to establish a meaningful, mature connection with the earth, to cultivate a sense of stewardship and responsibility. 1998, University of Georgia Press


Nature and the Human Soul
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Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World
Bill Plotkin

Psychologist, eco-therapist, and wilderness guide Plotkin presents a new model of the whole of human life and spirituality for a world in dire ecological need, spoiled by patho-adolescent society. Nature and the Human Soul calls us to a fresh conception of individual and collective evolutionary life genuinely reconnected to the wild of nature. Using the indigenous template of the four compass directions, Plotkin describes eight stages on the wheel of spiritual development - the Innocent, Explorer, Thespian, Wanderer, Soul Apprentice, Artisan, Master and Sage. The Wheel is a deep-structure portrait of nature-and-soul-oriented cultures, a portrait that encompasses child-raising practices, core values, stages of growth, rites of passage, community organization, and relationship to the greater Earth community. Graceful prose is counterbalanced with diagrams and clear chapter structure. Plotkin offers an essential, weighty book for our perilous times. 2007, New World Library


The Power of TreesThe Power of Trees: The Reforesting of the Soul
Michael Perlman

This founding text in ecopsychology goes beyond the psychological interpretation of trees in myths and legends. It is a beautiful, lyrical inquiry into the place of trees in the everyday soul, a heart-rending lament for the lost forests, and a brilliant reportage of the after-effects of hurricanes and other disasters, both natural and man-made. Published shortly after Michael Perlman's death, The Power of Trees is an extraordinary testimony to his passion for the planet. 1994, Spring Publications


The Psychology of Environmental ProblemsThe Psychology of Environmental Problems
Deborah DuNann winter and susan M. Koger

Psychologists Winter and Koger apply psychological theory and research to environmental problems as they call for psychological and lifestyle changes as well as technological and social change in working toward the goal of creating a sustainable world. They demonstrate why it is critical to address environmental threats now, and offer ideas on how psychological principles can contribute to building a sustainable culture. 2004, Lawrence Erlbaum


Radical EcopsychologyRadical Ecopsychology: Psychology in the Service of Life
Andy Fisher

Personal in its style yet radical in its vision, Radical Ecopsychology offers an original introduction to ecopsychology -- the emerging field that ties the human mind to the natural world. Drawing masterfully from humanistic psychology, hermeneutics, phenomenology, radical ecology, nature writing, and critical theory, Fisher shows how the human psyche still belongs to Nature. This daring and innovative book proposes a psychology that will serve all Life. 2002, State University of New York Press


SoulcraftSoulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche
Bill Plotkin

For millenia, ceremonies and initiation rites have helped societies survive and thrive by marking life transitions. Soulcraft restores Nature ritual to its rightful place as a crucial part of personal growth and self-empowerment. Drawing on ancient traditions immersed in the natural world, the vision quest ritual serves as a modern rite of initiation that helps people find their life purpose. 2003, New World Library


The Spell of the SensuousThe Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World
David Abram

David Abram's writing casts a spell of its own as he weaves the reader through a meticulously researched work, gently addressing such daunting topics as where the past and future exists, the relationship between space and time, and how the written word serves to sever humans from their primordial source of sustenance: the Earth. "Only as the written text began to speak would the voices of the forest, and of the river, begin to fade." 1997, Vintage


Spirit of the ShuarSpirit of the Shuar: Wisdom from the Last Unconquered People of the Amazon
John Perkins, et.al.

What can we learn from a people who can't read, have no laws to speak of, who make a practice of shrinking the heads of their enemies, and let their children run around naked? In John Perkins's eyes, plenty. The Shuar of the Amazon rainforest have lived in harmony with their surroundings for countless ages. Perkins came into contact with them while on a Peace Corps stint in the 1960s, and has sought to spread their philosophy of simplicity and balance ever since. Spirit of the Shuar intertwines transcribed tape recordings of Shuar voices with Perkins's experiences. He teaches us about a spirituality that arises from a deep connection with nature, one in which shamans use hallucinogens to go on spiritual journeys; the spirits of nature yield hidden knowledge about plants; and dreams can always be fulfilled. 2001, Destiny Books


The Unequal HoursThe Unequal Hours: Moments of Being in the Natural World
Linda Underhill

In these jewel-like essays, Underhill invites readers to practice the difficult art of stillness. Quiet, small, transcendent moments of illumination that restore us to ourselves and to a sense of connection with all things can occur, she insists, while watching the rain, or sweeping the porch, or sitting and looking at the backyard. To commune with nature, she reassures readers, it's not necessary to emulate Thoreau, to leave home and go live in the woods. Unequal Hours is a series of elegant meditations in the tradition of Wendell Berry, sprinkled with references to poetry, myth, science, Taoism, ecology and ancient customs. 1999, University of Georgia Press


An Unspoken HungerAn Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field
Terry Tempest Williams

Williams makes it clear that we lose an essential part of ourselves when we neglect the Earth. She writes, "There is no defense against an open heart and a supple body in dialogue with wildness. Internal strength is an absorption of the external landscape. We are informed by beauty, raw and sensual. Through an erotics of place our sensitivity becomes our sensibility." 1995, Vintage


The Voice of the EarthThe Voice of the Earth: an Exploration of Ecopsychology
Theodore Roszak

Our culture is psychotic in its rift between the personal and the planetary, maintains Roszak. He finds a correlation between the degraded condition of the earth and the uneasy state of the human psyche. Roszak believes that each person has a repressed "ecological unconscious," a living record of cosmic evolution capable of linking us synergistically to the natural environment. He invites the reader to the healing power of communion with wilderness. 2001, Phanes Press


Widening CirclesWidening Circles
Joanna Macy

Macy has traveled widely and lived deeply: she is an "eco-philosopher" and a scholar of Buddhism. Now more than 70, she reflects on her eventful life as a spiritual journey that embraces grace, Buddhist practice, and the sacred power of words. Her voice is warm, and her message--that love can endure, that the deepest hurts can heal, and that care for the environment is not only possible but necessary--suffuses all she writes. 2001, New Catalyst Books


Woman and NatureWoman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her
Susan Griffin

In this famously provocative cornerstone of feminist literature, Susan Griffin brilliantly ponders the place and role of women in a predominantly patriarchal society. Her evocative explorations of far-ranging elements of human experience expose the hypocrisy of standard assumptions about gender and the environment. "Woman and Nature is about memory and mutilation, female anger as power, female presence as transforming force . . . Griffin has collected an extraordinary collage which becomes an intense physical experience." Adrienne Rich 2000, Sierra Books


World as LoverWorld as Lover, World as Self: A Guide to Living Fully in Turbulent Times
Joanna Macy

A new beginning for the environment must start with a new spiritual outlook. In this book, author Joanna Macy offers concrete suggestions for just that, showing how each of us can change the attitudes that continue to threaten our environment. She focuses on the Buddha's teachings on Paticca Samuppada, which stresses the interconnectedness of all things in the world and suggests that any one action affects all things. Macy describes how decades of ignoring this principle has resulted in a self-centeredness that has devastated the environment. Humans, Macy implores, must acknowledge and understand their connectedness to their world and begin to move toward a more focused effort to save it. 2007, Parallax Press

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