Give the gift of a captivating and inspiring new read this holiday season
1. The Most Important Comic Book on Earth
Ranging from hilarious to inspirational, the 120 comics, stories and artwork in The Most Important Comic Book on Earth: Stories to Save the World (DK) all focus on fighting to save the planet. This global collaboration includes visual stories by big names such as Jane Goodall, Ricky Gervais and Andy Serkis.
2. The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food
Visual learners will appreciate The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food: Step-by-Step Vegetable Gardening for Everyone (Ten Speed Press), a graphic novel that tells the story of a young professional being taught how to garden by a retired neighbour. Author Joseph Tychonievich also includes quick references throughout, covering topics such as the easiest veggies to grow and ways to protect plants from pests.
3. The Past Is Red
Catherynne M. Valente has crafted a post-apocalyptic tale set a century in the future, long after the Earth has flooded due to the climate crisis. The humans who survive live on an enormous floating garbage patch called Garbagetown. Describing The Past Is Red (Tordotcom) as a critique of consumer culture makes it seem like a total downer, but the novella actually bursts with humour and hope for humanity’s future.
4. Waiting for the Night Song
A forestry scientist tracks the movement of pine beetles, which leave devastating forest fires in their wake. When the beetles head to the woods around her childhood home, she must reconnect with a childhood friend—and risk bringing to light long-kept secrets. Waiting for the Night Song (Forge Books), the debut novel by Julie Carrick Dalton, weaves in details about climate change and environmental protection, and the story will keep readers anxiously turning pages right to the end.
A neurodivergent nine-year-old boy mourns the death of his activist mother and spends hours painting pictures of endangered animals. The boy’s father struggles with his own grief, coupled with frustration over his son’s frequent violent rages. Bewilderment (Random House Canada), the new novel by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Richard Powers, is filled with beautiful descriptions of nature despite being set against a backdrop of failing democracy and environmental collapse.
6. Diary of a Young Naturalist
A teenager living with autism writes about isolation, bullying and the redemptive power of the natural world in Diary of a Young Naturalist (Greystone Books). Dara McAnulty is now an environmental activist, and his lyrical memoir explores how connecting with nature allowed him to survive his difficult teen years.
7. Life in the City of Dirty Water
A survivor of abuse, violence and intergenerational trauma, Clayton Thomas-Müller is now an environmental activist who embraces his Cree spirituality and inspires others to fight for Indigenous rights and environmental justice. In Life in the City of Dirty Water: A Memoir of Healing (Allen Lane), he shares personal tales of his own survival and shines a spotlight on global environmental issues.
8. Not on My Watch
Scientist and activist Alexandra Morton has been on an environmental crusade for decades, fighting against Canada’s fish farms. Not on My Watch: How a Renegade Whale Biologist Took on Governments and Industry to Save Wild Salmon (Random House Canada) recounts stories from her long battle against industrial aquaculture, from publishing scientific papers to launching court challenges to working together with Indigenous activists.
9. Finding the Mother Tree
Suzanne Simard writes eloquently about the mysterious world of tree behaviour. Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest (Knopf) illuminates how trees have evolved and adapted over the centuries to communicate and cooperate with each other. Fun fact: On an episode of the TV show Ted Lasso, Coach Beard referenced Simard’s groundbreaking theories.
10. The Heartbeat of Trees
The author of The Hidden Life of Trees is back with a new book on his favourite topic. Peter Wohlleben writes about the language of the forest and the consciousness of plants in The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature (Greystone Books), which explores how saving the trees and saving humanity are, ultimately, the same thing.
11. The Blue Wonder
Marine biologist and diver Frauke Bagusche plunges into the fascinating world of plankton, fish, octopus, sea turtles and coral reefs in The Blue Wonder: Why the Sea Glows, Fish Sing, and Other Astonishing Insights from the Ocean (Greystone Books). Her heartfelt writing about what climate change is doing to the ocean is sure to spur readers into action.
12. The Science and Spirit of Seaweed
Filled with gorgeous underwater photography, The Science and Spirit of Seaweed: Discovering Food, Medicine and Purpose in the Kelp Forests of the Pacific Northwest (Harbour Publishing) is a treasure trove of information about one of the oldest and most versatile living organisms on the planet. Seaweed has a unique role to play in fighting climate change, as it is able to absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide. And author Amanda Swinimer truly knows her stuff, having spent more than two decades sustainably harvesting edible seaweed.
13. Get Up and Grow
Anyone can grow almost anything—that’s the inspirational message of Get Up and Grow (Hardie Grant Books) by Instagram gardening sensation Lucy Hutchings, aka She Grows Veg. This clever book reveals tips and tricks for indoor greenhouses, living vegetable walls, hanging herb racks and more, proving that outdoor space isn’t always needed to produce a stunning veggie garden.
Many people don’t know that many scraps destined for the waste bin can be used to grow new food. The technique is called regrowing, and it’s explored fully in Paul Anderton and Robin Daly’s Regrown: How to Grow Fruit, Herbs and Vegetables from Kitchen Scraps (Hardie Grant Books). Filled with photos, illustrations and clear step-by-step instructions, the guide is divided into sections based on speed of growth: slow (mushrooms, avocados), medium (lettuce, carrots) and fast (garlic, celery).
15. The Urban Vegetable Patch
No space is too small for growing organic veggies—even a windowsill. Grace Paul’s The Urban Vegetable Patch: A Modern Guide to Growing Sustainably, Whatever Your Space (Hardie Grant Books) shares tips for anyone cultivating their green thumb: setting up a vegetable patch, making fertilizer, reducing plastics and more.
16. The Backyard Homesteader
Detailed instructions, colourful photos and charming illustrations make The Backyard Homesteader: How to Save Water, Keep Bees, Eat from Your Garden, and Live a More Sustainable Life (Gibbs Smith) the ultimate guide for anyone who yearns for homegrown food all year long. Alison Candlin also includes practical tips on recycling water, composting food scraps, looking after chickens and goats, and more.
17. Cook More, Waste Less
Here’s an unappetizing fact: Worldwide, one-third of all food gets thrown away. Christine Tizzard tackles that problem—to help both the planet and your wallet—in Cook More, Waste Less: Zero-Waste Recipes to Use Up Groceries, Tackle Food Scraps, and Transform Leftovers (Appetite by Random House). The cookbook has a wealth of clever tips for using up food, such as transforming wilting herbs into pesto or soft fruit into marmalade. It also explains how to turn extra food into pet treats, cleaning supplies and beauty products.
18. The Weekday Vegetarians
Anyone trying to help the planet by reducing their meat consumption will appreciate The Weekday Vegetarians: 100 Recipes and a Real-Life Plan for Eating Less Meat (Clarkson Potter). This cookbook by Jenny Rosenstrach features dozens of veggie-based recipes tasty enough to tempt even dedicated carnivores, including crispy chickpeas, pizza salad with white beans, and cauliflower cutlets with ranch dressing.
19. The Book of Hope
Hope can seem in short supply right now, with the pandemic raging on and the climate crisis worsening. The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times (Celadon Books) is a discussion between revered environmental activist Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams, coauthor of The Book of Joy. It delves into topics such as how to stay hopeful during times of hopelessness, how to encourage hope in children, and the relationship between hope and action.
20. Do Earth
Climate activist Tamsin Omond knows the environmental crisis is so huge that everyone’s help is required to solve it. Do Earth: Healing Strategies for Humankind (The Do Book Co.) is filled with practical advice and encouragement about how to find inspiration, fix our relationship with nature and save our precious planet.
21. Living the 1.5 Degree Lifestyle
According to a special report by the UN, we need to alter our behaviour—quickly—to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) or else face worldwide catastrophe. For one year journalist Lloyd Alter tracked the carbon footprint of everything he did, from driving to a farmers’ market to ordering a meal to be delivered, and documented the experience in Living the 1.5 Degree Lifestyle: Why Individual Climate Action Matters More than Ever (New Society Publishers). The book is both inspiration and blueprint for anyone trying to reduce their own carbon footprint.
22. The Day the World Stops Shopping
What would happen if we all consumed less? That’s the question J.B. MacKinnon asks in The Day the World Stops Shopping (Random House Canada). To find out the answer, he talks to everyone from economists to climate scientists, and he examines big-box stores in North America, hunter-gatherer cultures in Africa and more.
23. The Environmentalist’s Dilemma
Who knew reading about the impending apocalypse could be so entertaining? The Environmentalist’s Dilemma: Promise and Peril in an Age of Climate Crisis (ECW Press) is surprisingly funny, even as environmental journalist Arno Kopecky lays out the central paradox of this moment in history: humanity is thriving while the planet is dying. This insightful book manages to be both realistic and optimistic at the same time.
24. Thicker Than Water
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is larger (and soupier) than you imagine, very little plastic actually gets recycled, poorer countries are forced to cope with most of the world’s plastic garbage, and plastic pollution is everywhere—including in the food we eat and the air we breathe. In Thicker Than Water: The Quest for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis (Island Press), Erica Cirino examines how our throwaway culture’s love affair with plastic is harming humans, animals and the entire planet.
25. We’re All Climate Hypocrites Now
Sami Grover admits that he’s an eco-hypocrite, and he’s pretty sure you’re one, too. His tongue-in-cheek book, We’re All Climate Hypocrites Now: How Embracing Our Limitations Can Unlock the Power of a Movement (New Society Publishers), looks at how millions of dedicated but imperfect people can work together to make a difference in solving the climate crisis.