Climate Books For Every Reader

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There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the climate crisis. In an era defined by humanity’s impact on the Earth, and the resulting climate crisis, the problem is almost too big to think about sometimes. Bluedot Living Brooklyn’s reading list of climate books offers myriad solutions, thought processes, and personal actions. There is something for every reader (and of every age): theories on how climate affects psychology; hopeful texts for the disillusioned; explanations of how the environment and social justice go hand in hand; technology-focused solutions; imaginative fictions of the future of climate change; corporate motivations that block climate-friendly policy initiatives; and texts for young readers to understand what is happening to the world. 

We have many of these books linked on Thriftbooks, a secondhand bookseller that has given a second life to more than 250 million books and donated millions more to charities, libraries, schools, and non-profits. When you’re done, add your book to a local Little Free Library, gift it to a friend, or donate it to a thrift store that accepts books. 

Nonfiction:

All We Can Save — edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson
All We Can Save is a collection of essays, poetry, and art from dozens of women across the U.S. who are fighting the climate crisis. The New York Times called it “A powerful read that fills one with, dare I say . . . hope?” This Inspiring collection calls for truth, courage, and solutions to carve a path toward a more sustainable future.

The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet — Leah Thomas
Called “an essential read,” The Intersectional Environmentalist examines the intersection of social justice and environmentalism. Leah Thomas paints a vivid picture of the disproportionate impact that climate change has on people of color. Civil rights, Thomas argues, are crucial to creating a more sustainable future. 

Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability — edited by Alison Hope Alkon and Julian Agyeman
Sustainable agriculture, local eating, going meatless — discussions of climate change often include terms like these. But how accessible is local, sustainable food? Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color often live in “food deserts” where fast food is more common than fresh food. Cultivating Food Justice documents the inequalities built into our food system, and envisions alternatives for a more sustainable and just world. 

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Not Too Late: Changing the Climate Story from Despair to Possibility — Edited by Rebecca Solnit and Thelma Young Lutunatabua
Not Too Late is a collection of energizing essays, poems, and dispatches from the climate movement around the world that emphasize the importance of collective action and organizing to counter institutional inertia and create a better future. For anyone unsure about what the future holds, Not Too Late provides the hope, and the answers, you may be looking for.

Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World — Katharine Hayhoe
If climate theories and disaster stories are getting you down, Katherine Hayhoe has a solution. Saving Us is a hopeful, yet informative, guide to climate conversations. Using science, psychology, and a healthy dose of empathy, Hayhoe argues that the most important thing we can do to address climate change is to talk about it.

There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous & Black Communities — Ingrid R.G. Waldron
There’s Something in the Water begins with a useful overview of environmental justice and environmental racism. Waldron then brings us to Nova Scotia, Canada, to further explore legacies of environmental racism in Indigenous and Black communities. Academic and well thought-out, There’s Somethign in the Water will expand any reader’s understanding of environmental injustices. 

The Great Displacement: Climate Change and the Next American Migration — Jake Bittle
Climate disasters are already pushing people out of their homes. Jake Bittle’s The Great Displacement is a tour of the United States, focusing on areas where people are migrating away from, and where they are migrating to. Bittle highlights the way the real estate market, industry, loans, and home insurance already reflect these changes. The Great Displacement reveals the impact of climate change on our homes, and how it will shape the future of our society. 

Braiding Sweetgrass — Robin Wall Kimmerer
Robin Wall Kimmerer, a trained botanist and an Indigenous woman, believes that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. With this lens, Braiding Sweetgrass urges us to find a deeper connection with nature. Kimmerer writes: “Joy is what the Earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.”

Silent Spring — Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson, a former writer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, helped launch the environmental movement in the U.S. with Silent Spring. Published in 1962, Silent Spring catlysed some of the most important environmental policies that the U.S. ever passed. Carson’s book is one of the most influential books of the twentieth century. 

Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist — Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, found himself in jail in 2011 for leading a large civil disobedience protest against the Keystone XL pipeline. Oil and Honey argues that it takes protests and large-scale action to solve the climate crisis, but that we shouldn’t overlook the important contributions on a much smaller scale. McKibben’s account of resistance and change — both big and small — reminds us that we all have a part to play in the fight against climate change. 

Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front — Joel Salatin
An ecological farmer and marketer for 40 years, Joel Salatin has come to understand that American’s do not have the power to decide what lands on our plates. Salatin takes aim at government policies, corporations, and bureaucracies that promote big agribusiness. In Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal, he writes “A farm regulated to production of raw commodities is not a farm at all. It is a temporary blip until the land is used up, the water polluted, the neighbors nauseated, and the air unbreathable.” If you want to get into local eating, and take a critical look at the way agriculture affects everything, this is the book for you. 

Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden — Camille T. Dungy
Poet and scholar Camille T. Dungy recounts her seven-year journey to diversify her garden against the strict restrictions of what can and cannot be planted in the town of Fort Collins, Colorado. As she grows various plants, herbs, and flowers in the predominately white community, Dungy reflects on the relationship between homogeneity, nature, social justice, and climate change. 

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need — Bill Gates
Bill Gates writes, “This problem is urgent, and the debate is complex, but I believe we can come together to invent new carbon-zero technologies, deploy the ones we have, and ultimately avoid a climate catastrophe.” How to Avoid a Climate Disaster outlines a comprehensive and accessible plan for mitigating the effects of climate change. 

The Future Is Now: Solving the Climate Crisis with Today’s Technologies — Bob McDonald
The Future Is Now is an exploration of the incredible technologies that humans have developed, which we can use to get out of the mess we’ve made for ourselves. Bob McDonald writes one of the more optimistic climate change books. A new green age is upon us, and he has the insight and the understanding to walk us through exactly how it will be achieved. 

Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future — Elizabeth Kolbert
Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction, explores the complexities of humanity’s relationship with the environment. In Under a White Sky, Kolbert poses the question: “After doing so much damage, can we change nature, this time to save it?” In her darkly comic prose (“Pissing in your pants will only keep you warm for so long”), Kolbert examines innovations to avoid disasters and bring salvation to the planet.

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference — Greta Thunberg
No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference is a collection of speeches and essays by Greta Thunberg, the young activist who became the climate voice of a generation. Including her historic U.N. address, Thunberg is inspirational, passionate, determined, and hopeful that change is possible. As she wites, “Some people say that I should study to become a climate scientist so that I can ‘solve the climate crisis’. But the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.”

Fiction:

Parable of the Sower — Octavia E. Butler
Called a “classic,” Parable of the Sower is a dystopian look at the life of a young Black woman and the communitiy she creates despite the horrors of a post-climate world (witten in 1993 but ironically set in the 2020s). Octavia Butler is known for thought-provoking prose and immersive world building. Parable of the Sower is an exceptional example of Butler’s talent. Weaving themes of hope, survival, and the power of human resilience, Parable of the Sower is must-read climate fiction. 

What Storm, What Thunder — Myriam J.A. Chancy
At the end of a long day, as markets and businesses begin to close and patrons head home, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shakes Port-au-Prince, Haiti. What Storm, What Thunder charts the inner lives of characters affected by the diasater. Myriam Chancy weaves their stories together into a tale of the destruction wreaked by nature and by man. 

The Overstory — Richard Powers
Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, The Overstory is an emotionally resonant exploration of activism and resistance. Richard Powers focuses specifically on trees and the ways in which they shape our world and our lives. “This is not our world with trees in it. It’s a world of trees, where humans have just arrived,” Powers writes. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

Migrations — Charlotte McConaghy
Franny Stone arrives in Greenland with one goal: to find the world’s last flock of Arctic terns and track their final migration. The world has warmed too much for these cold-weather birds to find a home for another season; if they can survive the journey, there may be hope for us yet. A tale of loss, grief, the world, and the individual, Migrations is a poignant and immersive journey in a post-climate world. 

Teen and Young Adult:

The Marrow Thieves — Cherie Dimaline
Global warming nearly wiped out humanity but in the effort to live survivors lost the ability to dream. Now, Indigenous people are being hunted down to harvest their bone marrow — the key ingredient for people to dream again. Heart-wrenching and poignant, The Marrow Thieves follows Frenchie and his companions through this dark world as they try to survive against the insatiable greed of man. 

Hoot — Carl Hiassen
Roy is used to being the new kid in school. This time, his parents have dropped him in Florida. One day he sees a barefoot kid running — away from the school bus, with no backpack or shoes — and his life changes. Behind the lighthearted fun and the interesting characters of this Newberry Honor winner is a story about the rapid destruction of Florida’s wildlife and the kids who try to save it.

Kids:

We Are Water Protectors — Carole Lindstrom
Inspired by the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, We Are Water Protectors uses bold colors and lyrical writing to tell the story of one young hero. A black snake has threatened to destroy the Earth and poison her people’s water, so our young Indigenous water protector takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource. We Are Water Protectors won the 2021 Caldecott Medal.

The Lorax — Dr. Seuss
A classic rhyming story by the renowned Dr. Seuss, The Lorax tells us that “Unless someone like you… cares a whole awful lot… nothing is going to get better… It’s not.” The cautionary tale promotes environmental awareness and the importance of preserving nature for young readers. 

The Giving Tree — Shel Silverstein
The Giving Tree gives everything she has to a boy she loves. She gives everything she has to the boy in this parable about the resources in nature that give to us endlessly, and the greed that takes until nothing is left but a stump. 

A Tree Is Nice — Janice May Udry
“Trees are very nice,” begins the 1956 Caldecott Award-winning book. This charming picture book appreciates the beauty of nature and celebrates the simple joy of trees. “Trees are beautiful,” Udry writes, “They fill up the sky. If you have a tree, you can climb up its trunk, roll in its leaves, or hang a swing from one of its limbs. Cows and babies can nap in the shade of a tree. Birds can make nests in the branches. A tree is good to have around. A tree is nice.”


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Michaela Keil
Michaela Keil
Michaela Keil is the Editor of Bluedot Living Brooklyn, and the Managing Editor, Special Projects, for the Brooklyn Eagle. When she's not writing, you can either find her outside — in the rain, shine, snow, or cold — or inside baking bread. Find her on twitter @mkeil16.
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