The Nest LogoThe Nest Logo

The Nest Reads: Holiday Edition

E. Bader
December 12, 2023

Books we love for gifting this season

If you are celebrating holidays with gift-giving this season, there is a helpful saying to guide your giving, “something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to, read.” Here are a few of our favorite titles as gifts for friends and family who love nonfiction and learning as much as we do.

What Your Food Ate

How to Restore Our Land and Reclaim Our Health

by David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé

The link between soil health and human health is one of the most important reasons to implement regenerative agriculture. Yet this message may be getting lost amidst climate concerns and the sheer volume of dubious health claims surrounding our food system. Montgomery and Biklé provide a user-friendly guide to volumes of research on the soil-health connection. Throughout 400 pages of in-depth content, the authors humanize the science through a narrative of the producers, researchers, and scientists behind the data. The resulting text is readable, relevant, and recognized, earning a spot as a Finalist for the 2023 IACP Award for Food Issues & Matters.

The chapters of the book are organized by sections of soil, plant, animal, and people, connecting each of the links in our food system and culminating with a guide on how we can reconnect to our inherent wisdom on what to eat. What Your Food Ate is the perfect text to read this month before the onslaught of diet headlines in January.

I Contain Multitudes

The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

Ed Yong

Ed Yong’s skill as a storyteller and his ability to make complex science approachable keeps this book at the top of our recommendation list. Yong takes us on an awe-inspiring exploration of the universe within us, our microbiome. With humor and wonder, Yong explains the outsized role these microscopic, mostly unnamed internal inhabitants play, from battling disease to driving the evolution of life on earth. Yong indeed brings us a grander view of life from the tiniest of sources.

An Immense World

How Animal Senses Reveal an Immense World Around Us

Ed Yong

Yong’s book, An Immense World, is a must-read that literally helps us see the world through the eyes of other species. Yong’s descriptions alter our perspective, allowing us to step out of the human-centric bubble and relate to the creatures around us. The chapters guide us across an astounding range of sensory apparatus in animals from insects that use plants as sound machines, to the visual acuity of deep-water squids, to the rare humans who can echolocate. Every page is filled with wonder and discovery, a reminder of the richness of biodiversity and how much is at stake right now. An Immense World was named one of the ten best books of2022 by the New York Times and the Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction.

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

Merlin Sheldrake

The truth is, we never outgrow picture books. While audio versions certainly make weeding the garden less mind-numbing, the illustrated edition of Entangled is gift-worthy for its 100 color images of the bizarre and beautiful world of fungi. Fungi is frightening in the potent toxins some species harbor and the diseases they cause, and the parasitic species that invade and control the bodies of insects. But fungi are also fascinating and functional, including the Mycorrhizal heroes of healthy soil. Sheldrake provides a field guide to the diversity of this least understood kingdom of life under our feet and how these mysterious species sustain us all. The book was a New York Times bestseller and won several awards including the Royal Society Science Book Prize and the Wainwright Prize.

Braiding Sweetgrass

Robin Wall Kimmerer

Nonfiction books offer a joy of learning, but sometimes it’s just as necessary to feed one’s spirit as much as the mind. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book of essays provides both insight and inspiration. Asa botanist, Kimmerer conveys the science of plants clearly. However, she brings her life experience as a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, a mother, and a woman together with the science. Kimmerer’s prose has a lyrical quality, as she weaves together the science, wisdom, and connectedness into the lessons that plants and the natural world can teach us all. A stunning book, Literary Hub named Braiding Sweetgrass a “Best Essay Collection of the Decade.” The title also topped the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists.