Book Club

19 books every climate activist should read

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It's time to read up. Image: Unsplash/Ben White

Penguin Random House
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Book Club

  • Literary authors including Ian McEwan and Margaret Atwood have written about the environment.
  • The list also includes non-fiction from Greta Thunberg's No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.

The repercussions of climate change are far-reaching. It’s time to read up! Below are nonfiction and fiction essentials to prepare and motivate you to make a difference in the world we live in!

Have you read?

1. The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells

The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells
The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells Image: Amazon

In his travelogue of our near future, David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await—food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the globe. The Uninhabitable Earth is both a meditation on the devastation we have brought upon ourselves and an impassioned call to action.

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg Image: Amazon

The groundbreaking speeches of Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist who has become the voice of a generation, including her historic address to the United Nations General Assembly.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power by Al Gore
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power by Al Gore Image: Amazon

Where Gore’s first documentary and book took us through the technical aspects of climate change, the second documentary is a gripping, narrative journey that leaves you filled with hope and the urge to take action immediately.

4. Global Weirdness by Climate Central

Global Weirdness by Climate Central
Global Weirdness by Climate Central Image: Amazon

Global Weirdness enlarges our understanding of how climate change affects our daily lives, and arms us with the incontrovertible facts we need to make informed decisions about the future of the planet, and of humankind.

5. The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi Image: Amazon

In the near future, the Colorado River has dwindled to a trickle. Three individuals find themselves pawns in a game far bigger and more corrupt than they could have imagined, and when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only truth in the desert is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.

6. How Cycling Can Save the World by Peter Walker

How Cycling Can Save the World by Peter Walker
How Cycling Can Save the World by Peter Walker Image: Amazon

A timely, eye-opening book about climate change and energy generation that focuses on the consequences of nuclear power production, from award-winning author William T. Vollmann.

7. No Immediate Danger by William T. Vollmann

No Immediate Danger by William T. Vollmann
No Immediate Danger by William T. Vollmann Image: Amazon

A timely, eye-opening book about climate change and energy generation that focuses on the consequences of nuclear power production, from award-winning author William T. Vollmann.

8. Green Earth by Kim Stanley Robinson

Green Earth by Kim Stanley Robinson
Green Earth by Kim Stanley Robinson Image: Amazon

Discover the landmark trilogy of cutting-edge science, international politics, and the real-life ramifications of climate change—updated and abridged into a single novel.

9. Trespassing Across Americaby Ken Ilgunas

Trespassing Across Americaby Ken Ilgunas
Trespassing Across Americaby Ken Ilgunas Image: Amazon

Both a travel memoir and a reflection on climate change, Trespassing Across America is filled with colorful characters, harrowing physical trials, and strange encounters with the weather, terrain, and animals of America’s plains.

10. Six Degrees by Mark Lynas

Six Degrees by Mark Lynas
Six Degrees by Mark Lynas Image: Amazon

Based on authoritative scientific articles, the latest computer models, and information about past warm events in Earth history, Six Degreespromises to be an eye-opening warning that humanity will ignore at its peril.

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann
The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann Image: Amazon

While everything appears to be collapsing around us – ecodamage, genetic engineering, virulent diseases, the end of cheap oil, water shortages, global famine, wars – we can still do something about it and create a world that will work for us and for our children’s children. The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlighthelps us understand – and heal – our relationship to the world, to each other, and to our natural resources.

12. Solar by Ian McEwan

Solar by Ian McEwan
Solar by Ian McEwan Image: Amazon

When Dr. Michael Beard’s professional and personal worlds collide in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself for Michael to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and save the world from environmental disaster. But can a man who has made a mess of his life clean up the messes of humanity?

13. The Reducetarian Solution by Brian Kateman

The Reducetarian Solution by Brian Kateman
The Reducetarian Solution by Brian Kateman Image: Amazon

In this book, Kateman, the founder of the Reducetarian Foundation, presents more than 70 original essays from influential thinkers on how the simple act of cutting 10% or more of the meat from one’s diet can transform the life of the reader, animals, and the planet.

14. Drawdown by Paul Hawken

Drawdown by Paul Hawken
Drawdown by Paul Hawken Image: Amazon

In the face of widespread fear and apathy, an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change.

15. The End of Nature by Bill McKibben

The End of Nature by Bill McKibben
The End of Nature by Bill McKibben Image: Amazon

More than simply a handbook for survival or a doomsday catalog of scientific prediction, this classic, soulful lament on Nature is required reading for nature enthusiasts, activists, and concerned citizens alike.

16. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood Image: Amazon

In this second book of the MaddAddam trilogy, the long-feared waterless flood has occurred, altering Earth as we know it and obliterating most human life except for a few survivors.

17. The Future of Ice by Gretel Ehrlich

The Future of Ice by Gretel Ehrlich
The Future of Ice by Gretel Ehrlich Image: Amazon

Over the course of a year, Ehrlich experiences firsthand the myriad expressions of cold, giving us marvelous histories of wind, water, snow, and ice, of ocean currents and weather cycles. We share Ehrlich’s experience of the thrills of cold, but also her questions: What will happen to us if we are “deseasoned”? If winter ends, will we survive?

18. Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins Image: Amazon

Immensely moving, profoundly disquieting, and mind-blowingly original, Watkins’s novel explores the myths we believe about others and tell about ourselves, the double-edged power of our most cherished relationships, and the shape of hope in a precarious future that may be our own.

19. Climate Leviathan by Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann

Climate Leviathan by Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann
Climate Leviathan by Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann Image: Amazon

Drawing on a wide range of political thought, Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann argue that rapid climate change will transform the world’s political economy and the fundamental political arrangements most people take for granted. The result will be a capitalist planetary sovereignty, a terrifying eventuality that makes the construction of viable, radical alternatives truly imperative.

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