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Ranking Author Diane Ackerman’s Best Books (A Bibliography Countdown)

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“What are Diane Ackerman’s Best Books?” We looked at all of Ackerman’s authored bibliography and ranked them against one another to answer that very question!

We took all of the books written by Diane Ackerman and looked at her Goodreads, Amazon, and LibraryThing scores, ranking them against one another to see which books came out on top. The books are ranked in our list below based on which titles have the highest overall score between all 3 review sites in comparison with all of the other books by the same author. The process isn’t super scientific and in reality, most books aren’t “better” than other books as much as they are just different. That being said, we do enjoy seeing where our favorites landed, and if you aren’t familiar with the author at all, the rankings can help you see what books might be best to start with.

The full ranking chart is also included below the countdown on the bottom of the page. We will update the article if/when a new book by Diane Ackerman is released. Although it probably won’t be immediate so the scores on each site have time to settle and aren’t overly influenced by the early, usually much more opinionated, users.

Happy Scrolling!



The Top Book’s Of Diane Ackerman



23 ) The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 24
  • Amazon: 15
  • LibraryThing: 16

A true story—as powerful as Schindler’s List—in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands.When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city’s zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen “guests” hid inside the Zabinskis’ villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital.

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23 ) Deep Play

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 17
  • Amazon: 21
  • LibraryThing: 17

“With A Natural History of the Senses, Diane Ackerman let her free-ranging intellect loose on the natural world. Now in Deep Play she tackles the realm of creativity, by exploring one of the most essential aspects of our characters: the abitlity to play.

“”Deep play”” is that more intensified form of play that puts us in a rapturous mood and awakens the most creative, sentient, and joyful aspects of our inner selves. As Ackerman ranges over a panoply of artistic, spiritual, and athletic activities, from spiritual rapture through extreme sports, we gain a greater sense of what it means to be “”in the moment”” and totally, transcendentally human. Keenly perceived and written with poetic exuberance, Deep Play enlightens us by revealing the manifold ways we can enhance our lives.”

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22 ) The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 21
  • Amazon: 15
  • LibraryThing: 14

In this landmark book, she confronts the unprecedented fact that the human race is now the single dominant force of change on the planet. Humans have “subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness.” We now collect the DNA of vanishing species in a “frozen ark,” equip orangutans with iPads, create wearable technologies and synthetic species that might one day outsmart us. Ackerman takes us on an exciting journey to understand this bewildering new reality, introducing us to many of the people and ideas now creating—perhaps saving—our future. The Human Age is a beguiling, optimistic engagement with the earth-shaking changes now affecting every part of our lives and those of our fellow creatures—a wise book that will astound, delight, and inform intelligent life for a long time to come.

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21 ) Lady Faustus

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 4
  • Amazon: 23
  • LibraryThing: 22

Poems portray the author’s experiences and explore a variety of themes, including dreams, flight, music and sports

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19 ) Origami Bridges

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 23
  • Amazon: 15
  • LibraryThing: 9

At the heart of Origami Bridges is the delicate relationship of trust between analyst and patient, a relationship that grows out of the emotional give-and-take of the psychoanalytic process. In this collection, Diane Ackerman, with astonishing candor, lays bare her desires, anger, jealousy, fears, and anxiety, as she probes not only her present emotional landscape but also her past. And what gradually rises to the surface is an understanding of how the poet uses verse to purge her demons, express her delight, or confess secret longing, and through this process come to a better understanding of the self.

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19 ) A Natural History of Love

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 15
  • Amazon: 19
  • LibraryThing: 13

The bestselling author of A Natural History of the Senses now explores the allure of adultery, the appeal of aphrodisiacs, and the cult of the kiss. Enchantingly written and stunningly informed, this “audaciously brilliant romp through the world of romantic love” (Washington Post Book World) is the next best thing to love itself.

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17 ) Twilight of the Tenderfoot

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 15
  • Amazon: 10
  • LibraryThing: 19

A memoir that lets readers glimpse the backbreaking, soul-satisfying work of ranching.

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17 ) Reverse Thunder

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 21
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 22

A dramatization of the passion of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a Mexican nun regarded as one of her country’s greatest poets.

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16 ) Wife of Light

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 1
  • Amazon: 23
  • LibraryThing: 19

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15 ) Monk Seal Hideaway

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 9
  • Amazon: 10
  • LibraryThing: 22

Photographed in full color. One of America’s most acclaimed nature writers vividly brings to life the experience of being face-to-face with a rare and beautiful wild animal. She journeys to the last refuge of the most endangered of all seal species, the Hawaiian monk seal. Written with a poet’s eye for beauty and a naturalist’s attention to detail, and illustrated with glorious photographs, this book provides an unforgettable glimpse into a mysterious world.

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14 ) A Slender Thread

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 14
  • Amazon: 22
  • LibraryThing: 3

bestselling author of A Natural History of the Senses reveals Ackerman’s parallel lives as an observer of the wildlife in her garden and as a telephone crisis counselor.

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13 ) Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New and Selected Poems

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 19
  • Amazon: 10
  • LibraryThing: 8

“In A Natural History of the Senses Diane Ackerman revealed herself as a naturalist who writes with the sensuous immediately of a great poet. Now Jaguar of Sweet Laughter presents the work of a poet with the precise and wondering eye of a gifted naturalist.

Ackermans’s Olympian vision records and transforms landscapes from Amazonia to Antarctica, while her imaginative empathy penetrates the otherness of hummingbirds, deer, and trilobites. But even as they draw readers into the wild heart of nature, Ackerman’s poems are indelible reminders of what it is to be a human being—the “”jaguar of sweet laughter”” that, according to Mayan mythology, astonished the world because it was the first animal to speak.”

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11 ) One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 18
  • Amazon: 13
  • LibraryThing: 2

No other writer can blend the science of the brain with the love of language like Diane Ackerman. In this extraordinary memoir, she opens a window into the experience of wordlessness—the language paralysis called aphasia. In narrating the recovery of her husband, Paul West, from a stroke that reduced his vast vocabulary to a single syllable, she evokes the joy and mystery of the brain’s ability to find and connect words. Deeply rewarding to readers of all kinds, Ackerman has given us a literary love story, accessible insight into the science and medicine of brain injury, and invaluable spiritual sustenance in the face of life’s myriad physical sufferings.

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11 ) Cultivating Delight

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 10
  • Amazon: 19
  • LibraryThing: 4

Cultivating Delight celebrates the sensory pleasures she discovers in her garden.Ackerman delights in her garden through all the seasons. Whether she is deadheading flowers or glorying in the profusion of roses, offering sugar water to a hummingbird or studying the slug, she welcomes the unexpected drama and extravagance as well as the sanctuary her garden offers. She chronicles instances of violence in nature but also intuits loneliness and desire in the clamor of male crickets in the spring. And there is wonderment and marvel as she happens upon a tiny frog asleep inside the petals of a tulip. Visitors to her garden range from botanical explorers of earlier centuries to the nature mystic John Muir to the brilliant British garden writer Gertrude Jekyll.

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9 ) The Rarest of the Rare

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 7
  • Amazon: 15
  • LibraryThing: 10

The renowned author of A Natural History of the Senses takes readers in search of the “rarest of the rare, ” species likely to disappear before most of us have ever seen them. From Brazil to the Pacific to Japan, Ackerman shares her concern at the animals’ plight, rejoices at the chance to experience them, and cheers those who work to save these fantastic creatures.

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9 ) Animal Sense

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 20
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 11

“In this delightfully witty collection of poems, bestselling author Diane Ackerman shows how the senses shape and enrich
the experiences of all living beings. With enchanting illustrations by Peter Sís, Animal Sense is sure to capture the imagination of readers young and old.”

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8 ) An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 13
  • Amazon: 13
  • LibraryThing: 5

“Long treasured by literary readers for her uncommon ability to bridge the gap between art and science, celebrated scholar-artist Diane Ackerman returns with the book she was born to write. Her dazzling new work, An Alchemy of Mind, offers an unprecedented exploration and celebration of the mental fantasia in which we spend our days—and does for the human mind what the bestselling A Natural History of the Senses did for the physical senses.

Bringing a valuable female perspective to the topic, Diane Ackerman discusses the science of the brain as only she can: with gorgeous, immediate language and imagery that paint an unusually lucid and vibrant picture for the reader. And in addition to explaining memory, thought, emotion, dreams, and language acquisition, she reports on the latest discoveries in neuroscience and addresses controversial subjects like the effects of trauma and male versus female brains. In prose that is not simply accessible but also beautiful and electric, Ackerman distills the hard, objective truths of science in order to yield vivid, heavily anecdotal explanations about a range of existential questions regarding consciousness, human thought, memory, and the nature of identity.”

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7 ) The Planets: A Cosmic Pastoral

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 8
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 21

Scientifically accurate poems on the planets, moons, and asteroids of our solar system and the stars beyond evoke earthbound responses to those bodies, discoveries concerning them, and journeys to them

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6 ) I Praise My Destroyer

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 11
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 15

Imbued with ravishing imagery, these exuberant and lyrical explorations of aging, longing, and death demonstrate Ackerman’s full engagement with every aspect of life’s process. Ackerman muses on the confines of therapy sessions, where she intersects “twice a week/in a painstaking hide-and-seek/making do with half-light, half-speak”; relishes the succulent pleasure of eating an apricot, with its “gush of taboo sweetness”; and imagines the “unupholstered voice, a life in outline” in her stunning elegy to C. S. Lewis. Whimsical, organic, and wise, the poems in I Praise My Destroyer affirm Ackerman’s place as one of the most enchanting poets writing today.

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5 ) Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 12
  • Amazon: 7
  • LibraryThing: 6

“A celebrated storyteller-poet-naturalist explores a year of dawns in her most personal book to date.

In an eye-opening sequence of personal meditations through the cycle of seasons, Diane Ackerman awakens us to the world at dawn—drawing on sources as diverse as meteorology, world religion, etymology, art history, poetry, organic farming, and beekeeping. As a patient and learned observer of animal and human physiology and behavior, she introduces us to varieties of bird music and other signs of avian intelligence, while she herself “migrates” from winter in Florida to spring, summer, and fall in upstate New York.

Humans might luxuriate in the idea of being “in” nature, Ackerman points out, but we often forget that we are nature—for “no facet of nature is as unlikely as we, the tiny bipeds with the giant dreams.” Joining science’s devotion to detail with religion’s appreciation of the sublime, Dawn Light is an impassioned celebration of the miracles of evolution—especially human consciousness of our numbered days on a turning earth.”

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2 ) The Moon by Whale Light, and Other Adventures Among Bats and Crocodilains, Penguins and Whales

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 6
  • Amazon: 8
  • LibraryThing: 7

In a rare blend of scientific fact and poetic truth, the acclaimed author of A Natural History of the Senses explores the activities of whales, penguins, bats, and crocodilians, plunging headlong into nature and coming up with highly entertaining treasures.

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2 ) On Extended Wings

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 3
  • Amazon: 6
  • LibraryThing: 12

The author explains why flying is so important to her, despite its dangers and the difficulties she faced learning to fly

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2 ) Bats: Shadows in the Night

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 2
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 18

Best-selling author (A Natural History of the Senses) and naturalist Diane Ackerman takes a beguiling look at the complex world of the bat–one of the most varied and mysterious of animals. Ackerman describes a visit, with distinguished photographer and bat expert Merlin Tuttle, to the Big Bend national park area of Texas where she observes the nightly emergence of over 20 million bats from Bracken Cave and helps track them for study. In addition to conveying the experience of observing, handling, and studying bats firsthand, Ackerman relates information on a variety of bat species, as well as feeding and reproduction habits, the remarkable sonar they use to navigate and hunt, their migration and hibernation patterns, and their role in the ecosystems they inhabit. More than 50 spectacular color photographs enliven this distinctive, informative, and accessible addition to the natural history shelf.

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1 ) A Natural History of the Senses

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 4
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 1

Diane Ackerman’s lusciously written grand tour of the realm of the senses includes conversations with an iceberg in Antarctica and a professional nose in New York, along with dissertations on kisses and tattoos, sadistic cuisine and the music played by the planet Earth.

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Diane Ackerman’s Best Books



Diane Ackerman Review Website Bibliography Rankings

BookGoodreadsAmazonLibraryThingOveral Rank
A Natural History of the Senses 491 1
The Moon by Whale Light, and Other Adventures Among Bats and Crocodilains, Penguins and Whales 687 2
On Extended Wings 3612 2
Bats: Shadows in the Night 2118 2
Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day 1276 5
I Praise My Destroyer 11115 6
The Planets: A Cosmic Pastoral 8121 7
An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain 13135 8
The Rarest of the Rare 71510 9
Animal Sense 20111 9
One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing 18132 11
Cultivating Delight 10194 11
Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New and Selected Poems 19108 13
A Slender Thread 14223 14
Monk Seal Hideaway 91022 15
Wife of Light 12319 16
Twilight of the Tenderfoot 151019 17
Reverse Thunder 21122 17
Origami Bridges 23159 19
A Natural History of Love 151913 19
Lady Faustus 42322 21
The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us 211514 22
The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story 241516 23
Deep Play 172117 23