Green reads: from practical guides to living, cooking and travelling in a more sustainable way, to creative works with green themes, our world and the environmental challenges facing it have inspired writers from all genres.
In this article, we share some recommendations from the Good Energy team on books that challenge us to think differently about how we live in the face of the climate emergency.
Nature & natural history
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants – Robin Wall Kimmerer
Part memoir, part natural history, this wise, reflective work brings together the author’s experiences as a botanist and professor of environmental biology, and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. As an indigenous scientist, Kimmerer seeks to celebrate and acknowledge the reciprocal relationship humans have with the rest of the living world, as a way of raising ecological consciousness.
Notes from the Burning Age – Claire North
This thought-provoking fantasy offers a vision of a future in which texts judged to contain ideas that led to the climate disaster are closely guarded by archivists so that history can never be repeated. We follow Ven, who was once a holy man and keeper of the archives, as he is challenged to translate stolen writings and decide how far he will go to save his world from the mistakes of the past.
Mischief Acts – Zoe Gilbert
Mischief Acts draws on the figure of Herne the Hunter from British folklore to spin daring tales about our relationship with wild woods (and the wilder sides of human nature). This collection of interconnected stories, ballads, letters and more spans centuries and multiple styles, from sprawling medieval hunting forests to the near future, in which woodlands become a precious reserve and space for escape in our heating climate.
Books for children and young people
How to Change Everything – Naomi Klein
The internationally acclaimed social activist has teamed up with award-winning children’s science writer Rebecca Stefoff for her first book directed at younger readers. Subtitled “The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting Earth and Each Other”, this book puts youth-led activism in the spotlight and provides tips for getting involved in the movement to create a greener, fairer world.
The Lost Spells – Jackie Morris & Robert Macfarlane
An enchanting book for all ages. Written to be read aloud, this pocket-sized work of art features ‘spell’ poems to conjure up the wonder of the plants, trees and animals of the UK. Each spell is richly illustrated with artwork by Jackie Morris. The Lost Spells is a companion to Macfarlane and Morris’s The Lost Words, which seeks to rescue nature words that risk being forgotten and has since inspired works of theatre, art and music.
Only Planet: A Flight Free Adventure Around the World – Ed Gillespie
Many of us have had cause to daydream about getting away on a grand adventure recently. For inspiration, delve into this travelogue that charts the author’s quest to circumnavigate the world without boarding a single plane. You can also hear Ed Gillespie discussing the joys of slow travel on the Good Energy powered podcast, Great Green Questions.
Politics & justice
Too Hot to Handle? The Democratic Challenge of Climate Change – Dr Rebecca Willis
The science on the climate crisis has been clear for decades, so why haven’t governments acted with the urgency required to deal with it? Drawing on her own experience in climate politics, Dr Rebecca Willis explores why climate change is such a challenge for governments, and how we can get out of our own way to make change happen.
It’s Not That Radical: Climate Action to Transform Our World – Mikaela Loach
Published on 6 April 2023, climate activist Mikaela Loach’s debut book argues for the need to dismantle oppressive systems that don’t just harm our planet, but maintain social inequality, injustice and discrimination. This hope-filled book aims to galvanise readers to take action by joining the movements dedicated to making the world better for all.
Loach also joined us for an episode Good Energy founder, Juliet Davenport’s podcast, Great Green Questions – available wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Consumed: On Colonialism, Climate Change, Consumerism and the Need for Collective Change – Aja Barber
Writer, stylist and sustainability consultant Aja Barber’s upcoming book is a searing polemic against the exploitation inherent in how the overwhelming majority of clothing is produced. Barber also unpicks the reasons why so many of us are addicted to buying more than we need – and argues how we can move “from consumption to compassion”.
The Climate Book – Greta Thunberg
An “essential handbook” for changing the world. Thunberg has become a household name in the climate movement, after popularising the school climate strike movement by striking outside the Swedish parliament. The Climate Book gathers together insights from leading climate scientists, engineers, historians, philosophers, mathematicians and more to provide essential knowledge for combatting climate disaster. All interwoven with Thunberg’s own experiences of exposing greenwashing and campaigning for urgent action.
A Life on Our Planet – Sir David Attenborough
Sir David Attenborough’s “witness statement and vision for the future” charts the naturalist’s experience of watching the living world change. Whether or not you watched the documentary of the same name released in 2020, this inspiring record of an extraordinary life sends a powerful message about what is at stake if we don’t act on the climate crisis.
We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited. All we need is the will to do so
The Green Start-up – Juliet Davenport OBE
A ‘toolkit for the modern-day entrepreneur’. The Green Start-Up draws lessons for founding new, green businesses that are better for the planet from Juliet Davenport’s own experience founding Good Energy, over twenty years ago. It asks and answers essential questions for new and growing businesses that want to put sustainability at the heart of everything they do.
Sustainability facts and figures
Beautiful News – David McCandless
This stunningly designed book collects together infographics “charting and visualising the amazing, beautiful, positive things still happening in the world”. Ideal for referencing and understanding positive trends and solutions to understand that change really is happening, and it’s being driven by people, policies and decisions big and small, all around the world. Get the book or visit Beautiful News Daily.
There Is No Planet B – Mike Berners-Lee
What are some of the solutions to the climate emergency? How would they impact carbon emissions – and what might some of the knock-on effects be on society? From food and energy to transport and more, Mike Berners-Lee has worked out the figures to provide a practical, entertaining handbook full of ideas to help humanity thrive. Originally published in 2019, it has been updated for 2021 to reflect the latest climate science.
Eat Green – Melissa Hemsley
The chef and food writer’s latest cookbook celebrates ingredients that are seasonal and UK-sourced, for ‘flexitarian’ meals that are sustainable as well as delicious. Recipes focus on easy to buy produce and reducing food waste, and many include the option to swap meat or fish in or out without losing any flavour.
You can also hear Melissa discussing the connection between food waste and climate change on the Great Green Questions podcast.