10 books like Undrowned

By Alexis Pauline Gumbs,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Undrowned. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Braiding Sweetgrass

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

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

When I began to research why we hate so many animals in our lives, I quickly came to realize that a lot of the scientific and common thinking about animals and their place in our world is based on some very Western, white worldviews. Braiding Sweetgrass is a great introduction to traditional ecological knowledge, showing that there’s more than one way to see our relationships with our environments, and how a different perspective leads to radically different actions. It is also just beautiful to read. Reading this book is like reading a meadow in summer, a sensual experience as much as it is educational. 

Braiding Sweetgrass

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

23 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…


Arctic Dreams

By Barry Lopez,

Book cover of Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape

After I graduated from college, I moved to Alaska as an AmeriCorps volunteer teaching adult education classes. Of course, I read every book I could find about Alaska and the arctic, and to this day, Barry Lopez’s classic Arctic Dreams remains one of the best books I’ve ever read. Lopez’s lyrical prose, immersive story-telling, and impeccable research helped me learn as much about the Arctic as I did about the writing craft. Even if you’ll never travel north, this book is simply fantastic. 

Arctic Dreams

By Barry Lopez,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Arctic Dreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**AS HEARD ON BBC RADIO 4**

'A master nature writer' (New York Times) provides the ultimate natural, social and cultural history of the Arctic landscape.

The author of Horizon's classic work explores the Arctic landscape and the hold it continues to exert on our imagination.

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ROBERT MACFARLANE

Lopez's journey across our frozen planet is a celebration of the Arctic in all its guises. A hostile landscape of ice, freezing oceans and dazzling skyscapes. Home to millions of diverse animals and people. The stage to massive migrations by land, sea and air. The setting of epic exploratory…


Trace

By Lauret Savoy,

Book cover of Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape

To read Trace is to go on a mesmerizing journey with the wisest of guides. Savoy searches for American identities, and her own multifaceted ones, in the history and memory of landscapes across the continent. Every turn reveals tragic histories and surprising connections and omissions with the most beautiful language. Savoy excavates the palimpsest of stories embedded in landscapes’ histories in a helpful reminder that “nature” is always entangled with the richness and complexity of human life. With each careful word, Savoy deepened my appreciation for how landscape absorbs and reflects its history—and my admiration for her unbelievable gifts as a writer. Trace is one of those books you can read each year and your respect for it grows and the insights from it enlarge your life every time.

Trace

By Lauret Savoy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Through personal journeys and historical inquiry, this PEN Literary Award finalist explores how America’s still unfolding history and ideas of “race” have marked its people and the land.

Sand and stone are Earth’s fragmented memory. Each of us, too, is a landscape inscribed by memory and loss. One life-defining lesson Lauret Savoy learned as a young girl was this: the American land did not hate. As an educator and Earth historian, she has tracked the continent’s past from the relics of deep time; but the paths of ancestors toward her―paths of free and enslaved Africans, colonists from Europe, and peoples…


Tales of Two Planets

By John Freeman,

Book cover of Tales of Two Planets: Stories of Climate Change and Inequality in a Divided World

Any discussion of how people and nature relate to each other in the twenty-first century will come up against the issue of climate change. And there are so many good books to read on the topic – Elizabeth Rush’s Rising comes right to mind, or the collection All We Can Save, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Wilkinson. What Tale of Two Planets offers is a global perspective on rising seas, changing seasons, and damaging weather through genres from poetry to prose to fiction. Each author brings clarity to the science and politics of climate change, but the sections here are also portraits of love for place and community. If you’ve never read a book on climate change before, it’s a great start; if you’ve read them all, there’s something new and beautiful here.

Tales of Two Planets

By John Freeman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Building from his acclaimed anthology Tales of Two Americas, beloved writer and editor John Freeman draws together a group of our greatest writers from around the world to help us see how the environmental crisis is hitting some of the most vulnerable communities where they live.

In the past five years, John Freeman, previously editor of Granta, has launched a celebrated international literary magazine, Freeman's, and compiled two acclaimed anthologies that deal with income inequality as it is experienced. In the course of this work, one major theme came up repeatedly: Climate change is making already dire inequalities much worse,…


The Cancer Journals

By Audre Lorde,

Book cover of The Cancer Journals

Like everything Audre Lorde wrote, this slim book is powerful and revolutionary. Lorde refuses to see her breast cancer as just a personal problem, and instead, as a Black lesbian feminist, traces its origins to larger economic, industrial, and political forces, including food additives and air pollution. Her activist research is impressive, but it is her fierce, bold critiques that I find most inspiring. She calls out the medical establishment, “We live in a profit economy and there is no profit in the prevention of cancer; there is only profit in the treatment of cancer.” She condemns psychological “causes” of cancer, “It is easier to demand happiness than clean up the environment.” Lorde calls us to understand ourselves within a matrix of social and environmental forces and to make change.

The Cancer Journals

By Audre Lorde,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Moving between journal entry, memoir, and exposition, Audre Lorde fuses the personal and political as she reflects on her experience coping with breast cancer and a radical mastectomy.

A Penguin Classic

First published over forty years ago, The Cancer Journals is a startling, powerful account of Audre Lorde's experience with breast cancer and mastectomy. Long before narratives explored the silences around illness and women's pain, Lorde questioned the rules of conformity for women's body images and supported the need to confront physical loss not hidden by prosthesis. Living as a "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," Lorde heals and re-envisions herself…


Body Toxic

By Susanne Antonetta,

Book cover of Body Toxic

Suzanne Antonetta’s Body Toxic epitomizes what I call the “material memoir,” a mode of writing autobiography that seeks to understand the self through connections to places and substances. Antonetta bravely examines her own physical and mental health, grappling with scientific data: “I choked facts and they choked me back, they stuck like Legos—clingy but hard to build into anything real.” Recalling the nuclear warhead that caught fire nearby her childhood home, spraying radioactive particles, she notes that her entire family, bizarrely, has somehow forgotten this incident. Body Toxic is fascinating, chilling, and unnerving, but also beautifully written in unflinching yet poetic prose. Body Toxic convinced me that our life stories are incomplete if they ignore how places and substances have affected us.

Body Toxic

By Susanne Antonetta,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A thought-provoking and dramatic account two families who hope to start a new life in the boglands of New Jersey only to discover, much too late, that their new living environment was riddled with radiation and toxic waste.

Two immigrant families drawn together from wildly different parts of the world, Italy on one side and Barbados on the other, pursued their vision of the American dream by building a summer escape in the boglands of New Jersey, where the rural and industrial collide. They picked gooseberries on hot afternoons and spent lazy days rowing dinghies down creeks. But the gooseberry…


Cancer Wars

By Robert N. Proctor,

Book cover of Cancer Wars: How Politics Shapes What We Know And Don't Know About Cancer

The title says it all: How Politics Shapes What We Know and Don’t Know About Cancer! This massive study demonstrates how political and economic forces have restricted, diminished, and warped our understanding of the causes of cancer. Not a conspiracy theory, this meticulously researched study carefully demonstrates how science is shaped by economic forces in ways that leave us without the information we need to lead healthier lives. This is no accident, since, as Proctor explains, ignorance doesn’t just happen, it is constructed: “Controversy can be engineered, ignorance and uncertainty can be manufactured, maintained, and disseminated.” In our rapidly transforming world, we need approaches to science that neither dismiss it nor assume that it is capturing everything it should, since it is shaped by politics and economics.

Cancer Wars

By Robert N. Proctor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This brilliantly argued and researched book tells the story of how government regulatory agencies, scientists, trade associations, and environmentalists, have managed to obscure the issues and prevent concerted action. Explains why we still dont have straight answers to questions such as: Why do rates from some cancers appear to have risen and others fallen? and suggests how we might actually win the war on cancer.


Octavia's Brood

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

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

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.  

Octavia's Brood

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

Why should I read it?

2 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…


The Revolution Will Not Be Funded

By INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence,

Book cover of The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

The definitive book for understanding today’s social justice movements, and what needs to change for them to be successful. The brilliant women of color of INCITE come from a background of organizing and scholarship, and together they show the systemic flaw in left movements today, showing the ways that organizations become accountable to wealthy funders rather than the people they say they wish to serve. Read this book to learn what can be done to challenge this dynamic and build a better world.

The Revolution Will Not Be Funded

By INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Revolution Will Not Be Funded as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A trillion-dollar industry, the US non-profit sector is one of the world's largest economies. From art museums and university hospitals to think tanks and church charities, over 1.5 million organizations of staggering diversity share the tax-exempt 501(c)(3) designation, if little else. Many social justice organizations have joined this world, often blunting political goals to satisfy government and foundation mandates. But even as funding shrinks, many activists often find it difficult to imagine movement-building outside the non-profit model. The Revolution Will Not Be Funded gathers essays by radical activists, educators, and non-profit staff from around the globe who critically rethink the…


The Wake Up

By Michelle MiJung Kim,

Book cover of The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change

I can’t stop recommending The Wake Up, because it so perfectly articulates the importance of examining our own intentions and goals when embarking on work aimed at changing the status quo, especially work focused on racial and gender inequality and other social justice issues. It’s easy to have good intentions but still do harm, and Michelle’s wonderful book guides you step by step through that much-needed process of examination with an abundance of love and generosity.

The Wake Up

By Michelle MiJung Kim,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As we become more aware of various social injustices in the world, many of us want to be part of the movement toward positive change. But sometimes our best intentions cause unintended harm, and we fumble. We might feel afraid to say the wrong thing and feel guilt for not doing or knowing enough. Sometimes we might engage in performative allyship rather than thoughtful solidarity, leaving those already marginalized further burdened and exhausted. The feelings of fear, insecurity, inadequacy are all too common among a wide spectrum of changemakers, and they put many at a crossroads between feeling stuck and…


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