Note: This page is dedicated to writing about the environment that is especially powerful, crafted, stylish and/or beautiful. See Resources for Writers on how to write for university. You suggestions are welcome. See also Literature, Art and the Environment and Book Recommendations, as well as Graphic Novels. Science fiction dealing with the environment can be found on the Ecological and Social Utopias page
Books Everyone Should Read (an infographic according to the world brain) .((background database spreadsheet by category, such as read before 30, which oddly misses Adams H2G2, Vonnegut, The Monkey Wrench Gang and Pirsig). Nonfiction picks should include Chaos by Gleich, which includes a chapter on UCSC rogue grad students.
The Top 10 Essays Since 1950 includes Dillard, Didion and JF Wallace "Consider the Lobster" (see below).
Humor: Bulwer-Lytton bad writing prize for 2012.
UCSC alums who are noted writers include Matt Skenazy (Cowell '08, literature), assistant editor at Outside magazine, inspired by Conn Hallinan.
American Earth is a very comprehensive and excellent collection of writers. Some video interviews on the website. McHenry Stacks PS169.E25 A44 2008
The Best American Science and Nature Writing, various years Sci & Engr Library Stacks Q1.B47
Finding Home : Writing on Nature and Culture from Orion Magazine / edited and with an introduction by Peter Sauer McHenry Stacks GF75 .F56 1992 c.2
Welcome to the Greenhouse: New Science Fiction on Climate Change. Edited and with an introduction by Gordon Van Gelder
Outside 25 : classic tales and new voices from the frontiers of adventure / edited and with an introduction by Hal Espen McH Stacks GV191.6 .B46 2002
Arctic Refuge is a book that arose from a political moment yet contains eloquent wisdom and timely information central to a sustainable vision for our world. The book began as an idea in January 2001, when Alaska residents Hank Lentfer and Carolyn Servid, responding to proposals to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, sent a call to writers across the country. Just seven weeks later, the book was presented to Congress. With contributions by Jimmy Carter, Wendell Berry, Bill McKibben, Terry Tempest Williams, Scott Russell Sanders, and Rick Bass, Arctic Refuge is an ideal introduction to the Refuge and issues surrounding our use of energy and public lands. The book includes the testimony of members of the Gwich'in Nation—whose lives depend on the caribou—as well as wildlife biologists, and other writers from Alaska and across the nation. Link to this and other interesting eco-books. See also Arctic.
Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) proudly present Writing on the Edge, 14 first-hand accounts of life inside conflict zones where the international medical humanitarian organization provides emergency medical care. interviews.
Jonathan Lethem's hefty and remarkable new miscellany, “The Ecstasy of Influence,” is his fifth book since his best-selling breakthrough of 2003, the hefty and remarkable bildungsroman “Fortress of Solitude.(not green)
The Eric Hoffer Award for short prose and books was established at the start of the 21st century as a means of opening a door to writing of significant merit (includes small press and even unpublished pieces). Example Thought to Exist in the Wild, Derrick Jensen. excerpt
High Country News covering environmental news and the communities of the American West, reporting on national parks, wildlife, endangered species etc.
Orion Excellent articles on nature and the environment. audio interviews and readings with writers. Orion Magazine picks include About a Mountain on nuclear storage, Tiger: A True story of Vengeance and Survival and Deep Blue Home about oceans.
Outside Magazine features many great writers, including David Quammen, author of "Planet of Weeds" essay interview and Craig Childs. Fun series of short essays: What Scares Me. UCSC alum Matt Skenazy (Cowell '08, literature), assistant editor at Outside magazine, inspired by Conn Hallinan.
"Consider the Lobster" alt link is an excellent essay on the ethics of eating animals by David Foster Wallace, bonus his fine commencement address (audio), (video 22 min), What is Water? (11 min) by novelist David Foster Wallace, about why college matters (animated TEDtalk version), (as opposed to the fake one ascribed to Kurt Vonnegut (Ice 9 isn't real either, but you really should read his books). and his Letter to the Future.
Rebecca Solnit's “Acts of Hope,” was expanded into her book Hope in the Dark. It was written to welcome that “darkness” which seemed already to be enveloping us. It was written with a sense of how the expectable unravels, of how the future surprises us, often enough with offerings not of horror but of hope. New installment: What Comes After Hope 5/13.Bigger Than That (The Difficulty of) Looking at Climate Change 11/13. The Arc of Justice and the Long Run: Hope, History, and Unpredictability 12/13. See Good News for hope.
The Control of Nature: ATCHAFALAYA by John McPhee.
Susan Orlean, "Orchid Fever." The New Yorker, January 23, 1995.
(For Science Fiction related to the Environment, see Ecological and Social Utopias)
Climate: The Water Knife: In The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi's best-selling, Hugo- and Nebula-winning debut, the author imagines a 23rd century in which the forces of commerce have run amok over the basic, biological building blocks of life. In his equally powerful sophomore novel, The Water Knife, he takes a similar approach to an inorganic substance without which human life wouldn't exist: H2O.
T.C. Boyle's A Friend of the Earth about a possible near future of global warming, includes a character presumably based on Julia Butterfly Hill, but also makes reference to other eco-folk we should all know about. Recommended.
Barbara Kingsolver is one of a handful of novelists with a science background, and she puts it to use in her new novel Flight Behavior. Kingsolver discusses the book and why she chose to look at the the issue of climate change in a fictional work set in rural Tennessee. (audio interview) see also text and audio interview andexcerpt. (Also nonfiction: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, about being a locavore.)
When the Killing's Done by T. Coraghessan Boyle (see below for other books). Traces an incrementally violent confrontation between a National Park Service biologist who would eradicate invasive wildlife on the Channel Islands and two locals who are fiercely opposed to the killing of any creatures. By the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author of World's End. Santa Cruz Island Fox recovery inspired novelist TC Boyle to write about it, When The Killing's Done.T.C. Boyle's A Friend of the Earth about a possible near future of global warming, includes a character presumably based on Julia Butterfly Hill, but also makes reference to other eco-folk we should all know about. Recommended.
Three new novels feature climate change, Mark Nykanen’s Primitive and Far North by Marcel Theroux . Ian McEwan's new comic novel, Solar. John Atcheson is author of the novel, A Being Darkly Wise, an eco-thriller and Book One of a Trilogy centered on global warming.
The Dog Stars follows a man named Hig who survives a superflu that kills most of humanity by Peter Heller, a contributing editor at Outside Magazine, National Geographic Adventure and Men's Journal. He is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Hell or High Water, about kayaking Tibet's Tsangpo River; The Whale Warriors, about illegal whaling near Antarctica (he went out with Sea Shepherds)video) (disturbing images); and Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave.audio interview).
Strange as This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake about coal mining region of Appalachia. Serena is Ron Rash’s fourth novel. For those unfamiliar with the elegantly fine-tuned voice of this Appalachian poet and storyteller.
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, who "won the Turner Tomorrow Award's half-million-dollar first prize for this fascinating and odd book--not a novel by any conventional definition--which was written 13 years ago but could not find a publisher. The unnamed narrator is a disillusioned modern writer who answers a personal ad ("Teacher seeks pupil. . . . Apply in person.") and thereby meets a wise, learned gorilla named Ishmael that can communicate telepathically. The bulk of the book consists entirely of philosophical dialogues between gorilla and man, on the model of Plato's Republic." McH Stacks PS3567.U338 I8 1992
Nick Hornsby A Long Way Down, (Penguin) is well-timed for the holiday season. The opening chapter, set on New Year’s Eve, portrays four very different individuals who find themselves, to their collective surprise, atop the same London rooftop with the same purpose in mind: jumping off and ending it all. Somehow, Hornsby manages to turn this into a brilliant, insightful, hilarious but never easy or sentimental meditation on what makes all of us tick, and how to keep going despite the despair that occasionally tempts each of us. Mark Hertsgaard recommends. Audio interviewwith author
Sebastian Junger talks about his life and career (video interview). His most recent book is Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging. Other books include The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea, Fire, A Death in Belmont, and War. Inspired by Papa, McPhee and Matthiessen (see below).
Jason Mark's new book, “Satellites in the High Country: Searching for the Wild in the Age of Man.” (Island Press, 2015). Interview.
In her new book, Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean, veteran journalist Julia Whitty (many articles here) reaches back over a 30-year career devoted to the oceans and synthesizes her experiences into a work that is equal parts personal memoir and environmental history book. Deep Blue Home (excerpt) delves into the influence of oceans in human culture and spirit, while at the same time documenting how human technological ingenuity, fueled by greed and accompanied by a lack of foresight, is devastating the undersea world. Whitty, an environmental correspondent for Mother Jones, is first a documentary filmmaker, with more than 70 nature documentaries to her credit. She also wrote The Fragile Edge, a book on coral reefs, winner of numerous literary awards.
Farm City is about urban gardening in Oakland.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed traces the personal crisis the author endured after the death of her mother and a painful divorce, which prompted her ambition to undertake a dangerous 1,100-mile solo hike that both drove her to rock bottom and helped her to heal. (Author audio interview). 3/12 TEDx talk video. Nick Hornby’s film adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s blockbuster memoir, Wild.
Writers and Their Notebooks Edited by Diana M. Raab.
Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America by Richard White at Stanford video)
Encounters with the Archdruid is about Sierra Club president David Brower by John McPhee and Betty Crumley. See also Assembling California by John McPhee "takes readers on an intensive geological tour of California... looks at the conjectural science of earthquake prediction and gives an account of a recent San Francisco quake. His leisurely excavation meanders from Mexican explorer Juan Bautista de Anza's settlement of San Francisco in 1776 to 1850s gold-mining camps to the summit of Mount Everest, made of marine limestone lifted from a shelf that once divided India and Tibet. With this volume McPhee concludes his Annals of the Former World series, which he began with Basin and Range (1980).
Alan Weisman's book, The World Without Us, grew out of two questions, he said. One was, "How can I write a best-seller about the environment?" The answer to that was the second question: "How would the rest of nature behave without the constant pressure we put on it?" Longnow.org talk (audio). This led him to wonder how does population factor into all of this, which gives us Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? 2014.excellent BookTV video interview 3/14. His books despite taking on big scary topics are invariably hopeful, for example Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World.
Hope, Human and Wild: True Stories of Living Lightly on the Earth. Bill McKibben’s first book, the bestselling The End of Nature, offered a devastating portrait of the harm human civilization has done to the planet. Hope, Human and Wild sets out on a dramatically different journey to provide examples and hope for a sustainable future, one in which our society’s wealth is measured less by its material productivity and more by its spiritual richness; less by its consumption of resources and more by the extent to which we live in harmony with the natural world. From the Adirondack Mountains to Kerala, India, to Curitiba, Brazil, McKibben offers clear-eyed and profoundly compelling portraits of places where resourceful people have confronted modern problems with inventive solutions, and thrived in the process. With an afterword by the author updating developments in the decade since the book was first published, this new edition offers a badly needed vision of optimism for the future of our planet.
The Bill McKibben Reader S&E Stacks TD171.7 .M38 2008 "Bill McKibben has been among America’s most impassioned and beloved writers on our relationship to our world and our environment. His groundbreaking book on climate change, The End of Nature, is considered “as important as Rachel Carson’s classic Silent Spring” and Deep Economy, his “deeply thoughtful and mind-expanding”(says Michael Pollan) exploration of globalization, helped awaken and fuel a movement to restore local economies."
Daniel Goleman has a new book Ecological Intelligence His blog also has an interesting related TEDtalk video. Extensive talk at Google. Goleman reveals why so many of the products that are labeled green are a mirage, and illuminates our wild inconsistencies in response to the ecological crisis. Drawing on cutting-edge research, Goleman explains why we as shoppers are in the dark over the hidden impacts of the goods and services we make and consume, victims of a blackout of information about the detrimental effects of producing, shipping, packaging, distributing, and discarding the goods we buy.
Into the Wild, a film, based on a book, based on an Outside Magazine article by a great writer, Jon Krakauer, who discusses inspiration for the book. News segment on Chris McCandless. NPR audio interview. Krakauer also authored Into Thin Air about climbing Everest.
Steinbeck Center Fellow Dan White, published The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind--And Almost Found Myself--On the Pacific Trail (Harper Perennial 2008) review.
Reviews of recent books on the green economy and sustainability, including Van Jones and our own Andy Szasz
A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir (Hardcover) by Worster, Donald Oxford University Press, USA, 2008 S&E Stacks QH31.M9 W68 2008 (also available at Santa Cruz): "This is the most comprehensive biography to date of naturalist and Sierra Club founder John Muir. Muir, who declared, “I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature’s loveliness,” has had more impact on conservation and environmentalism than most who have succeeded him in his field (he died shortly before WWI). This fascinating book celebrates Muir’s contributions and legacy, while also revealing that he was a successful fruit-grower, a talented scientist and world-traveler, a doting father and husband, and a self-made man of wealth and political influence. Drawing from personal correspondence and collected interviews, author Donald Worster describes a patchwork life that is as beautiful and inspiring as the land Muir resolved to preserve." —Adrienne Mages
Rebecca Solnit is the author of many books, including Savage Dreams, Storming the Gates of Paradise. Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities is Solnit's rousing celebration of people who work tirelessly behind the scenes and courageously on the streets for justice and environmental health harmonizes beautifully with Studs Terkel's Hope Dies Last. Her blog. Interview about CA corporations 10/10 (audio). Essays: Rebecca Solnit's “Acts of Hope,” was expanded into her book Hope in the Dark. It was written to welcome that “darkness” which seemed already to be enveloping us. It was written with a sense of how the expectable unravels, of how the future surprises us, often enough with offerings not of horror but of hope. New installment: What Comes After Hope 5/13.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, about being a localvore
Diane Ackerman The Rarest of the Rare: Vanishing Animals, Timeless Worlds
Lester Brown's Plan B 3.0 an Environmental Call to Action (interview) Free download of book
Unnatural History of UCSC is a book written by students in Jeff Arnet's Writing 2 class (excerpts)
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins (see also eco-heroes), and L. Hunter Lovins (Back Bay Books, 1999). Its simple message—we can save the planet and make money at the same time—laid the blueprint for the 21st-century sustainability movement. Download free chapters. Here are several related videos. Overview McHenry Stacks HC106.82 .H39 1999
Mark Spragg Where Rivers Change Direction
Annie Dillard Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) is considered the father of wildlife ecology and a true Wisconsin hero. He was a renowned scientist and scholar, exceptional teacher, philosopher, and gifted writer. It is for his book, A Sand County Almanac, that Leopold is best known by millions of people around the globe. The Almanac, often acclaimed as the century's literary landmark in conservation, melds exceptional poetic prose with keen observations of the natural world.
Wallace Stegner The Wilderness Letter
Introduction to Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs New book of letters edited by his son and Professor Emeritus of American Literature at UC Santa Cruz, Page Stegner. Two of his short stories read out loud on NPR's Selected Shorts.
Walden and haiku text and audio. LOE.org
Wendell Berry "The Peace of Wild Things".
W.S. Merwin PBS NewHour interview.
Billy Collins (poet laureate)poem on why we need to protect nature. TEDtalk video with animations ("The Country" "The Dead" "Budapest," "Forgetfulness" and "Some Days"). The Lanyard about gratitude (video).
Felix Dennis is a complex person. He is a publishing magnate (lad rag Maxim), poet (warning: they rhyme), and the driving force behind reforesting Britain Video includes poem and report on Forest of Dennis).
Floyd Skloot interview and poetry reading
Joshua Wolf Shenk looks at how creative intimacy unfolds in his book Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs (interview) Dickensen?. TTBOOK. Steal Like an Artist A. Kleon. Overheard on the Titanic poem.