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Best David Attenborough books

Broadcasting legend David Attenborough is best known for his wildlife and natural history documentaries, but he's also made significant contributions to the world of books and literature

A picture of Sir David Attenborough
Published: August 24, 2022 at 1:32 pm
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One of the UK's most esteemed broadcasters, David Attenborough is beloved by TV audiences the world over. His documentary success on the BBC and Netflix has led to the release of a tranche of superb books, both memoirs and instructional guides to the natural history of our planet.

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David Attenborough books

A Life on our Planet: My Witness Statement and Vision for the Future (2020)

'I am 94. I've had an extraordinary life. It's only now that I appreciate how extraordinary,' wrote Attenborough. A Life on our Planet is his call-to-arms; a mission statement on why we need to protect and restore the world we have inherited and, in many ways, damaged.

'The tragedy of our time has been happening all around us, barely noticeable from day to day - the loss of our planet's wild places, its biodiversity,' he says.

'I have been witness to this decline. A Life on Our Planet contains my witness statement, and my vision for the future - the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake, and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right.'

Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest Expeditions (2017)

Zoo Quest was David Attenborough's first foray into presenting natural history. He was tasked with finding rare and elusive animals from across the world for London Zoo and to film the expeditions for the BBC.

Zoo Quest was the result and this book charts those journeys and adventures as he crossed the globe and brought the natural world into the living rooms of a burgeoning TV audience.

Plus, if you enjoyed this one, you'll be pleased to know there's a follow-up: Journeys to the Other Side of the World: further adventures of a young David Attenborough, published in 2018.

Living Planet: A Web of Life on Earth (2021)

While we are often warned of the demise of our planet, this book shows us the plants and animals surviving despite the extreme conditions around them. Attenborough is joined by zoologist Matthew Cobb in Living Planet to celebrate the brilliance of adaptation in nature, with illuminating photography.

Life on Air: Memoirs of a Broadcaster (2002)

Nowadays, we think of David Attenborough as being intrinsically linked to the BBC and natural history broadcasting more generally. But how did he actually get to the position he is now in? Life on Air tracks back, as Attenborough explains how he went from working in educational publishing and getting rejected from a role at BBC Radio to taking on one of the corporation's top jobs and helping educate audiences of millions on the wonders of our natural world.


Books that accompany David Attenborough's documentaries

Our Planet: The One Place We Call Home (2019)

Unlike many of the other books released in conjunction with David Attenborough's documentaries, Our Planet is a children's book, packed full of trivia about the world we live in. With colourful illustrations by Richard Jones and photography from the series, it's a great way to introduce kids to the wonders of our planet – and how we can best protect it.

The Green Planet (2022)

We think of animals as daring and aggressive, but our world's plants are just as thrilling. Using the latest scientific research and discoveries, The Green Planet travels between vastly different habitats, showcasing the fascinating plants that live and thrive within them.

The Blue Planet (2001)

The Blue Planet was the first comprehensive examination of our ocean system, a structure that covers about 70% of our planet. If you enjoyed the BBC series, this is a deeper dive into the science behind it, with contributions from top marine biologists.

Blue Planet II: A New World of Hidden Depths (2017)

Following the huge success of Blue Planet, Attenborough returned with the BBC in 2017 to bring us a secondary seven-part series that shed new light on our underwater worlds. This books brings to life stills and photographs from the BBC Natural History Unit's footage, exploring the technology and science behind the filmmaking project – and how they were able to capture these oceans with such beauty and clarity.

Dynasties: The Rise and Fall of Animal Families (2018)

Dynasties was rather different to many of Attenborough's other documentaries, choosing to focus on the animal kingdom. Like the TV series, the book is split into chapters which focus on the shifting hierarchies, families, tribes and loyalties that exist within the natural world.

Seven Worlds, One Planet (2019)

Our world used to be one enormous land mass, until it ruptured and several new 'worlds' were created. Seven Worlds, One Planet explores each of these worlds in turn, from jungles to deserts and everything in between. It also takes a look at the animals that have made these environments their home.

Planet Earth II: A New World Revealed (2016)

Just as the BBC thought it apt to revisit Blue Planet after years of technological and scientific advancements, they also wanted to bring Planet Earth back to life 10 years on from the initial series' release. Each chapter analyses an environment and the ways animals and wildlife have adapted to survive. As well as exploring the rich, dramatic landscapes of deserts and jungles, it also looks into our urban environments – and the fascinating science and adaptation that is taking place right under our noses.

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Top image credit: Getty Images

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