Below is a list of books that I have personally read and recommend (unless otherwise noted). Many of these are available as audiobooks if you don’t have tons of time to read. I continually add to the list as I read more and add comments about them. I also have a page for Children’s books and Cookbooks. You may be able to find these at your local library, so always check there first before you buy. Libraries rock!

Here are the topic areas if you want to quickly get to a specific section:


Garbage & Recycling

The Ocean


Zero Waste

Climate Change

Toxic and Poisonous Stuff



Tiny House Living

Endangered Animals & Wildlife Issues

Coastal Areas & Habitat Destruction

Food, Vegetarianism & Veganism

Gardening & Composting

Leaders & Companies

The Textile & Clothing Industry

Mending & DIY Projects

Environmental Justice

Living Better


Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too book coverPlastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

by Beth Terry

This book is from plastic-free authority and blogger Beth Terry’s It’s a super-comprehensive how-to guide on getting plastic out of your life. Start with this book. Her website and book are the best places to start if you want to stop using and wasting so much plastic. She has solutions for many things but also teaches you how to think about dealing with plastic on a regular basis so that you can figure a solution even when there may not be an obvious replacement for a plastic item.

Life Without Plastic: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Healthy book coverLife Without Plastic: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Healthy

by Chantal Plamondon and Jay Sinha

The authors of this book run, an online store that focuses on plastic-free living. But the book offers many alternatives to plastic-free and non-toxic living beyond what they sell. In fact, this is a book that you should keep on the shelf for handy reference. The best parts of the book detailed the toxicity of certain plastics and chemicals that are part of our everyday lives. Those toxins affect our health, our children, and the environment. Finally, this book features an exhaustive and comprehensive list of sources to find plastic alternatives for so many items well as educational resources.

Say Goodbye to Plastic book coverSay Goodbye to Plastic: A Survival Guide for Plastic-Free Living

by Sandra Ann Harris; foreword by Dianna Cohen

The author is the founder of EcoLunchbox but also a “Mother, Seeker, Environmentalist” as she describes herself in the book. She tells the story of how she came to establish her company because of a lack of options for children’s lunchboxes, and how the business developed from there. Harris offers a room-by-room guide on how to replace plastic items in your home once they need replacing. “I’m not going to ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself…As a busy mom with full-time employment, it has been critical that saying goodbye to plastic adds joy, ease, beauty, and value to my life – not guilt or stress.” She also notes that this is a process, not something you can transition to overnight. It’s a very practical guide, and I highly recommend this book. I also previously reviewed EcoLunchbox products if you’d like to read that.

Living Without Plastic book coverLiving Without Plastic: More Than 100 Easy Swaps for Home, Travel, Dining, Holidays, and Beyond

by Brigette Allen and Christine Wong

As the title suggests, this book offers more than 100 simple swaps for many disposable plastic items we use, organized into sections of our everyday lives: home, food & drink, health & beauty, travel, and special occasions. While this could be a great book for a beginner of the plastic-free lifestyle and includes a “30-Day Plastic Detox Program,” I learned a great deal and I’ve been striving for plastic-free for years. The photography used in the book is beautiful and this book could serve a double purpose as a coffee table book – and a great conversation starter! Finally, this book features an exhaustive and comprehensive list of sources to find plastic alternatives for so many items.

Cover of Plastic: A Toxic Love StoryPlastic: A Toxic Love Story

by Susan Frienkel

This is the authority on the history of plastic. It is thoroughly researched and well cited. The history of plastic extends back into the late 19th century and its production exponentially increased after World War II. But plastic is made from petroleum and chemicals and is harmful to human and animal life, ecosystems, and the ocean. She calls out the corporations and politics that promote the use of plastics. But she calls on us to reduce our overdependence on plastic items and offers possible solutions. This should be a required read for all, so we become aware of the toxicity that consumes our daily lives and constantly threatens our health.

Plastic Purge book coverPlastic Purge: How to Use Less Plastic, Eat Better, Keep Toxins Out of Your Body, and Help Save the Sea Turtles!

by Michael SanClements

Ecologist Michael SanClements wrote this book and highlighted many of the problems with plastic toxicity, as well as the general overproduction of plastic. Written in a colloquial style, it’s an easy read, down-to-earth book that will further expand your understanding of the problems associated with plastics, especially single-use disposable plastic and packaging.

Plastic Soup book coverPlastic Soup: An Atlas of Ocean Pollution

by Michiel Roscam Abbing

This book features excellent photographs and highlights all the major challenges, practices, and creative initiatives related to plastic and plastic pollution. It’s a great overview of those topics and visually provides a call to action.


Plastic Ocean book coverPlastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans

By Captain Charles Moore

This is the epic story of Captain Charles Moore’s 1997 sailing trip from Hawaii to California when he discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Moore had always loved the ocean and sailing but became an environmentalist after the discovery. He has worked with other environmentalists, scientists, and organizations to come up with solutions and to raise awareness about the worldwide plastic pollution catastrophe. This is an excellent book full of extensive research and scientific findings, and a must-read!

Cover of bookFlotsametrics and the Floating World: How One Man’s Obsession with Runaway Sneakers and Rubber Ducks Revolutionized Ocean Science

by Curtis Ebbesmeyer and Eric Scigliano

Oceanographer Dr. Ebbesmeyer spent his life studying various aspects of the ocean for different companies. But his focus became drift patterns through the oceanic gyres across the planet. He is most known for studying the floating patterns of the container spills of plastic bath toys and Nike sneakers, but his contributions to ocean science are paramount. This book is well-cited, organized, and very well written – it almost read like a novel at some points and I had trouble putting it down. This is now one of my favorite books about the ocean.

Plastic Game Changer book coverPlastic Game Changer: How to Reduce Plastic in your Organization to Make a Difference to Plastic Pollution

by Amanda Keetley

This book was published in the UK, but it is still a good book to start with if you’re working for an organization that currently needs to know how and where to start. It’s also a quick read and offers several exceptional examples of companies that are leading the way in the battle against plastics.

The Future of Packaging book coverThe Future of Packaging: From Linear to Circular

by Tom Szaky

Tom Szaky is the founder of Terracycle, a company that makes products from waste that is generally unrecyclable. Overall, I liked this book and loved that fifteen industry leaders contributed essays to it. The selection of authors was excellent! I learned a ton about packaging, the packaging industry, and different models of packaging sustainability from this book. Corporations and companies need to do a lot more to prevent plastic waste. But consumers also have the power to convince those companies to change. Szaky wrote, “As consumers, we don’t give ourselves enough credit for how powerful we really are…View your purchases as having a direct impact on the goods and services companies choose to make.”

Cover of Paper or Plastic bookPaper or Plastic: Searching for Solutions to an Overpackaged World

by Daniel Imhoff

This was published in 2005 so it is slightly dated now. However, it does offer interesting history and case studies still relevant to the packaging industry. Additionally, Imhoff’s research is very well cited and led me to many other sources in my own research!

Garbage & Recycling

Year of No Garbage book coverYear of No Garbage: Recycling Lies, Plastic Problems, and One Woman’s Trashy Journey to Zero Waste

by Eve O. Schaub

This is a fascinating book full of information regarding the facts about garbage, plastics, and recycling. I highly recommend it! Read my full book review here! You can also read about my interview with the author.


From the Bottom Up book cover From the Bottom Up: One Man’s Crusade to Clean America’s Rivers

by Chad Pregracke, with Jeff Barrow

This is an inspiring book, especially for those who find gratification in cleaning up litter and trash. Chad Pregracke started this organization by simply cleaning up the Mississippi River, and it grew from there, into a national organization that cleans rivers across the nation with the help of sponsors, volunteers, and dedicated employees. This is the story of how he started Living Lands & Waters, which is the real deal. Since the late 1990s, they’ve removed more than 12 million pounds of trash from our rivers. This included many types of trash, such as metal barrels, plastic barrels, appliances, tires, cars, sunken boats, and all manner of smaller items. They also recycle everything they can instead of just putting it all in a landfill. Pregracke wrote, “The garbage got into the river one piece at a time, and that’s the only way it’s going to get out of the river. Each piece represents neglect, but it can also represent hope (after it’s picked up). As far as the garbage problem goes on the Mississippi, the cleanups are working. We’ve seen results time and again. People aren’t trashing the river like they once were.” I love this organization and plan to volunteer with them!

Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash book coverGarbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash

by Edward Humes

This is the best book I’ve found so far about the waste management system in the United States. It was so good that I donated my copy of it to a library so that others could read it. If you are interested in the waste crisis and how waste management works, this is a must-read!

The Waste Crisis : Landfills, Incinerators, and the Search for a Sustainable Future book coverThe Waste Crisis: Landfills, Incinerators, and the Search for a Sustainable Future

by Hans Tammemagi

This book is slightly dated now as it was published in 1999 (please publish an updated version for us!). However, in textbook fashion, the author explains the entire system of our daily waste citing specific landfills, movements, and waste management problems. This book is must-read for those interested in waste management.

Reduce Reuse Reimagine book coverReduce, Reuse, Reimagine: Sorting Out the Recycling System

by Beth Porter

This is the best book I’ve read on the recycling system in the United States. We are only recycling about 34% of waste and less than 10% of our plastic waste. It addresses in detail the logistical and economic issues within our recycling system. The author addresses the sociological and psychological aspects of waste removal and recycling. This book is well researched and cited, engaging, and offers many solutions for the future. If you want to know more about why recycling isn’t working, start with this book.

Can I Recycle This? book coverCan I Recycle This?: A Guide to Better Recycling and How to Reduce Single-Use Plastics

by Jennie Romer

This excellent book should be the go-to guide for recycling all types of items. Romer, an attorney and sustainability expert, offers scientific information about how plastics are both made and recycled. She provided contextual information and legal regulations about how recycling, waste management, and incineration work. The book is illustrated with colorful diagrams and visuals to enhance your understanding. Even someone who knows a lot about these topics will likely learn from it. If you want a concise, articulate book to better understand recycling and waste management, this is the book. Read my full review here.

The Ocean

Ocean A Global Odyssey book cover Ocean: A Global Odyssey

by Dr. Sylvia A. Earle

I thoroughly enjoyed this comprehensive book! From the publisher: “Everything you want to know about the ocean can be found inside these beautiful and dynamic pages. National Geographic Ocean unveils the power and significance of our planet’s watery essence: the fundamental importance of the ocean in shaping Earth’s climate and chemistry as well as its vital role in supporting a multitude of life-forms, including our own human race. World-renowned oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer in Residence Sylvia Earle–affectionately called “Her Deepness”–guides readers with her lyrical style and inspiring wisdom, describing the evolution, beauty, and impact of our ocean; the challenges it faces, such as climate change, plastic, and overfishing; and the myriad ways we can help protect it. This engaging story of the ocean celebrates dozens of ocean champions and visionaries, explores the ocean’s origin and the nature of water, and features a gallery of wondrous creatures that illustrate the spectacular diversity of life in the sea, from sponges, kelp, and zooplankton to whales, sharks, and sea turtles. More than 100 maps and diagrams, including seafloor and political maps of all Earth’s seas and oceans, elucidate Dr. Earle’s lively narrative.”

The World Is Blue book cover, white pelicans on the beach with ocean and sun in background.The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One

by Dr. Sylvia A. Earle

Dr. Sylvia A. Earle has spent her entire life exploring the ocean and the life it supports. Though this book is more than 10 years old, its core message in the title is always relevant: our fate is tied to the ocean in so many ways. But we are damaging the ocean through overfishing, climate change, and pollution. The ocean is vast but shows the ill effects; sea level is rising, coral reefs are dying; lower populations of fish humans eat; pollution killing birds and marine life. If we destroy the ocean, we will not survive. She offers hope though: there is still time to save it, and save ourselves.

Book cover is sea blue with title at center, and dolphin photo and sea rocks photo at top; shells and and sea star photos at bottom.The Sea: Stories, Trivia, Crafts, and Recipes Inspired by the World’s Best Shorelines, Beaches, and Oceans

by Isobel Carlson

This is a delightful book that intersperses maritime history, ocean science, marine biology, lighthouses, shipwrecks, poetry, ocean activities, DIY crafts related to the sea, and recipes. From the publisher: “This book celebrates oceans, coasts and shorelines the world over. Bringing together incredible stories and legends of the sea, delicious recipes and activities inspired by the coast, and fascinating trivia on everything from marine exploration to the turning tides, it will captivate anyone who is enthralled by the wonder of the sea.”


Troubled Water cover art, title in a large black raindrop shape, over a photo of a body of water with tree filled hills surrounding it, and blue sky.Troubled Water: What’s Wrong with What We Drink

by Seth M. Siegel

This is an excellent and thoroughly researched book. It features incidents of water pollution across the U.S., types of contaminants and chemicals, the various legislation on water quality and pollution, and potential solutions to our water crisis. From the publisher: “From big cities and suburbs to the rural heartland, chemicals linked to cancer, heart disease, obesity, birth defects, and lowered IQ routinely spill from our taps. Many are to blame: the EPA, Congress, a bipartisan coalition of powerful governors and mayors, chemical companies, and drinking water utilities―even NASA and the Pentagon. Meanwhile, the bottled water industry has been fanning our fears about tap water, but bottled water is often no safer. The tragedy is that existing technologies could launch a new age of clean, healthy, and safe tap water for only a few dollars a week per person…It concludes with what America must do to reverse decades of neglect and play-it-safe inaction by government at all levels in order to keep our most precious resource safe.” I consider this a must-read!

Supermans Not Coming book coverSuperman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It

by Erin Brockovich

An excellent overview of the many industrial toxin and chemicals that pollute our drinking water in the United States. Brockovich covered stories all over the country in which people were poisoned by their water. She explained how the majority of these toxic chemicals are not regulated because they take years and millions of dollars to study. She believes that people have the right to know what’s in their water and environment. She wrote that we, as citizens, have to demand answers and solutions and work from grassroots efforts. “Superman is not coming. If you are waiting for someone to come save you and clean up your water, I’m here to tell you: No one is coming to save you. We can’t survive without access to clean water (or water at all) and yet we are losing access to our most precious resource. Without water, it is literally GAME OVER for all of us. The time has come for us to save ourselves.” Brockovich offers ways we can fight for clean water at the end of every chapter. I honestly found this book difficult to put down at times!

Cover of book, BottlemaniaBottlemania: Big Business, Local Springs, and the Battle over America’s Drinking Water 

by Elizabeth Royte

Published in 2009, this book examined the exponential growth of the bottled water industry and sales up to the late 2000s. The author surveyed Poland Springs in Maine where there is an actual natural spring. That company was bought out by Nestlé which owns several bottled water companies. Royte reviewed which waters are bottled from natural springs and which are purified tap water. She explained EPA water standards, how water is recycled in municipal systems, chemicals in tap and bottled water, the plastic used in water bottles, and the marketing behind bottled water. The big question still is, who owns our water? Is water a basic human right as the United Nations declared, or should we have to pay for it? This is truly a thought-provoking read about water and the information is still relevant today. Without water, we could not survive.

Zero Waste

Simply Living Well book cover, wooden wall coat rack with hat, dried herbs, and a broom and basket. Gray wall background.Simply Living Well: A Guide to Creating a Natural, Low-Waste Home

by Julia Watkins

This is an inspiring book to get you started on a non-toxic, low-waste home. The author shares recipes and reuses for things like coffee grounds for every area of the home. She provides ways to eliminate disposable items and toxic ingredients. I love this book and I use many of the recipes in it, including the one for hardwood floor cleaner.

No Impact Man book coverNo Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process

by Colin Beavan

This was a super impressive venture that the author and his wife endeavored. They went zero impact over the course of one year while living, working, and having a child in New York City. The goal was to as live environmentally friendly as possible, “but it was also about how one person…can become free from all the societal shoulds and find a path to meaning and purpose,” Beavan wrote. He also shares the research and environmental discoveries he made along the way. This is a truly inspiring story and one that all interested in environmental impact should read. A documentary about their journey is also available.

Zero Waste Home book coverZero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste

by Bea Johnson

The author of this book, Bea Johnson, began with a blog about how to go zero waste after her family did, and she is credited with inspiring the global zero waste movement. This book is also about minimalism, as she admonishes simplified living and fewer possessions to create zero waste which in turns saves money, time, and energy. “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (and only in that order) is my family’s secret to reducing our annual trash to a jar since 2008,” as quoted on her website.

The book includes how to refuse and reduce, how to remove the excess, and offers many DIY recipes for cooking, cleaning, makeup, etc. This is a book I actually keep on my shelf as it serves as my go-to reference book for those methods and recipes.

Book cover 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste101 Ways to Go Zero Waste

by Kathryn Kellogg

This book was written by a genuine zero waster, who founded Kellogg provided 101 ideas on how to go zero waste and offered several tips within each idea. This book was full of great ideas, with some topics even I had not seen or thought about before. She provides many recipes for DIY cleaners, make-up, and bath products. I appreciated her honesty when she’d admit that sometimes there are no decent DIY replacements for certain things. In those situations, she offered tried and true advice on companies that produce low waste products. Kellogg’s biggest message was that reducing the amount of waste we produce is more important than striving for true zero waste – because that’s almost impossible in our current society.

Make Garbage Great: The Terracycle Family Guide to a Zero-Waste Lifestyle book coverMake Garbage Great: The Terracycle Family Guide to a Zero-Waste Lifestyle

by Tom Szaky and Albe Zakes

I genuinely enjoyed this book about TerraCycle’s story and how recycling works within the greater waste management system. One example: between 1960 and 2011, Americans exponentially increased their plastic waste from 400,000 tons to 32 million tons. Additionally, only 8% of that plastic is recycled. Those numbers are astounding! Everyone should read this book! The book also offers a ton of ideas on how to reuse, recycle, and upcycle materials. It also features DIY projects, like a plastic bottle bird feeder, using materials normally disposed of in the average household.

Climate Change

Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have book cover, green type with plain white background.Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have

by Tatiana Schlossberg

This book is witty and funny, but serious about the climate science issues. From the publisher: “By examining the unseen and unconscious environmental impacts in four areas-the Internet and technology, food, fashion, and fuel – Schlossberg helps readers better understand why climate change is such a complicated issue, and how it connects all of us: How streaming a movie on Netflix in New York burns coal in Virginia; how eating a hamburger in California might contribute to pollution in the Gulf of Mexico; how buying an inexpensive cashmere sweater in Chicago expands the Mongolian desert; how destroying forests from North Carolina is necessary to generate electricity in England…Most importantly, this is a book about the power we have as voters and consumers to make sure that the fight against climate change includes all of us and all of our stuff, not just industry groups and politicians. If we have any hope of solving the problem, we all have to do it together.” I really enjoyed this one.

A Life on Our Planet book coverA Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future

by Sir David Attenborough

This English broadcaster, writer, and naturalist has seen the world go through many changes over the course of his lifetime. Some of the most striking are the immense increases in the throwaway economy and the wastefulness of our lifestyles. Attenborough observed many climate and landscape changes and the loss of biodiversity over time. “I have been witness to this decline. A Life on Our Planet is my witness statement, and my vision for the future. It is the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake — and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right…We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited.” Though his accounts sometimes made me feel despair, he offered ideas for solutions and hope throughout. We can still save our own beautiful habitat and ourselves.

Sea Change: An Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean book cover, yellow background with island at center in black.Sea Change: An Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean

by Christina Gerhardt

I learned so much geography from this book and loved searching Google Earth for the islands described in it. From the publisher: “Atlases are being redrawn as islands are disappearing. What does an island see when the sea rises? Sea Change: An Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean weaves together essays, maps, art, and poetry to show us—and make us see—island nations in a warming world. Low-lying islands are least responsible for global warming, but they are suffering the brunt of it. This transportive atlas reorients our vantage point to place islands at the center of the story, highlighting Indigenous and Black voices and the work of communities taking action for local and global climate justice.” Though at times this book made me sad, because of the global losses we are experiencing, I highly recommend it.

Book cover is blue with a green and aqua ombre sphere at center, with text in white.Imagine It!: A Handbook for a Happier Planet

by Lauri David and Heather Reisman

This is a great book, even if you’re not just starting your healthier-planet -and-healthier-life journey. I learned many things from reading it. From the publisher: “In Imagine It!, the documentary filmmakers behind Writing on the Wall, Fed Up, The Biggest Little Farm, The Social Dilemma, and the Academy Award–winning An Inconvenient Truth highlight the need to change some of our food, clothing, and transportation habits and meaningfully lower our use of plastic, paper, water, and harmful chemicals. They call the changes in these areas lifestyle shifts, and there is a chapter devoted to each one of them in the book…[that] provides clear steps for replacing old habits with new ones to create lasting change.” I highly recommend this book!

The Loneliest Polar Bear cover, with a polar bearThe Loneliest Polar Bear: A True Story of Survival and Peril on the Edge of a Warming World

by Kale Williams

This book examines the stories of polar bears living in zoos, specifically one named Nora that almost did not survive after being born at the Columbus Zoo. The author juxtaposes the tragic consequences of climate change and its effect on wild polar bears to that of captive polar bears. It “explores the fraught relationship humans have with the natural world, the exploitative and sinister causes of the environmental mess we find ourselves in, and how the fate of polar bears is not theirs alone.” I really enjoyed this book and recommend it.

No One is Too Small to Make a Difference book cover No One is Too Small to Make a Difference

By Greta Thunberg

“In August 2018 a fifteen-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, decided not to go to school one day in order to protest the climate crisis. Her actions sparked a global movement, inspiring millions of students to go on strike for our planet, forcing governments to listen, and earning her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.” This is a collection of her speeches from addresses to the United Nations and Capitol Hill and climate strikes. It is inspiring to read (as well as listen) to her calls for change and her beratement of politicians who stand by and do nothing.

Our House Is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis book cover, showing Greta Thunberg sitting.Our House Is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis

by Greta ThunbergSvante ThunbergMalena Ernman, and Beata Ernman

This book documents the struggles of one family’s battles with mental health disorders, while also becoming activists for the climate crisis. It was refreshing to read such an open, honest account of raising a family with these issues, and the struggle with the sometimes fine line of protecting your children and letting your children flourish in their own way. Greta ignited a worldwide rebellion through her school strikes for the climate. She is now a worldwide speaker and climate expert, and the book explains a lot about climate change and different perspectives regarding it. I got a lot out of this book!

Cover art shows people playing musuc amongst a storm with debris, people, symbols, and a vehicle.The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change, Revised Edition

by Yoram Bauman and Grady Klein

This is a wonderful graphic novel that explains the science of climate change with humor and illustrations. From the publisher: “When The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change was first published in 2014, it offered something entirely new: a fun, illustrated guide to a planetary crisis. If that sounds like an oxymoron, you’ve never seen the carbon cycle demonstrated through yoga poses or a polar bear explaining evolution to her cubs…Sociologists have argued that we don’t address climate change because it’s too big and frightening to get our heads around. The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change takes the intimidation and gloom out of one of the most important challenges of our time.” This book makes this information very accessible and fun to read.

Save the Humans Save the Humans!

by Rob Stewart

This book by award-winning documentary filmmaker and shark activist Rob Stewart (which has several covers, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t find this cover – it’s all the same book!) is fascinating! If you aren’t familiar with his work, I recommend watching his films first (Sharkwater, REvolution, and Sharkwater Extinction) so that you can better understand his story. He explains his experiences, from childhood to college and into adulthood, that led him to become a shark activist. He came to understand that saving sharks and climate change were directly linked and that in order to save ourselves, we must protect both sharks and the climate. He traveled the world while filming and met dozens of people on both sides of the shark and fishing industry (those who want to preserve it and those who make massive amounts of money from it). From the publisher: “With his efforts to save sharks leading to tangible policy change in countries around the world, Stewart sets his sights on a slightly bigger goal: saving humanity. Criss-crossing the globe to meet with the visionaries, entrepreneurs, scientists and children working to solve our environmental crises, Stewart’s message is clear: the revolution to save humanity has started, the only thing missing is you!” Though Stewart tragically passed away during the filming of Sharkwater Extinction, his work remains inspirational and important.


Toxic and Poisonous Stuff

Silent Spring book cover Silent Spring

by Rachel Carson

This classic work is credited with launching the environmental movement. Carson wrote about the effects of various chemicals and pesticides on human, animal, and environmental health. She wrote, “How could intelligent beings seek to control a few unwanted species by a method that contaminated the entire environment and brought the threat of disease and death even to their own kind?” The most notorious chemical was the highly poisonous DDT, a chemical used for pesticides. Its toxicity was well documented but the information was scattered throughout the scientific literature. “It was Rachel Carson’s achievement to synthesize this knowledge into a single image that everyone, scientists and the general public alike, could easily understand,” Edward O. Wilson wrote in the afterword of this book. Carson “stirred an awakening of public environmental consciousness,” wrote her biographer, Linda Lear. She also did this during a time when the scientific world was male-dominated. Noting how her work changed how people viewed their relationship with nature, author Beth Porter wrote: “The interconnectedness that flows throughout Carson’s work is a sobering reminder of why we must approach problems through a systems-thinking lens. We can’t expect long-lasting, thoughtful solutions when we consider only one piece of a much larger, multifaceted system.” Originally published in 1962, the same types of problems and issues exist today. This is a must-read.

Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry book coverNot Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry

by Stacy Malkan

This book was life-changing for me – I really mean life-changing. I had no idea about the toxic ingredients in so many products that I used during my adolescence and through all of my adult life until I read this book in 2017. I immediately removed a ton of products containing toxic ingredients from our home after reading this research. The author is a co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and their work to advocate for safer ingredients. This book was also my introduction to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human health. Their goal is to is inform and educate people about toxic ingredients in make-up, shampoos, perfumes, household cleaners, food, tap water, pesticides, etc.

A Trust Betrayed book coverA Trust Betrayed: The Untold Story of Camp Lejeune and the Poisoning of Generations of Marines and Their Families

by Mike Magner

The North Carolina United States Marine Corps base’s water was toxic for decades and caused countless miscarriages, birth defects, birth deformities, long-term cancers, and cancer-related illnesses. All families who lived and worked at the base and drank, swam, or showered in the water were exposed to very high levels of industrial solvents trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE), benzenes, and other chemicals. Areas affected enlisted-family housing, barracks for unmarried service personnel, base administrative offices, schools, recreational areas, the base hospital, and even the child care center. From the publisher: “For two decades now, revelations have steadily emerged about pervasive contamination, associated clusters of illness and death among the Marine families stationed there, and military stonewalling and failure to act. Mike Magner’s chilling investigation creates a suspenseful narrative from the individual stories, scientific evidence, and smoldering sense of betrayal among those whose motto is undying fidelity. He also raises far-reaching and ominous questions about widespread contamination on US military bases worldwide.” This is a fascinating read.

Paradise Falls book cover, a black and white photo of a house with Disaster Area signs in front of it; title looks like a postcard with a postmark. Paradise Falls: The True Story of an Environmental Catastrophe

by Keith O’Brien

This is the story of Love Canal, a neighborhood in Niagara Falls that was intensely chemically polluted in the 1970s. It made hundreds of people, including children, very sick – sometimes fatally. This book features the group of mothers who discovered Hooker Chemical’s intentional chemical and hazardous waste dumping. This has been one of America’s most devastating toxic waste disasters. The events there are often credited with sparking the modern environmental movement. It is an excellent book!

The Real Cost of Fracking book coverThe Real Cost of Fracking: How America’s Shale Gas Boom Is Threatening Our Families, Pets, and Food

by Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald

Though this book was written in 2014, it is still just as relevant and it explains the hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” process very well. From the publisher: “Across the country, fracking—the extraction of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing—is being touted as the nation’s answer to energy independence and a fix for a flagging economy. Drilling companies assure us that the process is safe, politicians push through drilling legislation without a serious public-health debate, and those who speak out are marginalized, their silence purchased by gas companies and their warnings about the dangers of fracking stifled. The Real Cost of Fracking pulls back the curtain on how this toxic process endangers the environment and harms people, pets, and livestock. Michelle Bamberger, a veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a pharmacologist, combine their expertise to show how contamination at drilling sites translates into ill health and heartbreak for families and their animals. By giving voice to the people at ground zero of the fracking debate, the authors vividly illustrate the consequences of fracking and issue an urgent warning to all of us: fracking poses a dire threat to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and even our food supply.”


Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life book coverMinimalism: Live a Meaningful Life

by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

If you are new to minimalism or are interested in The Minimalists, start with this book. They also have a film. You can read about both in this post.




Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists book coverEverything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists

by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

This book is awesome and the best I’ve read by the Minimalists! It explains the minimalist mindset extremely well. It’s not just about getting rid of your stuff! The stuff gets in your way and prevents you from living your best life. Minimalism allows you the time, energy, and money to do what you really want to do in life. Read my full review!


Essential: Essays by The Minimalists book cover Essential: Essays by The Minimalists

by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

This is a curated collection of essays from The Minimalists’ blog. The essays are organized into categories that explain each subject through the lens of minimalism. I really enjoyed reading it.




The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life book coverThe Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life

by Joshua Becker

Becker provides a how-to go minimalist guide in this book but also offers the why. He explains minimalism as a mindset, like the Minimalists, and not just an effort to declutter. This guide can help you get started, room by room while teaching you the reasons for letting go of items you don’t need or use.


The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own book coverThe More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own

by Joshua Becker

This book is about minimalism and finding happiness in a simpler lifestyle with less stuff, and more money for generosity from buying and spending less. The author tells his story and those of others who stumbled upon the concept of minimalism. He also provides ways to start getting rid of things.


Clutterfree with Kids Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your home book coverClutterfree with Kids: Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your home.

by Joshua Becker

I love this book, and I’ve read it twice now. Becker breaks down minimalism and provides an understanding of minimalism, but is not a how-to guide. Becker provides the thought process to guide you through going minimalist with children so that we can actually connect better with our children. “Don’t just declutter, de-own. It is better to own less than to organize more.” Less organizing, less cleaning, and less shopping equal more time with the people we love most. This book is a short read that will leave you ready to start clearing out the clutter!

Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More book coverSoulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More

by Courtney Carver

Carver writes about living better with less through minimalism and no debt. She focuses on listening to your heart and soul for a more meaningful life. This book really spoke to me, and I highly recommend it. Be sure to check out her blog at She also started a minimalist fashion project called Project 333.


Project 333 book coverProject 333: The Minimalist Fashion Challenge That Proves Less Really is So Much More

by Courtney Carver

The author began this project several years ago after she went minimalist. I have been participating in Project 333 for a while and was thrilled when I found out Carver was publishing a book about it!


Cover art shows a red couch in a livingroom, in slight disarray but with just a few items in it. Titles in red and aqua below couch.Messy Minimalism: Realistic Strategies for the Rest of Us

by Rachelle Crawford

This book is a funny, honest account of living a minimalist lifestyle with a family. From the publisher: “Laying out practical strategies for reducing waste, curbing consumption, decluttering, and finding lots more joy, Crawford offers no-nonsense solutions for the rest of us. Learn to become a more conscious consumer, create a capsule wardrobe, inspire family members to join you, free up more time for the things that matter, and create a tidy(ish) home. The messy minimalist way is a no-judgment zone, one in which we learn sustainable habits and grace-based practices. It’s about living lightly on the earth and making room for purpose. Becoming a messy minimalist is not about turning into someone else; it’s about clearing away clutter and expectations to unearth who you really are. It’s about carrying fewer things so that we find ourselves holding onto what truly matters.”

Minimalism for Families: Practical Minimalist Living Strategies to Simplify Your Home and Life book cover, three pairs of rain boots on a black mat. Large black on left, medium yellow at center, and small red at right. Blue wall background.Minimalism for Families: Practical Minimalist Living Strategies to Simplify Your Home and Life

by Zoë Kim

This book is a great introduction to minimalism and a helpful overview of how to go room by room with your family. From the publisher: “Spend less time stressing about your stuff and more time together. Filled with practical advice to help you and your family clear out your house, Minimalism for Families helps you build stronger bonds, spend more time together, and start enjoying the benefits of living clutter-free.”


Digital Minimalism book coverDigital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

by Cal Newport

While this book may not focus on the physical items bogging down our lives, it does fall in line with the chaos in our minds. How much of that chaos comes from digital sources, such as email, social media, and 24-hour news? On top of that, the information is concentrated on our smartphones, which makes for a constant stream of distraction, anxiety, and dissatisfaction. Newport calls this “mindless digital activity” and encourages you to stop being overwhelmed by constant notifications and updates. He provides strategies to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with the inner self and the physical world. This book was imminent in my views of social media. I removed myself from Facebook and other social media sites. I decided to focus less on what others were doing and to stop comparing myself to others, which is one negative that social media encourages. I was also finding myself engaging in petty arguments with people I didn’t really know or care about – what a waste of time and energy, as author Sarah Knight (see below) would also say. This is a must-read if you’re feeling overwhelmed and have a desire to reclaim mental peace.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing book coverThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

by Marie Kondo

While this does not technically fall under minimalism, I feel like many of Marie Kondo’s approaches are useful in downsizing and beginning the path to minimalism. I say that because that’s how it’s worked for me!


Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up book coverSpark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up

by Marie Kondo

This is essentially a sequel to the previous book.




Light blue cover with aqua tea cups and saucers at center, with tea bag and silver spoon, surrounded by titles.Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff: Declutter, Downsize, and Move Forward with Your Life

by Matt Paxton with Jordan Michael Smith

This is a great and easy-to-follow book by Matt Paxton, the cleaning expert on Hoarders and then Legacy List. From the publisher: Paxton “has identified the psychological roadblocks that most organizational experts routinely miss but that prevent so many of us from lightening our material load. Using poignant stories from the thousands of individuals and families he has worked with, Paxton brings his signature insight to a necessary task…Whether you’re tired of living with clutter, making space for a loved one, or moving to a smaller home or retirement community, this book is for you. Paxton’s unique, step-by-step process gives you the tools you need to get the job done.” I highly recommend this book if you are cleaning out, especially if you have no idea where to start.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter book coverThe Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter

by Margareta Magnusson

If you’re already a minimalist, you won’t need this book! The premise of this book is that as you age, you accumulate clutter, and you should clean it out before you pass on so that it does not become a burden on your loved ones. On the over-consumption of stuff, she wrote: “[It] will eventually destroy our planet – but it doesn’t have to destroy the relationship you have with whomever you leave behind.”

The book offered beautiful little nuggets related to minimalism. For example, she indicated that an added benefit of death cleaning is “thinking more about how to reuse, recycle and make your life simpler and a bit (or a lot) smaller. Living smaller is a relief.” It’s a cute and easy read.

Marie Kondo's Kurashi at Home book cover, photo of author with flowers.Marie Kondo’s Kurashi at Home: How to Organize Your Space and Achieve Your Ideal Life

by Marie Kondo

From the publisher: “Inspired by the Japanese concept of kurashi, or ‘way of life,’ Kurashi at Home invites you to visualize your best life from the moment you wake up until the end of each day. By applying Marie Kondo’s time-tested query—“Does it spark joy?”—to your mindset and behaviors, you are invited to take an even more holistic and personal approach to curating your environment by imagining what your life could look like full of connection and free from any limitations. This ideal vision then becomes a touchpoint that helps you make conscious, mindful choices—from how you use every corner of your living space to how you take advantage of every moment.” The book includes beautiful photographs that inspire a tidy or minimalist home. I enjoyed this book!

Tiny House Living

The Tiny House Movement: Challenging Our Consumer Culture book coverThe Tiny House Movement: Challenging Our Consumer Culture

by Tracey Harris

This book is an excellent overview of the tiny house movement, both from a physical standpoint and the mindset of challenging consumer culture. Many people want to work less in order to pursue their true interests; others seek to remain debt-free; some want to reduce their environmental impact; and often, it is a combination of these. “The transition relates not only to downsizing material goods but also requires a new understanding of what is meaningful and valuable in our lives,” wrote Harris. Consume less, spend less, hurt the environment less. Spend less on material possessions for large houses and spend that money on achieving experiences that are much more meaningful. “The tiny house movement can help us all gain a better understanding of how we can challenge societal inequalities and environmental degradation by advocating for more choice, not less, in the ways we are able to house ourselves.” I highly recommend this book if you are interested in the tiny house lifestyle, or even if you’re just curious about it! Read my post related to this book for more information.

Tiny Houses book cover Tiny Houses

by Sandra Leitte

This is a great little book that features 40 unique tiny homes across the world. From the publisher: “Multi-page spreads feature highly detailed, full-color interior and exterior shots, along with informative texts that explore the inspiration and context of each home. From off-the-grid woodland dwellings that take you away from it all to high-density solutions to the urban housing crisis, these homes pack a lot of design ingenuity into their space. While some of these structures feature state-of-the-art architectural flourishes and luxurious amenities, others are modest and environmentally sustainable retreats designed specifically for travel, creative pursuits, or multi-generational living. Each of these homes offers endlessly innovative inspiration for building and living in your home, in spaces that fit your needs.”

The Giant Book of Tiny Homes book coverThe Giant Book of Tiny Homes: Living Large in Small Spaces

by John Riha

This is my favorite book about tiny homes because it provides valuable information about ordinances, zoning, and building codes. It also offers detailed reviews explaining specific features in each house as well as multiple photos of each one. Inspiring and full of information, I recommend reading this book! But it also would make a great coffee table book.


Book cover features photo at bottom of a beight floating home with large windows on a pond with lillypads; top portion shows an elevation of a home in black and white.Floating Houses: Living over the Water

by Patricia Martínez

A lovely coffee table book in English and Spanish about various floating houses in Europe and the United States. Features architectural drawings and elevations.



Tiny Homes on the Move book cover, many images of tiny homes.Tiny Homes on the Move: Wheels and Water

by Lloyd Kahn

From the publisher: “Tiny Homes on the Move chronicles 21st-century nomads — people who inhabit homes that are compact and mobile, either on wheels or in the water. In photos and stories, this fascinating book explores modern travelers who live in vans, pickup trucks, buses, trailers, sailboats, and houseboats that combine the comforts of home with the convenience of being able to pick up and go at any time. With over 1,000 color photos accompanying the stories and descriptions of these moveable sanctuaries, this is a valuable and inspirational book for anyone thinking outside the box about shelter.”

Cover shows the front of a house with glass windows and a pointed roof.Bigger Than Tiny, Smaller Than Average

by Sheri Koones

This book is inspiring! From the publisher: “Smaller, more environmentally friendly houses seem to be the wave of the future. As people chose to move out of cities, finances and lifestyle will limit the size of the houses these buyers will choose…It compiles lots of previously difficult-to-find information in one place. The sidebars describe home systems and new materials helpful to any homeowner concerned about the environment and hoping to save money on energy and maintenance.”


Endangered Animals & Wildlife Issues

Large leatherback turtle swimming in the blue ocean, at center, titles and author in white above and below.Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth’s Last Dinosaur

by Carl Safina

All seven species of sea turtles are endangered, mostly because of human activities. The decline of sea turtles worldwide is distressing and humans have to stop the actions that are harming them and work on recovery. Many biologists and scientists are working on ways to recover populations. Safina mainly focuses on leatherbacks but discovers problems with each sea turtle species. From the publisher: “Writing with verve and color, Safina describes how he and his colleagues track giant pelagic turtles across the world’s oceans and onto remote beaches of every continent. As scientists apply lessons learned in the Atlantic and Caribbean to other endangered seas, Safina follows leatherback migrations, including a thrilling journey from Monterey, California, to nesting grounds on the most remote beaches of Papua, New Guinea…In his peerless prose, Safina captures the delicate interaction between these gentle giants and the humans who are finally playing a significant role in their survival.”

Book cover is a cartoon shape of a whale in aqua, surrounded by purple and black background.How to Speak Whale: The Power and Wonder of Listening to Animals

by Tom Mustill

I loved this book. It was about far more than whales; it was about how all animals communicate. The studies and findings show that animals are far more advanced in communication than most realize. It is full of fascinating studies, information, and history. From the publisher: “Drawing from his experience as a naturalist and wildlife filmmaker, Mustill started investigating human–whale interactions around the world when he met two tech entrepreneurs who wanted to use artificial intelligence (AI)—originally designed to translate human languages—to discover patterns in the conversations of animals and decode them. As he embarked on a journey into animal eavesdropping technologies, where big data meets big beasts, Mustill discovered that there is a revolution taking place in biology, as the technologies developed to explore our own languages are turned to nature.”

Cover of 100 Heartbeats by Jeff Corwin100 Heartbeats: The Race to Save Earth’s Most Endangered Species

by Jeff Corwin

A truly inspiring must-read about the sad state of Earth’s many beautiful species that are threatened and endangered. This is the best book I’ve read on the topic. Please read my full review!



The Last Elephants book cover, a baby elephant with two elephant trunks "hugging" the baby. The Last Elephants

Complied by Dr. Don Pinnock and Colin Bell

This is a book of photographic essays, and the photography is outstanding. The essays feature narratives from researchers, scientists, and conservationists calling for the preservation of African elephants. We can’t afford to lose any more of these beautiful, intelligent, emotional creatures. These mammals are both keystone species and ecosystem engineers – meaning they are essential for our planet, our ecosystems, other species, and ourselves. From the publisher: The book “was inspired by the devastating results of the continent-wide Great Elephant Census of 2016, undertaken by Elephants without Borders in tandem with the world’s most prominent conservation groups. The book joins together the voices and vision of scientists, lawmakers, rangers, conservationists, and on-the-ground researchers to speak out against elephant killings, to close loopholes in international law that allow the ivory trade to continue, and to pay tribute to the thousands who work to protect the animals, including African communities who have elected to preserve and protect their elephant neighbors. Offering both profiles of preservation plans that work and hope for elephants’ future, this is a must-read for everyone concerned for the future of one of Earth’s most captivating species.”

Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis book cover, white background with honeycomb with honeybees in rectangle photo at center.Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis

by Rowan Jacobsen

This book is a great overview of the challenges that pollinators face, and the consequences of those issues. From the publisher: “Many people will remember that Rachel Carson predicted a silent spring, but she also warned of a fruitless fall, a time when ‘there was no pollination and there would be no fruit.’ That fruitless fall has nearly arrived as beekeepers have watched a third of the honey bee population mysteriously die over the past two years. Rowan Jacobsen uses the mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder to tell the bigger story of bees and their essential connection to our daily lives. With their disappearance, we won’t just be losing honey. Industrial agriculture depends on honey bees to pollinate most fruits, nuts, and vegetables—more than a third of the food we eat. Yet this system is falling apart.”

Cover of Living on the Edge by Jeff CorwinLiving on the Edge: Amazing Relationships in the Natural World

by Jeff Corwin

An interesting read about animal species and Corwin’s experiences in different regions of the world. He’s a true advocate of all species and a protector of the habitats. He has had several television shows over the years.



Book coverBeneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish

by John Hargrove

This book was difficult to put down. It was written by a respected former senior orca trainer who never intended to become a whistleblower but did by circumstance. After being on medical leave for injuries received over the years from working at SeaWorld, he decided that he could not return because he could no longer support or be a part of SeaWorld’s actions and mistreatment of the orcas. He grieves being with the whales but has become an orca advocate, first through the documentary Blackfish, and from there through many talks, interviews, and this book. This book made me mad, it made me cry, and it made me love these whales. Sadly, I will never be able to go to SeaWorld now that I’ve seen and read multiple accounts of animal and employee mistreatments, poor breeding actions, and greed on SeaWorld’s part.

Cover of The Photo Ark book National Geographic The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals

by Joel Sartore

This book is about the Photo Ark project, created by photographer Joel Sartore. His goal is to document all of the Earth’s species, especially those that we are endangered or close to extinction. The photographs are astonishing! Read my post about Sartore and check out his other books.

Cover of Rare bookRare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species

by Joel Sartore

Released in 2010, this was a photography book early into the Photo Ark project. This book features 80 images of animals, including two different turtle species from the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “Do we choose to save things that may contribute nothing to our bottom line? If money is all that matters, then we’re headed for a very poor world indeed. Can you imagine a planet without wolves? Without frogs? Without pollinating insects?”

Cover of Vanishing bookNational Geographic The Photo Ark Vanishing: The World’s Most Vulnerable Animals

by Joel Sartore

This is the newest book from the Photo Ark project.  Just released in September 2019, the project is in its 15th year of photo-documenting the Earth’s creatures. Sartore wrote about the experience of photographing Nabire, one of the last Northern White Rhinos, who was sweet and patient during the photoshoot but died just a week after. The next time he saw her, she was taxidermied and in a museum exhibit. He felt heartbroken. Sartore posed rhetorical questions such as, “How hard must we be on our planet to cause even insects to vanish?” The photography is beautiful. “All animals, regardless of size or shape, are glorious. Each is a living work of art,” he wrote.

Cover of Birds of the Photo Ark bookBirds of the Photo Ark

by Joel Sartore and Noah Strycker

The birds of the Photo Ark in this book gave me an even larger appreciation for these creatures. They are unique, beautiful, adaptable, and incredibly intelligent. There were dozens of birds I’d never heard of or read about, so I thoroughly enjoyed this photography book.



Photo Ark Wonders book coverNational Geographic Photo Ark Wonders: Celebrating Diversity in the Animal Kingdom

by Joel Sartore

National Geographic photographer has Joel Sartore has done it again, by publishing another beautiful book showing us portraits of animals that feature their shapes, patterns, and expressions. The Photo Ark continues to grow and document our world’s species before we lose more to extinction.

Of Orcas and Men book coverOf Orcas and Men: What Killer Whales Can Teach Us

by David Neiwert

This is the best book on orcas that I’ve read and I found it hard to put down at times. It covers both captive and wild orcas, their anatomy and physiology, habitats, lifestyles, culture, and challenges. “Benign and gentle, with their own languages and cultures, orcas’ amazing capacity for long-term memory and, arguably, compassion, makes the ugly story of the captive-orca industry especially damning. In Of Orcas and Men, a marvelously compelling mix of cultural history, environmental reporting, and scientific research, David Neiwert explores how this extraordinary species has come to capture our imaginations―and the catastrophic environmental consequences of that appeal.” If you are going to read just one book about orcas, read this one!

Orcapedia cover, black and white photo of a woman looking through an aquarium tank at an orca, with one hand on the glass. Title above, black border.Orcapedia: A Guide to the Victims of the International Orca Slave Trade

by Captain Paul Watson and Tiffany Humphrey

This is a full account of all the known orcas in captivity, both past and present. About 60 orcas are living in captivity now, and this book includes their photo, personal history, how many times they have been relocated to other parks, and notable incidents that have occurred during their captivity. Unfortunately, at least two orcas have passed since this was published in 2020. If you are interested in learning about killer whales in captivity, this is a must-read.


Fathoms book cover artFathoms: The World in the Whale

by Rebecca Giggs

This book was fabulous! Written with informative, poetic prose, it provided viewpoints from the world of whales that I had always wondered about. From the publisher: “When writer Rebecca Giggs encountered a humpback whale stranded on her local beachfront in Australia, she began to wonder how the lives of whales reflect the condition of our oceans. [The book] blends natural history, philosophy, and science to explore: How do whales experience ecological change? How has whale culture been both understood and changed by human technology? What can observing whales teach us about the complexity, splendor, and fragility of life on earth? In Fathoms, we learn about whales so rare they have never been named, whale songs that sweep across hemispheres in annual waves of popularity, and whales that have modified the chemical composition of our planet’s atmosphere. We travel to Japan to board the ships that hunt whales and delve into the deepest seas to discover how plastic pollution pervades our earth’s undersea environment.” I highly recommend this award-winning book.

The Lost Whale: The True Story of an Orca Named Luna book coverThe Lost Whale: The True Story of an Orca Named Luna

by Michael Parfit and Suzanne Chisholm

This is the sad but heartwarming story of Luna the Orca, who lived in the waters of the Northwestern coast of the United States-Canadian border near Vancouver. Separated from his family at a young age for unknown reasons and living alone, Luna became famous because he tried to establish friendships with humans. But those relationships became controversial as government scientists struggled with figuring out if this was healthy for the whale. This account was written by two people who experienced it first hand while residing in the area. “Here was a creature who seemed to have a complete awareness of life, who used nothing that resembled our language, but who nevertheless could build social relationships that worked…Luna has never asked us for anything but friendship…But we think we know better. Once, trying to keep people away from him was a great idea, an experiment in tough love, to see if the starvation of solitude would push him toward home. But it didn’t work.” This book shows how humans and other mammals really aren’t that different in many ways. We all have emotions and the deep-rooted need for relationships.

The Last Rhinos: My Battle to Save One of the World's Greatest Creatures book coverThe Last Rhinos: My Battle to Save One of the World’s Greatest Creatures

by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence

Lawrence Anthony was the head of conservation at the Thula Thula animal reserve in Zululand, South Africa for more than a decade. From the publisher: “When he learned that there were only a handful of northern white rhinos left in the wild, living in an area of the Congo controlled by the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army, he was determined to save them from extinction…What followed was an extraordinary adventure, as Anthony headed into the jungle to ask the rebels to help protect the rhino. Sometimes funny, sometimes moving, and always exciting, The Last Rhinos tells the story of his fight to save these remarkable creatures.” The northern white rhino is now extinct in the wild. Only two females are living, under constant protection from poachers, in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy. This book was well-written, but Anthony’s story made me sad and brought me to tears many times. Besides the wild extinction of the northern white rhinos and the decline of elephants and other species, he also witnessed violence and death toward both humans and animals.

The Odyssey of KP2 book coverThe Odyssey of KP2: An Orphan Seal, a Marine Biologist, and the Fight to Save a Species

by Terrie M. Williams

This scientist’s heartwarming story about KP2, a Hawaiian monk seal, is a fascinating story about a seal with a unique personality. KP2 was abandoned by his mother and required human intervention to survive. Williams and her team transported, cared for, and studied the seal into his young adulthood. The seal lost also its sight at a young age and thus resides at Waikiki Aquarium. Williams wrote: “With help from my team, KP2 had more than proven that it was possible to aid wild populations through research on an individual under human care, on an animal once considered an expendable castoff to be euthanized.” The book also addresses the huge amounts of plastic pollution that kill many species of seals and whales each year.

Behind the Dolphin Smile book cover Behind the Dolphin Smile: One Man’s Campaign to Protect the World’s Dolphins (2012 edition)

by Richard O’Barry with Keith Coulbourn

Richard O’Barry was the original Flipper the Dolphin trainer and worked with the Miami Seaquarium for many years. Through his experience with capturing dolphins and keeping them in captivity, he became an activist for dolphins. He is the founder of the Dolphin Project and the star of the documentary The Cove. In his book, O’Barry explains his background and experiences and how those culminated in his activism. How could he put straw hats on dolphins and make them do tricks in his early career? “It was my job,” he wrote. “And I was ambitious and sometimes very stupid.” He has dedicated decades of his life since to both freeing captive dolphins and educating people all over the world about dolphins. While reading this book, there were parts where I laughed out loud, and there were parts where I cried. I highly recommend this book, especially if you’ve already seen The Cove.

Coastal Areas & Habitat Destruction

Cover of Wild Sea bookWild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias

by Serge Dedina

The author is the co-founder and Executive Director of WildCoast, an international non-profit that works to conserve coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife. Dedina is a life-long surfer and an eco-warrior; as well as a resident and authority on the Southern and Baja California coastlines. This book is a collection of articles outlining the work, activism, and research that he and others have initiated and participated in to make a difference in preserving the habitats, animals, and natural resources of the California coastline. The book is a call to action and it’s very inspiring! Read my full review here.

Cover of Shadows on the Gulf bookShadows on the Gulf: A Journey through Our Last Great Wetland

by Rowan Jacobsen

This book centers around the 2010 BP oil spill, otherwise known as Deepwater Horizon. Jacobsen explained what happened and what led up to the explosion. But he offers an exploration of the great wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico. The author captures the true beauty of these wetlands but provides an overview of the human effects and devastation from the last half-century. The combination of oil exploration, drilling, lack of laws regulating oil companies’ practices, overfishing, climate change, the rise of sea level, and increasingly stronger storms have created a situation that is unlikely salvageable. There is hope, however, amongst people local to those areas. Jacobsen interviewed many locals and learned about issues not typically presented through common media outlets. Problems surrounding landscapes, tourism, irregular storm surges, oystering, and local culture are just a few of the issues covered. This book was difficult to put down and led me to research these topics more thoroughly while giving me a genuine appreciation for the geography of the wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Living Shore: Rediscovering a Lost World book coverThe Living Shore: Rediscovering a Lost World

by Rowan Jacobsen

Before reading this enthralling piece, I had no idea that oysters were so fascinating. I had trouble putting this book down. The author went on expeditions with scientists studying oysters, discussed different oyster species and geography, and explained the importance of oysters in human history. Life began in the ocean, and human history developed from living in coastal areas. The evolution and rapid growth of the human brain may have been tied to the high amounts of DHA (a type of omega-3 fat) in edible sea life. Today, though oyster beds are diminished from overconsumption, habitat restoration efforts could help restore our oceans and reverse some of the damage humans have caused.

Food, Vegetarianism & Veganism

Cover of book Eating Animals

by Jonathan Safran Foer

My friend and colleague recommended this book, saying that it was what made her become a vegan. While I knew some about the farmed animal and slaughterhouse businesses, I did not know the depth of the inhumane, unsanitary, and disgusting practices that are now normalized so that the western world can eat meat daily. This book is an investigative memoir and is well researched and well written. I recommend this to anyone who is curious about the truth of farmed animal practices.

Harvest for Hope book coverHarvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating

by Jane Goodall with Gary McAvoy and Gail Hudson

Though this book was published in 2005, the information is just as relevant now as it was were then. Global agriculture and food production are not equitably supplying food to all populations, as much food is shipped to other countries to feed livestock or bought by large supermarket chains for those living in developed nations. Food production practices are harming human health, the environment, and wildlife habitats. She cites scientific studies that warned of a global pandemic, much like COVID-19, fifteen years before it happened. Goodall offers ways we can help make things better in every chapter. “Remember, every food purchase is a vote,” she wrote. She reminds us that any action we take, no matter how small, can make a difference. I highly recommend this book as it is true to its title: it offers hope.

Caffeine audiobook cover Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World 

by Michael Pollan

Renowned author and journalist on the social and cultural impacts of food, Pollan has written and narrated an Audible Original about caffeine. He explores the history of caffeine and the pursuit of it throughout the world. He examines the science behind caffeine addition and how this has altered the human brain. Pollan even experiments with breaking his own addiction to caffeine when he wrote this book. Humans now consume more than 2 billion cups per day worldwide and the pursuit of caffeine shows no sign of slowing, despite the environmental damage and human poverty coffee production creates. This is a fascinating audiobook!

Year of No Sugar book cover Year of No Sugar: A Memoir

by Eve O. Schaub

This was Schaub’s first experiment with her Year of No’s (read my review of Year of No Garbage). Sugar is hidden in almost every type of processed food, beverage, and restaurant food, so it’s difficult to avoid. It’s a cheap filler food that makes food taste good. The book introduced me to doctors and authors who contend that sugar is the root cause of most of the major diseases we struggle with, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, etc. It’s a fascinating memoir about the Schaubs’ journey of one year of no sugar. They followed a set of rules and did have exceptions at times, such as when traveling in Europe. It’s a fun read and it will lead you to want to know more about sugar’s negative health effects.

Gardening & Composting

Square Foot Gardening book coverSquare Foot Gardening: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space

by Mel Bartholomew

This book is another I own and keep on my shelf, as it is my go-to reference book for gardening. I do not consider myself a natural at gardening, but the methods the author, Mel Bartholomew, puts forth do work and I grow a small garden every year. He offers a way to garden in small areas and use those spaces maximally, hence the title Square Foot Gardening. He’s been gardening and teaching others to garden this way since the 1970s.

Leaders & Companies

Let My People Go Surfing book coverLet My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

by Yvon Chouinard

This book, by Patagonia’s founder, had a profound impact on me. Chouinard did not set out to own a company, he was a climber and outdoors person who wanted to create better and more responsible gear for himself and his friends. This grew into a small business that eventually grew into what Patagonia is today: A large outdoor retailer that bases all its decisions on ethics, sustainability, and environmental responsibility. This company was a leader in personnel and human resource policy, health insurance, maternity and paternity leave, vacation, etc. Patagonia also established some of the earliest onsite childcare facilities to help working parents. I was truly impressed with Patagonia’s treatment of employees and their ethics surrounding the creation and manufacturing of their products. I did not know that a company with such high standards existed and it gave me hope that consumer culture will not destroy us. I hope it inspires other companies to follow suit. Further, Chouinard wrote about big picture environmental problems such as agriculture, fair trade, global warming, water conservation, organic farming, our disposable economy, and other problems contributing to environmental problems across the world.

Greenpeace Captain book coverGreenpeace Captain: My Adventures in Protecting the Future of Our Planet

by Peter Willcox

Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to work for Greenpeace? If so, this book will fascinate you. From the publisher: “Peter Willcox has been a Captain for Greenpeace for over 30 years. He would never call himself a hero, but he is recognized on every ocean and continent for devoting his entire life to saving the planet. He has led the most compelling and dangerous Greenpeace actions to bring international attention to the destruction of our environment. From the globally televised imprisonment of his crew, the “Arctic 30,” by Russian Commandos to international conspiracies involving diamond smuggling, gun-trading and Al-Qaeda, Willcox has braved the unimaginable and triumphed. This is his story–which begins when he was a young man sailing with Pete Seeger and continues right up to his becoming the iconic environmentalist he is today. His daring adventures and courageous determination will inspire readers everywhere.”

Planetwalker book coverPlanetwalker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence.

by John Francis, Ph.D.

John Francis, Ph.D. wrote about how an oil spill in San Francisco on January 18, 1971, prompted his desire to stop using motorized vehicles. That spill, caused by the collision of two oil tankers, spilled 840,000 gallons of crude oil into the bay underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Francis wrote, “The fog that gathers close for a few hours hides the dying birds, fish, and seals whose bodies clutter the sandy beaches and rocky shores, mouths and lungs filled with black iridescent tar.” He also took a vow of silence in order to allow him greater listening and understanding. After the oil spill, John Francis walked everywhere he went and across the U.S. over the course of the next 22 years. He was silent for 17 years but earned a Master’s and a Doctorate degree during that time. “The walking and silence save me. They not only give me the opportunity to slow down to listen and to watch others; they afford me the same opportunity within myself.” This is an interesting read, and I recommend it to anyone who thinks doing what they want to do isn’t possible – because it is, as Francis showed us.

The Textile & Clothing Industry

Overdressed book coverOverdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

by Elizabeth L. Cline

In this book, Cline investigated and revealed fast fashion’s hidden toll on the environment and on garment workers worldwide. Many workers do not earn a living wage, some work in deplorable conditions, and others are exposed to dangerous chemicals and toxins. She explored our relationship with our clothes and the fashion industry, as well as where the clothes we donate or dispose of end up. She explained that we need to change our disposable attitude toward clothing by buying less, buying better quality, and repairing what we already own. This was an eye-opening piece!

The Conscious Closet book coverThe Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good

by Elizabeth L. Cline

In Cline’s second book, she explores the current state of the textile and clothing industry, which is unsustainable. This book explains how we can change the way we shop so that we can stop supporting bad employment practices in other countries, create living wages for those workers, limit the environmental toll that the textile industry takes, and create less waste. We can all dress the way we want without causing so much harm, and this book provides the tools and guidelines. She also provides plenty of information on taking better care of our clothes by doing laundry better and by repairing clothing, and even offers detailed mending techniques in one of the chapters. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested but especially to anyone who is interested in being fashionable and sustainable!

Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes book cover, a large colorful pile of clothes with a white Greek statue posed in front of it, facing the pile.Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes

by Dana Thomas

This book covers the history, the present, and the future of fashion. From the publisher: “Today, the clothing industry churns out 80 billion garments a year and employs every sixth person on Earth. Historically, the apparel trade has exploited labor, the environment, and intellectual property—and in the last three decades, with the simultaneous unfurling of fast fashion, globalization, and the tech revolution, those abuses have multiplied exponentially, primarily out of view. We are in dire need of an entirely new human-scale model. Bestselling journalist Dana Thomas has traveled the globe to discover the visionary designers and companies who are propelling the industry toward that more positive future by reclaiming traditional craft and launching cutting-edge sustainable technologies to produce better fashion.” This is an excellent read!

Mending & DIY Projects

Cover is orange background with 6 of the book's colorful projects laid out on the lower half.Recycle and Play: Awesome DIY Zero-Waste Projects to Make for Kids

by Agnes Hsu

This book offers “50 Fun Learning Activities for Ages 3-6,” and all projects use trash or recycling materials you already have in your home (cardboard, toilet paper tubes, bubble wrap, etc.). I wish I’d had this book when my son was a toddler. It features so many learning and sensory activities and I would’ve probably made all of them! In hindsight, we did do stuff like this sometimes – but now it’s all in one colorful, easy book! The author runs If you have toddlers, get this book!

Sustainable Wardrobe cover with items counterclockwise: gray knit hat, folded pink shirt, green winter vest, scissors, thread and buttons, and a wooden coat hanger. Gray background.Sustainable Wardrobe: Practical advice and projects for eco-friendly fashion

by Sophie Benson

This book teaches you how to create a more sustainable and eco-friendly wardrobe without spending a fortune. Discarded clothing is having a devastating effect on the planet. We can change our habits as consumers, take better care of our clothes, and mend or upcycle them when they are no longer wearable. The author even provides tutorials! From the publisher: “Sophie Benson, a journalist specialising in sustainable fashion, will guide you through – breaking down the issues and explaining how we can mitigate them at home: from the clothes we purchase, to the way we care for them, to how we dispose of them.” This is a great book!

Make Thrift Mend: Stitch, Patch, Darn, Plant-Dye & Love Your Wardrobe book coverMake Thrift Mend: Stitch, Patch, Darn, Plant-Dye & Love Your Wardrobe

by Katrina Rodabaugh

This book has easy-to-follow instructions with photographs on how to mend and extend the life of your clothing. From the publisher: “Slow fashion influencer Katrina Rodabaugh, bestselling author of Mending Matters, teaches readers how to mend, patch, dye, and alter clothing for an environmentally conscious, reimagined wardrobe.”

Modern Mending book cover, black short-sleeved knit shirt with embroidered repairs.Modern Mending: How to minimize waste and maximize style

by Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald

This is both an enjoyable book to read and one you need to keep on the shelf as a reference book. It provides step-by-step mending instructions, shows techniques, and explains the required tools. Mending allows to you keep your clothes longer and also allows you to be creative. Mending also embraces slow fashion, an idea that we care for what we already have and make it last longer. This makes fashion more sustainable and rejects fast fashion. I highly recommend this book, even if you are a beginner!

Mend it, Wear it, Love it book cover Mend it, Wear it, Love it!: Stitch Your Way to a Sustainable Wardrobe

by Zoe Edwards

This is a great book with illustrated tutorials on how to mend, repair, and extend the life of your clothing.


Cover shows balls of fabric in many different hues and colors, blue background.Natural Color: Vibrant Plant Dye Projects for Your Home and Wardrobe

by Sasha Duerr

This inspiring book provides step-by-step instructions on using plants to dye fabrics, both for clothing and home textile projects. It is organized by season, using what will be in season to harvest for making the dyes. When I have extra free time someday, I plan to try some of these projects!


 Environmental Justice

Intersectional Environmentalist book coverThe Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet

by Leah Thomas

From the publisher: “The Intersectional Environmentalist examines the inextricable link between environmentalism, racism, and privilege, and promotes awareness of the fundamental truth that we cannot save the planet without uplifting the voices of its people — especially those most often unheard…this book is simultaneously a call to action, a guide to instigating change for all, and a pledge to work towards the empowerment of all people and the betterment of the planet.” I learned a lot from this book and found it inspiring! Thomas wrote, “Together, we can transform the future of environmentalism and, with collective action, spread our message across the globe and change enough hearts and minds to positively alter the future.”

Living Better

Hunt Gather Parent book coverHunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans

by Michaeleen Doucleff, PhD

I don’t typically read or recommend parenting books, but this one is potentially life-changing! From the publisher: “When Dr. Michaeleen Doucleff becomes a mother, she examines the studies behind modern parenting guidance and finds the evidence frustratingly limited and often ineffective. Curious to learn about more effective parenting approaches, she visits a Maya village in the Yucatán Peninsula. There she encounters moms and dads who parent in a totally different way than we do—and raise extraordinarily kind, generous, and helpful children without yelling, nagging, or issuing timeouts. What else, Doucleff wonders, are Western parents missing out on? In Hunt, Gather, Parent, Doucleff sets out with her three-year-old daughter in tow to learn and practice parenting strategies from families in three of the world’s most venerable communities: Maya families in Mexico, Inuit families above the Arctic Circle, and Hadzabe families in Tanzania. She sees that these cultures don’t have the same problems with children that Western parents do. Most strikingly, parents build a relationship with young children that is vastly different from the one many Western parents develop—it’s built on cooperation instead of control, trust instead of fear, and personalized needs instead of standardized development milestones…[This book] helps us rethink the ways we relate to our children, and reveals a universal parenting paradigm adapted for American families.” I liked it so much, that I’ve read this book twice. And if I had to pick a favorite book on parenting, this would be the one!

Cover of Atomic Habits bookAtomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

by James Clear

I was first introduced to James Clear by listening to a podcast by The Minimalists, where they interviewed Clear. I loved this book! His concept of building small habits to create your best life is fascinating and most of the ideas are easy to incorporate into your busy life. “Build habits that reinforce your desired identity,” Clear wrote. If you want to be a writer, identify yourself as a writer. Then make time, even just a few minutes per day, to write. You will be able to build the habit from just those few daily minutes. If you’re struggling with finding time in your life for the things you really want to do, this is a must-read. I plan to listen to the audiobook again this year.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck book coverThe Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do

by Sarah Knight

This book is a great book if you are anti-conformity or are just tired of worrying about what people think of you. Don’t participate in mass-marketed materialism or use Styrofoam plastic take out containers just because everyone else does. Be plastic-free and weird!

You Do You: How to Be Who You Are and Use What You've Got to Get What You Want book coverYou Do You: How to Be Who You Are and Use What You’ve Got to Get What You Want

by Sarah Knight

This book teaches you how to just be yourself, and not worry about what the neighbors think. We never put our garbage out anymore, because we don’t have much. But I think our neighbors suspect we are lazy or irresponsible, but we are doing we and achieving what we want. You Do You.

10% Happier book cover10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story

by Dan Harris

The author of this book made changes to his life to reduce stress and anxiety while slightly increasing his satisfaction and happiness in life. But it took a panic attack on national television for him to realize he needed to seek help. He outlined his journey through the discovery of the practice of meditation. I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by Harris himself, and I recommend this book if you’re looking for a place to start.

Cover of The 5 Second Rule bookThe 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage

by Mel Robbins

I can’t say enough about how much I love Mel Robbins. If you need someone to teach you how to love yourself and be confident, especially if you’re a woman, then you need Mel Robbins. She’ll teach you all about building self-confidence, courage, and the power of you! She’s got several books and audiobooks (which she narrates herself), but this is the one I started with. Be sure to look up her TED Talks as well.

Momma Zen book coverMomma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood

by Karen Maezen Miller

Again, I don’t usually have recommendations on parenting books because I feel that many of them can lead us astray. Those types of books have good intentions but I reached a point in early motherhood that I became anxious and stressed out with constantly worrying that I wasn’t being a good mommy. So I stopped reading parenting books, completely. However, my husband found this memoir and asked me to read it. I was skeptical at first but this was absolutely a worthwhile read. It offers straightforward practical advice on mothering that incorporates spirituality and meditation. As Amazon’s listing reads, “Miller explores how the daily challenges of parenthood can become the most profound spiritual journey of our lives.” Yeah, exactly. Thanks to the author for writing this book.