It’s time for a check in with my bookshelf! This year I’ve dived back into reading with gusto, and wanted to put together a list of my favourite books on sustainability, as well as some new discoveries I’ve made this year. I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm, and while social media and digital content has challenged my attention span, audiobooks have been a great antidote! However you choose to read, here’s a few books I’d recommend popping onto your reading list…
Best Books On Sustainability (Without The Preaching)
Let’s lay the groundwork first with some books on sustainability that I think everyone should read. These books will help you see the world through a green lens, combining individual action with a collectivist mindset.
This Is A Good Guide by Marieke Eyskoot
For my fellow encyclopaedia fans (yes, I did read an encyclopaedia twice as a child), This Is A Good Guide* is for you. As I said in my 2018 book round-up, it’s a beautifully put together guide to living sustainably and shopping mindfully. Marieke takes you through different categories step-by-step, or you can dive from one area of interest to another, and take away thoughtful tips and industry insights. From the depths of fast fashion to the joys of natural make-up artistry, the guide also keeps everything light and refreshingly non-preachy.
A similar, smaller book that I also love is Do Purpose by David Hieatt*, which highlights how brands with purpose at their core are best at placing people and planet before profit.
This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
For anyone looking to challenge the systems that keep us from achieving a just transition to a circular, regenerative future, This Changes Everything* has to be your starting point. Shopping our way to sustainability won’t cut it, so pair these This Is A Good Guide and This Changes Everything together for the ultimate mix. Naomi Klein is leagues ahead of most authors when it comes to putting a coherent, emotive, yet urgent argument that we have to tackle the climate crisis now, and everything is incredibly well researched.
The Curated Closet by Anushka Rees
Ok, The Curated Closet* is my fashion bible. It taught me how to view my wardrobe as a whole collection, rather than individual pieces. It showed me how to hunt for second-hand and vintage without regrets. It’s a book I’ll forever recommend for anyone looking to approach fashion more sustainably!
If you want to go further, Dressed by Dr Shahidha Bari* is an intensely insightful book journeying through fashion history and the meaning of clothes, and Consumed by Aja Barber* tackles consumption, colonialism, and climate change all in the same tome.
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Environmentalism has to be intersectional, and a good starting place for anyone that hasn’t considered how race and ethnicity affects our chances in life has to start with Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race*. This books shows just how deeply ingrained systemic racism is, and how while you may not consider yourself to be a racist, you could still be supporting racist institutions rather than challenging them.
The Whole Vegetable by Sophie Gordon
For all my home cooks and wannabe chefs, The Whole Vegetable* is my favourite cookbook this year, and it’s guided me on eating seasonably while still enjoying new and exciting recipes. I’ve been a fan of eating with the seasons since the inception of this blog, and being kindly gifted this book felt like a full-circle moment. Split into rough seasons, you can feel out which recipes are on the cards by simply scanning the produce section in your local grocers, and try something new throughout the year.
For those that want someone to serve them sustainable food rather than make it themselves, go for Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery by Giles Coren*, or An Opinionated Guide To Eco London by Emmy Watts instead.
The Children of the Anthropocene by Bella Lack
Finally, I wanted to quickly touch on the latest book that’s landed on my lap: The Children of the Anthropocene by Bella Lack*, kindly gifted by Penguin. Bella has brought together tales from the lives of different children around the world, and shown how the climate crisis is or will affect them. It’s a wake-up call for anyone who wasn’t already on the frontlines of the Fridays For Future protests, and I’m looking forward to reading it.
I’m hoping this book will sit somewhere between No-one Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Greta Thunberg*, and Who Cares Wins by Lily Cole*.
Best Audiobooks On Sustainability
Ok, now onto my audiobook library! This year I’ve listened to far more books using Audible* and my local library’s audiobook service than I have read physical books. Consuming books in a more passive way, while being able to do something else (i.e. me travelling by train, shopping, or laying on the beach) fits so much better with my lifestyle. I may miss a passage here or there, but overall it’s meant I can attempt more complex literature without scratching my head too much!
Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth
After completing the Rethink Fashion Course with RSA and Ellen MacArthur Foundation, I’ve been a little obsessed with all things circular. Doughnut Economics* is the circular economy’s guiding light, and Kate Raworth is on par with Naomi Klein when it comes to how direct, clear, and inspiring her writing is. This book is both a reality check for anyone still believing in the linear economy, trickle down economics, and basically anything they teach at business school, as well as being a hopeful projection of how things could turn out.
On Fire by Naomi Klein
My most recent Naomi Klein read was On Fire*, which I completed earlier this year. This book stirred me up just like This Changes Everything did, but this time there was more urgency, more fire, and honestly, more worry that our governments simply aren’t doing enough. It’s a must-read for anyone promoting sustainability, to be able to think critically when new policies launch, or new ideas (like dimming the sun) hit the headlines…
Fibershed by Rebecca Burgess
And now, the book that I couldn’t quite finish: Fibershed*. I’m going to be honest, you’re only going to enjoy this book if you’re really into textiles and/or regenerative farming. Fibreshed is a first-person account of Rebecca Burgess’ attempts to start growing and manufacturing textiles in a sustainable, local way. It’s an interesting experiment, and taught me a lot about the origins of certain fabrics (for example, denim) but it also smacks of privilege and takes a slightly blinkered view on how fashion could be used as a force for good. It’s still a book I’ll recommend, but I just couldn’t get through it.
Fiction & Non-Fiction Audiobooks I’ve Loved This Year
Finally, I want to round out this post with the audiobooks I’ve loved reading and listening to in-between learning about sustainability. My favourite fiction books have been Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine* by Gail Honeyman, Boy Parts* by Eliza Clark, Ghosts* by Dolly Alderton, and The Club* by Ellery Lloyd. Each and every one of these books has taken me on an enjoyable journey that’s been both gripping, emotional, and just left me wishing I could discover these books again for the first time because they were oh so good.
Alongside these, I also have to recommend We Need To Talk About Money* by Otegha Uwagba, which has given me useful skills for negotiating contracts as much as it has opened my eyes to how even money is a gendered issue, and Get Rich or Lie Trying* by Symeon Brown, which dives into the dirty corners of the influencer industry to show how social media can be used and abused, and influencers are taken along for the ride too. All are well worth a read!