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I think John McConnell was spot-on when he proposed the idea of Earth Day, a day to celebrate the beauty and bounty of our tiny little planet and to advocate for its protection and renewal. Since the first Earth Day in 1970, environmental devastation by the agricultural, chemical, pharmaceutical, and energy industries has only grown worse, but there is hope. The environmental movement is now at its height. Consumers are reconsidering their status as consumers and citizens are joining forces to fight for the restoration of ecological balance and the health of all of earth’s creatures. Here are 15 books that explore that struggle and celebrate the magic of the natural world.
1. Second Nature by Michael Pollen
Second Nature is a memoir cum philosophical meditation on gardening. As Pollen wrestles with his unruly Connecticut land patch, he ponders the moral imperatives of compost, the absurdity of America’s obsession with the perfect lawn, and the disconnect between the garden of his suburban childhood imagination and the reality of the natural world. Also be sure to check out Pollen’s The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore’s Dilemma (my personal favorite).
2. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
This celebration of food and farm life is one of my favorite books. It invites readers along on a twelve-month adventure in planting, harvesting, preserving, and eating on Kingsolver’s southern Appalachian farm. It’s an eloquent commentary on the disconnect between nature’s rhythms and modern life, and the power of food to strengthen communal and familial bonds. This latter point is punctuated by the format of the book itself, which features fact-filled sidebars by Kingsolver’s husband, Steven L. Hopp and delicious seasonal recipes by her daughter, Camille.
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3. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Combining scientific knowhow with a wealth of indigenous wisdom, Kimmerer illustrates how colonialism contributed to our current state of environmental decay and presents a compelling vision for how we can “understand the earth as a gift again” and “make our relations with the world sacred again.” Also read Kimmerer’s Gathering Moss.