Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
Little noticed when published posthumously, Leopold’s ruminations on the seasonal changes in the natural world near his farm in Wisconsin, along with his essays on humanity’s impact on the environment up until that time, helped set off the movement to restore and protect Earth’s ecology. We aren’t only stewards of the natural world – we are OF the natural world and Leopold reminds us that it is inescapably part of who we are.
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Creek by Annie Dillard
Dillard has said she doesn’t think of herself as a nature writer, but her inner monologues about God, Christianity, nature, consciousness, evil and meaning are grounded in the natural world even when they lift off into airier planes. As a stylist, she’s superb, but her observations about nature put her in the company of one of her literary heroes, Thoreau.
King Solomon’s Ring by Konrad Lorenz
Nobel prize winner and one of the founders of ethology, or the study of animals as they behave in their environment, Lorenz wrote charmingly and provided whimsical illustrations in this effort to popularize what then might have seemed radical – that animal behavior is understandable, learnable and much closer psychologically speaking to human than we might care to admit.