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10 Must-Read Books to Celebrate Earth Day and Inspire Environmental Action

Earth Day is a time to celebrate our planet and reflect on our impact on the environment. What better way to do this than by reading books that inspire and educate us on how to protect and preserve our natural world? In honor of Earth Day, authors Jerry Apps and Natasha Kassulke compiled a list of 10 must-read books that offer unique perspectives on environmental issues. Whether you're a seasoned environmentalist or new to the movement, these books will challenge you to think critically and inspire you to take action. So grab a cup of coffee, find a cozy spot, and let's dive into these inspiring reads!



The Land Still Lives - Jerry Apps

“Apps is a man of ideas who is sensitive to the touch, the smells, and the feel of doing things by hand, today and a hundred years ago.”—from the foreword by Senator Gaylord Nelson


Originally published in 1970, The Land Still Lives is the first book by Wisconsin’s greatest rural philosopher, Jerry Apps. Written when he was still a young agriculture professor at the University of Wisconsin, The Land Still Lives was readers’ first introduction to Jerry’s farm in central Wisconsin, called Roshara, and the surrounding community of Skunk’s Hollow. This special 50th-anniversary edition features a new epilogue, in which Jerry revisits his philosophy of caring for the land so it in turn will care for us. This is vintage Apps, essential reading for Jerry’s legions of fans—and for all who, like Jerry, wish “to develop a relationship with nature and all its mystery and wonder.”


Silent Spring - Rachel Carson

First published by Houghton Mifflin in 1962, Silent Spring alerted a large audience to the environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides, spurring revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. “Silent Spring became a runaway bestseller, with international reverberations . . . [It is] well crafted, fearless and succinct . . . Even if she had not inspired a generation of activists, Carson would prevail as one of the greatest nature writers in American letters” (Peter Matthiessen, for Time’s 100 Most Influential People of the Century).




Braiding Sweetgrass - Robin Wall Kimmerer

Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings―asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass―offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.


A Sand County Almanac - Aldo Leopold

Few books have had a greater impact than A Sand County Almanac, which many credit with launching a revolution in land management. Written as a series of sketches based principally upon the flora and fauna in a rural part of Wisconsin, the book, originally published by Oxford in 1949, gathers informal pieces written by Leopold over a forty-year period as he traveled through the woodlands of Wisconsin, Iowa, Arizona, Sonora, Oregon, Manitoba, and elsewhere; a final section addresses the philosophical issues involved in wildlife conservation. Beloved for its description and evocation of the natural world, Leopold's book, which has sold well over 2 million copies, remains a foundational text in environmental science and a national treasure.


The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History - Elizabeth Kolbert

Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us.


In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.


Beyond Earth Day - Gaylord Nelson

Gaylord Nelson is known and respected throughout the world as a founding father of the modern environmental movement and creator of one of the most successful and influential public awareness campaigns ever undertaken on behalf of global stewardship: Earth Day.

Now in his eighties, Nelson delivers a timely and urgent message with the same eloquence with which he has articulated the nation’s environmental ills through the decades. He details the planet’s most critical concerns—from species and habitat losses to global climate changes and population growth. In outlining his strategy for planetary health, he inspires citizens to reassert the environment as a top priority.

A book for anyone who cares deeply about our environment and wants to know what we can and must do now to save it, Beyond Earth Day is a classic guide by one of the natural world’s great defenders.


Songs of the North - Sigurd Olson

Selected essays describe the natural beauty of northern Minnesota and Canada, and share the author's experiences in the wild.

Sigurd F. Olson (1899-1982) was one of the greatest environmentalists of the twentieth century. An award-winning conservation activist and best-selling author, Olson introduced a generation ad Americans to the importance of wilderness. He served as president of the Wilderness Society and the National Parks Association and was honored by the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation for his work. Olson's nine books frequently appeared on best-seller lists across the nation.



Walden - Henry David Thoreau

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Walden by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, is a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and manual for self-reliance.







Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John Muir - Linnie Marsh Wolfe

Working closely with Muir’s family and with his papers, Wolfe was able to create a full portrait of her subject, not only as America’s firebrand conservationist and founder of the national park system, but also as husband, father, and friend. All readers who have admired Muir’s ruggedly individualistic lifestyle, and those who wish a greater appreciation for the history of environmental preservation in America, will be enthralled and enlightened by this splendid biography.





The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering our Place in Nature - David Suzuki

The world is changing at a relentless pace. How can we slow down and act from a place of respect for all living things? The Sacred Balance shows us how.

In this extensively updated new edition, David Suzuki reflects on the increasingly radical changes in science and nature—from the climate crisis to peak oil and the rise in clean energy—and examines what they mean for humankind. He also reflects on what we have learned by listening to Indigenous leaders, whose knowledge of the natural world is profound, and whose peoples are on the frontlines of protecting land and water around the world.

Drawing on his own experiences and those of others who have put their beliefs into action, The Sacred Balance combines science, philosophy, spirituality, and Indigenous knowledge to offer concrete suggestions for creating an ecologically sustainable future by rediscovering and addressing humanity’s basic needs.

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