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So many books, so little time! Maybe that’s why summer vacation is the perfect time to catch up. This year, I plan to expand my reading list to include some of the most intriguing new environmental books. Think about tucking one or two of these highly recommended works in your stack of beach novels this year.
A Million Years with You: A Memoir of Life Observed
by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
As a young woman, Marshall Thomas joined her family on an anthropological expedition to the Kalahari Desert, where she conducted fieldwork among the Ju/wa Bushmen, later publishing her findings as The Harmless People. In A Million Years with You, this legendary author shares stories from her life, showing how a formative experience in South West Africa (now Namibia) in the 1950s taught her how to pay attention to the ancient wisdom of animals and humankind.
Food Tyrants: Fight For Your Right to Healthy Food in a Toxic World
by Nicole Faires
Food Tyrants tells us why our basic right to healthy food is at risk -- and what we can do about it. Astute, engaging, and armed with examples from her own homesteading lifestyle, small farmer, homesteader, and self-sufficiency guru Nicole Faires gives you the tools to fight the intangible battles, as well as the practical ones. Starting with her chapter on the “Foundation of Food” and ending on her opinion about “The Right Way to Eat,” Faires really does get down and dirty with the truth. A perfect afternoon read, since it is only 193 pages.
Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World's Most Polluted Places
by Andrew Blackwell
It’s rare to book a plane ticket to visit the lifeless moonscape of Canada’s oil sand strip mines, or to seek out the Chinese city of Linfen, legendary as the most polluted in the world. But in Visit Sunny Chernobyl, Andrew Blackwell embraces a different kind of travel, taking a jaunt through the most gruesomely polluted places on Earth. Equal parts travelogue, expose, environmental memoir, and faux guidebook, Blackwell careens through a rogue’s gallery of environmental disaster areas in search of the worst the world has to offer - and approaches a deeper understanding of what’s really happening to our planet in the process.
The Shark's Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature Is Inspiring Innovation
by Jay Harman
Why does the bumblebee have better aerodynamics than a 747? What structural design is shared by a tornado and a blood vessel? In a world of depleted natural resources, entrepreneurs and scientists are turning to nature to inspire future products that are more energy and cost efficient. Biomimicry, the science of employing nature to advance sustainable technology, is arguably one of the hottest new business concepts. In this soon-to-be-released book award-winning inventor and biomimetic entrepreneur Jay Harman introduces us to pioneering engineers in a wide array of businesses who are uncovering and copying nature's hidden marvels.
In the Shadow of the Sabertooth: A Renegade Naturalist Considers Global Warming, the First Americans and the Terrible Beasts of the Pleistocene
by Doug Peacock
Our climate is changing fast. The future is uncertain, probably fiery, and likely terrifying. Yet shifting weather patterns have threatened humans before, right here in North America, when people first colonized this continent. In Sabertooth, writer and adventurer Doug Peacock explores the full circle of climate change, from the death of the megafauna to the depletion of the ozone, in a deeply personal story that takes readers from Peacock's participation in an archeological dig for early Clovis remains in Livingston, MT, near his home, to the death of the local whitebark pine trees.
The Attacking Ocean: The Past, Present, and Future of Rising Sea Levels
by Brian Fagan
Since 1860, the world has warmed significantly and the ocean's climb has speeded. The sea level changes are cumulative and gradual; no one knows when they will end. The Attacking Ocean, from celebrated author Brian Fagan, tells a tale of the rising complexity of the relationship between humans and the sea at their doorsteps, a complexity created not by the oceans, which have changed but little. What has changed is us, and the number of us on earth.
Apocalyptic Planet: A Field Guide to the Future of the Earth
by Craig Childs
2013 Orion Book Award Winner
From the driest deserts of Chile, through the genetic wasteland of central Iowa, to the site of the drowned land bridge of the Bering Sea, Craig Childs uncovers cataclysms that tell us what could be next: forthcoming ice ages, super volcanoes, and the conclusion of planetary life cycles. Childs delivers a sensual feast in his descriptions of the natural world, and undeniable science that reveals both the earth’s strengths and frailties.
What’s on your summer reading list?
Photo: Nicolas Hoizey