This list was posted by the Booklist Online on February 12th of 2009.
The best “green” books reviewed in Booklist over the past year take distinctive perspectives on the same matrix of forces human and wild, explicating problems, offering solutions, and telling compelling stories of hubris and hope.
Albatross: Their World, Their Ways. By Tuie De Roy and others. 2008. Firefly, $49.95 (9781554074150).
In this magnificent book about a magnificent bird—the revered, now endangered albatross—wildlife photographer De Roy and contributing scientists cover all aspects of albatross beauty, biology, and conservation.
American Earth: Environmental Writing since Thoreau. Ed. by Bill McKibben. 2008. Library of America, $40 (9781598530209).
The environmental movement has been guided by writing of clarity and power, including books by McKibben, who has created a defining and essential anthology featuring 100 pioneering, eco-minded writers.
Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honeybee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis. By Rowan Jacobsen. 2008. Bloomsbury, $25 (9781596915374).
Jacobsen celebrates the marvels of the honeybee, reveals the many ways we’ve endangered this essential pollinator, and calls for action to prevent a “fruitless fall.”
Greasy Rider: Two Dudes, One Fry-Oil-Powered Car, and a Cross-Country Search for a Greener Future. By Greg Melville. 2008. Algonquin, paper, $15.95 (9781565125957).
Melville’s Larky tale of a coast-to-coast road trip in a car running on french-fry oil, including stops at a wind farm, a renewable energy lab, and a green home, is splendidly entertaining and educational.
Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How It Can Renew America. By Thomas L. Friedman. 2008. Farrar, $27.95 (9780374166854).
Friedman makes the all-important connection between business and environmentalism in this call for a green revolution.
The Hudson: America’s River. By Frances F. Dunwell. 2008. Columbia Univ., $74.50 (9780231136402); paper, $29.95 (9780231136419).
The beautiful and historic Hudson River became “grossly polluted,” a story with a happy and instructive ending brilliantly told by Dunwell, a key figure in the river’s restoration.
Nature’s Second Chance: Restoring the Ecology of Stone Prairie Farm. By Steven I. Apfelbaum. 2009. Beacon, $25.95 (9780807085820).
Ecologist Apfelbaum candidly chronicles the complex challenges he faced while restoring an 80-acre swath of woefully depleted and toxic southern Wisconsin farmland and turning it back into a thriving prairie.
Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles. By Chip Jacobs and William J. Kelly. 2008. Overlook, $26.95 (9781585678600).
A fun book about smog? Jacobs and Kelly capture the aura of 1950s sci-fi movies in this lively history of Los Angeles’ monstrous smog.
Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land. By Amy Irvine. 2008. Farrar/North Point, $25 (0-86547-703-5).
Drawing on her Mormon family history, Irvine revels in Utah’s breathtaking beauty and protests its destructive exploitation.
Why I Came West. By Rick Bass. 2008. Houghton, $24 (9780618596751).
Bass tracks his ardor for the wild, especially his love for Montana’s Yaak Valley, in this moving and instructive memoir of his life as a writer and wilderness activist.