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12 Environmental Books for Your 2021 Reading List

2020 is drawing to a close. But 2021 will be another year to move forward in combating climate change, and making positive changes both locally and globally. To help inspire and gain momentum, take a break with one of these environmental books. They will remind you why we fight, will teach you a thing or two, and will be a gentle pat on the book that we are not alone. Grab one of these books from your local bookstore (not Amazon!) and you can even create an eco-book club amongst friends.

  1. Mary Oliver Devotions: The Selected Poems

This American poet wrote poems that were inspired by her meanderings and wanderings in nature. Reading them will tap into your own intuitive knowledge of how beautiful and powerful nature is.

  1. Robin Wall Kimmerer Braiding Sweetgrass and Gathering Moss

Both of these books weave indigenous knowledge and scientific learning to explore and teach about plants and moss. Dr. Kimmerer is a renowned botanist who teaches at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and helps readers connect back to plants through her patient and insightful voice.

  1. Suzanne Simard Finding the Mother Tree

A professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences in Vancouver,  Simard discovered the important complex network and relationships between fungi and trees underneath the soil. This book discusses that network and the hub known as “mother trees.”

  1. Greta Thunberg No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference 

Published in 2019, the Swedish teenage international environmental activist, has compiled eleven speeches about climate change, all of which she wrote and presented herself. 

  1. Michael Pollan The Botany of Desire 

This book helped make Michael Pollan, an environmental writer whose books have topped the New York Times best sellers list,  famous. It takes a look at the relationship between humans and domesticated plants. He makes clear it isn’t one-sided, and that we are both learning from one another.

  1. Naomi Klein On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal 

Klein has long written about the relationship between the global economy and the climate. In this book, she offers a warning of what the future of people and the economy hold if we do nothing about climate change. 

7. David Owen Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River

Both captivating and frightening, Owen takes a close look at the Colorado River, which is a source of water for nearly 40 million people. Blending in information about climate change, agriculture, and politics, the book is a must read.

8. Daniel Yergin The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations

The Pulitzer-Prize winning author examines energy and the grim future through a geopolitical lens. While his arguments are sometimes weak, it is still a good read to help to understand how politics and power play into the transition to alternative energy sources.

9. Lucy Siegle Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (And You) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again

This book is excellent, as it details how massive of a problem plastic is, what that means for the earth, and yet it provides some helpful tips on what you, and individual can do. Siegle is an expert on plastic and a consumer reporter for the BBC, and she has written a comprehensive and informative book on the plastic problem.

10. Green Meat? Sustaining Eaters, Animals, and the Planet (edited by Ryan M. Katz-Rosene and Sarah J. Martin)

It’s indisputable that raising animals for meat is detrimental. Not only is the agricultural industry typically harmful to the animals, but the water resources, land use, greenhouse gas emissions and diversion of resources creates an especially bad conception for the future of the planet. This book asks if all meat is bad, what does a sustainable meat industry look like and how will it look in the future.

11. David Attenborough and Jonnie Hughes A Life on Our Planet

The extraordinary man pleads for his fellow humans to right our common wrong, and now. He pulls into his experience to share with his readers that only we can save our precious planet.

12. All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis (Editors Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Katharine Wilkinson)

A collection of essays from fierce female climate warriors and activists, the book is hopeful, sobering, illuminating, and inspiring.

Happy reading!

Feature image: Aziz Acharki