National Geographic Ocean: A Global Odyssey

World Book Day 2022: Must-Read Books on Sustainability

Culture /

A green reading list

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Whether you’re looking for factual information, opinion or practical tips, there are a whole host of books on sustainability out there. Here we share some of our top picks, covering everything from fast fashion to the psychology behind change. While the figures are undoubtedly distressing, the overriding message throughout the books below is one of optimism: there’s still time to create a better future, but we need to act now.

Best Books on Sustainability

Jane Goodall's Book of Hope

The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for an Endangered Planet 

The legendary naturalist and conservationist Jane Goodall, has spent her lifetime amplifying the need for climate action. Here in this work, Goodall uses the armoury of hope to guide us through creating a better path forward.

Nature is a Human Right 

Having access to nature is a human right. But access is getting harder as urban development spreads; harming the health and wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The book comes out of a campaign by Ellen Miles, collating the thoughts of scientists, climate activists (and many more), each giving their own take on why nature should be a protected human right. Nature is a Human Right is out 3 February 2022,

Green Ideas Slipcase, by Penguin


It’s widely agreed now that the environmental movement is a new canon of literature. Luckily enough, Penguin has now curated a covetable set of essential reads that will get you well on your way to learning more about climate change. The aesthetic rainbow-coloured reads range from gardening, technology, art, to activism, from activists like Greta Thunberg and Bill McKibben.

Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change & Consumerism 

Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change & Consumerism 

As often with the problems of climate change, it often intersects with wider historical and societal woes. Aja Barber pulls the wool from our eyes in Consumed; detailing our uncomfortable history with the textile industry; our insatiable appetite to consume and how this is links back to our colonial past. One of the first steps to tackling climate change is understanding our behaviour in it’s full entirety — Consumed is a brilliant place to start.

National Geographic Ocean: A Global Odyssey by Sylvia Earle

National Geographic Ocean

Image courtesy of National Geographic

The ocean often feels mysterious and overwhelming, especially when it comes to understanding how it’s affected by climate change. Enter: Sylvia Earle. Sylvia is the first woman to become the chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and she’s also a National Geographic explorer. Within this book, Sylvia will guide you through understanding how climate change impacts the ocean and the importance of marine conservation that’s currently taking place. There’s also no cutting corners, and she’ll take you through the scientific nitty-gritty: explaining how the ocean supports multiple-life forms, as well as the seawater makeup.

National Geographic Ocean: A Global Odyssey is published on 23 December (£45)

Required Reading: Climate Justice, Adaptation and Investing in Indigenous Power

Required Reading: Climate Justice, Adaptation and Investing in Indigenous Power, by NDN Collective

It’s a sad truth that all too often indigenous communities are left out of the climate change conversation, or worse, bearing the brunt of its effects. Geared towards grassroots activists, politicians, or anyone wanting to get into the nuance, Required Reading is one for those understanding how we can make equitable solutions. Copies of the book has been presented at New York Climate week earlier this September and COP26 this autumn.

Earthshot: How To Save Our Planet

Earthshot: How To Save Our Planet by Colin Butfield and Jonnie Hughes

The Earthshot Prize is a new decade-long competition which aims to find inventive new ways to repair our planet, set up by The Duke of Cambridge. To coincide with the launch, environmental experts Colin Butfield and Jonnie Hughes have joined forces to put together a book highlighting the urgency of the climate crisis, complete with an introduction from Prince William. Out 30 September

A Robot Called B4

Wondering how to teach your children about sustainability? New book A Robot Called B4 highlights the damage done to the environment over time and explains how we can help preserve the planet for future generations. It tells the story of two children, Alfie and Ava, who are taken on an epic adventure to the prehistoric era by B4, a robot they find in the garden shed. Available both in hard copy and on audiobook – read by Angellica Bell – A Robot Called B4 aims to show children how they can make a difference in a fun, educational way.

The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us by Diane Ackerman

‘Our relationship with nature has changed… radically, irreversibly, but by no means all for the bad. Our new epoch is laced with invention. Our mistakes are legion, but our talent is immeasurable.’ Diane Ackerman’s beautifully written book The Human Age explores the fact that the ‘natural’ and the ‘human’ now inescapably depend on one another, taking us on a tour through the ways in which humans are working with nature to try and save the planet.

Bill Gates, How To Avoid a Climate Disaster

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates

While a lot of books about climate change offer a pretty gloomy view of the future, Bill Gates’ non-fiction focuses on practical solutions to reversing the major issues. Following ten years of research, Gates proposes a plan for what we need to do over the next decade and beyond to eliminate greenhouse gases as individuals, businesses and governments.

Diet for a hot planet

Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork by Anne Lappé

In Diet for a Hot Planet, Anne Lappé predicts that unless we radically change the way we eat, greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise and rise. She looks at the global food system: how we farm, how we eat, and how we can shift current trends for a better future.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

In her provocative 2014 book, Canadian journalist and author Naomi Klein pins the blame for the climate crisis on capitalism. She dispels myths clouding the current debate, and exposes the people and corporations that profit from climate change. Yet despite all the disheartening stats Klein’s overall message is one of hope: that it is still possible to transform our economic system and build something better for the future.

Minimal: How to simplify your life and live sustainably by Madeline Olivia

With so many terrifying statistics circulating about the climate crisis, it can all feel pretty overwhelming – so environmentalist Madeline Olivia is here to simplify things. In her book Minimal: How to simplify your life and live sustainably, Olivia aims to make sustainable living attainable for everyone, offering practical tips for everyday life. Topics covered include decluttering, reducing waste, seasonal eating and natural beauty, alongside advice on living more mindfully.

How To Break Up With Fast Fashion by Lauren Bravo

It’s not news to anyone that fast fashion is bad for the planet. Global clothing production has roughly doubled in just 15 years, and every year 300,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in UK landfill. So – it’s time to change, and journalist Lauren Bravo is here to help. Her book How To Break Up With Fast Fashion offers realistic advice on repairing and recycling your wardrobe, encouraging readers to embrace more sustainable ways of shopping.

Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change by George Marshall

Many of us recognise climate change is a deeply pressing issue, but do little about it. George Marshall explores the roots of this psychology, with help from the world’s leading climate scientists, liberal environmentalists, Nobel Prize-winning psychologists and activists.

Greta Thunberg, No One Is Too Small To Make a Difference

No One Is Too Small To Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg

In August 2018, a 15-year-old Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg decided not to go to school one day in order to protest the climate crisis. Little did she know, her actions would spark a global movement – and go on to earn her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. No One Is Too Small To Make a Difference collects Greta’s speeches together in one volume, documenting the making of one of the most important – and youngest – figures of this century.

Main image: Courtesy of National Geographic, sourced from National Geographic Ocean: A Global Odyssey by Sylvia Earle.


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