We know how hard it is to be away from your favorite forest grove or garden right now. But this time is a great reminder for just how important our public parks, trails, and beaches are to us — every day. While our lungs long for open spaces, we can expand our minds and explore new territory through books, where our imagination is still free to roam. Through the Conservancy, you can stay connected to Balboa Park, and through books, we can all nurture our love for the great outdoors.

Since recommendations from friends are usually the best place to start when looking for an awesome book to read, we wanted to share what we’re reading. 

These titles and many others like them can be obtained from your favorite local independent bookstore, delivered in print or digitally from other online retailers, or free from the San Diego County or City of San Diego library systems, which offer tens of thousands of free ebook and audiobook titles for instant download.

Both the San Diego Public Library and San Diego County Library, while closed for all branch library services, are allowing residents to sign up online for library cards that provide access to all digitally available content and services. The San Diego Public Library’s eLibrary portal lists links to content for all reading levels, digital magazines, and myriad learning resources, courses, encyclopedias, and databases to help kids and adults study and work from home. The SDPL’s Stay-In Storytime Facebook group offers daily storytime readings. The county’s eLibrary includes similar content and resources and will soon be adding Lynda.com classes.



Trees in Paradise: A California History by Jared Farmer

“Trees in Paradise is a fascinating exploration of the role certain tree species had in the historic development of California. Palms, redwoods, citrus, and eucalyptus trees are iconic in California, playing an outsized role in our state’s history, especially when compared to most other states. Fascinating characters driven by greed and altruism populate this engaging book.”
– Tomás Herrera-Mishler, CEO and President 


The Overstory by Richard Powers

“You will never see a forest in the same way again. With trees as the golden thread, Powers has magically woven together botany with a brilliant saga of human connection and heartbreak. The Overstory challenges the reader’s perception of who the actual heroes are.”
– Sarah Beckman, Director of External Relations


The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

“Liam is on a quest—a great, green garden quest! The perfect book for any burgeoning gardener no matter what age! This one is sure to get the imagination soaring.”
– Dylan Swisher, Philanthropy Coordinator (and children’s literature aficionado!)  


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

“A brilliant young adult and coming of age novel that explores the intricate bond between two Latino teenagers brought together by a swimming pool. Definitely a heart-warming tear-jerker.”
– Gabrielle Garcia, Marketing & Communications Coordinator



Where the Crawdads Sing by Della Owens

“This literary-classic-caliber whodunit immerses readers in the beautiful quiet solitude of the Carolina coastal marshlands, as poetically brought to life by an expert nature writer.”
– Chris Zook, Grants Administrator