It seems that fall is definitely upon us, and there is nothing I love to do more on a cold, rainy autumn day than curl up with a good book. If that sounds good to you, let me recommend a few books with environmental themes that have been published recently.
War of the Whales: A True Story, by Joshua Horwitz
This is an edge-of-your-seat nonfiction legal thriller that had me hooked after just the first few pages. It details the decades-long legal battle between environmentalists and the US Navy over underwater weapons and detection systems that result in massive whale die-offs. It’s well written and carefully researched, and it does an excellent job of telling both sides of the story. The book culminates in a Supreme Court ruling, but it is clear that this is one story that remains ongoing.
Memory of Water, by Emmi Itaranta
Set in the near future, on an Earth changed almost beyond recognition by climate change and rising sea levels, Memory of Water depicts a possible future in which fresh water is a scarce commodity. Wars are fought over access to water, cultural shifts have occurred in response to the now rare liquid, and people’s day-to-day lives often revolve around finding just enough water to keep their family alive. It’s a stark look at one possible outcome of climate change, but it also has some heartwarming friendships and a touching relationship between a father and daughter.
The Hollow Ground, by Natalie Harnett
While this book is primarily about familial relationships, it is set against one of the most devastating and sadly forgotten environmental disasters of modern US history. The dangers of coal mining are never more apparent than in this retelling of the Centralia mine fire, a massive fire that has been burning untamed for decades in a series of underground coal mines in Pennsylvania. It is difficult to read about the characters struggling to go about their lives while watching the linoleum blister from the underground heat and being constantly at risk of dying in their sleep from gases seeping up from the mines. It is a powerful testament to the destruction we can reap in the name of progress. It makes me wonder what books will be written 50 years from now about oil pipelines or deep sea drilling.