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Nine Books To Read For A More Sustainable 2021

Do you want to read more environmental books in 2021? Florence does too! Follow along as she lists some titles that are high on her To Read list.


Can I be honest with you? I read maybe four books outside of my mandatory class readings in 2020. I used to read so much as a child, but I lost interest as I grew up. Well, last year we all watched our world unravel itself. Even with all that extra time at home, I did not accomplish the reading goals that I wanted to. I'll forgive myself for that now. Here's an opportunity for you to have compassion for yourself if you didn't accomplish last year's goals. Here's your reminder that you did enough by getting through a pandemic!

I am happy to announce that I am determined to get myself out of my reading slump. I made some resolutions for myself and I plan on tracking them similar to how Olivia described here. I've learned that I like to have a non-fiction and a fiction book on the go at the same time. This way, I can switch between the two during the day based on my mood. I also won't allow myself to start a new book until I've finished one.

Here are some of the titles that I want to read with my newfound determination to read this year. Please note that I am using the word sustainability in a cross-cutting, holistic sense.

The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power - Desmond Cole

Award winning journalist Desmond Cole chronicles his year of challenging racism in Canada. Cole breaks up the chapters by month, and he gives a rich history and context for each story he tells in the book. This book helps to challenge the "We're not like the States" attitude that we have in Canada. My roommate was sweet enough to gift me a copy of the book for my birthday last year!

They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School - Bev Sellars

Content warning: child abuse, racism. Bev traces the generational impact of residential schools on the women of her family. She went to St. Joseph's Mission in what is now known as BC. The book chronicles her growing up in the residential school; she only spends a total of 11 months of her childhood with her family . This is an important read as First Nations people are often at the forefront of environmental movements in Canada, and it is important to remember their stories of colonial violence. Gifted to me by my mom last Christmas!

Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada - Rodney Dilervus (Editor), Sandy Hudson (Editor), Syrus Marcus Ware (Editor)

I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy of this book by my boyfriend for my birthday. The book is a collection of writings from across North America, including Halifax's own El Jones and Randolph Riley. One thing I learned last year is that it is important to tune into what is happening in your own community. Reading some writing by local authors is a great way to become more aware of the people leading change in your community.

Silent Spring - Rachel Carson

You get bonus points if you listen to Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell while reading this one. Rachel Carson was both a scientist and a poet. Her Silent Spring series was highly influential to the environmental movement of the 60s. The precedent which her writing has set is a prime example of how storytelling and reading can be powerful tools for change.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants - Robin Wall Kimmerer

I can’t wait to start this book; I’ve heard great things. We've learned a bit about Two-Eyed Seeing in my program. Dr Albert Marshall developed this principle of integrating Indigenous wisdom and Western science. I haven't read the book yet, but I'm expecting that it'll touch on some of the same principles. I'm excited to read this book, as I hear it's beautifully written.

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate- Discoveries from a Secret World - Peter Wohlleben

Not a fictional book, but a light and fascinating read. The author's passion is clear through his tender descriptions of trees. I didn’t think I’d get emotional over a non-fiction book about plants, but this book (and Braiding Sweetgrass!) might prove me wrong.

There's Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous & Black Communities - Ingrid R. G. Waldron

You might have already watched the documentary co-created by Elliot Page and Ingrid Waldron. If you haven't it's still on Netflix. Why not join me in reading the book this year, seeing as we've both made this resolution to read more. Even if you don’t live in Nova Scotia, you’ll want to read it and reflect on environmental racism in your hometown, home province, home country. You might be surprised to find out who's affected by pollution in your community.

The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson

Another fictional book, this one a bit more alarming than the previous ones. Coming of age is hard, but it's even more difficult for Julia. The earth is slowing it's rotation and it sets a slew of natural disasters into motion. I read this when I was in the ninth grade. I would have never guessed then that I would live through an event of similar magnitude. I’d like to reread it this year to see if it holds up.

On Fire: The Case for the Green New Deal - Naomi Klein

Couldn’t be an environmental reading list without a novel by Klein. I admit, I still have to read This Changes Everything. Please forgive me for slacking. Klein is a pioneer in literature about Global Warming. I’m hoping that her writing guides my journey in activism. I might also look to her arguments as inspiration when speaking to people skeptical of the environmental movement.

When you read a book that resonates with you, think of the people in your community! Do you know someone who might benefit from reading this book? What do you feel inspired to do after reading? You might want to journal or draw after reading a powerful book. Do what feels right in the moment! I like to annotate and highlight passages that resonate with me so that I can revisit them when I need a refresher. I’d like to hear from you! Do you have any recommendations for the new year? Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts on these titles?


Florence is on her Co-op work term working from home. She’s spending a lot of time at home trying to craft the perfect lavender oat milk latte, reading books and crocheting mason jar cozies. Follow her journey on

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