- Jenica Barrett
2021 Reading List for the Intersectional Environmentalist
Updated: Feb 6, 2021
Books, in particular, helped me understand many of the things that went on in the world in 2020. They pushed me to see things from new perspectives. Reading is a window into the lives of others and into the thoughts of someone we might never meet. While staying home, reading kept me connected.
One way to continue your involvement in the environmental movement (although there are many ways to stay involved!) is to read about what is happening out there. My environmental activism has increased as I have read more - and gained more knowledge along the way. As I learn more about intersectional environmentalism, I have made sure to read books about racial justice, social issues, reproductive rights, capitalism, eviction, and many other topics. The solutions to the climate crisis need to take into account all of these factors in order to be truly reflective and effective.
What will I read in 2021?
For 2021, I'm going to continue working towards climate justice - and read books that help me become a better climate activist. Although some of these books are a few years old, they all have important perspectives for me to keep in mind. If you identify as a climate activist, an intersectional environmentalist, a climate feminist, or simply someone who wants to work towards a safe planet, this book list is for you. Take a look below to see what I'll be reading in 2021!
Looking for books on environmental justice specifically? Or zero waste guide books? I've put together lists of book recommendations for those topics too!
This post contains affiliate links where I earn a small commission on purchases made through the links.
2021 Reading List for the Intersectional Environmentalist
Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It by Jamie Margolin
"In Youth to Power, Jamie presents the essential guide to change making, with advice on writing and pitching op-eds, organizing successful events and peaceful protests, time management as a student activist, utilizing social and traditional media to spread a message, and sustaining long-term action. She features interviews with prominent young activists including Tokata Iron Eyes of the #NoDAPL movement and Nupol Kiazolu of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, who give guidance on handling backlash, keeping your mental health a priority, and how to avoid getting taken advantage of." - Bookshop
Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal by Noam Chomsky & Robert Pollin
"Together, Chomsky and Pollin show how the forecasts for a hotter planet strain the imagination: vast stretches of the Earth will become uninhabitable, plagued by extreme weather, drought, rising seas, and crop failure. Arguing against the misplaced fear of economic disaster and unemployment arising from the transition to a green economy, they show how this bogus concern encourages climate denialism." - Bookshop
A Black Women's History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry & Kali Nicole Gross
"In centering Black women's stories, two award-winning historians seek both to empower African American women and to show their allies that Black women's unique ability to make their own communities while combatting centuries of oppression is an essential component in our continued resistance to systemic racism and sexism. Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross offer an examination and celebration of Black womanhood, beginning with the first African women who arrived in what became the United States to African American women of today." - Bookshop
All We Can Save edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katharine K. Wilkinson
"All We Can Save illuminates the expertise and insights of dozens of diverse women leading on climate in the United States--scientists, journalists, farmers, lawyers, teachers, activists, innovators, wonks, and designers, across generations, geographies, and race--and aims to advance a more representative, nuanced, and solution-oriented public conversation on the climate crisis. These women offer a spectrum of ideas and insights for how we can rapidly, radically reshape society." - Bookshop
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
"Are trees social beings? In The Hidden Life of Trees forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in his woodland." - Bookshop
No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein
"Donald Trump's takeover of the White House is a dangerous escalation in a world of cascading crises. His reckless agenda--including a corporate coup in government, aggressive scapegoating and warmongering, and sweeping aside climate science to set off a fossil fuel frenzy--will generate waves of disasters and shocks to the economy, national security, and the environment. Acclaimed journalist, activist, and bestselling author Naomi Klein has spent two decades studying political shocks, climate change, and "brand bullies." From this unique perspective, she argues that Trump is not an aberration but a logical extension of the worst, most dangerous trends of the past half-century--the very conditions that have unleashed a rising tide of white nationalism the world over. " - Bookshop
Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo
"Through the last 150 years of American history -- from the post-reconstruction South and the mythic stories of cowboys in the West, to the present-day controversy over NFL protests and the backlash against the rise of women in politics -- Ijeoma Oluo exposes the devastating consequences of white male supremacy on women, people of color, and white men themselves. Mediocre investigates the real costs of this phenomenon in order to imagine a new white male identity, one free from racism and sexism." - Bookshop
Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts
"In 1997, this groundbreaking book made a powerful entrance into the national conversation on race. In a media landscape dominated by racially biased images of welfare queens and crack babies, Killing the Black Body exposed America's systemic abuse of Black women's bodies. From slave masters' economic stake in bonded women's fertility to government programs that coerced thousands of poor Black women into being sterilized as late as the 1970s, these abuses pointed to the degradation of Black motherhood--and the exclusion of Black women's reproductive needs in mainstream feminist and civil rights agendas."
An Indigenous People's History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
"In An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, Dunbar-Ortiz adroitly challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the Indigenous peoples was colonialist and designed to seize the territories of the original inhabitants, displacing or eliminating them. And as Dunbar-Ortiz reveals, this policy was praised in popular culture, through writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Walt Whitman, and in the highest offices of government and the military. Shockingly, as the genocidal policy reached its zenith under President Andrew Jackson, its ruthlessness was best articulated by US Army general Thomas S. Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote of the Seminoles: "The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them." - Bookshop
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
"What happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits and forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly-acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century." - Bookshop
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
"Unrelenting drought has transfigured Southern California into a surreal, phantasmagoric landscape. With the Central Valley barren, underground aquifer drained, and Sierra snowpack entirely depleted, most "Mojavs," prevented by both armed vigilantes and an indifferent bureaucracy from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to internment camps. In Los Angeles' Laurel Canyon, two young Mojavs--Luz, once a poster child for the Bureau of Conservation and its enemies, and Ray, a veteran of the "forever war" turned surfer--squat in a starlet's abandoned mansion. Holdouts, they subsist on rationed cola and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise." - Bookshop