Looking to learn more about ecosystems regeneration and landscape restoration during your summer hols this year?

Look no further! The Commonland team have put together a list of some of their favourite books and essays from the past year. From writers that explore their relationship with nature and challenge traditional ideas about conservation, to those that introduce the concept of deep regeneration, and help the reader to better understand their emotions, these books offer insight, inspiration and a call to action!

Whether you’re an avid reader or just looking for some good books related to people’s place on our planet, these books will broaden your horizons and deepen your understanding of our world. Let’s get reading!

1. Field Work – What Land Does to People & What People do to Land” by Bella Bathurst

It can be easy to forget that the landscapes we live in shape us – and vice versa! Eva Cappon, Relationships Manager at Commonland,  recommends this book by Bella Bathurst as “it’s an honest and engaging experience that provides a portrait of farmers in the United Kingdom and examines how people’s lives are intertwined with and shaped by their surroundings”.

3.Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention – and How to Think Deeply Again” by Johan Hari 

In a world of rising attention deficiency, it’s critical to understand how to find focus. But first we need to understand how focus works. Jim Mackintosh, Director of Landscape Development & Support, says “through case studies from all over the world, Johan Hari examines various causes of our growing inability to focus – which then moves beyond personal solutions to understand how broad systemic change is needed to get our focus back – if we fight for it together!”

2. Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

A seminal book on connection to nature. Our Landscape Learning Developer, Roos Van der Deijl, recommends Braiding Sweetgrass because “this book really immerses you in the author’s mind, which is filled with love for all the life we share this planet with. It also offers a lot of wisdom on plants and non-human animals, weaving together the science of ecology with indigenous wisdom and a culture of reciprocity. A must-read if you’re in need of hope for our planet!”

5. “Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction” by Chris D. Thomas

“Inheritors of the Earth challenges the narrative that humans are only a pest for this world,” says Hicham Daoudi, Head of Carbon. “ The media today focuses mainly on bad news to accumulate more clicks (bad news sells better), which skews our view of the world. This book allows to see the other side of the story.”  This is a book for those seeking a more positive, bird’s eye view of the relationship between people and planet.

6. They Carry Us With Them: The Great Tree Migration” an interactive essay from Emergence Magazine 

Willemijn de Iongh, one of Commonland’s Landscape Developers, recommends this interactive story: “it feels like deep storytelling on how tree populations migrate in North America. The story tells the tale of diminishing Black Ash – a precious tree for the Aroostook Band of Mi’kmaqs (native American tribe) in Maine that traditionally use the tree for artisanal basket-making. Their ancestors have been in Maine since the glaciers receded twelve thousand years ago.” If you’re into trees and forests, or if you’re reading the book “Braiding Sweetgrass”, this is for you.

4. Earth Beings – Ecologies of Practice Across Andean Worlds” by Marisol de la Cadena

Marisol de la Cadena presents an ethnography based upon decade-spanning conversations and visits to the communities (runakuna) of the Vilcanota mountain range in the Andes, Peru. She co-explores how Indigenous ways of knowing and being both relate to modern politics and practices and exceed them. Marisol offers ideas on how Indigenous political strategies can help us to re-think ‘modern politics’. “This is a very valuable read for those working with Indigenous communities”, says Ellie Percey, Commonland Landscape Developer.

7. “The Invention of Nature” by Andrea Wulf

Alexander von Humboldt was the most influential scientist of his time. All over the Americas and the English-speaking world, towns and rivers are still named after him, along with mountain ranges, bays, and waterfalls. Charles Darwin called him the “greatest scientific traveler who ever lived.” Yet today, outside Latin America and Humboldt’s native Germany, his name has receded into near oblivion. In “The Invention of Nature”, Andrea Wulf puts Alexander von Humboldt back in the spotlight. According to Rutger Bult, Landscape Developer at Commonland, The Invention of Nature is “a fun and informative book about a scientist who travelled the world and pioneered modern understandings of how ecosystems work”.  

8. Impact networks: Create Connection, Spark Collaboration, and Catalyze System Change” by David Ehrlichman

Zlatina Tsvetkova, Learning & Knowledge Manager, finds Impact Networks a useful companion in her work. Zlatina explains that this book “is a crucial read for anyone aiming to create movements around their work and engage large groups of people in the process of transforming their practices. It’s a must-read for anyone working in the environmental movement who works with people – not only plants!”

9. Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience” by Brené Brown

Restoring landscapes requires long-term people processes and, when working with others, it’s important to also understand yourself. Tom Lovett, Content Creator at Commonland, says “The state of the intervention depends on the state of the intervener. This book helps me better understand my own emotions, build a stronger connection to myself and my feelings, and thus build stronger connections with others. A vital book for anyone working in people processes”.

10. Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet” by George Monbiot

Packed full of the latest science on how our food systems (negatively) affect the planet, Monbiot takes you on a journey from land degradation to regeneration, exploring the potential of nature-based solutions and new technologies. Lily Maxwell, Content Lead at Commonland, emphasises: “This is a bible for anyone looking to understand how our global food systems work and why they urgently need to change. Drawing upon cases from all over the world, Monbiot shows that it’s vital – and possible – to change how we grow and eat food to protect the wellbeing of both people and planet.”

There’s your selection of books to keep you occupied over summer and beyond! Working through this reading list will hopefully help you better appreciate nature, other people and yourself…

And if you’re looking to find focus to get through the list, you know which book to start with!