Book Recommendations by the IE Expedition Team

Book Recommendations by the IE Expedition Team

Book Recommendations by the IE Expedition Team

While we all wish we could be out exploring our fascinating planet and making new discoveries, right now we are staying home and looking forward to the day when we can once again travel the world, stand in awe of the earth’s most magical natural wonders, and experience community with cultures near and far.

However, just because we’re staying home doesn’t mean that we can’t continue to learn, grow, and make new discoveries—we just have to find new ways to do so. Thus, we’ve reached out to some of our staff and leaders for some of their best book recommendations. We invite you to learn about and explore the world through their unique selections.


Happy reading!


Bolivar Sanchez book recommendations

Bolivar Sanchez, Naturalist

My favorite book is The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. This book is written in a non-scientific way for the public to learn and understand more about marine natural history but especially about one of my favorite and often ignored creatures, the octopus. 

I liked it because I learned to appreciate this highly intelligent animal and its important role in the marine ecosystem. After reading this book, you will look at small creatures in a different way.

Freddy Avalos, Expedition Leader

I recommendOne River by Wade Davis, who shares the story of his mentor Dr. Richard Schultes who traveled around the Amazon rainforest for decades. He not only shares the fascinating story of his mentor, but he intertwines it with his own experiences in the Amazon, experimenting with plants of power that western people called hallucinogenic. One River takes you inside the stories of the Amazonian people, the plants, and wildlife, and is one of the “Must Reads” before a trip to Perú. 


Steve Cox, International Expeditions Cofounder and Executive Director

I read every evening and generally prefer historical biography and history in general but will mix in non-fiction that is helpful in understanding human behavior. The Last Lion series on the life of Winston Churchill by William Manchester is a favorite as is Winston Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples. Even though it covers about 1,600 years, ending at the turn of the 19th century, it is relevant today because what we have been going through politically for almost 250 years, and especially now, is nothing new at all. 

Steve Cox book recommendations

Perhaps my favorite historical biography series on America during the King years is by Taylor Branch, and his trilogy begins with Parting the Waters. It is especially relevant to me because some of the most important events in the life of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement happened in my state. During the past 10 years I have gotten to know many people who knew and worked with Dr. King, and I have become active with non-profit organizations here in Alabama to get their stories out to the world before they are lost. One of my favorite works of fiction is Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. In addition to a mesmerizing story, there are themes relevant to me about very accomplished southerners who are stereotyped as unimportant simply because they are from the south. 


Jack Grove, Marine Biologist

Over my decades of global travel, I have been privileged to visit many of the most remote islands and pristine seas in the world. Not surprisingly, one of my favorite books is about islands—David Quammen's book, The Song of the Dodo, Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction. It is a stirring work, breathtaking in its scope, far-reaching in its message.

Quammen’s keen intellect sheds light on the travels and research of prominent naturalists and biogeographers focused on the subject of island biogeography, and the reader comes away with a greater understanding of the study of the origin and extinction of all species.


Elke Hinson, Expedition Advisor Lead

One of my favorite books is Wild Swans by Jung Chang. The book recounts the life of three generations of women in China—grandmother, mother and daughter. It gives a really fascinating insight into the different events and cultural traditions that happened in China over a period of time that experienced so much rapid change. From foot binding, growing up poor, and eventually being sold as a concubine to a powerful general, to the period where communism was rising in China and the Revolution.  

I have always been fascinated with Chinese history, and this book was particularly interesting for me as I was living in China when the Tiananmen Square massacre happened and was evacuated back home with my dad and brother, and this event is covered in the book. I was quite young when it happened, but when my parents told me about it again when I was older it was crazy to think I was there at that time.


Mark Brazil, Ornithologist

My favorite book is The Crystal Desert by David Campbell. It is a beautifully well written account of summers spent in Antarctica. David Campbell explores the history of exploration and the natural history of the Antarctic Continent. In describing his own summers there spent in research, he portrays the landscape and the creatures that make Antarctica home in such rich descriptive language that the book requires no other illustrations than his writing. His exposé is like a colorful tapestry depicting planktonic creatures to the great whales, the life forms most visitors encounter, and those unseen beneath the ice, weaving in history and personal experience in such a way that the book reads more like a novel than a travel-natural history volume.  


Tip: Check out some of Mark’s published works: Field Guide to the Birds of Japan, The Nature of Japan, Field Guide to the Birds of East Asia, The Whooper Swan, and A Birdwatcher’s Guide to Japan.