Eight books to read this Earth Day
C/O Emma Shemko
Book recommendations for the earth lovers and tree huggers
By: Emma Shemko, contributor
Happy Earth Day! Reading books is a great way to celebrate our beautiful planet not only on April 22, but all year round.
Often Earth Day book recommendations can be tough-to-read non-fictions with inaccessible language that discourages readers, leaving them feeling as though the fate of Earth rests on their shoulders alone.
Listed below are 10 easy and enjoyable reads, including poetry, graphic novels and climate change fiction. I hope this list helps you find a book that inspires you as much as they have all inspired me.
Each book is available from Hamilton’s public libraries!
Please be sure to check the trigger warnings for the books below. The Storygraph app is an excellent resource for doing so.
Parable of the Sower, Octavia E. Butler (climate fiction; graphic novel)
Set in the very near future, 2024 - 2027, after the world has been destroyed by climate change, Lauren Olamina strives to create a better future. Not venturing too far from the experiences of many today — drought, food and water insecurity, rape culture and systemic racism — Butler’s novel is heartbreaking and heartwarming all in one beautifully written package. This book has also been adapted into a graphic novel by Damian Duffy.
“There’s always a lot to do before you get to go to heaven," said Olamina in Butler's Parable of the Sower.
All Over Creation, Ruth Ozeki (climate fiction)
Years after running away from home, Yumi returns to the farm she was raised on to care for her parents, where she finds herself working with an activist group. The Seeds of Resistance, spreads awareness about harmful genetically engineered foods and continuously fights big corporation’s using GMOs without gaining consent from consumers. Ozeki brings each character to life with her powerful writing.
Now You Care, Di Brant (poetry)
In this poetry collection, environmental feminist Di Brandt expresses her anger about the climate issues caused by industrialism, colonialism and ecocide. Brant stresses the importance of preserving our beautiful planet for future generations. Each poem is unique and deeply moving.
“…the future clogged in the arteries/of the potholed city…” from "Zone: <le Détroit>" in Brant's Now You Care.
20000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne (classic)
Captain Nemo and his crew battle giant sea creatures and explore wonderous Pacific coral reefs. Verne was before his time in the discussion of how overfishing and resource exploitation are destroying the natural world. This novel overflows with beautiful descriptions of marine life and is perfect for anyone who enjoys classics.
“Thus, where there was once life and animation [English and American whalers] had left silence and death," said Captain Nemo in Verne's 20000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Life of Pi, Yann Martel (fiction)
Pi Patel and his family decide to immigrate from India to Canada with their zoo animals. When their cargo ship sinks, Patel and a Royal Bengal tiger are left to fend for themselves on a small lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean. This book is made up of stunning metaphors for friendship with nature and religion and the importance these things have when trying to survive the direst conditions.
“I sang that tree’s glory, its solid, unhurried purity, its slow beauty," said Patel in Martel's Life of Pi.
I’m Not a Plastic Bag, Rachel Hope Allison (graphic novel)
This graphic novel does not have any dialogue and yet it speaks a powerful message about the tragedy that is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Allison’s beautiful illustrations depict the garbage patch as a monster beckoning us to take notice of the damage we’ve caused.
On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, Naomi Klein (non-fiction)
Klein argues for a radical divestment from fossil fuels as our seas rise and violence against people of colour and women continues. Climate change thrives on fossil fuels, colonialism, racism, sexism, xenophobia and capitalism. Klein calls out the politicians who have promised to change yet continue to move us farther away from sustainability. On Fire is a strong call to action.
“We face so many overlapping and intersecting crises that we can’t afford to fix them one at a time," Klein in her book On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal.
The Annual Migration of Clouds, Premee Mohamed (climate fiction)
In a world plagued by natural disasters and insecurity, Reid and her mother are one of few who suffer from a deadly virus. When Reid is accepted into a prestigious school, she battles between choosing her dream or choosing to care for her mother. Mohamed’s post-apocalyptic novella is written is stunning prose where each page encourages the reader to appreciate our planet.