Best Environmental Books of All Time

Best environmental books

Here in one place you’ll find the best environmental books. It’s a comprehensive list of the most important, influential, interesting and thought-provoking books on the environment and sustainability.

We’ve put these in categories for you – so you can seek out books in a specialty area you might be interested in. You’ll also see here the range of issues around the environment – everything from the big issues of addressing climate change and new economic thinking to matters closer to home – like food and cities.

Mostly it’s non-fiction and books from the last few decades, though we have included some environmental classics and some fiction too.

Yes, these books can be challenging reading, but the matters they raise is the reality of what’s happening on the planet right now. And in any case, you’ll find many present inspiring and doable solutions to even the hardest environmental problems.

Biographies

David Attenborough ‘Life On Air: Memoirs of a Broadcaster’
Edward O Wilson ‘Naturalist’
Andrea Wulf ‘The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World’

Business

Ray Anderson ‘Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose – Doing Business by Respecting the Earth’
Yvon Chouinard ‘Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman’
Anita Roddick ‘Business as Unusual: My Entrepreneurial Journey, Profits and Principles’

Cities

Michael Bloomberg and Carol Pope ‘Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet’
Jan Gehl ‘Life Between Buildings’
Jane Jacobs ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’
James Howard Kunstler ‘The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape’
Janette Sadik-Khan ‘Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution’

Climate

Gwynne Dyer ‘Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats’
Tim Flannery ‘The Weathermakers: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change’
Jeff Goodell ‘The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World’
Al Gore ‘An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming’
Paul Hawken ‘Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming’
James Hansen ‘Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity’
Naomi Klein ‘This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate’
Elizabeth Kolbert ‘Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change’
Bill McKibben ‘The End of Nature’
George Monbiot ‘Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning’

Consumerism

Rachel Botsman ‘ What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption’
Oliver James ‘Affluenza: How to be Successful and Stay Sane’

Design

Janine Benyus ‘Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired By Nature’
William McDonough and Michael Braungart ‘Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things’ ’

Economics & Sustainability

Herman Daly ‘Steady State Economics’
Herman Daly and John Cobb ‘For The Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment and a Sustainable Future’
Thomas L. Friedman ‘Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution’
Paul Hawken ‘The Ecology of Commerce’
Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins ‘Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution’
Richard Heinberg ‘The End of Growth: Adapting to our New Economic Reality’
Richard Heinberg ‘Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines’
Tim Jackson ‘Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet’
Bill McKibben ‘Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future’
Donella H. Meadows ‘The Limits to Growth’
Jonathon Porritt ‘Capitalism as if the World Matters’
Kate Raworth ‘Doughnut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist’
Jeffrey Sachs ‘The Age of Sustainable Development’
Jeffrey Sachs ‘Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet’
Juliet Schor ‘Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth’
E.F. Schumacher ‘Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered’
Nicholas Stern ‘The Economics of Climate Change’

Education

Richard Louv ‘Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder’
Richard Louv ‘The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age’

Energy

Richard Heinberg ‘Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels’
James Howard Kunstler ‘The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century’
Jeremy Leggett ‘The Energy of Nations’
David Mackay ‘Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air’

Fiction

Barbara Kingsolver ‘Flight Behaviour’
Cormack McCarthy ‘The Road’
Edward Abbey ‘The Monkey Wrench Gang’

Food

Bill Mollison ‘Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual’
Michael Pollan ‘In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto’
Michael Pollan ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals’
Jonathan Safran Foer ‘Eating Animals’
Joel Salatin ‘Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front’
Eric Schlosser ‘Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal’
Karl Weber ‘Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It’

Jobs

Van Jones ‘The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems’

Kids

Dr Seuss ‘The Lorax’
Dr Seuss ‘Horton Hears a Who’
Oliver Jeffers ‘Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth’
Shel Silverstein ‘The Giving Tree’

Nature – conservation

Douglas Adams ‘Last Chance to See’
Elizabeth Kolbert ‘The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History’
George Monbiot ‘Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea and Human Life’
Farley Mowat ‘Never Cry Wolf’
M R O’Connor ‘Resurrection Science: Conservation, De-Extinction and the Precarious Future of Wild Things’
David Quammen ‘The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions’
Edward O Wilson ‘The Diversity of Life’
Edward O Wilson ‘Half Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life’

Nature – connection

Barbara Kingsolver ‘Small Wonder’
Michael Pollan ‘The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World’
David Suzuki ‘The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature’
Robin Wall Kimmerer ‘Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants’
Edward O Wilson ‘Biophilia: The Human Bond with Other Species’

Nature – Earth

James Lovelock ‘Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth’
Bill McKibben ‘Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet’
Carl Sagan ‘Cosmos’
Alan Weisman ‘The World Without Us’

Nature – journeys and wilderness

Edward Abbey ‘Desert Solitaire’
Bill Bryson ‘A Walk in the Woods’
Jon Krakauer ‘Into the Wild’
Aldo Leopold ‘A Sandy County Almanac (outdoor essays and reflections)’
John Muir ‘A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf’
John Muir ‘Nature Writings’
Henry David Thoreau ‘Walden; Or Life in the Woods’

Nature – trees

David George Haskell ‘The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors’
Peter Wohlleben ‘The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries From a Secret World’

Oceans

Rachel Carson ‘The Sea Around Us’
Sylvia Earle ‘The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One’
Alanna Mitchell ‘Seasick: The Hidden Ecological Crisis of the Global Ocean’
Charles Moore and Cassandra Phillips ‘Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans’

Politics

Bill McKibben ‘American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau’
George Monbiot ‘Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis’
Will Potter ‘Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege’
Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus ‘Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility’

Population

Paul R Ehrlich ‘The Population Bomb’
Jared Diamond ‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’

Psychology

Charles Handy ‘The Hungry Spirit: Beyond Capitalism: The Quest for Purpose in the Modern World’
Jeremy Lent ‘The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning’
Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway ‘Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth’
Michael Mann and Tom Toles ‘The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy’
George Marshall ‘Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change’

Waste

Rachel Carson ‘Silent Spring’
Annie Leonard ‘The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health’
Lucy Siegle ‘Turning The Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (And You) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again’

This Best Environmental Books list has been compiled by Phil Stubbs. Phil is an environmental journalist, podcaster and producer of The Environment Show.

Phil began putting this list together after doing background research for his series on environmental leaders. (Many of the people he’s interviewing have written a significant book on the environment.) It’s now a lifetime’s list of reading to do!

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