Almost without fail, every summer we suggest that you find some time to relax and enjoy some “satisfaction” by lying around and reading. We still think that’s a good idea this summer, but we’ve decided to take our recommendation up a notch by giving you some actual reading lists. Maybe you already have a book or three that you’re dying to read or re-read this summer. Maybe you haven’t given any thought to your summer reading list. Maybe you read all of the time and just want a list of books to add to the never-ending pile on your nightstand. No matter what your situation is, we’ve compiled lists of some of our favorite books for you. We’ll be doing three separate lists, one for postconsumer books, one for leisure books and today’s edition for environmentally-themed books (both fiction and non). Need some summer reading list inspiration with a definitively green tint? Scroll down to get book-loaded.
Travels in Alaska, John Muir
It may go without saying that the first three books on this list will be by authors whom we’ve featured in our beloved quotes section on Postconsumers, and we’ve dedicated a significant amount of page-space to the emotive quotes of John Muir. Of all of his books, we chose Travels in Alaska because we personally feel that it does the best job of combining the reflective and conservationist nature of Muir with an exuberance that you don’t necessarily feel in his other books. Additionally, this is a good launching point for gaining a virtual love of the northern glacier climates that we must fight so hard to preserve.
Silent Spring, Rachel Carson
We’ve also devoted a not insignificant amount of time and energy to sharing our favorite quotes by famed environmentalist Rachel Carson over the years. We obviously think that almost all of the Rachel Carson library is worth a read this summer (or at any time really). However, if you’re new to the works of Rachel Carson we’d recommend starting with her seminal book, Silent Spring. The book is really a collection of serialized pieces first published in the New Yorker in 1962, but the sentiments and passion of the writing translates just as powerfully to the current decade and century. In reading them, you may find yourself preparing to launch a giant environmental movement similar to the one that followed these initial publications.
The Legacy: An Elder’s Vision for Our Sustainable Future, David Suzuki
Canada’s David Suzuki is perhaps the most well-respected and well-known of modern day environmentalists, and this book is an expansion of a famous speech he gave in 2009. We featured a series of his quotes on our website just this year, in fact. The book is considered to be the culmination of Suzuki’s life’s work – though in many ways it was just the beginning. He will inspire you to be impassioned with the idea that we are the Earth while also guiding you through a vision of a future in which we can live sustainably and naturally. What is most compelling about the book to us, however, is it’s reflections on what Suzuki has witnessed within his own lifetime regarding changes to the planet and our psyche surrounding it.
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Elizabeth Kolbert
Our initial concern about including this book on the list is that it is a bit alarmist, but it seems that truthful alarmism is what’s needed at this point. A best-seller and Pulitzer Prize winner, this book walks you through the five natural mass extinctions that have happened on Earth and presents the evidence that we are already in the midst of the sixth. The book argues that our own disappearance is happening before our very own eyes, and you will absolutely not be the same after you read it.
The Lorax, Dr. Seuss
Of course, you can cheat and watch the movie, but we always think there’s joy to be had in reading a Dr. Seuss book even if it’s about a heart-breaking topic. We’d like to think that there’s still time to stem the tide of the sixth extinction being described in the book above this one on this list, and a generation of children raised on The Lorax may be the first step (combined of course with good parental role modeling). If you’re unaware of the story of the Lorax, be prepared to cry along with your children. If you know the story, this is always a good and quick way to get grounded in the need for environmental change.
Speaking of children, we think that this is the book to read if you need a nudge to make sure your child (or any child in your life) understands nature and the Earth. With more and more urban living and indoor “play alternatives” (which is a nice way of saying video games), there’s a desperate need to get kids outdoors for both physical and mental health reasons. In fact, Richard Louv links much of the nature deficit disorder to some of today’s most troubling childhood issues such as ADHD. For any parent or person who interacts or cares for children regularly, a must-read.
Walden, Henry David Thoreau
And, of course, any list like this would be remiss without mention of the most famous book on communing with nature. If you haven’t read it, then you must. You will understand immediately why it is included on any list of environmentally or nature-themed books to read.
Did we miss an environmental book that you think should be on this list? Tell us about it on the social media channels below.