What to read this Earth Day…

Today millions of people around the world will be showing their support for environmental protection, and doing what they can in their own way to celebrate the planet. So to the theme of nature preservation and celebration, here’s what we recommend you read this Earth Day.


Botanical by Samuel Zeller
(9781910566336, h/b, Hoxton Mini Press, £16.95)

The sixth instalment in Hoxton’s ongoing Tales from the City series, Botanical highlights the many secret gardens hidden within cities across Europe. Visiting the likes of Edinburgh, Paris, Geneva and Prague, Samuel Zeller captures these horticultural havens often through the misted glass of the greenhouses, lending them a serene, ethereal quality seemingly at odds with the bustling cities in which they’re discovered. A hopeful reminder that even with the unstoppable advance of the urban, as well as the increasingly unstable climate we live in, there remains room to preserve and protect our environment in all its natural beauty.

The Memory We Could Be: Overcoming Fear to Create Our Ecological Future by Daniel Macmillen Voskoboynik
(9781780264400, p/b, New Internationalist, £9.99) 

With the increasingly dire threat of climate change making constant and almost daily headlines, it’s easy to take a despairing approach to our ability to achieve the challenges of Earth Day at all. Lucid, inspiring and beautifully written, The Memory We Could Be grounds its approach to the subject of our ecological crisis with a humanising, hopeful voice. Read this if you’d rather something that isn’t stuffy, academic, or just depressing, but rather illustrates in human terms the world we could lose, and the world we can still win.


Folk Magic & Healing by Fez Inkwright
(9781912634118, h/b, Liminal 11, £11.99)

Hedgerows have long been ingrained in British myth and legend. Home to thousands of species of wildlife, they are a vital component of our countryside and over the years have become entwined with folk tales and natural healing. This illustrated treasury of the folklore of flora is filled with insight into the mysteries of everyday plants, and aims to inspire a greater appreciation of our hedgerows before they are lost to us.

The Mosquito by Timothy C. Winegard
(9781911231127, p/b, Text Publishing Company, £12.99)

Out of the 108 billion people ever to have lived, mosquitoes have caused the death of 52 billion. They have razed economies and decided the outcomes of wars, led to colonisation and revolution and determined the fates of empires. In The Mosquito, expert author Timothy C. Winegard maps this tiny insect’s impact on human history, showing how mosquitoes have indelibly shaped our world.  


Rock Pool by Heather Buttivant
(9781910463673, h/b, September Publishing, £14.99)

This engrossing book that is part memoir, part natural history, tells the little-known stories of the creatures that live on the beaches fringing the British Isles and northern Europe. As someone who grew up on the coast of western Ireland there is much nostalgia to be had here – and much to make me wonder why I moved to the city at all. The book is split into zones Upper, Middle, and Lower Intertidal, and each chapter examines a different organism, from sea squirts to sandhoppers to hermit crabs. Heather Buttivant’s lifelong passion shines throughout, giving new meaning to the term ‘beach read’.

The Great North Wood by Tim Bird
(9781910395363, pb, Avery Hill, £9.99)

In this brief but moving graphic novel, Tim Bird’s fox guide leads us through the remnants, physical and otherwise, of the great forest that once covered a vast swath of southern England. Through the ancient oaks that are still standing here and there and in place names – Forest Hill, Honour Oak, Norwood – the Great North Wood’s mark upon the land remains, though faded and mythic. In a time of increasing urbanisation, forest clearing, tree-netting and biodiversity-destroying monocultural farming, this is an important reminder that what we have now will not last forever, unless we act to keep it.


Whose Water Is It, Anyway? Taking Water Protection into Public Hands by Maude Barlow (9781770414303, p/b, ECW Press, £11.99)

Whose Water is it, Anyway? is both a handbook and a history of the Blue Communities project. Started by the Council of Canadians, Blue Communities are communities who rethink their water framework based on three principles: recognising water as a human right, opposing the sale of bottled water in public facilities, and promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services.

Whose Water is a heartwarming example of how ordinary people can instigate enormous change through sheer dedication and activism. In an age where universal public access to clean water is still seen as a controversial issue by governments and global enterprises alike; Whose Water is It, Anyway? is empowering in its realism and simplicity. 

Eating Tomorrow by Timothy A. Wise
(9781620974223, h/b, The New Press, £23.99)

In response to challenges posed by climate change and a growing population, corporate and philanthropic leaders have called for major investments in industrial agriculture. In Eating Tomorrow, Wise highlights the paradox of a food system in which big industrial farms consume the most resources, but only produce a minority of the world’s food.

Wise argues that most of the world is in fact fed by hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers, and that agribusinesses have largely hijacked food policies to feed corporate interests. With plenty of data and thirty years’ experience in the field, Wise makes a convincing claim to place family farmers at the centre of policies, helping them feed their families, their communities, and their countries while they nourish the planet. In order to safeguard food for tomorrow, Wise argues, we need to seriously question corporate influence on democracy today.

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