Summer’s here, and that means vacations, beaches and escaping into books. Over the past year, we interviewed nearly two dozen leading authors who shared their views on nature, humanity and the future of the planet. In our first Nexus Media Summer Reading List, we share a few of our favorite conversations from the past year and highlight the novels that inspired them.

1. The Book of Etta

Meg Ellison won the Philip K. Dick Award for her first sci-fi novel, the dystopian The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, a brutal look at what happens to society in a world ravaged by epidemic disease. In her sequel, The Book of Etta, Ellison builds upon her the idea that people will always find a sense of community no matter what brutality they face. In her Nexus Media interview, Ellison talks about how we can get along.

Source: 47North

2. Unlikely Companions

Stories about pets can be as wild as the animals themselves. Dr. Laurie Hess, veterinarian for exotic animals, has seen it all. A few years ago, she helped solve the mystery of what was killing pet sugar gliders across the country, a story that drives her autobiography, Unlikely Companions. For more on Laurie’s work and the fate of exotic beasts, read her interview on Nexus Media.

Source: Da Capo Press

3. Stung!: On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean

If you hit the beach this summer, there’s a good chance you’ll see jellyfish — they’re everywhere, with populations exploding around the globe. Lisa-ann Gershwin has spent her career studying the creatures, finding new species and tracking their impact on ecosystems around the world. She shares stunning photos of the animals in Jellyfish: A Natural History and explores their role as a pest in Stung!: On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean. Read more about the jellyfish explosion and watch a video of them in action in her interview with Nexus Media.

Source: University Of Chicago Press

4. Ocean Greens

Seaweed has only recently made its way into the U.S. diet, mostly as wrap for sushi or a food thickener. Lisette Kreischer and Marcel Schuttelaar are hoping to change that with their seaweed cookbook, Ocean Greens. Combining recipes with insights from environmental science, they show that seaweed is not only tasty, it’s ridiculously sustainable. Kreischer shared her thoughts on food and a couple favorite recipes in an interview with Nexus Media.

Source: Lisette Kreischer

5. Black Rain

After 9/11, author Matthew B.J. Delaney left a career in finance to become a Brooklyn cop. He’s seen a lot of what human nature has to offer, both the troubling and the inspiring, and he has a keen sense for how we all can find common ground. In his first sci-fi novel, Black Rain the struggle between haves and have-nots is leading to rampant violence. It’s a story about justice in an unjust world. Read more about his book — and his thoughts on what can bring us together — in his interview with Nexus Media.

Source: 47North

6. Yellowstone: A Journey Through America’s Wild Heart

National Geographic author David Quammen is one of the few people who can claim to be a true resident of Yellowstone National Park. He’s seen the celebrated return of grizzlies and wolves, the unwelcome arrival of invasive species and the increasingly severe effects of a warming climate, all against the backdrop of the park’s growing popularity as it reached its centennial. National Geographic Magazine asked him to write a story for its Yellowstone 100th Anniversary issue and to produce a companion book, Yellowstone: A Journey Through America’s Wild Heart. The works culminated from a two-year labor of love. Quammen shared his insights and his photos in a Q&A with Nexus Media.

Source: National Geographic

Josh Chamot writes for Nexus Media, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art and culture.