Books about Nature, Written by Black Authors | Cal Parks

Books about Nature, Written by Black Authors

Published: February 28, 2022

Books about Nature, Written by Black Authors

In honor of Black History Month, we celebrated the stories, history, and impact Black individuals had on California state parks. However, that celebration should not stop at the end of February! We have compiled a list of books about the outdoors written by Black authors. The outdoor genre has historically been very focused on white authors, and it is imperative that we change that narrative and feature Black stories in nature. We encourage you to continue you celebrating Black History today and every day.

These books were picked by our staff and cover a variety of different genres of outdoor storytelling. As always with our lists, we are open for additional submissions from our readers and members. If you have any books you’d like to add, please don’t hesitate to email with your suggestion!


The Adventure Gap by James Edward Mills

James Edward Mills is a freelance journalist and an outdoor adventurer, and throughout growing up was usually the only Black person participating in outdoor recreation. This book chronicles his journey to summit Denali with an all-Black group of mountain climbers in 2013.

There's Something In the Water by Ingrid R.G. Waldron

Ingrid R.G. Waldron is a Canadian social scientist at Dalhousie University. She studies Black and Indigenous communities in Canada and how contemporary environmental policy has led to negative health outcomes for them.

This book explores the impacts of Environmental Racism in Nova Scotia, Canada and the long-lasting effects pollution has had on communities of color. The book further examines how conversation and policy making around these issues often excludes the very communities that are most at-risk.

The book was adapted into a Netflix documentary in 2020, with Waldron serving as a co-producer.

Farming While Black by Leah Penniman

Leah Penniman is the founder of Soul Fire Farm, a 72-acre farm in upstate New York. The farm aims to be a center for agriculture for Black people to learn organic and ancestral techniques to become self-sufficient.

Farming is currently one of the whitest professions in America. Farming While Black attempts to shift that narrative and provides instructions on how Black people can reclaim the land and start a foray into the world of agriculture.

The Unlikely Thru-Hiker by Derek Lugo

Derek Lugo had never seriously hiked in his city life growing up in New York City, but one day he felt compelled to start with the Appalachian Trail. This book follows his 2000-mile journey on the iconic route, with humor and perspective.

Lugo now hosts the Unlikely Stories podcast and travels the country giving speaking engagements.

Freedom Farmers by Monica M. White

In 1967, A Black activist purchased land in the Mississippi Delta and began Freedom Farms Cooperative, a space for Black people to come, learn how to farm, and build a self-sustaining community. This book tells the story of the Freedom Farmers and their legacy.

Monica M. White is an Associate Professor of Environmental Justice at University of Wisconsin-Madison where she is also a Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow.