Ten Books for the Botany Lover in Your Life

Mammillaria geminispina Edit

Mammillaria germinispina

Please note I mean botany lover and not botanist…

Though I imagine they can be one and the same. In this case, it’s for the casual fan of botany, bordering on eco-lit fan. Although if you’re interested in a specific botany topic, I can probably help you with that too. These books, however, are meant for those with slightly more than a passing interest in botany, looking for books with scientific merit, yet without being a science text. A mix of popular science literature and fiction, if you will. And by science fiction I mean fiction about science…

Enough with the clarifications and on with the list:

10. Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. A group of four set out on an expedition into what is, quite frankly, a very creepy botanical wonderland.

09. The $64 Tomato by William Alexander. What happens when you realize, that on a cost per tomato basis, it costs an astonishing $64 per tomato to successfully grow one? You write a book about it.

08. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. Gilbert’s account of Alma Whittaker’s life is fictional, but is based on a few different female botanists who actually existed – including Elizabeth Knight Britton, Marianne North, and Mary Treat.

07. The Cabaret of Plants by Richard Mabey. Explores the relationship between humans and the plant kingdom through botanical history.

06. All the Wild That Remains by David Gessner. More environmental than botanical, this book chronicles the like of Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner.

05. The Martian by Andy Weir. A botanist colonizes Mars, with potatoes.

04. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. A sobering look at the history of extinction on our planet. Although this is a multidisciplinary effort, one of the disciplines explored is Andean botany.

03. The Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wulf. An interesting look at 18th century botany, including the lives of many famous names in the industry.

02. The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart. We all need to know where gin came from, or, if you’re not a gin fan, you can learn about the weed that killed Abraham Lincoln’s mother.

01. The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf. “Alexander von Humboldt is the visionary German naturalist whose ideas changed the way we see the natural world and in the process created modern environmentalism.”

Happy top ten…Wednesday. And I hope you enjoy the lighter side of science.

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  • Carolyn O

    Yes! This is an awesome list–thanks for the expert recommendations!

  • Naomi

    When I saw the title for this post I got excited! I loved, loved The Signature of All Things, and have been in search for similar books. I’ve just added a bunch to the list. I have recently acquired The Invention of Nature, but now I want The Brother Gardeners, too!

  • Jenny @ Reading the End

    Well I am not a botany lover but I still find this list hard to resist! I actually just got Annihilation (and the sequels) at the library, so that one’s definitely on my docket for very soon. The Elizabeth Gilbert book too — in fact I think I maybe own it?

  • Shannon @ River City Reading

    The Signature of All Things…so good. Plants have never been more lovely!

  • Kate

    Haven’t read Signature of All Things because I truly hated Eat Pray Love… but should I (read Signature)?
    Secondly, why did you not mention The Drunken Botanist to me before now? (Because gin).
    Lastly, was trying to think of botany related stories I’ve read – the two that came to mind were Tulip Fever (historical fiction) and Tulipmania (non-fiction), both stories about the Dutch tulip trade and both interesting.

    • BronaDragonfly

      I couldn’t read Eat Pray Love either, but Signature is a tremendous read. You should give it s try.

  • BronaDragonfly

    I have the Wulf & Kolbert on my TBR pile – glad to see you think so highly of them:-)

  • Kailana

    I have wanted to read Annihilation for ages and just not got to it. One day I will! I am hoping I will really like it!

  • Isi

    I have to read The signature of all things; I didn’t know it was about female botanists!

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