The best books for getting deep into the climate crisis feels

Devin Grayson Author Of Rewild
By Devin Grayson

The Books I Picked & Why

The Overstory

By Richard Powers

Book cover of The Overstory

Why this book?

This Pulitzer Prize winner was one of the principal inspirations behind my own book. The story’s magic stems from decentering its human protagonists; though the book follows its characters through several decades, the heart of the story’s world—and theirs—is arboreal. The biology, language, and necessity of trees expand through the center of this novel like the rings of a redwood, changing the way we see. After finishing it, I took my dog for a walk and was stopped in my tracks by the beautiful Heritage River Birch trees lining the street near my home. They’d been there all along, but this book taught me how to see them and reminded me to look. From the origin of life to contemporary biodiversity collapse, Powers reintroduced me to the awe-inspiring world of trees.


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The Ministry for the Future

By Kim Stanley Robinson

Book cover of The Ministry for the Future

Why this book?

I was ready to hate this book. It was recommended to me by a doctor who thought I was being too pessimistic about the dismaying research I’d consumed while writing my book, and I was hugely annoyed that he was holding up a book of fiction as a potential antidote to that. But Ministry earns its hope. An intoxicating mix of scientific treatise and imaginative fiction, the story illuminates a potential near future to masterfully illustrate the problems we’re facing and the ways we might fix them. Robinson’s book speaks through the voices of various human characters as well as elements from the natural world, ranging from a carbon atom to the sun itself. It’s authoritative and clear and made me want to force random strangers to read it. So read it. 


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All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis

By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Katharine K. Wilkinson

Book cover of All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis

Why this book?

All We Can Save is a collection of nonfiction essays, art, and poems, by an inspiring group of women at the forefront of the climate movement. While studying global warming, I frequently found myself overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenges we collectively face. The best antidote was access to unique and diverse voices that reminded me I wasn’t facing the crisis alone. This anthology is bursting with them. From the life-affirming commitment of an indigenous leader protesting pipelines in Minnesota to the gallows humor of an undercover writer entertaining deliriously optimistic pitches from oceanfront property real estate agents in Miami, All We Can Save tells the stories of the climate crisis—our challenges, failures, and best hopes—through a chorus of determined and welcoming voices. 


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The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

By Elizabeth Kolbert

Book cover of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

Why this book?

Humanity is arguably the antagonist in this lucid, brilliantly researched history of our evolution on Planet Earth, from roughly three hundred thousand years ago to the present moment. Kolbert’s characters include the Panamanian Golden Frog, the great auk, the Sumatran rhino, and the humble brown bat, all of which are former or soon-to-be-former inhabitants of a world disappearing beneath our bipedal feet. By combining journalism, field research, science reporting, and personal accounts, Kolbert traces our evolutionary history and lays bare not just our likely future but also the lack of future we portend for all the biodiversity lost in this unprecedented age of the Anthropocene.


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A Wild Love for the World: Joanna Macy and the Work of Our Time

By Joanna Macy

Book cover of A Wild Love for the World: Joanna Macy and the Work of Our Time

Why this book?

I was fortunate enough to see Joanna Macy speak at Spirit Rock with my mom back in 2015. She warned us away from the “ditches of paralysis and panic,” which were the exact things I found myself stuck in after completing my book in 2021. Macy is so many things—an activist, a translator of Rilke, a Buddhist scholar, a moving speaker, a mother, a teacher—and this book, created in celebration of her ninetieth birthday, is a lovely introduction to her writing and that of those she’s inspired. I felt so grateful to discover it and be reminded of something else Macy told us that day: that by tapping into our deeper “ecological selves” we can feel supported by this planet we belong to even as we work to save it.


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