Read Green, Live Green: Summer Reads for Adults
Extended Online Bibliography
Writers in the Wild
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
Do children spend too much time inside? In this compelling book Richard Louv looks at the unhealthy implications of what he calls ‘nature deficit’ on children, adults and society as a whole.
The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich
Moving to Wyoming in search of solace and anonymity, Ehrlich instead found herself awakened by the vast wild spaces of the West. This book charts her path of self-discovery while effortlessly capturing the savage beauty of the place she comes to love.
A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold
In this classic work conservationist Aldo Leopold takes time to consider the wild things that are often taken for granted in the modern world, and encourages us to reevaluate the blessings of nature.
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
Deeply contemplative and poetic, this Pulitzer Prize-winning essay collection explores solitude, writing and religion from the vantage point of a year spent examining the natural world of Tinker Creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You by Clare Walker Leslie & Charles Roth
Filled with sketches and notes taken from the authors’ own journals, this book teaches everything from different styles of nature writing to the delicate task of sketching birds on the fly.
Sharing Nature with Children: The Classic Parents' & Teachers' Nature Awareness Guidebook by Joseph Cornell
Enjoying nature with children is the focus of this book of games, programs and activities for young and old alike.
Rural Hours by Susan Fenimore Cooper
The daughter of author James Fenimore Cooper, Susan Fenimore Cooper was the first American woman to publish her thoughts on the natural world. In this book, she calls for a sustainable society that embraces nature.
My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir
Through the pages of his journal Muir recounts in beautiful detail the trip to Yosemite in the summer of 1869 that fueled his love of the natural world and inspired him to found the Sierra Club.
Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez
Exploring the far North over a period of fifteen years, Lopez discovers that he has been changed not only by his experiences and encounters but also by the very landscape of the arctic.
Awakening to Nature: Renewing Your Life by Connecting with the Natural World by Charles Cook
This book acts as a roadmap for those overwhelmed by the stress of modern life, showing how nature can both soothe and reinvigorate and offering ways to develop a relationship with it.
Suburban Safari: A Year on the Lawn by Hannah Holmes
Nature need not refer to distant woodlands or majestic peaks. As Holmes discovers in this lighthearted investigation, the natural world and all of its fascinating intricacies are as close as the nearest back yard.
Plants & Parks
Anatomy of a Rose: Exploring the Secret Life of Flowers by Sharman Apt Russell
A joyous look at the science and the splendor of flowers, as well as the secret tricks they use to tempt birds, animals and insects to come a little closer.
The Tree-Sitter: A Novel by Suzanne Matson
College student Julie Prince follows her boyfriend to the forests of Oregon for what she thinks will be a romantic summer trip, and is forced to decide how far she will go to protect the trees she grows to love.
The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring by Richard Preston
An adventure tale fraught with danger, beauty and innovation, Preston’s book traces the recent discovery of the rich treetop ecosystem of the giant redwoods, the world’s tallest organisms.
The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
The simple tale of a man who quietly plants 100 acorns a day in order to bring life and hope to his home in war-torn France shows the difference one person’s efforts can make.
Wild Iris by Louise Gluck
In this Pulitzer-Prize winning collection, Gluck speaks of the natural world from the point of view of its most poetic manifestation, flowers.
Chicago's Urban Nature: A Guide to the City's Architecture + Landscape by Sally A. Kitt Chappell
Chicago leads the way in the international movement towards greener cities, and this book highlights the places where buildings and green spaces come together to form the “City in a Garden.”
Inspired by Nature: The Garfield Park Conservatory and Chicago's West Side by Julia Sniderman Bachrach & Jo Ann Nathan
Lavish with photographs, this book lovingly tells the hundred-year history of the Garfield Park Conservatory, from planning and construction through the revival of its west-side neighborhood to its current use as a community gathering place.
Green Roof Plants: A Resource and Planting Guide by Edmund C. Snodgrass & Lucie L. Snodgrass
For people considering a green roof or those simply interested in learning how these innovative gardens work best, this guide explains the basics of construction and carefully details what types of plants can thrive in a roof-top environment.
Lasagna Gardening for Small Spaces: A Layering System for Big Results in Small Gardens and Containers by Patricia Lanza
A handy guide for gardening in small spaces, this method promises an easy way to garden with no digging, no weeding and less watering for those who have limited time or little experience raising plants.
Grow Organic: Over 250 Tips and Ideas for Growing Flowers, Veggies, Lawns and More by Doug Oster & Jessica Walliser
Experienced gardeners Oster and Walliser offer their knowledge of organic gardening in this guide to turning a conventional garden space into one free of chemicals while still getting marvelous results.
The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed by John Valliant
A logger-turned-environmentalist cuts down a 300 year-old Golden Spruce—the only one in the world—to bring attention to the devastation that clear-cut forestry brings. Valliant explores the significance of the tree, its history, and the action itself in the context of the logging industry and the modern world.
The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
Set in a much-altered version of our world after the “Great Change” brought on by environmental war, this book tells the tale of young Ejii, blessed with special powers to understand the shadows. Now she must travel far from her home in the Sahara desert to stop a war between Earth and other worlds that seek to destroy it.
From the Bottom Up: One Man’s Crusade to Clean America’s Rivers by Chad Pregracke with Jeff Barrow
Armed with only gloves and a used boat, Pregracke set out to single-handedly clear the garbage from the Mississippi river, and ended up bringing national media attention to the state of America’s largest rivers and growing his lone efforts into a not-for-profit organization engaging thousands of volunteers.
The Great Lakes Water Wars by Peter Annin
A fast-paced look at the people and issues surrounding the tense dispute over water rights in the Great Lakes Region, and an invitation to join in the debate.
The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson
Winner of the 1952 National Book Award, Rachel Carson’s classic look at the lifecycle of the ocean and its inhabitants remains a beautiful and thought-provoking exploration of what Carson describes as “the last great frontier of Earth.”
Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen
This hilarious suspense novel begins when impeccably correct Honey Santana takes a rude salesman and his girlfriend to the Florida wilderness to teach them some manners, little knowing that she’s being followed.
Fresh Water: Women Writing on the Great Lakes edited by Alison Swan
Beautiful, touching and flecked with humor, this collection about the Great Lakes evokes memories of family, of solitude, and of interconnectedness—between people and nature as well as between the lakes themselves.
The Last Fish Tale: The Fate of the Atlantic and Survival in Gloucester, America's Oldest Fishing Port and Most Original Town by Mark Kurlansky
Kurlansky’s detailed and poignant look at the four-hundred-year-old fishing culture in one small New England town explores the impact of overfishing and climate change on the men and women who rely on fishing for their livelihoods.
The Chicago River: An Illustrated History and Guide to the River and Its Waterways by David M. Solzman
This comprehensive and inviting book tells the history of the Chicago River alongside scientific tidbits about its animals and plants, points of interest along the its banks, and recommended trips for those wishing to experience the river firsthand.
When the Rivers Run Dry: Water--The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century by Fred Pearce
In this sobering book, Pearce reviews the threats to rivers throughout the United States and the world, and investigates the social, political and environmental impact that the deaths of rivers will have on humanity.
The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas by Jerry Dennis
Set during his time as a crewmember aboard a schooner on a six-week voyage through the Great Lakes, Dennis recounts the history and ecology of the Lakes and shares the tales of his modern-day adventure.
Deep Water: The Epic Struggle over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment by Jacques Lesley
The large dams built by humanity have hugely influenced the natural world, possibly even affecting the speed of Earth’s rotation. Through individual stories Leslie shows the social, economic and environmental impact that dams have had and will have on our planet.
The Cure for Anything is Salt Water: How I Threw My Life Overboard and Found Happiness at Sea by Mary South
Sick of her job in publishing and looking for adventure, South decided to buy a boat, learn to sail it and see what awaited her in this charming memoir of life at sea.
Coyote: Seeking the Hunter in Our Midst by Catherine Reid
After returning to her home town in northern Massachusetts, Reid began to investigate a new type of coyote inhabiting the area, and to draw parallels between her life and the lives of the coyotes.
Grayson by Lynne Cox
While swimming in the ocean one morning as a teenager, Cox realized that she was being followed by a baby gray whale. This is the tale of the magical hour she spent leading the whale back to its mother.
Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey, The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World by Holley Bishop
An ode to the humble honey-bee, this book follows the history of one of the oldest foods from ancient times to modern hives. Along the way Bishop shares her experiences as a novice bee-keeper and explains the science of honey-making.
Silence of the Songbirds: How We Are Losing the World’s Songbirds and What We Can Do to Save Them by Bridget Stutchbury
Following migratory birds around the world to seek reasons for their decline, Stutchbury explains the many roles that these birds play in our fields and forests, and offers strategies to save the songbirds before it is too late.
Hunting for Frogs on Elston, and Other Tales from Field & Street by Jerry Sullivan
The collected essays of beloved local author and naturalist Sullivan highlight the wonders of nature that appear on, around and under the streets of Chicago.
The Hopes of Snakes: And Other Tales from the Urban Landscape by Lisa Couturier
Couturier offers up her experiences with the varied wildlife that shares her home in that most urban of places—New York City— and invites us to look upon our own city’s wealth of animals with fresh eyes.
The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature by Jonathan Rosen
No sooner than he discovered the joy of bird watching, Rosen realized that bird populations have already been significantly reduced by industrialization. With grace and compassion, he shows how our actions have robbed us of our birthright, and encourages readers to appreciate the beauty of what remains.
The Whale Warriors: The Battle at the Bottom of the World to Save the Planet’s Largest Mammals by Peter Heller
Heller recounts the thrilling tale of life aboard the Farley Mowat, the super-equipped modern-day pirate ship manned by a vigilante crew of environmentalists willing to stop illegal whaling in the Antarctic at any cost.
The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood by Sy Montgomery
When Montgomery and her husband adopted a sickly baby pig they had no idea that he would soon become a beloved member of the family, a local celebrity and an inspiration to others.
The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms by Amy Stewart
Following the humble movements of the lowly earthworm, Stewart uncovers the impact that these small creatures have on the land and their place in the ecosystem.
How the Dead Dream by Lydia Millet
Real estate developer T. is torn between his high-profile lifestyle with his girlfriend and caring for his troubled mother when he develops an obsession with disappearing species, breaking into zoos after hours to find comfort in spending time with rare creatures.
Food & Farming
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
On a journey to follow the course of four meals from farm (or forest) to table, Pollan leads a thoughtful investigation of the ethical and health implications of the way we choose our food.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp & Camille Kingsolver
Best-selling author Kingsolver moved her family to the hills of Appalachia with a vision of eating only home-grown and local food, and shares their joys and struggles on the road to a successful harvest.
The Earth Knows my Name: Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans by Patricia Klindienst
A literal way to put down roots, gardens offer the eight families in this book a place of healing and a treasured link between past and present lives.
Food, Inc.: Mendel to Monsanto--the Promises and Perils of the Biotech Harvest by Peter Pringle
Are genetically modified foods the key to ending world hunger and disease, or are they dangerous to our health and to the environment? In this balanced look at genetic modification author Pringle explores both sides of the controversy.
Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables by John Peterson
An informative look at the vegetables available in farmers’ markets—what they are, when they grow and how to use them—sprinkled with stories and facts from Angelic Organics in Caledonia, Illinois.
All Over Creation by Ruth Ozecki
Estranged daughter Yumi returns to her family farm in Idaho to find her parents in the middle of a struggle over genetically engineered crops, and must come to terms with her family and her past as she is drawn deeper into the debate.
The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat by Charles Clover
Sounding a warning bell for the world’s oceans, award-winning author Clover investigates the fishing industry and the widespread environmental and social damage that results from our unsustainable desire for cheap, healthy protein.
Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food by Eric Schlosser & Charles Wilson
Witty and informative, this book from the best-selling author of Fast Food Nation is a chilling look at the production and preparation of fast food, as well as its effects on both people and animals.
The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason
Singer and Mason follow three families with different but common food habits to uncover the good and bad aspects of the American diet, and to expose the way food choices affect our world.
From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden by Amy Stewart
Idealistically tilling the soil in front of her new home, Stewart envisions the garden of her dreams—and then must work to make the dream come true.
Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats by Steve Ettlinger
In an attempt to answer his children’s questions about where food comes from, Ettlinger follows each ingredient in a Twinkie back to its source.
Fresh Choices: More Than 100 Easy Recipes for Pure Food When You Can’t Buy 100% Organic by David Joachim & Rochelle Davis
This easy-to-use guide is full of information about organic versus conventional farming, tips for making the healthiest choices, tempting recipes and a sprinkling of profiles of celebrities who have made a difference in the food movement.
Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
This lighthearted memoir shows that even during the tough times of the Great Depression, love and laughter were the most important ingredients for raising happy children.
Energy & Design
Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy by Jay Inslee & Bracken Hendricks
In response to global warming, companies are racing to find new ways to power our lives. Filled with moving stories and thoughtful optimism, this book outlines the possibilities for our energy future.
Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future by Jeff Goodell
Few of us realize the massive damage to the environment and our health that is caused by mining and burning coal. Goodell provides a hard-hitting look at the American coal industry.
Electric Dreams: One Unlikely Team of Kids and the Race to Build the Car of the Future by Caroline Kettlewell
A team of teenagers from an impoverished North Carolina town sets out to build an electric car for a competition with much wealthier schools. This is the inspiring true story of these underdogs who stood up to discrimination to add their answer to the future of transportation.
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Ways We Make Things by William McDonough & Michael Braungart
In this call for change, McDonough and Braungart envision a new style of manufacturing that focuses on eco-friendly production and waste reduction, and provide inspiring examples such as the tree-less “paper” on which the book is printed.
Strange As This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake
When the coal companies come to mine the peaceful valley where Lace Ricker has lived all her life, she and her family must decide whether to defend their land as the waste and run-off from the mining threatens their safety.
ZOOM: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future by Vijay Vaitheeswaran & Iain Carson
In this unabashed look at the workings of the fuel industry, the authors trace the history of our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, deliver a call to action for changing how we run our cars and offer hope for the future.
Greenwar by Steven Gould & Laura J. Mixon
Emma, a high-flying executive who has devoted her life to the “green” Gulfstream corporation, is faced with an attack by environmentalist guerillas intent on destroying everything she has worked for, and with an old love who may be the only way to save the company.
On the “Clean” Road Again: Biodiesel and the Future of the Family Farm by Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson turns his attention to the need for clean fuels and the benefits that biofuels could have on the environment, the consumer and most importantly, the American family farmer.
Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy by Gwyneth Cravens
Once a skeptic of nuclear power, Cravens meets with scientists and health professionals to carefully sort through commonly held beliefs about nuclear energy in order to get to the truth about this form of energy.
Climate Change & Waste
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
In this imaginative work, Weisman explores how long our cities would stand, which animals would thrive and what our eventual impact on the planet would be if humans were to disappear forever.
Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming by Chris Mooney
New Orleans native Mooney investigates whether global warming has had an effect on the strength of hurricanes, and offers an account of the ongoing debate over what to expect from storms in the future.
An Air That Kills: How the Asbestos Poisoning of Libby, Montana, Uncovered a National Scandal by Andrew Schneider & David McCumber
When its families began to die of asbestos-related diseases, one mining community came together to demand justice. This is the chilling true story of the citizens of Libby, Montana who brought their cause to national attention.
Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash by Elizabeth Royte
Where does trash go after it disappears into a garbage truck? Stopping along the way to talk to scientists, CEOs, composters and others involved in waste removal, Royte follows our garbage and explores its environmental impact.
Gain by Richard Powers
The story of three brothers in post-colonial America who start a soap making company that will one day become a multinational corporation is intertwined with that of current-day Laura Brody, a divorced, Midwestern mother of two who discovers that her ovarian cancer may be linked to the household products manufactured in her town.
Exodus by Julie Bertagna
The year is 2099 and the ice caps are melting, changing forever the face of Earth. Fifteen-year-old Mara must lead her island people to a new city where they will be safe from the rising seas.
Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas
Scientists report that the Earth’s temperature is likely to rise between one and six degrees by the end of this century. In this enthralling book, journalist Lynas uses scientific data to envision life on Earth at each increased degree.
Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic by Marla Cone
On her journey to what appears to be the pristine upper reaches of the world, Cone discovers that tons of pesticides and chemicals have entered the delicate food-web of the arctic, spreading disease among animals and humans alike.
The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by Tim Flannery
Flannery explores the research into increasingly dangerous storms that show how global warming and climate change are linked to human activity. He then exhorts readers to use their position as “weathermakers” to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Earth: The Sequel by Fred Krupp & Miriam Horn
Encouraging inventiveness and environmentally-friendly capitalism, Krupp and Horn present their solution to climate change—federal carbon caps paired with a lucrative series of rewards for businesses that exceed national requirements—through case studies and evidence of early successes.
A Friend of the Earth by TC Boyle
Set in the near future, zoo-keeper Ty reflects on his life, beginning with environmental activism in the ‘80s and ‘90s and leading up to his current life in a hellish world plagued by flood and drought.
The Secret History of the War on Cancer by Devra Davis
Has the war on cancer been battling the wrong enemy? Davis believes we should be fighting the causes of cancer rather than the disease itself, and explores how corporations intent on protecting their interests have distracted us from the real issues surrounding the disease.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Alone and tormented, Jimmy tells the story of his youth in a world split between rich and poor, rife with genetic engineering and affected by massive climate change. He weaves in the tale of his best friend and the love of his life, the duo that ultimately leads him to be the last surviving human on earth.
Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit by Al Gore
Focusing on the impact everyday choices can have on the environment, Nobel Prize winner and former Vice President Al Gore shows how we got ourselves into the global warming mess, and offers hope for a way out.
Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben
In this thoughtful work, prolific environmental author McKibben encourages readers to invest their money in projects that will enhance their communities, enrich their neighbors and encourage self-reliant and value-based local cultures.
Living Green: A Practical Guide to Simple Sustainability by Greg Horn
A thoughtful, positive guide to making changes that help protect the environment, this book provides an excellent starting point for improving health, home and community.
Myspace/OurPlanet: Change Is Possible by Myspace Community, Jeca Taudte & Dan Santat
Full of quick tips, important facts and inspiring eco-ideas from teens across the country, this book breaks down the many aspects of life that can be made more “green.”
Wake Up and Smell the Planet: The Non-Pompous, Non-Preachy Grist Guide to Greening Your Day edited by Brangien Davis with Katharine Wroth
This funny, irreverent handbook to making lifestyle changes gives both quick ideas and in-depth information about “greening” a daily routine, from what to eat for breakfast to taking care of pets and everything in between.
Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life by Ed Begley, Jr.
Author and actor Begley has chosen an environmentally-friendly and cost-conscious lifestyle for nearly forty years. With his wife weighing in with style and comfort tips, Begley shares what he has learned along the way.
Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World by Paul Hawken
Hawken follows the worldwide growth of grass-roots groups working for environmental and social justice and outlines their shared interests, calling attention to the changes that they bring through their efforts.
Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grassroots by Kevin Danaher, Shannon Biggs & Jason Mark
Challenging the notion of the American Dream as an individual goal, this book explores the impact of a small group of people through examples of ordinary citizens working to protect the environment and their local communities.
How to Live Well Without Owning a Car: Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life by Chris Balish
Author Balish demonstrates how not owning a car can be as good for the wallet as it is for the environment, and shows how to live without a car waiting in the driveway.
Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home by Linda Mason Hunter and Mikki Halpern
More than just a step-by-step guide to cleaning your home with green products, this book includes evaluations of eco-friendly products, recipes for tried-and-true solutions and ideas for workable cleaning goals.
Green Investing: A Guide to Making Money Through Environment Friendly Stocks by Jack Uldrich
This book shows that it is possible to put your money to work in socially responsible ways, and offers a roadmap to investing in environmentally-sustainable companies.
Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House: Bringing Your Home into Harmony with Nature by Carol Venolia and Kelly Lerner
Renovating existing structures is one of the greenest choices for construction, but how should it be done? This book guides those interested in remodeling from start to finish through a energy efficient and eco-friendly home renovation.
Don’t Throw it Out: Recycle, Renew, and Reuse to Make Things Last by Lori Baird
Chock-full of ideas for reusing items in unexpected ways, author Baird offers simple fixes for broken things, money-saving tips and practical advice for getting the most use out of household items.