Whether you’re looking to relax, learn, be inspired, or simply escape into nature, audiobooks offer a unique and accessible way to connect with the natural world. From fiction to nonfiction, these best nature audiobooks cover everything from the scientific benefits of being outdoors to memoirs chronicling the authors’ experiences with Mother Nature to fictional works where the environment is integral to the story.
- The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Healthier, Happier, and More Creative by Florence Williams
- The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
- Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
- Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
- Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness by Dr. Qing Li
- Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
- Walden, or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau
- Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy
- Fieldwork: A Forager’s Memoir by Iliana Regan
- Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W. Tallamy
- The Overstory by Richard Powers
- Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders by Kathryn Miles
- The River by Peter Heller
- The Open-Air Life: Discover the Nordic Art of Friluftsliv and Embrace Nature Every Day by Linda Akeson McGurk
The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Healthier, Happier, and More Creative by Florence Williams
It’s long been known that nature is beneficial for every part of our being. It wasn’t until I heard Williams’ book about the science behind it that I truly understood the power of being outside.
Combining already-established research, world travels, and participation in new research trials, Williams leaves no stone unturned when trying to understand how living near trees, taking forest baths, or simply taking a walk can boost our mental health and make us happier, healthier people.
In a world full of screens and indoor venues, The Nature Fix will remind you why the best dopamine hit you can find is likely outside of the four walls of your home.
Length: 8 hours and 54 minutes
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
I listened to this one because I loved the author’s name and decided to give it a shot. I don’t regret it! Living in Alaska in the 1920s, life and their surroundings are starting to break down Jack and Mabel. Childless and depressed, they decide to build a child out of the snow, but it’s gone the next day. Instead, they find an actual child named Faina, alone in the woods but surviving just fine with her fox and her abilities. Faina brings meaning back to their lives, but there is always a price to pay in a world as harsh as the one they inhabit.
Beautiful and a reminder that the natural world isn’t always kind, The Snow Child is a great listen for a cold day.
Length: 10 hours and 57 minutes
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
When I started listening to Lab Girl, narrated by the author, I had no idea what to expect. I knew Jahren was a scientist who worked with plants, but I had no idea how her book would weave together her personal story, the science she loves, and plants. I had never looked at nature the way Jahren offered it, and I’ve never looked at it the same again since hearing this book.
Besides being introduced to many types of plants and learning how they work, listeners also go on a journey through Jahren’s life, from her childhood with a less-than-communicative mother to her friendship with a lab partner who becomes one of her dearest friends. Somehow, Jahren folds personal narratives, nature studies, and mental health explorations into one beautiful book that you will want to listen to more than once.
Length: 11 hours and 37 minutes
Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
Science, nature, and the spiritual world are not at odds with each other. In fact, it’s their beautiful overlap that makes being in nature one of the best things for us, body, mind, and soul. Haupt explores this in her part memoir/part scientific study/part how-to guide. She offers us ways to connect with nature and backs up her suggestions with solid science.
This book was a lifeline for many during the pandemic as it offered a way to connect with the world around us when being around people wasn’t an option. It remains a wonderful guide to the benefits and realities of connecting to the natural world.
Length: 5 hours and 38 minutes
Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness by Dr. Qing Li
Japanese culture has always believed in the healing power of plants and nature. Dr. Li shares how any culture can adopt these practices, from using houseplants to visiting parks regularly. He also explores the healing power of simply forest bathing, walking in the woods and letting the trees take you in and help your mental and physical health.
Listening to this book reminded me that there are so many options for dealing with the pains and problems that plague me, and many of them can be found by leaving my house or bringing nature inside. Research-supported and easy to understand, Shinrin Yoku is a quick listen with a lot of knowledge to offer.
Length: 3 hours and 21 minutes
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Now a movie featuring Reese Witherspoon, Wild is perfect for anyone wanting a captivating listen. Though not every hardcore backpacker is a fan of Strayed’s decision to hike over a thousand miles hugely unprepared, many listeners connect with her story of trying to overcome loss by heading into nature. Faced with her inner demons, Strayed also has to contend with bears, extreme weather, and loneliness. Introducing us to those she meets along the way, Strayed shares her journey of loss and recovery with grace and warmth, making this a listen that many people go back to more than once.
Length: 13 hours and 2 minutes
Walden, or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau
Though Walden was published in the 1850s, its message still applies. Thoreau lived in a cabin at Walden Pond, rejecting modern society to embrace a simple life that included minimalism, growing his own food, and collecting his thoughts about life and society. Both a book about nature and philosophical insight, Thoreau questions what it means to be alive and tries to find the answer in the woods.
This book still influences classrooms today, and I live close to a Walden school, an outdoor school experience for students hoping to refuse the modern trends of education and go to the forest. Thoreau knew, as many early artists did, that we can find what we need in nature.
Length: 10 hours and 5 minutes
Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy
What is a bigger threat to our safety, wolves or humans? That’s at the forefront of Inti’s mind when she arrives in Scotland with her twin sister. She’s come to release 14 wolves back into the wild, but her experience as a biologist doesn’t make the townspeople trust her. Though the wolves need a home and could help the land, they are the primary suspects when a farmer is found dead.
This audiobook is fast-paced and thoughtful, layered with themes that are relevant and urgent. I couldn’t turn this one off until I made my way to the ending, and I was not disappointed.
Length: 8 hours and 27 minutes
Fieldwork: A Forager’s Memoir by Iliana Regan
When Regan decided to go back to Michigan to open her own restaurant, foraging ingredients from the area to serve, she had no way of knowing COVID would leave her without diners. She’s already known for her first book and for her exceptional abilities as a chef, but now she is in Michigan learning more about her family’s past and trying to conceive with her wife.
She journeys into nature to deal with the dark side of her family’s legacy and to learn more about the world that surrounds her and what nature has to offer even as a pandemic tears the world apart. A beautiful story of food, nature, and family, this story is perfectly narrated by the author and will offer readers an honest look at how our lives are shaped by the world around us and by those who live in it with us.
Length: 9 hours and 45 minutes
Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W. Tallamy
I frequently find myself overwhelmed when I try to figure out how to help the environment. The problems are big, and where do we start? Tallamy offers your own yard as the best jump-off point, and he gives you real solutions that offer help for plants, wildlife, and ecosystems everywhere.
After listening to Nature’s Best Hope, I felt inspired instead of simply overwhelmed. Nature’s truly best hope is everyone doing their part, and Tallamy makes that feel practical, engaging, and possible. This is a great listen for a book club, especially if you have environmentally-minded people who want to change the world.
Length: 6 hours and 30 minutes
The Overstory by Richard Powers
If you’re in the mood for a Pulitzer Prize Winner, The Overstory is Power’s environmental fiction story that contains both human and tree characters. Dense but lovely, it’s worth the investment as Powers introduces us to the intricate relationship between trees and humans and how we impact the world we inhabit.
Powers reminds us that there is an entire world we don’t often bother to see, but that it sustains us even as we destroy it. Both a book of hope and loss, The Overstory is perfect for the times we live in, when climate change has somehow become a political issue instead of the reality of the choices we’ve made that have led us here.
Length: 22 hours and 58 minutes
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Kimmerer’s voice guides you through her story as both an Indigenous woman and a botanist. She teaches how to listen to the natural world, how to speak its language, and how to learn from its wisdom. Her writing is beautiful, her knowledge sound, and listening to this book was a calming experience that felt meditative and enriching.
This is a long listen, and you might enjoy doing parts of it while you walk a trail and enjoy the nature surrounding you.
Length: 16 hours and 44 minutes
Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders by Kathryn Miles
This is not an easy listen. Miles handles this true crime investigation responsibly, and Gabra Zackman uses her narrative skills to bring it to life. However, you will be disturbed as you learn about how many murders occur on the trails and in the parks of the United States, and how many of them happen to women.
Convinced there’s more to the story of the murders of Lollie Winans and Julie Williams, Miles dives into the evidence, reviews witness statements, and thoroughly follows the path of this case wherever it leads. She walks away sure that the person who did this is still out there and was never a suspect that the police investigated.
If you love being in nature because it feels like a sanctuary, this can be a very hard listen. However, it’s worth it as Miles issues her own call to action for us to make nature truly safe for all.
Length: 9 hours and 10 minutes
The River by Peter Heller
A mystery, this one fiction, is the center of Heller’s novel. When Jack and Wyn, two college friends, take off on a canoe trip in Canada, they think they will be enjoying some downtime to absorb nature and rest. However, nature has different plans. A wildfire changes their trajectory and leaves them searching for voices in the woods to warn them about the impending disaster coming. When they can’t find anyone, they’re not sure what to think until a man shows up alone the next day, also trying to make his way down the river. Didn’t they hear a woman’s voice, and where is she if not with the man?
Trying to outrun both the destructive force of the fire and the dangerous tendencies of humans, Jack and Wyn continue their journey until it comes to a climactic end that will leave you thinking about this book for years to come. It will likely also make you a Peter Heller fan for life.
Length: 7 hours and 18 minutes
The Open-Air Life: Discover the Nordic Art of Friluftsliv and Embrace Nature Every Day by Linda Akeson McGurk
There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather was the book that put McGurk on my radar. Once I learned she had written something else about how to apply Nordic wisdom to everyday life, I knew I’d be listening to it!
The author is a Swedish-American, and she’s willing to share how people who live in a cold climate like Sweden are still able to enjoy nature each day. She offers practical advice and activities, as well as helping readers understand why nature is so essential for their overall well-being.
Avid outdoors people and novices alike have plenty to learn from this listen.
Length: 7 hours and 26 minutes