The best environmental justice books

Who picked these books? Meet our 30 experts.

30 authors created a book list connected to environmental justice, and here are their favorite environmental justice books.
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What type of environmental justice book?


On Fire

By Naomi Klein,

Book cover of On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal

Emily Andrews Author Of Climate Adaptation: Accounts of Resilience, Self-Sufficiency and Systems Change

From the list on adaptation to climate change.

Who am I?

For the publication of our book, Climate Adaptation: Accounts of Resilience, Self-Sufficiency and Systems Change, I have worked closely with activists and academics from around the world, hearing more about the work they do and the unique and individual ways they have made adaptations within their communities. This experience has allowed me to have a deeper understanding of climate adaptation as a topic, both in a scientific and a cultural sense, thus meaning I have been more readily able to recognise the qualities of a great adaptation book!

Emily's book list on adaptation to climate change

Discover why each book is one of Emily's favorite books.

Why did Emily love this book?

Naomi Klein highlights the role of our economy in determining how we adapt to climate change, exploring some of the deep-rooted problems that we face. Again, this book values the importance of grassroots action when it comes to changing our society, despite governments and large corporations being the cause of the problem.

By Naomi Klein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Naomi Klein's work has always moved and guided me. She is the great chronicler of our age of climate emergency, an inspirer of generations' - Greta Thunberg

For more than twenty years Naomi Klein's books have defined our era, chronicling the exploitation of people and the planet and demanding justice. On Fire gathers for the first time more than a decade of her impassioned writing from the frontline of climate breakdown, and pairs it with new material on the staggeringly high stakes of what we choose to do next.

Here is Klein at her most prophetic and philosophical, investigating the…

Climate Justice

By Mary Robinson,

Book cover of Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future

Tara Shine Author Of How to Save Your Planet One Object at a Time

From the list on climate change and sustainability.

Who am I?

I am an environmental scientist with over 25 years experience working on climate change and sustainability. 20 of those years were spent working internationally on environmental policy in developing countries, advising the World Bank and the OECD, and being a climate change negotiator in the UN. I am a thought leader who advised the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice and The Elders Foundation. In 2018 I co-founded my business, Change by Degrees, which works with people and organisations to transform business for good. I am passionate about fairness between people and between people and the planet and enjoy communicating in a hopeful and positive way about the future we can choose.

Tara's book list on climate change and sustainability

Discover why each book is one of Tara's favorite books.

Why did Tara love this book?

Mary Robinson is the former President of Ireland, an advocate for a people-centred and rights-based approach to climate action and my former boss.

In her book she tells the story of her own journey to climate justice and allows many of the people who influenced and informed her to tell their own stories.

Their experiences of the injustice of climate impacts on small islands, farmers, women, and workers make a compelling case for urgent, rights-based climate action.

By Mary Robinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'As an advocate for the hungry and the hunted, the forgotten and the ignored, Mary Robinson has not only shone a light on human suffering, but illuminated a better future for our world' BARACK OBAMA


Holding her first grandchild in her arms in 2003, Mary Robinson was struck by the uncertainty of the world he had been born into. Before his fiftieth birthday, he would share the planet with more than nine billion people - people battling for food, water, and shelter in an increasingly volatile climate. The faceless, shadowy menace of…

As Long as Grass Grows

By Dina Gilio-Whitaker,

Book cover of As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock

Tanja Hester Author Of Wallet Activism: How to Use Every Dollar You Spend, Earn, and Save as a Force for Change

From the list on to equip you to fight for change.

Who am I?

I have spent 20+ years working on the question of how social and environmental change happens, from my long-time career in progressive politics to my current work writing about the most pressing issues of our time through an economic lens, and occasionally talking about them on my podcast, also called Wallet Activism. So I know well how intimidating it can feel to get involved, whether it’s worrying your voice isn’t needed (trust me, it is!) or not knowing the nuts and bolts of where to start. But we have so much power when we act collectively, and I want you to feel personally invited to take action.

Tanja's book list on to equip you to fight for change

Discover why each book is one of Tanja's favorite books.

Why did Tanja love this book?

Sure, you can read lots of environmental books by non-Indigenous writers about the climate crisis, and some of them even offer a solution or two! But Dina’s book, which chronicles the intertwined histories of colonization against Indigenous peoples in the Americas and widespread environmental injustice, paints a much fuller picture of the problems we’re facing and their origins and offers a range of helpful models for fighting back against the entities who’ve created the climate crisis and now refuse to act to address it.

By Dina Gilio-Whitaker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked As Long as Grass Grows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of Native peoples’ resistance to environmental injustice and land incursions, and a call for environmentalists to learn from the Indigenous community’s rich history of activism

Through the unique lens of “Indigenized environmental justice,” Indigenous researcher and activist Dina Gilio-Whitaker explores the fraught history of treaty violations, struggles for food and water security, and protection of sacred sites, while highlighting the important leadership of Indigenous women in this centuries-long struggle. As Long As Grass Grows gives readers an accessible history of Indigenous resistance to government and corporate incursions on their lands and offers new approaches to environmental justice activism…

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

Devin Grayson Author Of Rewild

From the list on getting deep into the climate crisis feels.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing comics and graphic novels for over twenty years. Many of my stories feature superheroes you probably know: in 2000, for example, I became the first woman to launch and write a Batman comic series. Lately, though, I’ve been worrying that the framework of superhero stories—the idea that someone with uncommon power or skills will come to save us from a threat not of our own making—is inadequate in the face of global warming. The climate crisis is a problem we created, and can only address, together. I wrote Rewild to explore those concerns, and to call forth a new kind of hero: you. 

Devin's book list on getting deep into the climate crisis feels

Discover why each book is one of Devin's favorite books.

Why did Devin love 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.

By Joanna Macy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Wild Love for the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joanna Macy is a scholar of Buddhism, systems thinking, and deep ecology whose decades of writing, teaching, and activism have inspired people around the world. In this collection of writings, leading spiritual teachers, deep ecologists, and diverse writers and activists explore the major facets of Macy’s lifework. Combined with eleven pieces from Macy herself, the result is a rich chorus of wisdom and compassion to support the work of our time.

“Being fully present to fear, to gratitude, to all that is—this is the practice of mutual belonging. As living members of the living body of Earth, we are grounded…

Unsustainable Inequalities

By Lucas Chancel, Malcolm DeBevoise (translator),

Book cover of Unsustainable Inequalities: Social Justice and the Environment

Alessio Terzi Author Of Growth for Good: Reshaping Capitalism to Save Humanity from Climate Catastrophe

From the list on the relationship between the economy and nature.

Who am I?

As an economist at the European Commission, Adjunct Professor in Paris, former fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and now a first-time author, I thrive at the intersection of academia, think-tanks, and policy-making. My academic soul leads me to seek answers to the big questions: what is economic growth and how does it relate to the success of civilization, to science and technology, to people’s wellbeing, and to nature. My practical focus leads me to draw the policy implications of all this for how we ought to fight climate change. My critics accuse me of being an optimist. I take it as a compliment: the future of humanity is in our hands.

Alessio's book list on the relationship between the economy and nature

Discover why each book is one of Alessio's favorite books.

Why did Alessio love this book?

We intuitively understand that decarbonization and social justice are deeply interwoven as 21st-century challenges.

Dr. Chancel’s book shows us in great detail how this is the case, and therefore why it is important to keep inequalities in mind when designing policies to accelerate the decarbonization of the economy. After all, the poor are also more exposed to the catastrophic events associated with climate change.

But perhaps my greatest takeaway was looking at the problem the other way around, meaning that Chancel also shows us how tackling social inequalities can actually help us address some environmental challenges. 

By Lucas Chancel, Malcolm DeBevoise (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Financial Times Best Book of the Year

A hardheaded book that confronts and outlines possible solutions to a seemingly intractable problem: that helping the poor often hurts the environment, and vice versa.

Can we fight poverty and inequality while protecting the environment? The challenges are obvious. To rise out of poverty is to consume more resources, almost by definition. And many measures to combat pollution lead to job losses and higher prices that mainly hurt the poor. In Unsustainable Inequalities, economist Lucas Chancel confronts these difficulties head-on, arguing that the goals of social justice and a greener world can…

Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt

By Joe Sacco, Chris Hedges,

Book cover of Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt

Mckay Jenkins Author Of Bloody Falls of the Coppermine: Madness and Murder in the Arctic Barren Lands

From the list on environmental justice.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing books on environmental journalism and teaching Environmental Humanities and Environmental Justice at the University of Delaware for 25 years. Each of these books has made a particularly powerful impression on me and my students in recent years. They are powerful calls for a genuine reckoning with racial and environmental injustice throughout American history

Mckay's book list on environmental justice

Discover why each book is one of Mckay's favorite books.

Why did Mckay love this book?

An illustrated book of long-form nonfiction that examines poor Black, Indigenous, White, and Migrant communities in the United States, and how they have all been broken by extractive capitalism and racist public policy. Hedges’ writing is intentionally polemical, designed to shatter any illusions about the welfare of our fellow citizens living in communities ruined by racism and industrial-scale environmental degradation. Sacco’s long-form graphic illustrations are equally haunting. I’ve taught this book continually for many years.

By Joe Sacco, Chris Hedges,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Named a Best Book of the Year by and the Washington Post Three years ago, Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges and award-winning cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco set out to take a look at the sacrifice zones, those areas in America that have been offered up for exploitation in the name of profit, progress, and technological advancement. They wanted to show in words and drawings what life looks like in places where the marketplace rules without constraints, where human beings and the natural world are used and then discarded to maximize profit. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is the…

Book cover of Pollution Is Colonialism

Elizabeth Kryder-Reid Author Of Toxic Heritage: Legacies, Futures, and Environmental Injustice

From the list on pollution, politics, and why history matters.

Who am I?

I’m deeply concerned about the health of the planet and am puzzled by our failure to act. As someone who thinks a lot about museums and heritage (aka the stories we tell about ourselves), I’m intrigued by how we think about places of environmental harm as heritage and how we pay attention to the environmental impact of heritage sites like WWI battlefields, English ironworks, and Appalachian coal mines. Interrogating what we remember and what we forget illuminates the systems of power that benefit from ignoring environmental and social costs. My hope is that understanding the history of toxic harm points us to a more sustainable, just future.

Elizabeth's book list on pollution, politics, and why history matters

Discover why each book is one of Elizabeth's favorite books.

Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This book changed my thinking not just about pollution and its impact, but how scientific (and I would include historical) research itself often perpetuates colonial power dynamics. Its centering of Indigenous perspectives shifts thinking about plastic pollution by aligning it with Indigenous concepts of land, ethics, and relations.

By Max Liboiron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Pollution Is Colonialism Max Liboiron presents a framework for understanding scientific research methods as practices that can align with or against colonialism. They point out that even when researchers are working toward benevolent goals, environmental science and activism are often premised on a colonial worldview and access to land. Focusing on plastic pollution, the book models an anticolonial scientific practice aligned with Indigenous, particularly Metis, concepts of land, ethics, and relations. Liboiron draws on their work in the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR)-an anticolonial science laboratory in Newfoundland, Canada-to illuminate how pollution is not a symptom of…

Book cover of Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice

Müge Akkar Ercan Author Of Regeneration, Heritage and Sustainable Communities in Turkey: Challenges, Complexities and Potentials

From the list on critical urbanism and building sustainable communities.

Who am I?

I am a researcher and professor of Planning and Urban Design at Middle East Technical University, Ankara (Turkiye). I am interested in how we can develop sustainable communities in urban and rural areas, modern and historical areas, and create a much more just world for all living beings. This question has become increasingly important for our life as uncertainties arise. New paradigms appear daily with climate change, wars, energy crises, pandemics, migrations, safety and security, growing diversity, and socio-spatial inequalities. I chose these books because they helped me think of new ways to achieve a sustainable and just world for all living beings. 

Müge's book list on critical urbanism and building sustainable communities

Discover why each book is one of Müge's favorite books.

Why did Müge love this book?

This is another favourite book of mine because it rigorously shows communities' environmental inequalities. Agyeman identifies the critical problems of local communities regarding environmental inequalities by reviewing a series of small cases and one larger case in the US.

I like Agyeman’s reviews of these cases because they allow readers to draw valuable lessons and inspire ideas for re-interpreting environmental injustices in different localities. I also like the methodology of the book, which can be used in different localities as an approach to measuring environmental justice.

By defining performance, outcome, and accountability indicators, Agyeman helps us to measure progress toward sustainability.

By Julian Agyeman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Argues that environmental justice and the sustainable communities movement are compatible
Popularized in the movies Erin Brockovich and A Civil Action, "environmental justice" refers to any local response to a threat against community health. In this book, Julian Agyeman argues that environmental justice and the sustainable communities movement are compatible in practical ways. Yet sustainability, which focuses on meeting our needs today while not compromising the ability of our successors to meet their needs, has not always partnered with the challenges of environmental justice.
Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice explores the ideological differences between these two groups…

Book cover of Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance

Caroline Dodds Pennock Author Of On Savage Shores: How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe

From the list on the Indigenous histories of North America.

Who am I?

I have been a historian of the Indigenous world for more than two decades, but I have learned so much since I expanded my perspective from Mesoamerica and the Aztec-Mexica into the wider history of Native peoples. There are literally hundreds of Indigenous communities across the world and so there is always more to learn. I have been incredibly privileged to learn by listening to Indigenous people – in person, in print, and on digital and social media. I hope these books can offer some starting points to set you on a similar journey of discovery, opening up some new ways of thinking and of seeing both the past and the present.

Caroline's book list on the Indigenous histories of North America

Discover why each book is one of Caroline's favorite books.

Why did Caroline love this book?

Combining personal memoir and scrupulous history, this traces the long history of Indigenous resistance in the United States, showing it as a story of self-defence and struggles for sovereignty.

Starting with the remarkable Indigenous resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, Estes’s work manages to combine a readable introduction to complex history with an urgent recognition of the stakes involved in the fight for land, water, and natural resources today.

One of my favourite recommendations to anyone who wants to start understanding the deep roots of contemporary issues facing Indigenous communities.

By Nick Estes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our History Is the Future as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2016, a small protest encampment at the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, initially established to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, grew to be the largest Indigenous protest movement in the twenty-first century, attracting tens of thousands of Indigenous and non-Native allies from around the world. Its slogan "Mni Wiconi"-Water is Life-was about more than just a pipeline. Water Protectors knew this battle for Native sovereignty had already been fought many times before, and that, even after the encampment was gone, their anti-colonial struggle would continue.

In Our History is the Future, Nick Estes traces traditions…

Of Modern Extraction

By Terra Schwerin Rowe,

Book cover of Of Modern Extraction: Experiments in Critical Petro-theology

Larry L. Rasmussen Author Of The Planet You Inherit: Letters to My Grandchildren When Uncertainty's a Sure Thing

From the list on wisdom amid planetary uncertainty.

Who am I?

I have been engaged as a teacher of religion and ecology since the first Earth Day 50 years ago. That has entailed writing some prize-winning books, Earth Community, Earth Ethics (1996) and Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (2013). Now I want to pass along distilled learnings to my grandchildren as they face a planet in tumult. The form—love letters—and the audience—future generations as represented by my grandkids—moves me to focus on effective communication of a highly personal sort to young people on matters vital to their lives. It’s a nice bookend near the end of my own life.

Larry's book list on wisdom amid planetary uncertainty

Discover why each book is one of Larry's favorite books.

Why did Larry love this book?

This work is one in the series of Explorations in Theology, Gender, and Ecology. Its distinction is a deep dive into the religious, ecological and gender dimensions of the modern fossil-fuel extractive economy that has become destructive of nature’s economy and human well-being at the same time that it has captured our way of life. Rowe takes the reader into the gender and theological underpinnings of corporate capitalism, thereby contributing to an emerging field of study, the Energy Humanities. Of Modern Extraction is cutting-edge work by a lucid writer who rewards anyone patient enough to take on this vital but complex topic.

By Terra Schwerin Rowe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Predominant climate change narratives emphasize a global emissions problem, while diagnoses of environmental crises have long focused a modern loss of meaning, value, and enchantment in nature. Yet neither of these common portrayals of environmental emergency adequately account for the ways climate change is rooted in extractivisms that have been profoundly enchanted.

The proposed critical petro-theology analyzes the current energy driven climate crisis through critical gender, race, decolonial, and postsecular lenses. Both predominant narratives obscure the entanglements of bodies and energy: how energy concepts and practices have consistently delineated genres of humanity and how energy systems and technologies have shaped…

Pests in the City

By Dawn Day Biehler,

Book cover of Pests in the City: Flies, Bedbugs, Cockroaches, and Rats

Christopher Michael Blakley Author Of Empire of Brutality: Enslaved People and Animals in the British Atlantic World

From the list on animal and environmental history.

Who am I?

I’m a scholar of environmental history with a focus on human-animal relationships. I’ve also studied the histories of slavery and the African Diaspora, and in my book I’ve fused approaches from these two fields to look at how human-animal relations and networks shaped the expansion of slavery and slave trading from West Africa to the Caribbean in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. My scholarship is also an outgrowth of my teaching, and I regularly teach American environmental and cultural history at California State University, Northridge. I finished my PhD in history at Rutgers University, and my research has recently been funded by the Special Collections Research Center at the College of William & Mary.

Christopher's book list on animal and environmental history

Discover why each book is one of Christopher's favorite books.

Why did Christopher love this book?

Pests like cockroaches, rats, ants, and fleas are social constructions, meaning they are only pests to humans because they often outcompete humans for space, food, and shelter.

Dawn Day Biehler’s book further shows that pests and urban infestations of animals categorized as pests reinforced racist ideas about “dirty” communities in cities like New York and Chicago.

By Dawn Day Biehler,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Pests in the City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From tenements to alleyways to latrines, twentieth-century American cities created spaces where pests flourished and people struggled for healthy living conditions. In Pests in the City, Dawn Day Biehler argues that the urban ecologies that supported pests were shaped not only by the physical features of cities but also by social inequalities, housing policies, and ideas about domestic space.

Community activists and social reformers strived to control pests in cities such as Washington, DC, Chicago, Baltimore, New York, and Milwaukee, but such efforts fell short when authorities blamed families and neighborhood culture for infestations rather than attacking racial segregation or…


By Catherine Coleman Flowers,

Book cover of Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret

Robin Kirk Author Of Righting Wrongs: 20 Human Rights Heroes Around the World

From the list on women human rights visionaries.

Who am I?

I’ve been a rights advocate since I was a middle schooler planning how to help save the whales. In college, I volunteered in anti-apartheid campaigns, then became a journalist covering the rise of the Shining Path guerrillas in Peru. I wanted my research and words to make change. I spent 12 years covering Peru and Colombia for Human Rights Watch. Now, I try to inspire other young people to learn about and advocate for human rights as a professor and the co-director of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute. I also write fiction for kids that explores human rights themes and just completed The Bond Trilogy, an epic fantasy.

Robin's book list on women human rights visionaries

Discover why each book is one of Robin's favorite books.

Why did Robin love this book?

One of the most important new issues faced by rights advocates is climate change. Macarthur genius award-winner Catherine Coleman Flowers is on the front line of that fight, based on her own childhood as the daughter of an activist Black family in Lowndes County, Alabama. This memoir captures Flowers’ essence: someone who just can’t let an injustice slide by. And she will talk to anyone who might be able to help, including with cleaning up the raw sewage that continues to poison the homes of many poor Alabamians. Flowers clearly describes the link between local rights issues and the global campaign to deal with climate change.

By Catherine Coleman Flowers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The MacArthur grant-winning environmental justice activist's riveting memoir of a life fighting for a cleaner future for America's most vulnerable

A Smithsonian Magazine Top Ten Best Science Book of 2020

Catherine Coleman Flowers, a 2020 MacArthur "genius," grew up in Lowndes County, Alabama, a place that's been called "Bloody Lowndes" because of its violent, racist history. Once the epicenter of the voting rights struggle, today it's Ground Zero for a new movement that is also Flowers's life's work-a fight to ensure human dignity through a right most Americans take for granted: basic sanitation. Too many people, especially the rural poor,…


By Jacqueline Keeler,

Book cover of Standoff: Standing Rock, the Bundy Movement, and the American Story of Sacred Lands

Adam M. Sowards Author Of Making America's Public Lands: The Contested History of Conservation on Federal Lands

From the list on bringing the public into the public lands.

Who am I?

I started studying public lands by accident in the 1990s for a class project before I really knew what they even were. Since then, I've published hundreds of thousands of words about them, including my latest book Making America’s Public Lands where I’ve brought together much of what I’ve learned. I’m convinced the national forests, parks, rangelands, and refuges are among the most interesting and important experiments in democracy we have. I'm a writer, historian, and former college professor who now calls the Skagit Valley of Washington home. As much as I enjoy studying the public lands, I've appreciated hiking, sleeping, teaching, and noticing things in them even more.

Adam's book list on bringing the public into the public lands

Discover why each book is one of Adam's favorite books.

Why did Adam love this book?

Whose lands are these? Jacqueline Keeler squarely addresses the nature of American lands in her investigative and personal account of two 2016 standoffs: the Bundy family’s (and allies’) takeover at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s (and allies’) protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. For each standoff, Keeler shows how competing stories animated the actors in their understanding of past and future, as well as the reactions to them. Her account powerfully forced me to reckon with the sacredness of land in the traditions of myriad Americans. Standoff brings intellectual enrichment and moral outrage in equal measure; that’s hard to beat! 

By Jacqueline Keeler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A powerful, illuminating book."

—LOUISE ERDRICH, author of The Night Watchman

Native young people and elders pray in sweat lodges at the Océti Sakówin camp, the North Dakota landscape outside blanketed in snow. In Oregon, white men and women in army surplus and western gear, some draped in the American flag, gather in the buildings of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. The world witnessed two standoffs in 2016: the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest against an oil pipeline in North Dakota and the armed takeover of Oregon's Malheur Wildlife Refuge led by the Bundy family. These events unfolded in vastly different…

All We Can Save

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

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

Carrie Firestone Author Of The First Rule of Climate Club

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

Who am I?

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

Discover why each book is one of Carrie's favorite books.

Why did Carrie love this book?

This book. It’s like I found a treasure map for how to journey to a more beautiful, purposeful, just, and joyful planet.

It’s a collection of climate-centered essays and poems, a perfect balance of clearly-presented science education, relatable personal narratives, deeply-moving tributes to Mother Earth, strategic calls to collective action and policy re-invention, and effective, implementable solutions. And it’s written by a wonderfully diverse group of super-women, who understand that equity is more than a word, and systemic shifts are more than a concept.

I selected this book for my list because it’s a perfect format for a community read. You can choose a page, theme, section, or the whole book. They’ve even highlighted important passages for slackers who scramble to read right before the book talk.  

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

Why should I read it?

8 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

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…

A Bigger Picture

By Vanessa Nakate,

Book cover of A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis

Nick Wood Author Of Water Must Fall

From the list on African climate speculative fiction.

Who am I?

Growing up in Zambia and then South Africa, I was immersed in the natural landscapes and the fantastic variety of African plants and wildlife. However, I increasingly became aware of many other human injustices happening around me—e.g., human to human: the extreme racism of white supremacy (apartheid). Additionally, human to other animals: the ivory and wildlife ‘trade,’ resulting in what has been called The Sixth Extinction (of plants and other animals.) Alongside this destruction of life is the critical climate crisis and the financial appropriation of vital resources for profit—none more vital than water, for water is life. These books emphasise the ethical sanctity of all living beings!

Nick's book list on African climate speculative fiction

Discover why each book is one of Nick's favorite books.

Why did Nick love this book?

Vanessa Nakate is a young Ugandan climate activist who was excised from a photo of gathered young climate warriors (which included Greta Thunberg) as they prepared a response to DAVOS, the World Economic Forum accused of peddling the destructive myth of ‘eternal economic growth.’ (The other four activists in the photograph were all white, suggesting racism operates structurally at many levels—and within multiple contexts.) Nakate provides a refreshing perspective of driving climate activism from the Global South—centering those not only most detrimentally impacted by climate depredations, but also the most disempowered to respond and be heard. Her concluding chapter on ten practical things one can do, provides a hopeful and concrete map for personal climate action, including creative imagining. I loved her emphasis on local action too—no change is too small.

By Vanessa Nakate,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Vanessa Nakate continues to teach a most critical lesson. She reminds us that while we may all be in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat.' Greta Thunberg

'An indispensable voice for our future.' Malala Yousafzai

'A powerful global voice.' Angelina Jolie

No matter your age, location or skin colour, you can be an effective activist.

Devastating flooding, deforestation, extinction and starvation. These are the issues that not only threaten in the future, they are a reality. After witnessing some of these issues first-hand, Vanessa Nakate saw how the world's biggest polluters are asleep at the…

Clean and White

By Carl A. Zimring,

Book cover of Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States

Nancy C. Unger Author Of Beyond Nature's Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History

From the list on American environmental history.

Who am I?

History is my passion as well as my profession. I love a good story! When I was teaching courses in environmental history and women’s history, I kept noticing the intriguing intersections, which inspired me to write Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers. Most of my work focuses on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (1877-1920) and includes two award-winning biographies, Fighting Bob La Follette and Belle La Follette Progressive Era Reformer. I’m also the co-editor of A Companion to the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and have written dozens of op-eds and give public talks (some of which can be found in the C-SPAN online library and on YouTube). 

Nancy's book list on American environmental history

Discover why each book is one of Nancy's favorite books.

Why did Nancy love this book?

The environmental justice movement grew out of recognition of the disproportionate environmental burdens faced by low-income communities, including many communities of color. Zimring provides a detailed and compelling analysis of the long history of environmental racism that the environmental justice movement seeks to remedy. He reveals how ideas about race, hygiene, and waste have shaped where and how people (including Native Americans, immigrant groups, and African Americans) have lived and worked.

By Carl A. Zimring,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Clean and White offers a history of environmental racism in the United States focusing on constructions of race and hygiene
When Joe Biden attempted to compliment Barack Obama by calling him "clean and articulate," he unwittingly tapped into one of the most destructive racial stereotypes in American history. This book tells the history of the corrosive idea that whites are clean and those who are not white are dirty. From the age of Thomas Jefferson to the Memphis Public Workers strike of 1968 through the present day, ideas about race and waste have shaped where people have lived, where people…

Book cover of Defining Environmental Justice: Theories, Movements, and Nature

Paul Ong Author Of Uneven Urbanscape: Spatial Structures and Ethnoracial Inequality

From the list on the underlying foundation of racialized spaces.

Who am I?

I am an engaged scholar fighting racism. As a person of color, an Asian American raised in Chinatown and a low-income Black neighborhood, the fight is personal. My parents and those before them suffered from and struggled against discriminatory immigration laws that fractured and separated family members. My research and publications as a university professor are tools for exposing and redressing racial injustices, producing and sharing knowledge that leads to reconciliation and restorative justice.  

Paul's book list on the underlying foundation of racialized spaces

Discover why each book is one of Paul's favorite books.

Why did Paul love this book?

Schlosberg covers the environment as an important sphere for societal inequalities, including those along racial lines.

People of color bear a disproportionate share of air, water, and land pollution and risk being left behind as the United States transitions to renewable energy in response to climate change.

Much of the inequality is anchored in stratified places. The author not only summarizes the existing literature on this, but also provides a very useful overview of the major justice paradigms as it applies to the environment.

By David Schlosberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book will appeal to anyone interested in environmental politics, environmental movements, and justice theory.

The basic task of this book is to explore what, exactly, is meant by 'justice' in definitions of environmental and ecological justice. It examines how the term is used in both self-described environmental justice movements and in theories of environmental and ecological justice. The central argument is that a theory and practice of environmental justice necessarily includes distributive conceptions of justice, but must also embrace notions of justice based in recognition, capabilities, and
participation. Throughout, the goal is the development of a broad, multi-faceted, yet…


By Daniel Sherrell,

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

Peter Friederici Author Of Beyond Climate Breakdown: Envisioning New Stories of Radical Hope

From the list on making it through climate breakdown.

Who am I?

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.

Peter's book list on making it through climate breakdown

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Why did Peter 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?


“[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…

A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety

By Sarah Jaquette Ray,

Book cover of A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet

Leslie Davenport Author Of Emotional Resiliency in the Era of Climate Change: A Clinician's Guide

From the list on eco-anxiety.

Who am I?

Some years ago, my eyes were opened to the severity of our climate crisis and it changed me forever. Since that pivotal time, I’ve turned my therapeutic training and clinical experience toward addressing the existential threat of our time. I recognize how we must unmask our deep psychological biases, many of which unconsciously bring harm to our lives and social structures. I pair this with emotional resiliency practices for these deep and sustained efforts. As a Climate Psychology educator and consultant, I enjoy interdisciplinary strategies where I can contribute transformative methods that help us reclaim dormant human capacities that equip us to usher in a more just and safer world.

Leslie's book list on eco-anxiety

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Why did Leslie love this book?

Ray is a colleague and an environmental studies professor at Humboldt State University. After witnessing firsthand the rising emotional distress in her students, she was compelled to respond with empathy and supportive resources. She began to recognize that teaching about climate impacts was not enough, and perhaps it even contributes to the problems if the emotional responses are not addressed in tandem. Written primarily with Gen Z in mind, I find the perspectives and resources are useful for anyone experiencing eco-anxiety, and she incorporates strong and insightful social justice perspectives.

By Sarah Jaquette Ray,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gen Z's first "existential toolkit" for combating eco-guilt and burnout while advocating for climate justice.

A youth movement is reenergizing global environmental activism. The "climate generation"-late millennials and iGen, or Generation Z-is demanding that policy makers and government leaders take immediate action to address the dire outcomes predicted by climate science. Those inheriting our planet's environmental problems expect to encounter challenges, but they may not have the skills to grapple with the feelings of powerlessness and despair that may arise when they confront this seemingly intractable situation.

Drawing on a decade of experience leading and teaching in college environmental studies…

Storytelling for a Greener World

By Alida Gersie, Anthony Nanson,

Book cover of Storytelling for a Greener World: Environment, Community and Story-Based Learning

Susan Perrow Author Of Therapeutic Storytelling: 101 Healing Stories for Children

From the list on the healing power of story and storytelling.

Who am I?

My name is Susan Perrow. I am an Australian whose ‘work’ passion is stories and storytelling. I am an author, storyteller, teacher trainer, and parent educator. For the last 30 years, I have been documenting stories from other cultures, writing stories, and telling stories to groups of children and adults – all this woven in with a career in teaching, lecturing, and consulting in Australia, Africa, Asia, China, Europe, and North America. I currently have four published story collections, in a total of 14 languages. Three of my collections are Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviour, An A-Z Collection of Behaviour Tales, and Stories to Light the Night: A Grief and Loss Collection for Children, Families and Communities.

I have chosen my fourth collection to introduce to you below.

Susan's book list on the healing power of story and storytelling

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Why did Susan love this book?

Mother Nature must be very grateful this handbook exists. Within its 368 pages is a treasury of time-tested stories, creative activities, and methods that environmental educators and storytellers can use to affect people’s pro-environmental behaviour. Its collection of 21 chapters share a myriad of ways to use storytelling for a greener world. Each chapter has a different author(s), bringing their perspective on environment, community, and learning through stories. They explore the links between storytelling and emotional literacy, place, environmental justice, connecting with alienated youngsters, how to encourage children and adults’ curiosity about nature, building community, sustainability, and indigenous peoples, local legends, human-animal communication, and how to co-create a sustainable future together.

By Alida Gersie, Anthony Nanson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Storytelling for a Greener World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Storytelling for a Greener World is a treasury of forty-three stories, creative activities, techniques, tips, and descriptions of inspiring practice to both empower newcomers and seasoned storytellers. The book provides a handy, unique, and authoritative resource for developing innovative story-work and will be a key sourcebook of lasting usefulness.

This handbook offers time-tested stories, creative activities, and methods that environmental educators and storytellers can use to encourage sound environmental behavior. Whether it is a brief mention of seeing a skein of geese flying in an evening sky or children from a rough area being inspired by kittiwakes, both adults and…