8 Diverse Nature Books
Have you immersed yourself in the world of ‘bookstagram’ yet? It wasn’t until recently that we discovered this niche of Instagram, but over the past several months, we’ve been following the tag #DiverseNatureBooks created by Alessandra Hurt @naturemamareads and it is a much-needed well of tagged books and reviews of outdoor books by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) authors.
Alessandra started this hashtag last spring because, as she says in her IG stories series about the tag: “I have noticed that nature writing, outdoor, travel, and adventure memoirs are genres that are extremely hard to find POC voices!”
Thanks to the bookstagram community and this tag, it’s becoming a little bit easier. Alessandra was also generous to offer us a handful of book suggestions in compiling this reading list.
Here are 8 #DiverseNatureBook picks we’re excited to read:
Note: The book links included here go to Indiebound so you can shop from independent booksellers, but if you’d prefer to shop specifically from a BIPOC-owned bookstore instead, this list is a great resource: Black- and Indigenous-Owned Bookstores in Canada and the USA
Two Trees Make a Forest: A Story of Memory, Migration, and Taiwan by Jessica L. Lee (2020)
On a journey through the landscape of Taiwan and her own family’s history there, Jessica L. Lee explores how geographical forces are interlaced with our family stories in this poetic nature-infused memoir.
“I moved from the human timescale of my family’s story through green and unfurling dendrological time.”
Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanna Betasamosake Simpson (2013)
Drawing from her own life and other contemporary Indigenous perspectives, this collection of short stories, songs, and poems by writer and activist, Leanna Betasamosake Simpson, gives life to many characters with an indigenous perspective—from reserves and small towns to cities.
The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham (2016)
Ornithologist, J. Drew Lanham writes of finding joy and freedom in the same land his ancestors were tied to by forced labor, and also what it’s like being a black man in a white field.
“The wild things and places belong to all of us. So while I can’t fix the bigger problems of race in the United States – can’t suggest a means by which I, and others like me, will always feel safe – I can prescribe a solution in my own small corner. Get more people of color “out there.” Turn oddities into commonplace.”
Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America’s Stolen Land by Noé Álvarez (2020)
Noé Álvarez, a former high school runner and first-generation Chicano, flees his life at a Washington fruit-packing plant for a four-month Peace and Dignity journey that he learned about at a conference. Through the landscapes from Canada to Guatemala, he redefines his own relationship with the land, while also telling the stories of those with whom he runs.
Honouring High Places: The Mountain Life of Junko Tabei by Junko Tabei, translated by Helen Rolfe (2017)
Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei was the first woman to climb Mt. Everest. Her memoir is humble and poetic in its recount of the Seven Summits and others she climbed throughout her life.
“Whether I wanted it to be or not, our climb became a symbol of women’s social progress.”
The Farther I Walk, the Closer I Get to Me by Hong Mei with photographs by Tom Carter
Hong Mei is recognized as the first Chinese woman to have backpacked across all of india. This Chinese-language narrative travelogue recounts her journey deep into the country and its customs over a year of travel, with photography by her husband.
(Not available on Indiebound)
Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry edited by Camille T Dungy (2009)
By bringing together poems from 93 poets from various points in American history, poet Camille T Dungy highlights the long tradition of Black poets incorporating the natural world into their work, and broadens the definition of what constitutes nature writing.
The Unlikely Thru-Hiker: An Appalachian Trail Journey by Derick Lugo (2019)
A young black comedian from Brooklyn, suddenly with extra time on his hands, wondered if he could complete the AT on a whim. This account of his hike is filled with humor and a lot of heart as Lugo completes the trail.
Note: This list contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we receive a small commission (at no cost to you) that supports the work we do. Thank you for your support!
What other diverse nature books about are on your list?