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Books

Books to ignite curiosity about our planet and spark conversations about the ways we live, think and learn.

BY Stanford Earth Staff
ClockOctober 07, 2021

Weather: A Novel

Weather cover

By Jenny Offill (2020)

"Offill's signature achievement here is to capture the angst specific to our particular moment in time – the rising tide of anxiety, especially in New York City, about a world threatened by climate change and the ascension of right-wing strongmen ... This potent, appealing little book is about how we weather this sense of doom – with humor, incredulity, panic, disaster preparedness, or, best of all, action." – NPR

The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life

Tangled Tree book cover

By David Quammen (2019)

"How molecular studies of evolution have brought startling recognitions about the tangled tree of life – including where we humans fit upon it. Thanks to new technologies, we now have the ability to alter even our genetic composition – through sideways insertions, as nature has long been doing." – From the publisher

Gold Fame Citrus

Gold Fame Citrus cover

By Claire Vaye Watkins (2016)

"Unrelenting drought has transfigured Southern California into a surreal, phantasmagoric landscape. With the Central Valley barren, underground aquifer drained, and Sierra snowpack entirely depleted, most 'Mojavs,' prevented by both armed vigilantes and an indifferent bureaucracy from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to internment camps." As a couple’s love blooms in this arid place, the novel explores "the myths we believe about others and tell about ourselves, the double-edged power of our most cherished relationships, and the shape of hope in a precarious future that may be our own."– From the publisher

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature

Home Place book cover

By J. Drew Lanham (2017)

"The dominant common sense asks us to divide our loyalties: Either we support racial justice or we support the environment. There can be no more important task in the world today than to upend this rotten dichotomy, to heal the manufactured rift between environmentalism and the fight for social justice." This memoir by J. Drew Lanham, ornithologist and professor of wildlife ecology at Clemson University, "offers us one way to begin." – "The Best Scholarly Books of the Decade," Chronicle of Higher Education

Science on a Mission: How Military Funding Shaped What We Do and Don't Know About the Ocean

Science on a Mission cover

By Naomi Oreskes (2020)

"Tracing the recent history of oceanography, Naomi Oreskes discloses dramatic changes in American ocean science since the Cold War, uncovering how and why it changed. Much of it has to do with who pays. After World War II, the U.S. military turned to a new, uncharted theater of warfare: the deep sea. The Earth sciences – particularly physical oceanography and marine geophysics – became essential to the U.S. Navy, who poured unprecedented money and logistical support into their study. Science on a Mission brings to light how this influx of military funding was both enabling and constricting." – From the publisher

Waste: One Woman's Fight Against America's Dirty Secret

Waste cover

By Catherine Coleman Flowers (2020)

"Catherine Coleman Flowers grew up in Lowndes County, Alabama, a place that’s been called 'Bloody Lowndes' because of its violent, racist history. Once the epicenter of the voting rights struggle, today it’s Ground Zero for a new movement that is Flowers’s life’s work. It’s a fight to ensure human dignity through a right most Americans take for granted: basic sanitation. Too many people, especially the rural poor, lack an affordable means of disposing cleanly of the waste from their toilets, and, as a consequence, live amid filth." – From the publisher

 Origins: How Earth's History Shaped Human History

Origins cover 130x196

By Lewis Dartnell (2019)

“From the cultivation of the first crops to the founding of modern states, Origins reveals the breathtaking impact of the earth beneath our feet on the shape of our human civilizations.” – From the publisher

Horizon

Horizon cover

By Barry Lopez (2020)

Barry Lopez "probes the long history of humanity’s thirst for exploration, including the prehistoric peoples who trekked across Skraeling Island in northern Canada, the colonialists who plundered Central Africa, an enlightenment-era Englishman who sailed the Pacific, a Native American emissary who found his way into isolationist Japan, and today’s ecotourists in the tropics. And always, throughout his journeys ... Lopez searches for meaning and purpose in a broken world." – From the publisher

The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here

Story of More book cover

By Hope Jahren (2020)

"Over and over, [Jahren] shows how the world divides between those who consume and waste more and those who live on much less. She explores not only food scarcity, but also lack of electricity and sanitary water conditions. She clearly shows how the amount of waste created by the privileged could provide plenty for those less privileged." Jahren, a paleobiologist at the University of Oslo and author of the best-selling memoir Lab Girl, has written "a concise and personal yet universally applicable examination of a problem that affects everyone on planet Earth." – Kirkus Reviews

The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border

Line Becomes a River book cover

By Francisco Cantú (2018)

"At a time of overheated rhetoric about the threat along the border, Francisco Cantú relates what it means to police it. He is an empathetic witness to the desperation felt by those driven to cross it. But as a Border Patrol agent, he also knows the fear of those charged with guarding it. A sad tale, beautifully written." – Tom Gjelten, NPR

The Water Knife

The Water Knife cover

By Paulo Bacigalupi (2016)

"The frightening details of how the world might suffer from catastrophic drought are vividly imagined. The way the novel’s environmental nightmare affects society, as individuals and larger entities—both official and criminal—vie for a limited and essential resource, feels solid, plausible, and disturbingly believable. The dust storms, Texan refugees, skyrocketing murder rate, and momentary hysteria of a public ravenous for quick hits of sensational news seem like logical extensions of our current reality." – Kirkus Reviews

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