Happy Earth Day everyone! We should definitely be thinking about saving the planet every other day of the year, but especially today. Because it’s Earth Day (in case that wasn’t already obvious). I am a big believer in protecting the environment and planet as much as we can (we only get one of them), and like anything else, I try to read about it. I think there’s a lot we can learn from books – duh – and more than one of the books on this list have directly impacted my habits.

Today, I decided to share Earth Day-appropriate books that I have already enjoyed, and a few that are still on my reading list. I tried to include both nonfiction and fiction, so there’s a little something for everyone.

Books I Recommend

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Out of this list, Eating Animals is the book that influenced my life the most. About eighty pages in, I decided to become vegetarian. Which was one of the best things I’ve ever done, personally. However, the actual aim of this book is to make you more aware of the environmental impact eating meat has. American in particular eats a lot of meat, and it’s harming the environment. If everyone cut out meat for just one day a week, or one meal a day, it would be healthier both for us (because mass-produced meat is not the cleanest) and for the environment.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

This is a memoir about Hope Jahren’s journey as a scientist. And it’s basically a love letter to plants. It will make you look at trees in a new light. I really loved this book. I’m not really an outdoorsy person, but this gal me a new appreciation for nature.

Fox 8 by George Saunders

I really enjoyed this short story, told from the point of view of a fox, about how humans are impacting the lives of other creatures. I think humans should be more self-aware of how they’re affecting the planet and all the other living things, because they have a right to be here, too. And this little story about a fox and a shopping mall illustrates that very well.

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Stephen Brusatte

Yes, this is about dinosaurs, but it also talks a lot about the different phases of the Earth’s evolution as well. The environment has changed A LOT since life began on this planet, and it was fascinating to learn about. Also, dinosaurs (and super-salamanders). Just a really, really great book. Easily one of my all-time favorite nonfiction books.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

The classic ode to the outdoors. I’m not personally advocating that you go live in the woods, but it’s interesting to live vicariously through Thoreau. It’s also a good thought experiment on what we would do if it wasn’t for all of our modern technology. Would you go live in the woods if cell phones and computers weren’t a thing?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

This book is exactly what it says: a history of humankind. But it’s also a history of how humankind has shaped everything around us, including our planet. We went from hunter-gatherers to an industrial society that’s irreversibly damaging our home. It was interesting to learn about that development, and to think about where we could go next.

Books on My Reading List

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

This has been on my TBR forever, and I definitely want to try and get to it this year. It’s all about the five mass extinctions our plant has experienced so far, and how the sixth one is likely to be caused by humans and how we’re treating the planet.

The Overstory by Richard Powers

This is a novel about people whose unique experiences with trees bring them together to address the destruction of forests. I will definitely be reading this soon, and I’m very excited about it. Save the trees!

We are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer

This seems like it’s a continuation of Eating Animals, which obviously had a huge impact on my life. I’m curious to find out more about this topic, and maybe other ways I can be healthier for myself and the planet. Who knows, maybe this’ll be what pushes me into full vegan territory.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

I’ve heard so much about this over the past few years, and I’m not quite sure why I haven’t picked it up. I do really love memoirs that have a nature aspect (despite the fact that I don’t enjoy spending too much time in nature), and this seems like a great one.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

I really need to read more Steinbeck. I live in California, so it feels a little bit wrong that I’ve only read one of his books. I have been to Cannery Row and yet haven’t read Cannery Row. But the book that is top on my list is The Grapes of Wrath. This takes place during The Great Depression, in the Dust Bowl, which, if you didn’t know, was caused by both drought and bad farming practices. It will be interesting to read a book about how humans harmed the environment and suffered the consequences.

Alright, that’s it for my Earth Day Reading List! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books or if there are any you would add to this list!

10 thoughts

  1. Great list! I loved Lab Girl as well – the science writing was so gorgeous, and I also thought the author was really brave to tell her story of what it’s actually like to try to make it as a female professor in the sciences. I’ll have to check out the Jonathan Safran Foer books! I really like his fiction, and I’m currently a vegetarian who eats too much dairy; would love the push to make choices that are even better for the environment ^__^

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh! And I would recommend Spineless by Juli Berwald, and/or The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf. Spineless is about a former-scientist who becomes curious about how global warming will impact jellyfish populations, and all the research she does in trying to answer that question. The Invention of Nature is about a Prussian scientist who essentially came up with theory of ecology, and advocated for sustainable industrial practices back in the late 1700’s/early 1800’s.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It is so hard to be a vegetarian who doesn’t eat dairy, so I get it. Fortunately, I’m also lactose intolerant, so I have to be pretty selective about what dairy I eat (sometimes, ice cream is worth it). But Jonathan Safran Foer definitely made me think more about where my food comes from.


  2. This is a great list! Eating Animals sounds really impactful and interesting, I added it to my TBR. I also read H Is for Hawk a few years ago and was completely stunned by the first 2/3 – the writing is really beautiful. By the end it did get a little slow and navel-gazey, but still worth the read in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I hope you enjoy Eating Animals! Good to know about H is for Hawk. I did read the first chapter or so a while back, so I’m kind of prepared for it to be a slower read. I’m waiting until I’m in the right mood for it.

      Liked by 1 person

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