Melville knew it; Steinbeck knew it, and scores of modern authors know it as well: neglecting our environment and taking the stability of the natural world for granted comes with dire consequences.
If the news or research we are bombarded with every day (not to mention the very quality of the air we breathe) isn’t enough to turn you into an environmentalist, perhaps the prescient, wise and engaging words of these eight authors will. And if you are already alert and aware of the many issues facing our world if we continue to treat it so poorly, then these books will ring true and hopefully cement your own resolve to work hard at environmental protection. Either way, these books are all worth a close, careful read.
We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly
In the wake of a mega-storm, a young couple retreats to rural Vermont to prepare for the worst. But what happens when the worst is more than you could ever imagine? A fascinating look into the world of “preppers,” the scariest part of this book is the realization that it isn’t science fiction.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The dustbowl devastated Oklahoma and surrounding states in the 1930s, a result of monocropping, over-farming and the complete erosion of native plants and grasses. In the wake of the disaster, compounded by the Depression, a family makes its way to California, where it hopes fortune will favor them once again. Hard to believe this was written nearly 80 years ago.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Speculative fiction that finds a man, in the wake of a man-made plague that has left the earth nearly barren, searching for a friend who may or may not still be alive. Along the way we meet the passive, thought-controlled survivors ushering in a brave new world of corporate greed, fascism and fear.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Another dystopian read that comes at the end of the world (as we know it). While the apocalyptic event is never recalled, it can be read as a series of eco-disasters that leaves the earth almost devoid of natural life. Two of the survivors, a man and his son, travel in the direction of the ocean, in the hopes of survival.
Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver
They say that a butterfly flapping its wings in China can cause a hurricane in Mexico. But what happens when the butterflies that are supposed to winter in Mexico can no longer leave Tennessee because their habitat is gone? Unabashedly about the perils of climate change and its rippling, disastrous effects, told through the eyes of a woman who longs for a different kind of change.
The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
Set 120 years from now, the polar ice caps have melted and the intense solar heat has caused the world to rework itself back into a Triassic-era jungle, with much of the world underwater and the rest encased in a wild environment not at all friendly to human inhabitants. This book was written in 1962, by the way.
Moby Dick or, The Whale by Herman Melville
Want to know why Ishmael and the rest of the crew on the whaling ship Pequod is after the white whale? Because it bit off Captain Ahab’s leg. How did the captain and the whale get acquainted in the first place? Because the northern Atlantic Ocean was already so over-fished—in the early 1800s—that Ahab had to go the African equator, farther than any whaler dared, to even find one.
Have you read any of these books? Do you have others you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments!