The best books for making it through climate breakdown

Why am I passionate about this?

I consider myself a topologist of story, ever fascinated by the shapes stories take, and how those underlying forms—as much as their specific content—guide our reactions and our emotions. In a social-media-saturated age, it’s more important than ever that we practice the skills of comprehending story landscapes so that we can understand who benefits from them—and who doesn’t. Ditch the GPS: whether memoir, reportage, or fiction, these books showcase some of the map-and-compass skills we all need to navigate a complicated new era.


I wrote...

Beyond Climate Breakdown: Envisioning New Stories of Radical Hope

By Peter Friederici,

Book cover of Beyond Climate Breakdown: Envisioning New Stories of Radical Hope

What is my book about?

Humans are storytelling animals—we not only share, but even understand our perceptions of the world largely through the practice of story. We readily recognize the shapes of stories we encounter in everyday life—jokes, confessions, arguments, heart-to-heart conversations—but can easily forget that large-scale societal narratives have shapes too. In the case of climate breakdown, most stories shared in the media are tragic narratives that don’t allow space for adaptation and change. They rob audiences of hope and creative adaptation. It’s time to radically rethink stories of climate so that people everywhere, not just powerful monied interests, can reshape the future; it’s time for reimagination, at scales from the personal to the planetary.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis

Peter Friederici Why did I love this book?

A book for those whom the psychologist Robert Jay Lifton termed “prospective survivors,” this book is unsparingly honest in taking a hard look at our likely climate future—and moving from close examination to action rather than despair. By combining deeply personal reflections with broad-based scholarship, millennial Wray establishes a broad foundation for how to psychologically approach climate breakdown. Her overall analysis is highly readable, while her lists of action items that close out every chapter comprise a ready how-to guide suitable for taping up on your solar-powered fridge.

By Britt Wray,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

FINALIST FOR THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD

"A vital and deeply compelling read.” —Adam McKay, award-winning writer, director and producer (Don’t Look Up)

“Britt Wray shows that addressing global climate change begins with attending to the climate within.” —Dr. Gabor Maté, author of The Myth of Normal

"Read this courageous book.” —Naomi Klein

An impassioned generational perspective on how to stay sane amid climate disruption.

Climate and environment-related fears and anxieties are on the rise everywhere. As with any type of stress, eco-anxiety can lead to lead to burnout, avoidance, or a disturbance of daily functioning. 

In Generation Dread, Britt…


Book cover of Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World

Peter Friederici Why did I love this book?

Daniel Sherrell doesn’t even mention climate change in this book, choosing instead to refer repeatedly to “the Problem,” a locution that is itself a reminder of how thoroughly climate breakdown infuses the lives of those who have multiple decades of climate-changed life to look forward to. It’s both “a mist and a monolith,” as he writes, simultaneously ubiquitous and unseeable, a companion as unavoidable as his own character. By speaking directly to the future in what amounts to a young person’s memoir, Sherrell manages the neat trick of imagining how we might get there with our wits and hopes intact.  

By Daniel Sherrell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2021 BY THE NEW YORKER AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“[Warmth] is lyrical and erudite, engaging with science, activism, and philosophy . . . [Sherrell] captures the complicated correspondence between hope and doubt, faith and despair—the pendulum of emotional states that defines our attitude toward the future.” —The New Yorker

“Beautifully rendered and bracingly honest.” —Jenny Odell, author of How to Do Nothing

From a millennial climate activist, an exploration of how young people live in the shadow of catastrophe

Warmth is a new kind of book about climate change: not what it is or how we…


Book cover of 1,001 Voices on Climate Change: Everyday Stories of Flood, Fire, Drought, and Displacement from Around the World

Peter Friederici Why did I love this book?

In the ancient Middle East Scheherazade had to begin a compelling story each night to stave off a bloodthirsty king’s tendency to murder his lovers. Journalist Lockwood traveled the world collecting the modern-day equivalent—myriad accounts of how climate change has already affected people living in numerous countries. The stories are simultaneously heartfelt and commonplace, out of this world and very much of it, perfect illustrations of how the global settles on the local like so much radioactive dust. If humanity is to have a vibrant future, the art of telling and listening to such stories will no doubt be as critical a life skill as Scheherazade’s was.

By Devi Lockwood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 1,001 Voices on Climate Change as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Join journalist Devi Lockwood as she bikes around the world collecting personal stories about how flood, fire, drought, and rising seas are changing communities.

It's official: 2020 will be remembered as the year when apocalyptic climate predictions finally came true. Catastrophic wildfires, relentless hurricanes, melting permafrost, and coastal flooding have given us a taste of what some communities have already been living with for far too long. Yet we don't often hear the voices of the people most affected. Journalist Devi Lockwood set out to change that.

In 1,001 Voices on Climate Change, Lockwood travels the world, often by bicycle,…


Book cover of A Children's Bible

Peter Friederici Why did I love this book?

During a group summer vacation on a beachy East Coast hideaway, the age-old dynamics of young vs. old—and the have-a-lots vs. the have-less—are in full play. The result sounds like any number of 20th-century American literary dramas, until it becomes clear that the disasters that loom are far larger than any single-family or community. Millet’s playful, snarky novel is a portrayal of what may come as the young realize how thoroughly older generations have sold out their future. The adults may be lost, but the kids are alright.

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 Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements

Peter Friederici Why did I love this book?

Not a response to climate change per se, but rather to the whole raft of inequities that underprivileged peoples have been through, this collection of fictional imaginaries speculates on what future worlds might look like—good, bad, or ugly. But it couldn’t be more relevant to our climate breakdown future, as it shows how diverse practices of imagination can be harnessed in ways that range from the terrifying to the uplifting.  

By Adrienne Maree Brown (editor), Walidah Imarisha (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Whenever we envision a world without war, prisons, or capitalism, we are producing speculative fiction. Organizers and activists envision, and try to create, such worlds all the time. Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown have brought 20 of them together in the first anthology of short stories to explore the connections between radical speculative fiction and movements for social change. These visionary tales span genres—sci-fi, fantasy, horror, magical realism—but all are united by an attempt to inject a healthy dose of imagination and innovation into our political practice and to try on new ways of understanding ourselves, the world around…


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The Truth About Unringing Phones

By Lara Lillibridge,

Book cover of The Truth About Unringing Phones

Lara Lillibridge

New book alert!

What is my book about?

When Lara was four years old, her father moved from Rochester, New York, to Anchorage, Alaska, a distance of over 4,000 miles. She spent her childhood chasing after him, flying a quarter of the way around the world to tug at the hem of his jacket.

Now that he is in his eighties, she contemplates her obligation to an absentee father. The Truth About Unringing Phones is an exploration of responsibility and culpability told in experimental and fragmented essays.

The Truth About Unringing Phones

By Lara Lillibridge,

What is this book about?

When Lara was four years old, her father moved from Rochester, New York, to Anchorage, Alaska, a distance of over 4,000 miles. She spent her childhood chasing after him, flying a quarter of the way around the world to tug at the hem of his jacket. Now that he is in his eighties, she contemplates her obligation to an absentee father.




The Truth About Unringing Phones: Essays on Yearning is an exploration of responsibility and culpability told in experimental and fragmented essays.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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