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I've just returned from a much-needed vacation with my husband. Our first, without children, in sixteen years. Leading up to the trip, I was a mess of stress, deadlines, unfinished to-do's, the devastating daily news, and the constant nag of social media, making me feel like I'm not doing enough. (See also: migraines.)

While on vacation, I made a conscious effort to unplug. No TV, no to-dos, and spotty cell service at best. For the first time in years, I watched a sunset without trying to capture it. I listened to the flicker of life in the water and the wind in the trees. I started to recognize what helped my stress fade and what made it come roaring back (social media). I explored what self-care really means when the world is in turmoil.  

The answer became so clear to me during this vacation. Time in nature, without distraction, heals.

It seems like a no-brainer, but it can be hard to do. How many visits to my own garden have been taken over by trying to capture content for social media? What if I decided just to be deliciously selfish and experience things for myself? A vacation really means being in the moment, taking a deep breath, and simply enjoying, with no agenda other than to be in awe of the magic of the natural world.

The healing power of nature—and our interconnectedness—is part of the inspiration behind my Return to Soil book list on Bookshop. From fiction and folklore to scientific explanations, these books dig deep into the wonder of the natural world.

I hope these books will inspire you the way they inspire me. Happy summer reading!

The Overstory

by Richard Powers | This is what I'm currently reading. If you love Barbara Kingsolver or Delia Owens, this is in your lane. A fictional piece that also honors the interconnectedness of the natural world—ideas that are echoed throughout this list. I'm loving it so far.

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

by Suzanne Simard | You may have watched her TED talks already, but there's so much more to the story—that forests are social societies that cooperate, communicate, and can teach us so much.

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate 

by Peter Wohlleben | Breaks down the language of trees and how they speak to one another. Absolutely fascinating. 

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

by Robin Wall Kimmerer | A beautiful book that blends the author's scientific insights as a botanist with the teachings of her Citizen Potawatomi Nation lineage. It's a call to action and a must-read.

Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit

by Lyanda Lynn Haupt | A deep dive into our interconnectedness with nature, plus practical tools for uncovering that truth in our own lives. 

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative

by Florence Williams | That post-hike glow is real. This is the science behind it, in inspiring depth.

Find the entire Return to Soil list here.

If you cannot find these titles at your local independent bookstore, please consider purchasing through Pirtti is an affiliate of and will receive a very small commission for sales while, more importantly, supporting independent bookstores nationwide. Read more about Bookshop and making the switch here.

— Anne-Marie


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