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Quarantine reading list: nature edition

© Jonathan Irish

Like many during self-isolation, Conservation International staff are passing time with their favorite books. Here are the six titles they can’t put down.

1. “How behavior spreads” by Damon Centola

New social movements, technologies and public-health initiatives often struggle to take off, yet many diseases disperse rapidly without issue. Can we learn lessons from the viral spread of diseases to improve the spread of beneficial behaviors and innovations? In “How Behavior Spreads,” Damon Centola presents over a decade of original research examining how changes in societal behavior — including voting, health, technology and finance — occur and the ways social networks can be used to influence how they propagate.

— Arundhati Jagadish, social scientist for Conservation International’s Moore Center for Science

2. “Vegetables Unleashed” by José Andrés

This cookbook is the famous Spanish chef and humanitarian José Andrés’ take on how to put vegetables at the center of the plate year-round. I’m trying to reduce the environmental impact of my diet, and these recipes go amazingly with ingredients from local farms during the spring harvest. The “Beetsteak Burger” is perfect for the holiday weekend and I am obsessed with the miso dressing recipe.

— Jean Brodeur, a manager for oceans and climate for Conservation International's Center for Oceans

3. “Nature’s Solutions to Climate Change” by Cristina Mittermeier, with contributions from climate experts

This book is part of a long-standing series that combines striking photography by Cristina Mittermeier with short vignettes on nature. A team of climate experts, storytellers and I helped Cristina highlight the essential role of nature in solving climate change by taking the reader through chapters about old-growth primary forests, mangroves, seagrasses and peatlands. Not only is the book a great read, but it’s a direct view into the beauty of our planet’s natural ecosystems.

— Shyla Raghav, vice president, climate change at Conservation International

3. “The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace Wells

This book doesn’t dive too deeply into the complexities of climate science or the effect of global warming on the natural world. Instead, it explores what the world might look like for human civilization under future conditions created by climate change. It is a powerful and poignant story told at a global scale, connecting what can feel like an abstract concept to places and things many of us know and love. Most importantly, it is an optimistic call to action that makes the case against hopelessness — and shows how what we do right now can make the difference for our children’s generation.

— Naomi Taylor, communications and development manager for Conservation International Europe

5. “Mad Enchantment” by Ross King

“This is the story of the life and career of Claude Monet, the world’s foremost impressionist painter. I have always admired how the Impressionists can capture nature in color and light, with each brushstroke evoking movement — from ripples in a river to wind blowing through a field. Their love for nature resonates with me — and it inspires me in my work to protect it.”

— Maggie Comstock, Conservation International's senior director of climate policy

6. “Sitting in Darkness” by David Haward Bain

This is the story of an American author’s hike into the Palawan wilderness in the Philippines as he retraces the steps of the American military troops that captured Emilio Aguinaldo, the leader of the Philippine Revolution against American colonial rule in the early 20th century. Along the way, the author encounters history, the Agta indigenous people, and one of the most beautiful and remote places in the Philippines.

— Lee Hannah, senior climate change scientist at Conservation International

Kiley Price is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates. Donate to Conservation International.

Cover image: Zebras at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya (© Jonathan Irish)

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