This week sees Glasgow host the COP26, with a focus on climate change and how countries should be doing more to look after our wonderful planet. Whilst the eyes of the world may be focused on the discussions and decisions made at the summit, it is important that we also take time to dip into a book or two.

We stay on theme though, and below are some recommendations to get you started on thinking about the world and our place in it.

All books available from us (via the website or in person) and of course from other brilliant independent book shops!

Books To Be An Environmental Champion

From What Is To What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want

by Rob Hopkins

Founder of the Transitions Towns Movement, Hopkins walks the walk when it comes to being a champion for the environment. Hopkins asserts that it is positive imagination and creative thinking that can get us out of the climate crisis. Packed with interviews from people who are driving change for the better, Hopkins says that instead of feeling despondent about the future, we should be working collaboratively to revive and reclaim it.  

From What Is to What If is a powerful, passionate and inspiring book. It is a call to action to people, communities and countries around the world to reclaim and unleash our collective imagination. Once we do, there is no end to what we might accomplish.

The Joyful Environmentalist: How to Practise without Preaching

by Isabel Losada

It’s really rare that a book about the perils of the environment can bring a smile to my face, but this one actually did. Finally! A book about saving our planet that isn’t completely full of doom and gloom. Anyone who knows Losada’s previous work (For Tibet, with Love : A Beginner’s Guide to Changing the World, Battersea Park Road to Paradise) will know that she is absolutely brilliant at tackling complex issues with a light touch.

This book is fast, funny and inspiring too (yes, it even manages to be joyful). Losada does not bother with an examination of the problem but gets right on with the solutions. Her aim is simple: to look for every single way that we can take care of the planet; how we live and work, travel, shop, eat, drink, dress, vote, play, volunteer, bank – everything. Empowering and enlightening, this book is for anyone who loves nature and knows that one person can make a HUGE difference.

Books to help to understand our co-dependency on nature

Finding the Mother Tree

by Suzanne Simard
Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she’s been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls of James Cameron’s Avatar) and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.

Now, in her first book, Simard shows us fascinating and vital truths–that trees are not simply the source of timber but are complex and interdependent and that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks. And at the centre of their communal lives is the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustains them.

Nature is Never Silent

by Madlen Ziege

Fans of Entangled Life, The Hidden Life of Trees and Finding the Mother Tree will love this book. Ziege uses behavioural biology to explore the constant exchange of information that occurs in our forest fields and gardens. This book explores that symbiotic relationship, discussing how animals and plants must communicate with one another to survive, but they also tell lies, set traps, talk to themselves, and speak to each other in a variety of unexpected ways.

Written in charming, humorous, and accessible prose, she shows how nature’s language can help us to understand our own place in the natural world a little better.

Cli-fi (a real term, we haven’t made it up, I promise!)

The Overstory

by Richard Powers

To quote from The Overstory itself, “The best arguments in the world won’t change a person’s mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story.” And I would argue that you would have to look long and hard to find a better story than this one.

The novel itself is divided into four parts. Part 1, charmingly entitled Roots, reads like a short story collection and introduces us to our nine protagonists and their back stories. Part 2 through 4 (entitled ‘Trunk’, ‘Crown’ and ‘Seeds’) brings the characters together and their lives entangle like the branches of a tree. Interwoven through this masterpiece is the tenth character – trees – and an exploration of our role and relationship with nature.

The High House

by Jessie Greengrass

Although it may seem perverse to read an apocalyptic novel after the couple of years we have had, this one should not be missed. A powerful novel about parenthood, sacrifice and survival in a world that is at threat of extinction, this novel follows four people’s attempt to make a home in the midst of environmental disaster.

Perched on a sloping hill, set away from a small town by the sea, the High House has a tide pool and a mill, a vegetable garden, and, most importantly, a barn full of supplies. The High House is a stunning, emotionally precise novel about what can be salvaged at the end of the world.