Terrapin’s Summer Reading List


Terrapin’s Summer Reading List

As summer gets into full swing, we’ve put together Terrapin’s Summer Reading list. We’ve been reading about topics ranging from neuroscience to the National Parks, and many in between. Whether you’re looking for you next book for the morning commute to the office, or something to bring for a few days on the beach (we sincerely hope it’s the latter), browse our recommendations here.

Designing Regenerative Cultures
Daniel Christian Wahl

Earlier this year, Chris Garvin shared his review on our blog: “In our current age of rapid evolution, Daniel offers a framework to co-create a plan to move beyond our destructive world order toward a regenerative future filled with hope and bounty. This is not a how-to guide; this is a framework to deeply question ourselves and the world we live. In order to move toward a regenerative world, we need to question our current reality and decide why and how we should sustain humanity. He posits that if we listen deeply, we can find the universal voice that connects us to each other, nature, and the planet. Only with this voice will a regenerative and transformative solution evolve.” Read his full review here.

The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life
Jonathan Rose

Inspired by Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, Rose shares the five characteristics that well-tempered cities must strive for today. Rose discusses the social and technological fabric of what makes a city work well, before diving into a timeline of cities. He shares a history of cities, a current state analysis of urban areas today, and a discussion of where he thinks the future of cities could go from here.

Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives
Sarah Williams Goldhagen

Goldhagen shares an interesting exploration of brain science and how we as humans respond to spaces. She walks through some of the best and worst architectural landscapes around the world, and how these spaces affect us, whether we realize it or not. Through the book, Goldhagen advocates for more human centered design, and for us to consider ourselves and our biology as we build.

I Contain Multitudes
Ed Yong

If you’re in need of a different perspective, pick up Ed Yong’s exploration of the microbiome and meet the millions of bacteria and other microbes that call humans home. Young’s fascination with the microbiome is infectious (pun intended) and he’ll soon have you considering the rich ecosystems that exist in our own bodies. Leave the hand sanitizer aside as you explore the invisible yet vibrant world that we carry with us.

As Yong says, “When we look at beetles and elephants, sea urchins and earthworms, parents and friends, we see individuals, working their way through life as a bunch of cells in a single body, driven by a single brain, and operating with a single genome. This is a pleasant fiction. In fact, we are a legion, each and every one of us. Always a “we” and never a “me”. Forget Orson Welles, and heed Walt Whitman: ‘I am large, I contain multitudes’.”

Adapt: How Humans Are Tapping into Nature’s Secrets to Design and Build a Better Future
Amina Khan

Khan takes readers on an exploration of biologically inspired design, traveling around the world to showcase the myriad ways that nature has proved solutions to some of humankind’s most challenging engineering problems. Khan interviews experts in the field, sharing the stories of their work and the fascinating creatures that inspired them. For readers without a science background, the explanation of the science is generally approachable.

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World
Peter Wohlleben

We usually think of trees as fixed, immobile organisms–the solitary giants of the plant kingdom. Wohlleben reminds us that trees do, in fact, move and communicate, just at a different pace and time scale than we’re used to. He reviews the latest scientific discovery explained with stories from a lifetime of experience as a forester. Wohlleben generously shares his love of the woods and the thriving social networks in them, and ensures that you never look at trees the same way again.

“Under the canopy of the trees, daily dramas and moving love stories are played out. Here is the last remaining piece of Nature, right on our doorstep, where adventures are to be experienced and secrets discovered.”

Planting in a Post Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscape
Thomas Rainer & Claudia West

Planting in a Post Wild World asks readers to think anew about how we design landscapes. Rainier and West discuss the retreat of truly wild landscapes, our current focus on including native plants in landscapes, and the importance of creating landscapes that support healthy ecosystems. The approach focuses on created designed plant communities that cover the ground in interlocking layers. These communities are not limited to the native plant populations, and instead find plants that are compatible with one another.

The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks
Terry Tempest Williams

In The Hour of Land, Terry Tempest Williams takes readers on a tour of 12 National Parks. Each chapter explores the unique ecosystems that are sustained within the park’s borders, as well as the history of humanity who have influenced, and continue to influence, the parks today. Her love of the parks and their awe-inspiring landscapes is evident in not only her description of the land, but in her concern over our changing relationship to the parks. You may not agree with all of Williams’ politics, but she will leave you dreaming of your next trip to the Parks.

Header image courtesy of Laetitia Buscaylet/Unsplash. Feature image courtesy of Kimberly Farmer/Unsplash.


Rebecca is the Director of Operations at Terrapin and has a background in natural resource policy and management. She is interested in how policy helps shape our relationship to nature, and how we can work with and learn from natural systems to address human needs.