2019 Environmental Book Club selections

January 22 - The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade Its Rivers
Category: History, Infrastructure, Politics, Environment
Author: Martin Doyle
In this fresh and powerful work of environmental history, Martin Doyle tells the epic story of America and its rivers, from the U.S. Constitution’s roots in interstate river navigation, the origins of the Army Corps of Engineers, the discovery of gold in 1848, and the construction of the Hoover Dam and the TVA during the New Deal, to the failure of the levees in Hurricane Katrina and the water wars in the west. Along the way, he explores how rivers have often been the source of arguments at the heart of the American experiment—over federalism, sovereignty and property rights, taxation, regulation, conservation, and development.

February 26 - Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper
Category: Politics, Agriculture, Environment
Author: Art Cullen
When The Storm Lake Times, a tiny Iowa twice-weekly, won a Pulitzer Prize for taking on big corporate agri-industry for poisoning the local rivers and lake, it was a coup on many counts: a strike for the well being of a rural community; a triumph for that endangered species, a family-run rural news weekly; and a salute to the special talents of a fierce and formidable native son, Art Cullen.

March 26 - The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World
Category: Biography, Paleontology
Author: Shelley Emling
Mary Anning was only twelve years old when, in 1811, she discovered the first dinosaur skeleton--of an ichthyosaur--while fossil hunting on the cliffs of Lyme Regis, England. Until Mary's incredible discovery, it was widely believed that animals did not become extinct. The child of a poor family, Mary became a fossil hunter, inspiring the tongue-twister, "She Sells Sea Shells by the Seashore." She attracted the attention of fossil collectors and eventually the scientific world. Once news of the fossils reached the halls of academia, it became impossible to ignore the truth. Mary's peculiar finds helped lay the groundwork for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, laid out in his On the Origin of Species. Darwin drew on Mary's fossilized creatures as irrefutable evidence that life in the past was nothing like life in the present.

April 23 - The David Suzuki Reader: A Lifetime of Ideas from a Leading Activist and Thinker
Category: Philosophy, Economics, Environment
Author: David Suzuki, Bill McKibber
Drawing from Suzuki’s published and unpublished writings, this collection reveals the underlying themes that have informed his work for over four decades. In these incisive and provocative essays, Suzuki explores the limits of knowledge and the connectedness of all things; looks unflinchingly at the destructive forces of globalization, political shortsightedness, and greed; cautions against blind faith in science, technology, politics, and economics; and provides inspiring examples of how and where to make those changes that will matter to all of us and to future generations. He also offers a vision of hope based on our love of children and nature.

May 28 - 
Two in the Far North
Category: Wilderness Preservation
Author: Margaret E. Murie
This enduring story of life, adventure, and love in Alaska was written by a woman who embraced the remote Alaskan wilderness and became one of its strongest advocates. In this moving testimonial to the preservation of the Arctic wilderness, Mardy Murie writes from her heart about growing up in Fairbanks, becoming the first woman graduate of the University of Alaska, and marrying noted biologist Olaus J. Murie. So begins her lifelong journey in Alaska and on to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where along with her husband and others, they founded The Wilderness Society. Mardy's work as one of the earliest female voices for the wilderness movement earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

June 25 - Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Category: History
Author: David Grann
In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. Based on years of research and startling new evidence, the book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly compelling, but also emotionally devastating.

July 23 - If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating
Category: Communication
Author: Alan Alda
Alan Alda has been on a decades-long journey to discover new ways to help people communicate and relate to one another more effectively. If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? is the warm, witty, and informative chronicle of how Alda found inspiration in everything from cutting-edge science to classic acting methods. His search began when he was host of PBS’s Scientific American Frontiers, where he interviewed thousands of scientists and developed a knack for helping them communicate complex ideas in ways a wide audience could understand—and Alda wondered if those techniques held a clue to better communication for the rest of us.

August 27 - Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation
Category: History
Author: Andrea Wulf
For the founding fathers, gardening, agriculture, and botany were elemental passions, as deeply ingrained in their characters as their belief in liberty for the nation they were creating. Andrea Wulf reveals for the first time this aspect of the revolutionary generation. She describes how, even as British ships gathered off Staten Island, George Washington wrote his estate manager about the garden at Mount Vernon; how a tour of English gardens renewed Thomas Jefferson’s and John Adams’s faith in their fledgling nation; how a trip to the great botanist John Bartram’s garden helped the delegates of the Constitutional Congress break their deadlock; and why James Madison is the forgotten father of American environmentalism. These and other stories reveal a guiding but previously overlooked ideology of the American Revolution.

September 24 - Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail
Category: Biography, Preservation
Author: Ben Montgomery
Emma Gatewood was the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone, as well as the first person—man or woman—to walk it twice and three times and she did it all after the age of 65. This is the first and only biography of Grandma Gatewood, as the reporters called her, who became a hiking celebrity in the 1950s and '60s. She appeared on TV with Groucho Marx and Art Linkletter, and on the pages of Sports Illustrated. The public attention she brought to the little-known footpath was unprecedented. Her vocal criticism of the lousy, difficult stretches led to bolstered maintenance, and very likely saved the trail from extinction. Author Ben Montgomery was given unprecedented access to Gatewood's own diaries, trail journals, and correspondence. He also unearthed historic newspaper and magazine articles and interviewed surviving family members and hikers Gatewood met along the trail. The inspiring story of Emma Gatewood illustrates the full power of human spirit and determination.

October 22 - The Seashell on the Mountaintop: how Nicolaus Steno Solved and Ancient Mystery and Created a Science of the Earth
Category: Geology, History, Biography
Author: Alan Cutler
A revolution was in the making, however, and it was started by the brilliant and enigmatic Nicholas Steno, the man whom Stephen Jay Gould called "the founder of geology." Steno explored beyond the pages of the Bible, looking directly at the clues left in the layers of the Earth. With his groundbreaking answer to the fossil question, Steno would not only confound the religious and scientific thinking of his own time, he would set the stage for the modern science that came after him. He would open the door to the concept of "deep time," which imagined a world with a history of millions or billions of years. And at the very moment his expansive new ideas began to unravel the Bible's authoritative claim as to the age of the Earth, Steno would enter the priesthood and rise to become a bishop, ultimately becoming venerated as a saint and beatified by the Catholic Church in 1988.

Combining a thrilling scientific investigation with world-altering history and the portrait of an extraordinary genius, The Seashell on the Mountaintop gives us new insight into the very old planet on which we live, revealing how we learned to read the story told to us by the Earth itself, written in rock and stone.

November 26 - Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm's Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
Category: Agriculture
Author: Leah Penniman
Farming While Black is the first comprehensive “how to” guide for aspiring African-heritage growers to reclaim their dignity as agriculturists and for all farmers to understand the distinct, technical contributions of African-heritage people to sustainable agriculture. At Soul Fire Farm, author Leah Penniman co-created the Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion (BLFI) program as a container for new farmers to share growing skills in a culturally relevant and supportive environment led by people of color. Farming While Black organizes and expands upon the curriculum of the BLFI to provide readers with a concise guide to all aspects of small-scale farming, from business planning to preserving the harvest. Throughout the chapters Penniman uplifts the wisdom of the African diasporic farmers and activists whose work informs the techniques described―from whole farm planning, soil fertility, seed selection, and agroecology, to using whole foods in culturally appropriate recipes, sharing stories of ancestors, and tools for healing from the trauma associated with slavery and economic exploitation on the land. Woven throughout the book is the story of Soul Fire Farm, a national leader in the food justice movement.

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