100 books like Active Hope

By Joanna Macy, Chris Johnstone,

Here are 100 books that Active Hope fans have personally recommended if you like Active Hope. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Hugh Warwick Author Of Cull of the Wild: Killing in the Name of Conservation

From my list on animals and nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved animals—my adopted parents were not particularly interested, but when I met my biological mother in my mid-30s, I found out where it came from! That innate passion has driven my life. Writers like Jane Goodall were the gatekeepers—showing me the way forward and giving me permission to study and care. We need to learn more about nonhuman animals and the ecosystems that we share to better understand how to redress the damage we have caused. And while facts are important, stories are even more so. Each of these authors manages to weave both together with such great skill.

Hugh's book list on animals and nature

Hugh Warwick Why did Hugh love this book?

I have guru-phobia, so I had avoided this book because so many people I knew were declaring it one of the best books ever and that Robin Wall Kimmerer was wonderful. Stupid, right?! But then I read it and could understand.

More than reading and listening to it, I met the author at a literary festival and was even more impressed by her gentle wisdom. She writes about the importance of reciprocity—about the rest of life being just as important as we are. Her work merges wonderfully with Jane Goodall’s, and I would recommend reading them in tandem. 

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

48 authors picked Braiding Sweetgrass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take "us on a journey that is…


Book cover of Parable of the Sower

Fiona Tolan Author Of The Fiction of Margaret Atwood

From my list on dark, dystopian futures written by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an academic and a passionate reader of women’s fiction. My job title, Reader in Contemporary Women’s Writing, is also, fortunately, my hobby. I love to think about how women’s writing explores women’s lives today. I chose the theme of dystopian fiction because The Handmaid’s Tale has been so central to my work. Still, other potential topics that came to mind were motherhood, home and domestic labour, reproductive politics, and feminist protest. It strikes me now that each of the books on my list also cover these topics. This is the element of my work I love – drawing out the connections and political convictions that make today’s women’s writing so powerful.

Fiona's book list on dark, dystopian futures written by women

Fiona Tolan Why did Fiona love this book?

This is the first book I ever read by Butler and it remains my favourite. Butler’s vision of near-future America is one of climate crisis, economic collapse, and social anarchy. The scenes of violence and degradation are terrifying.

What I love about this novel is how Butler creates a true hero – visionary, determined, and inspirational – in Lauren, a teenage girl. Written as a journal, the protagonist’s youth can be heard in her language ("I hate being a kid," she complains), but Butler has every faith in her as an extraordinary leader. In many ways, it’s a classic quest novel, as Lauren’s followers head north in search of safety; it’s also an attempt to articulate a new way of thinking about the earth and our relationship to it.

Butler uses elements familiar to dystopian writing, and the novel reminds me of many others, but it somehow manages to be…

By Octavia E. Butler,

Why should I read it?

25 authors picked Parable of the Sower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The extraordinary, prescient NEW YORK TIMES-bestselling novel.

'If there is one thing scarier than a dystopian novel about the future, it's one written in the past that has already begun to come true. This is what makes Parable of the Sower even more impressive than it was when first published' GLORIA STEINEM

'Unnervingly prescient and wise' YAA GYASI

--

We are coming apart. We're a rope, breaking, a single strand at a time.

America is a place of chaos, where violence rules and only the rich and powerful are safe. Lauren Olamina, a young woman with the extraordinary power to…


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

Anne Louise Burdett Author Of Dirt Gems: Plant Oracle Deck and Guidebook

From my list on nerdy science books that break your heart and put it back together again.

Why am I passionate about this?

Working with the natural world has long been my life’s compass. I have been dedicated to conservation, education, and management of terrestrial and marine ecosystems for my entire career. I strongly believe we must approach the crisis that we now live in with humor, joy, and devotion, and we must be able to fall in love with this world over and over again, even if it breaks our hearts. This is why I write, and this is how I live. I love reading science books that allow this connection, that lead me into the complexities of why we must never stop feeling wonder at this magnificent world.

Anne's book list on nerdy science books that break your heart and put it back together again

Anne Louise Burdett Why did Anne love this book?

If I’m being completely honest, I bought this book because of my very large professional crush on both of the editors. I work in climate science, so I have signed up to have my heart destroyed over and over again. I read about all the species that are dying and threatened, the ecosystems collapsing, the fishermen fighting for their livelihoods, and the coastal communities slammed by storms.

This book covered all these topics, but if you’re going to learn about this, (as we all should), we also have to be given the reasons to keep at it. We have to not lose the will to fight or the ability to see beautiful, generative, and imaginative solutions and outcomes. This book helps with that, too. 

By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson (editor), Katharine K. Wilkinson (editor),

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked All We Can Save as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Provocative and illuminating essays from women at the forefront of the climate movement who are harnessing truth, courage, and solutions to lead humanity forward.

“A powerful read that fills one with, dare I say . . . hope?”—The New York Times
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE

There is a renaissance blooming in the climate movement: leadership that is more characteristically feminine and more faithfully feminist, rooted in compassion, connection, creativity, and collaboration. While it’s clear that women and girls are vital voices and agents of change for this planet, they…


Book cover of Emotional Resiliency in the Era of Climate Change: A Clinician's Guide

Molly Young Brown Author Of Growing Whole: Self-Realization for the Great Turning

From my list on building resilience in hard times.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teacher, counselor, and author, I aspire to support people’s personal and spiritual unfolding for the benefit of all life. I studied psychosynthesis with its founder, Roberto Assagioli, and explored peace psychology and eco-psychology. During my Masters of Divinity studies in the 1990’s, I began working with Joanna Macy, which led to our co-authoring Coming Back to Life and focused my professional life on the Work That Reconnects. The challenges of climate disruption, systemic racism, and economic inequity and instability require us all to act from our most mature, creative, and loving dimensions, which I believe these books can help engender.

Molly's book list on building resilience in hard times

Molly Young Brown Why did Molly love this book?

This very readable book gave me insights into the psychological causes of climate denial (which we all suffer from to some extent) and helpful suggestions and practices for breaking through denial with courage, integrity, and resiliency. Although the book is written especially for therapists and counselors, I believe everyone will find it enlightening because we all face the catastrophic effects of climate collapse together.

By Leslie Davenport,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Emotional Resiliency in the Era of Climate Change as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although the environmental and physical effects of climate change have long been recognised, little attention has been given to the profound negative impact on mental health. Leslie Davenport presents comprehensive theory, strategies and resources for addressing key clinical themes specific to the psychological impact of climate change.

She explores the psychological underpinnings that have contributed to the current global crisis, and offers robust therapeutic interventions for dealing with anxiety, stress, depression, trauma and other clinical mental health conditions resulting from environmental damage and disaster. She emphasizes the importance of developing resilience and shows how to utilise the many benefits of…


Book cover of Savage Grace: Living Resiliently in the Dark Night of the Globe

Molly Young Brown Author Of Growing Whole: Self-Realization for the Great Turning

From my list on building resilience in hard times.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teacher, counselor, and author, I aspire to support people’s personal and spiritual unfolding for the benefit of all life. I studied psychosynthesis with its founder, Roberto Assagioli, and explored peace psychology and eco-psychology. During my Masters of Divinity studies in the 1990’s, I began working with Joanna Macy, which led to our co-authoring Coming Back to Life and focused my professional life on the Work That Reconnects. The challenges of climate disruption, systemic racism, and economic inequity and instability require us all to act from our most mature, creative, and loving dimensions, which I believe these books can help engender.

Molly's book list on building resilience in hard times

Molly Young Brown Why did Molly love this book?

These two well-known and courageous authors confront us with the stark realities of the global predicament and our desperate need to develop “Reconnection, Resistance, Resilience, and Regeneration” in response. I especially appreciated their “no holds barred” approach to truth-telling and their call to act from our deepest most sacred Self.

By Carolyn Baker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the boldest and most daring book either author has ever written, Andrew Harvey and Carolyn Baker confront us with the life and death reality of the global crisis and the fact that four crucial strategies must be employed not only to survive the dark night, but to inhabit our bodies and our lives with passionate authenticity, honesty, vigilance, community, compassion, and service. These strategies are Reconnection, Resistance, Resilience, and Regeneration. Deep and unprecedented reconnection with self, others, and Earth must be our mission, regardless of the outcome. Distinguishing between “problems” which have solutions and “predicaments” which can only be…


Book cover of Facing the Climate Emergency: How to Transform Yourself with Climate Truth

Tina Muir Author Of Becoming a Sustainable Runner: A Guide to Running for Life, Community, and Planet

From my list on helping you process emotions around climate.

Why am I passionate about this?

FernGully was one of my favorite movies as a kid, and it made me really think about the natural world and how humans interact with it. Now, aged 35 with kids of my own (who also love FernGully), I consider myself a climate activist for the work I do in helping everyday people to believe they can be a part of the solution to climate change. As an author, podcast host, and community builder, I've connected with other humans with fascinating passions, perspectives, and values. I want to show my audience that we can all view the world differently, but there is one important thing we need to all believe, that we matter.

Tina's book list on helping you process emotions around climate

Tina Muir Why did Tina love this book?

When I first began to really notice climate change and the effects that were already happening, I felt like I was working through stages of grief.

Dr. Klein Salamon, a climate psychologist, explained why this was happening. Reading this book brought tears to my eyes as she described all the stages of grief in a way that made me feel seen, heard. I was not being irrational and hysterical, I was reacting in the way human beings are meant to (and do).

This book helped me process and move into action, rather than being paralyzed in fear.

By Margaret Klein Salamon, Molly Gage,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Facing the Climate Emergency as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Face the truth of climate change, accept your fears, and become the hero that humanity needs.

Facing the Climate Emergency gives people the tools to confront the climate emergency, face their negative emotions, and channel them into protecting humanity and the natural world.

As the climate crisis accelerates toward the collapse of civilization and the natural world, people everywhere are feeling deep pain about ecological destruction and their role in it. Yet we are often paralyzed by fear. Help is at hand.

Drawing on facts about the climate, tenets of psychological theory, information about the climate emergency movement and elements…


Book cover of Blessed Disillusionment: Letting Go of What Cannot Save Us, Turning to What Can

Molly Young Brown Author Of Growing Whole: Self-Realization for the Great Turning

From my list on building resilience in hard times.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teacher, counselor, and author, I aspire to support people’s personal and spiritual unfolding for the benefit of all life. I studied psychosynthesis with its founder, Roberto Assagioli, and explored peace psychology and eco-psychology. During my Masters of Divinity studies in the 1990’s, I began working with Joanna Macy, which led to our co-authoring Coming Back to Life and focused my professional life on the Work That Reconnects. The challenges of climate disruption, systemic racism, and economic inequity and instability require us all to act from our most mature, creative, and loving dimensions, which I believe these books can help engender.

Molly's book list on building resilience in hard times

Molly Young Brown Why did Molly love this book?

This highly readable exploration of our global predicament and its underlying causes and dynamics is at once alarming and enlightening. Goldstein offers a way to radically change our economic and political systems for the benefit of everyone—including the ecosystems that support life. Local groups could use the book as a manual to study what needs to change and how to take effective and loving action in their communities as part of a larger movement of radical transformation.

By Michael Goldstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Are you tired of hoping that those beholden to the wrong people will do the right thing?

Decades of electoral work and activism have failed to bring us sustainability, peace, or a just society. Blessed Disillusionmentshows that there is a reason: the political system operates to absorb discontent while averting the fundamental change we urgently need.

This short book (140 pages before appendices) explains why the crises and upheaval we see in the U.S. will inevitably increase. The question is whether our country will fall to neofascism or ascend to true democracy and, in time, the beloved community.

Finally, the…


Book cover of The Planet You Inherit: Letters to My Grandchildren When Uncertainty's a Sure Thing

Timothy Beal Author Of When Time Is Short: Finding Our Way in the Anthropocene

From my list on facing the climate crisis without losing your shit.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love being a college professor, teaching and learning from young adults. In fact, I wrote When Time Is Short in close conversation with my students. As climate crisis and collapse loom ever larger on the horizon, more and more of them are sharing experiences of climate anxiety and even climate trauma. They are not alone. Many of us are almost paralyzed by such feelings. We need help processing and moving through them in order to find hope—deep hope, as opposed to shallow optimism, which easily slides into despair. These books, most of which I've used in my "Religion and Ecology" class, can help show us the way.

Timothy's book list on facing the climate crisis without losing your shit

Timothy Beal Why did Timothy love this book?

Larry L. Rasmussen is a scholar of environmental and religious ethics and professor emeritus of Union Theological Seminary in New York. He wrote this book about climate crisis as a series of letters to his two young grandchildren. Infused with love and concern, he anticipates the uncertainties and hardships, known and yet unknown, that they will undoubtedly face in the decades to come. At the same time, and as importantly, he asks that they never lose sight of the astonishing grandeur of the world around us. "What I most want for you and your baby brother is that you let yourselves be overwhelmed by wonder and lose yourselves in the 'kaleidoscope of creation'—not to escape this harsh world but to better inhabit it." He reminds us that "wondering is a way of experiencing truth."

By Larry L. Rasmussen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Planet You Inherit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the first time ever, love letters consciously written by elders of one geologic epoch to the young of another.

Our children's and grandchildren's generation will face a different world, one affected by climate instability, mass uncertainty, and breathtaking extinction. In fact, the next generation will face the reality that human activity is changing the planet from one geological epoch to another.

From this vantage point--two generations across two geological epochs facing a fundamentally changing planet--Larry Rasmussen writes to his grandchildren. As a grandfather invested in a green earth and climate justice as well as a scholar of faith-based earth…


Book cover of Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next)

Jordan Flaherty Author Of No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality

From my list on challenging capitalism, racism, and patriarchy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I produced dozens of hours of film and television, including for Al Jazeera’s Emmy, Peabody, and DuPont-award-winning program Faultlines; as well as short and long-form documentaries for Democracy Now and teleSUR, and reporting in The New York Times and Washington Post. I’ve written two books based on my journalism, No More Heroes: Grassroots Responses to the Savior Mentality and Floodlines: Community and Resistance From Katrina to the Jena Six. I produced the independent feature film Chocolate Babies, which was recently added to the Criterion Collection. My latest film is Powerlands.

Jordan's book list on challenging capitalism, racism, and patriarchy

Jordan Flaherty Why did Jordan love this book?

During this moment of pandemic and other crises caused by capitalism, many people have turned to mutual aid as an attempt to help their neighbors and communities. As Spade writes, “Left social movements have two big jobs right now. First, we need to organize to help people survive the devastating conditions unfolding every day. Second, we need to mobilize hundreds of millions of people for resistance so we can tackle the underlying causes of these crises.” This book explains both why and how we can create structures that will change the world. 

By Dean Spade,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Around the world, people are faced with crisis after crisis, from the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change-induced fires, floods, and storms to the ongoing horrors of mass incarceration, brutal immigration enforcement, endemic gender violence, and severe wealth inequality. As governments fail to respond to-or actively engineer-each crisis, ordinary people are finding bold and innovative ways to share resources and support vulnerable members of their communities. This survival work, when done alongside social movement demands for transformative change, is called mutual aid.

This book is about mutual aid: why it is so important, what it looks like, and how to do…


Book cover of Climate Optimism: Celebrating Systemic Change Around the World

Carrie Firestone Author Of The First Rule of Climate Club

From my list on non-fiction to inspire community conversations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm co-founder of a grassroots social justice, civic engagement, and service organization called ForwardCT, which I started with my friend and current state representative Eleni Kavros DeGraw with the intention of mobilizing community-centered action. Our work centers on these four pillars: Connect, Inform, Serve, and Lead. Those pillars guide my work as chair of my town’s Clean Energy Commission, as teacher and facilitator of workshops and events, and as an author of books for young people. I'm drawn to the powerful use of storytelling as a tool for starting conversations, stirring up “good trouble,” and inspiring activism. Read a book, approach your library or town to host a community conversation, leave with actionable takeaways, repeat!

Carrie's book list on non-fiction to inspire community conversations

Carrie Firestone Why did Carrie love this book?

Youth climate activist Zahra Biabani has tapped into something many climate activists have yet to learn. Doom doesn’t work. It causes people to retreat into their vices (or under their covers) and, in many cases, it paralyzes entire fledgling movements.

My own work at the community level reflects what Biabani has shared in her well-organized book of carefully-curated hope bombs – hopeful stories inspire positive bursts of brain chemicals, which motivate action. She provides clear examples of climate-centered successes from around the world, and ends with “what you can do.”

This would be a fantastic discussion book for climate clubs of all ages, municipal or non-profit environmental groups, and larger climate-centered conferences.

By Zahra Biabani,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Guide on Climate Optimism and Environmental Sustainability

Zahra Biabani, a climate activist focused on hope and action, wrote this book to help readers learn why we need to and how we can stay optimistic in the face of the climate crisis. People are doing good things for our planet all over the world.... it's time we highlight it!

Change the way you think about the future. The fate of humanity can be daunting, but we don't need to live in that space. First, we need to change our attitude in order to implement nature based solutions that help mitigate…


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