The best new fiction books about climate change and what we're up against

Who am I?

I’m a science communicator turned fiction writer with a special interest in the impact of environmental crises on small towns and overlooked places. My short fiction has appeared in various journals, including The Fiddlehead, Nimrod, Barren, and Reckon Review. I’m currently writing a novel about hurricane chasers along the Gulf Coast.


I wrote...

Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction

By Angie Dell (editor), Joey Eschrich (editor), Sandra K. Barnidge (contributor)

Book cover of Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction

What is my book about?

Albertine’s Watch is a fictional town on the Gulf Coast that is now permanently underwater thanks to sea-level rise. One family continues to live in the town, despite many logistical and emotional hardships. They survive by giving boat tours of their ruined town to occasional tourists who come to gawk at their way of life, and eventually, the main character is forced to confront an impossible question: when will she finally decide it’s time to leave her beloved but untenable home?

This story is available for free as part of Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Children's Bible

Sandra K. Barnidge Why did I love this book?

This unflinching novel follows a group of twelve children and teenagers through a world-ending storm and its aftermath. The primary tension is between the teens and their impotent parents, who descend into alcohol, drugs, and orgies as the storm hits and leave their children to mostly fend for themselves. The message embedded in this setup is hardly subtle, but Millet brilliantly incorporates and subverts Christian iconography to craft a startlingly original Book of Genesis for those born into the climate crisis.

By Lydia Millet,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Children's Bible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet's sublime new novel-her first since the National Book Award-longlisted Sweet Lamb of Heaven- follows a group of eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their parents at a lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their elders, who pass their days in a hedonistic stupor, the children are driven out into a chaotic landscape after a great storm descends. The story's narrator, Eve, devotes herself to the safety of her beloved little brother as events around them begin to mimic scenes from his cherished picture Bible.

Millet, praised as "unnervingly talented" (San Francisco Chronicle), has produced a…


Book cover of How Beautiful We Were

Sandra K. Barnidge Why did I love this book?

Non-Western countries already carry a vastly disproportionate share of the burdens of climate change, and Mbue’s novel is among the first and best to tackle this reality head-on. Set in the fictional village of Kosawa in an unnamed country in West Africa, the story follows the villagers in their attempt to fight back against the Big Oil company that has poisoned their water, land, and children’s bodies. Over decades, we follow the village children as they grow up and make complicated choices about their own futures and that of their homeland. This is a thoughtful, clear-eyed, and richly nuanced story that resists easy resolutions about complex environmental and political challenges.

By Imbolo Mbue,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked How Beautiful We Were as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A PEN/FAULKNER AWARD FINALIST

'Sweeping and quietly devastating' New York Times
'A David and Goliath story for our times' O, the Oprah Magazine

Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, this is the story of a people living in fear amidst environmental degradation wrought by an American oil company. Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of clean-up and financial reparations are made - and broken. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back. But it will come at a steep price - one which generation after generation…


Book cover of Migrations

Sandra K. Barnidge Why did I love this book?

Free-spirited Franny Lynch has spent a lifetime wandering away from those she loves — and circling back again and again. A mysterious tragedy prompts her to undertake the biggest journey of all when she joins the crew of the struggling Saghani, one of the last commercial fishing vessels still operating in the midst of the long-predicted global mass extinction of animals on land and in the oceans. Franny convinces the skeptical and superstitious captain to help her track the last migration of Arctic terns to Antarctica, the longest-known bird migration in the world. Franny’s mercurial nature elegantly unfolds over the course of the story, and the devastating ending offers only as much hope as we deserve about our lonely future on this planet.

By Charlotte McConaghy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Migrations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'An extraordinary novel... as beautiful and as wrenching as anything I've ever read' Emily St. John Mandel

A dark past. An impossible journey. The will to survive.

Franny Stone is determined to go to the end of the earth, following the last of the Arctic terns on what may be their final migration to Antarctica.

As animal populations plummet, Franny talks her way onto one of the few remaining boats heading south. But as she and the eccentric crew travel further from shore and safety, the dark secrets of Franny's life begin to unspool.

Haunted by love and violence, Franny…


Book cover of Gold Fame Citrus

Sandra K. Barnidge Why did I love this book?

This speculative dystopia about drought-ruined California is equal parts lyrical gut-punch and surrealist adventure story. Main characters Luz and Ray set up residence in an abandoned celebrity mansion, subsisting on whatever they can scavenge. Their precarious existence is upended when they cross paths with a toddler, and the trio sets off into the Dune Sea in search of a life that offers more than mere survival. A warning: this is not a cool breeze of a read. But if you’re curious about the psychic impact of prolonged heat, thirst, and desperation, Watkins offers a masterclass on the grimy reality of human resilience in a hostile world of our own making.

By Claire Vaye Watkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gold Fame Citrus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Haunting and beautifully written first novel by the award-winning author of Battleborn, set among a cult of survivors in a dystopian American desert

'A Mad Max world painted with a finer brush' Elle

'An unforgettable journey into a hauntingly imagined near-future' Ruth Ozeki

'Set in a drought-ravaged Southern California trolled by scavengers, Gold Fame Citrus burns with a dizzying, scorching genius' Vanity Fair

Desert sands have laid waste to the south-west of America. Las Vegas is buried. California - and anyone still there - is stranded. Any way out is severely restricted. But Luz and Ray are not leaving. They…


Book cover of Appleseed

Sandra K. Barnidge Why did I love this book?

This remixing of the American legend of Johnny Appleseed with climate science, ecoterrorism, and elements of Roman mythology results in a very big book — literally. At almost 500 pages, there’s a lot of, well, everything. But at its organic core, this is a story about the preservation of our most basic and necessary elements. As the story moves further into the distant future, the fight to protect the scraps and slivers of non-robotic life becomes more focused as it does urgent. By the end, what emerges is the gnawing sense that perhaps the mythology we’ve constructed around technology as our salvation is inhibiting the mysterious yet ultimately more powerful magic of a natural world quite capable of re-propagating itself if only we humans could bring ourselves to stand aside.

By Matt Bell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Appleseed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK · A PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER BEST OF THE YEAR

“Woven together out of the strands of myth, science fiction, and ecological warning, Matt Bell’s Appleseed is as urgent as it is audacious.” —Kelly Link, Pulitzer Prize finalist and national bestselling author of Get in Trouble

A “breathtaking novel of ideas unlike anything you’ve ever read” (Esquire) from Young Lions Fiction Award–finalist Matt Bell, a breakout book that explores climate change, manifest destiny, humanity’s unchecked exploitation of natural resources, and the small but powerful magic contained within every single apple. 

In eighteenth-century Ohio, two brothers travel…


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Off Season

By Randy Kraft,

Book cover of Off Season

Randy Kraft Author Of Off Season

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Introspective Observant Bookish Friendly

Randy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

When Sharon's ex-husband, Red, invites her to join him for a winter retreat, she agrees. After all, they've moved past what ails them, and they get on well. She will be on sabbatical fine-tuning a PhD dissertation, and he needs a respite from an illness. Why not enjoy the charms of a southern California beach town off-season?

Soothed by sea breezes, they become fascinated with their mysterious landlord and her late artist partner, Red is befriended by a flirty neighbor and her surfer husband, and Sharon shares her literary passions with a sexy retiree. When the winds of the pandemic blow, they have to confront their past within a daunting future.

Is off-season an opportunity for renewal or a glimpse of what might have been?

Off Season

By Randy Kraft,

What is this book about?

When Sharon's ex-husband, Red, invites her to join him for a winter retreat, she agrees. After all, they've moved past what ails them, she will be on sabbatical fine tuning a PhD dissertation, and he needs a respite from an illness. Why not enjoy the charms of a southern California beach town off season? On the other hand, what else might he have in mind and what will she face if she lets her guard down? Soothed by sea breezes and ocean views, they become fascinated with their mysterious landlord and her late partner, a Fauvist painter. Then, Red is…


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