Whether you’ve resolved to be a better environmentalist or to unleash your inner bookworm (or both), we’ve got you covered with our list of eight thought-provoking environmental books to read this year:
1. The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World, by Jeff Goodell
Sea level rise in America is the theme of this intriguing book from a notable Rolling Stone writer and author of must-read Big Coal. Most scientists are in agreement — sea level rise is happening. The Water Will Come explores its repercussions. Goodell expands on his environmental journalism published in Rolling Stone, shares stories of his visits to affected cities, and asks the question: “What’s next?”
2. Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren
Reading about the sounds of plants growing may not seem riveting, but Jahren makes it so. In her bestselling memoir, Lab Girl, this brainy and perceptive geobiologist tells her story. Jahren shares her upbringing and her discovery of the magic of science, delves into her battle with mental illness, and discusses her favorite things about what she calls “wondrous machines” — plants. Jahren speaks of plants as a mother speaks of her child — her depictions are so elegant and passionate that only true love could be behind them. As a reader, you’re guaranteed to learn something new and gain an enhanced appreciation for all things green.
3. Getting to Green: Saving Nature: A Bipartisan Solution, by Frederic C. Rich
Comparing the views of Republicans and Democrats on climate change is important if we want green policy to happen. That’s what Rich discusses in Getting to Green. He argues that in order to “get to green,” we should consider conservative views and find the overlaps between the right and the left. Rich calls this overlap “center green,” and we must reach it before expecting new green policies. Considering our current political climate, Getting to Green is a very important read.
4. The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health — and How We Can Make It Better, by Annie Leonard
“We have a problem with Stuff,” says Leonard. “If everyone consumed at U.S. rates, we would need three to five planets.” See how Stuff is impacting the planet — The Story of Stuff will show you the nitty-gritty details behind the extraction, manufacture and consumption of goods. This book might be just what you need to change your consumer lifestyle for good.
5. Kiss the Ground: How the Food You Eat Can Reverse Climate Change, Heal Your Body & Ultimately Save Our World, by Josh Tickell
Would you like to reverse climate change, heal your body and ultimately save our world? Who wouldn’t? The journalist, activist and award-winning filmmaker behind Kiss the Ground promises to teach you how through the power of food. Tickell encourages farming methods that nourish soil, the key to regenerative agriculture, and discusses the idea further in fascinating interviews with celebrated scientists, chefs and farmers. This work of nonfiction will help you take your environmentalism to a new level through your food choices.
6. The Imperfect Environmentalist: A Practical Guide to Clearing Your Body, Detoxing Your Home, and Saving the Earth (Without Losing Your Mind), by Sara Gilbert
It’s completely okay to feel hopeless, overwhelmed and a little crazy when thinking about the state of our planet. It happens to the best of us, including the author of The Imperfect Environmentalist. Find a quiet spot, take a deep breath, and read this book. Through Gilbert’s digestible, no-nonsense tips for a green lifestyle, you’ll be uplifted in no time. Learning how to be an environmental superhero is just a plus.
7. Audubon Society Field Guide, by the National Audubon Society
Now that you’ve read about the environment, it’s time to get out and explore it. The National Audubon Society has created numerous field guides for outdoor enthusiasts like yourself to use in the field. These guides will help you learn everything you wanted to know about your area’s flora and fauna. Don’t forget to snag one of these guides before you head out on your next adventure — you can learn while you enjoy the outdoors. Getting closer to your local environment will ultimately get you closer to the entire planet’s.
8. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert
New York Times bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner The Sixth Extinction combines natural history, scientific principles and field reporting to examine a bigger issue — the planet’s sixth mass extinction unfolding before our eyes. Kolbert guides readers through the probable causes and effects of this global travesty and helps us find ways to help.
Buy your books used and become the greenest bookworm yet. Used books hardly differ from new ones, and, unlike their resource-draining counterparts, lower your carbon footprint. No doubt about it, you’ll be eager to go green once any — or all — of these reads are checked off your list.
Ridding old books from your shelves? Before you head for the trash can, consider green options — you can upcycle them into new and fun items, donate them to your local library or recycle them responsibly. Our recycling guide will show you the way.