Twenty-nine summer reads about sustainability and the future of the planet

Faculty at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences recommend these 29 books for your summer reading. (Courtesy Stanford Earth)

This year’s informal survey of faculty and senior staff at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth) yielded suggestions for summer reading that may inspire new reflections on the living world, spark conversations about environmental justice or fuel critical thinking about sustainability.

They suggest these 29 titles as companions for a summer of easing pandemic restrictions and a time of transformation. Whether you’re ready for a meditation on the majesty of mountains, a new perspective on U.S. history, a novel about how the climate crisis could play out, a collection of poetry or a chronicle of inequities in American wastewater infrastructure, there’s a title for you.

JONATHAN PAYNE, the Dorrell William Kirby Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, The Overstory by Richard Powers. “This unusual novel was inspired by the author’s first experience of coastal redwoods during a stay at Stanford. It addresses the logging and destruction of North America’s of old-growth forests through the intersecting stories of a few people and a few trees.”

ROSAMOND NAYLOR, the William Wrigley Professor of Earth System Science, Senior Fellow at Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, The Four Winds: A Novel by Kristin Hannah. “It’s one of the best depictions I’ve read to date on the biophysical and social drama surrounding the Dust Bowl – very relevant for people interested in climate and sustainable agriculture.”

EMILY POLK, an advanced lecturer in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric Studies, Weather: A Novel by Jenny Offill. “Each paragraph reads like an essential, luminous story all on its own. It’s profoundly creative, insightful, and maybe most importantly, really funny.”

JANE WILLENBRING, associate professor of Geological Sciences, The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir by Samantha Power. “I don’t typically read memoirs, but once I got into it – I couldn’t put this book down! It is such a well-written, fascinating window into diplomacy, U.S. foreign policy and leadership. It was also fun to read how Power creatively navigated such high-demand jobs with little kids.”

Read the full list on Stanford Earth.