In a world grappling with environmental challenges, books offer a gateway to better understanding and how to take action. These 23 are musts for your reading list.
From the classics that started it all to the newest exploring the ways to a sustainable future, these environmental and climate books cover all the bases and serve as invaluable resources for a more sustainable future. Whether you find inspiration in insightful non-fiction or prefer thought-provoking fiction, this summer reading list presents a diverse array of literary works that will engage, enlighten, and empower readers.
1. “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson (1962)
Considered the groundbreaking environmental book, Carson raises awareness about the detrimental effects of pesticides and explores the concept of ecological balance, urging readers to reevaluate their relationship with nature. More than sixty years after its release, the lessons in Silent Spring hold true today.
2. “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things” by William McDonough and Michael Braungart (2002)
This influential book presents a revolutionary approach to production, emphasizing the importance of designing products that are fully recyclable and can contribute positively to the environment through a circular economy.
3. “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” by Michael Pollan (2006)
Pollan delves into the complex web of the modern food industry, investigating the origin of our meals and urging readers to make sustainable choices by understanding the impact of their dietary decisions.
4. “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate” by Naomi Klein (2014)
In this thought-provoking book, Klein explores the link between capitalism and climate change, challenging readers to question the prevailing economic system and envision a sustainable alternative.
5. “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013)
Blending indigenous wisdom with scientific knowledge, Kimmerer illuminates the reciprocal relationship between humans and the natural world. Kimmerer makes the case for the reader to view the earth as a living being deserving of respect and care.
6. “Sustainability: A History” by Jeremy L. Caradonna (2014)
Caradonna traces the historical evolution of sustainability, offering insights into the origins of the concept and shedding light on the challenges and opportunities faced by societies striving for a sustainable future.
7. “The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability — Designing for Abundance” by William McDonough and Michael Braungart (2013)
Building on their earlier work, McDonough and Braungart present innovative design principles that go beyond sustainability, emphasizing the importance of creating systems that support abundance and regeneration.
8. “No Logo” by Naomi Klein (1999)
Klein exposed the exploitative practices of multinational corporations in her seminal 1999 page-turner, examining the effects of globalization and consumer culture on society and offering a call to action for ethical and sustainable choices.
9. “Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist” by Kate Raworth (2017)
Raworth challenges traditional economic theories and proposes a new framework that promotes social justice, ecological sustainability, and holistic well-being.
10. “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” by Elizabeth Kolbert (2014)
Kolbert presents a compelling narrative about the ongoing mass extinction of species and examines the role of human activities in driving this crisis. The book underscores the urgency to increase conservation efforts for the sake of the delicate, critical global ecosystem.
11. “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative” by Florence Williams (2017)
Williams explores the profound impact of nature on human well-being, highlighting the benefits of spending time in natural environments and advocating for the preservation of green spaces.
12. “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming” edited by Paul Hawken (2017)
Drawing on the expertise of scientists, policymakers, and entrepreneurs, this book presents a comprehensive roadmap of solutions to combat climate change, offering hope and practical strategies for a sustainable future.
13. “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate” by Peter Wohlleben (2015)
Wohlleben unveils the intricate and interconnected world of trees, shedding light on their communication, cooperation, and the profound lessons they offer about resilience and sustainable living.
14. “The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World” by Jeff Goodell (2017)
Goodell delves into the impending threat of rising sea levels caused by climate change, examining the profound consequences for coastal cities and urging action to mitigate and adapt to this ecological crisis.
15. “The Better World Handbook: Small Changes That Make a Big Difference” by Ellis Jones, Ross Haenfler, and Brett Johnson (2001)
Packed with practical tips and resources, this handbook serves as a guide for individuals seeking to make meaningful changes in their daily lives, empowering readers to become agents of positive change.
16. “Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too” by Beth Terry (2012)
Terry shares her personal journey to eliminate plastic from her life, offering practical advice and inspiring alternatives to reduce plastic consumption, leading to a greener and more sustainable lifestyle.
17. “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming” by David Wallace-Wells (2019)
Wallace-Wells presents a sobering and urgent account of the potential consequences of climate change, emphasizing the need for immediate action to mitigate its effects and create a sustainable future.
18. “The Overstory” by Richard Powers (2018)
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel weaves together the lives of individuals deeply connected to trees, highlighting the power of nature and the need for environmental conservation in the face of widespread destruction.
19. “Black Earth Wisdom: Soulful Conversations With Black Environmentalists” by Leah Penniman (2023)
This anthology is a collection of today’s most respected and influential Black environmentalist voices — including Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author Alice Walker, and marine biologist, policy expert and founder and president of Ocean Collectiv, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson — and the lessons they have learned.
20. “To Dye for: How Toxic Fashion Is Making Us Sick—And How We Can Fight Back” by Alden Wicker (2023)
An exposé into the toxic chemicals found on most new clothing today, Wicker explores the harmful impacts clothes can have on our health. The book explores the connection between synthetic fashion and dyes made from fossil fuels and the rise of autoimmune disease, infertility, asthma, eczema, and other health issues. Wicker dives into the details and weaves together a vision for a more sustainable future.
21. “Urban Jungle: The History and Future of Nature in the City” by Ben Wilson (2023)
A deep dive look at cities of the past and what they may look like in the future, Wilson underscores the power nature will have in ensuring the safety and longevity of our future urbanscapes.
22. “The Future of Food Is Female” by Jennifer Stojkovic (2022)
The food system is rapidly changing — shifting from being one of the biggest contributors to climate change to one of its most versatile solutions. Stojkovic, the Vegan Women Summit founder and General Partner at Joyful Ventures, sheds light on the visionary women paving the way toward a more sustainable, healthy, equitable, and compassionate future by revolutionizing the food system.
23. “Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World” by Paul Stamets (2005)
Stamets, a leading expert in mycology, explores the uses and applications of mushrooms and fungi’s mycelium network, from bioremediation, soil enhancement, habitat restoration, improved human health, and more.
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