Looking for a way to green your bookshelf? Here are 10 books to begin your journey. Take your pick from spiritual memoirs, works of fiction and untold histories, and open a new book while lounging by the lake! This list provides a starting point, but who knows where you will end up? All of these titles can be accessed through the Hesburgh Library website.
- Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country (Louise Erdrich): In a series of short essays, Anishinaabe author Louise Erdrich chronicles her physical and spiritual journey through Ojibwe Country in northern Minnesota and Canada. Erdrich’s poetic prose evokes the mystery and mourning surrounding the landscape she explores and the people who inhabit it.
- My Story As Told by Water (David James Duncan): Through 22 hilarious and heartbreaking essays, David James Duncan tells his story as a fisherman, a writer, and a life-long water lover. Be it glimpsing the Vast Inside through the eye of a coho salmon or advocating for responsible (un)damming, Duncan’s wit and wisdom shine through his awe of the natural world. This is a must-read for anyone interested in water rights, environmental justice, or perhaps fellow fly-fishing addicts.
- As Long as Grass Grows (Dina Gilio-Whitaker): Published in 2019, As Long As Grass Grows provides a searing, up-to-date commentary on the ambivalent relationship between Native peoples’ sovereignty and fight for rights and various environmentalism movements. Colville Confederated Tribes member and Indigenous peoples scholar Dina Gilio-Whitaker explores how white supremacy and exploitation of Native peoples have influenced U.S. environmental policy and practice. At the intersection of activism, feminism, and Native sovereignty, this book asks readers how and if we can decolonize this land and its people, forcing us to reexamine what true environmental justice looks like. This book can be accessed through the Hesburgh Library.
- The Unsettling of America (Wendell Berry): Poet and essayist Wendell Berry explores modern Americans’ relationship with the land in this eye-opening collection. Each page asks readers where they come from, and what it means to be from a place. Inspiring and, yes, unsettling, The Unsettling of America’s critical lens examines American history and pokes holes in American identities, asking if there could be another way to live.
- An American Childhood (Annie Dillard): In this memoir, Dillard recreates her gradual awakening in the midst of her 1950’s childhood. Complete with vivid portraits of childhood dreams and rock collections, insect-hunting trips, and her father’s float down the Allegheny River towards New Orleans, this book stares unabashedly at childhood and adolescence in all their innocence and guilt, and reminds readers what it is to be young and in love with the world around them.
- The Peregrine (J.A. Baker): The Peregrine is a culmination of J.A. Baker’s self-proclaimed “ten-year obsession with peregrine falcons.” Bursting with scientific details and oozing poetry through its prose, this book will give you a new perspective on beauty and bloodshed, silence and snow, and the birds of prey that circle in the sky above.
- The Great Lakes Water Wars (Peter Annin): This nonfiction book chronicles decades' worth of debates about how (and if) Americans should use the resources available in the Great Lakes ecosystem. It examines the historical, cultural, and ecological importance of these lakes, as well as considering questions of water allocation and dire warnings from lakes past. From the controversial reversal of the Chicago River to the threat of carp creeping northward, this book provides a detailed introduction to the state of water in the Midwest, and the effect that these water wars could have on America at large.
- The Overstory (Richard Powers): A story of activism, receptiveness, and resilience, The Overstory brings nine unique and memorable characters to life in one intricate epic. As a work of fiction, it is a page-turner; as an ecological lament, it is haunting. This book’s presentation of environmental justice through different walks of life will leave readers questioning everything they thought they knew about the human and non-human beings around them.
- Arctic Dreams (Barry Lopez): Travel with Barry Lopez to the northernmost region of our world through this book, and marvel at the beauty of Arctic ecosystems. In conversation with the Arctic’s Native peoples, Lopez paints the North in all its glory with the broadest of strokes and the minutest of details, revealing a breathtaking perspective on these fragile spaces, and adding his voice to the plea for their protection.
- Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World (Linda Hogan): In this collection of writings, Chickasaw author Linda Hogan explores the shifting relationships between human beings and the living world. Drawing on her own experiences listening to wolves and sweeping bird cages, Hogan works towards an understanding between two world views, one that is ancient and one that is new and young. This work’s “pages come from forests, its words spring from the giving earth,” and it challenges us to consider ourselves as a part of nature rather than apart from it.