Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living

Nicole Caldwell (New Society, June)

Part memoir, part theory, and part DIY manual, this book offers step-by-step instructions for turning an aquarium into a garden, upcycling trash, and more.

Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

Carl Safina (Holt, July)

Safina takes readers into the lives and minds of elephants in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, free-living wolves in Yellowstone, and whales in the Pacific Northwest, reporting on their capacity for self-awareness, empathy, and grief.

The Brown Agenda: My Mission to Clean Up the World’s Most Life-Threatening Pollution

Richard Fuller, with Damon DiMarco (Santa Monica, Aug.)

Fuller, an environmentalist and the founder of the non-profit organization Pure Earth, recounts his ongoing fight against “brown” pollution, sites where man-made toxic pollutants have taken root and spread, often as a result of aggressive industrialization.

Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World

Jared Green (Princeton Architectural Press, Apr.)

Architects, urban planners, landscape architects, and others respond to the question, “What contemporary or historical design gives you hope for a sustainable future?” with essays on everything Angkor Wat to mushroom board as a replacement for Styrofoam.

The Food Activist’s Handbook

Ali Berlow (Storey, May)

The author, who got her start with an NPR program called A Cook’s Notebook, shows how projects like connecting food pantries with local food providers, organizing community composting, and starting a school garden can help keep family farms intact, keep money in the local economy, reduce the carbon footprint associated with food transportation, and preserve local landscapes.

Inherit the Holy Mountain: Religion and the Rise of American Environmentalism

Mark Stoll (Oxford Univ., June)

Religion, according to historian Stoll’s research, provided early environmentalists with deeply embedded moral and cultural ways of viewing the world, as well as content, tone, and direction for the causes they espoused.

The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of Earth’s Rarest Creatures

William deBuys (Little, Brown, out now)

Journalist deBuys and conservationist William Robichaud search for the elusive saola, the only large mammal species discovered in the last 100 years, in the Laotian jungle.

Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day

Gene Baur, with Gene Stone (Rodale, out now)

Baur, cofounder and president of farm animal protection organization Farm Sanctuary, and Stone, author of Forks Over Knives, which promotes a plant-based diet, offer a vegan, animal-friendly lifestyle guide.

Make Garbage Great: The TerraCycle Family Guide to a Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Tom Szaky and Albe Zakes (Harper Design, July)

With more than 200 photographs and illustrations, and some 20 DIY projects, this is a guide to reducing, reusing, and repurposing the garbage the average household produces.

The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey

Deborah Cramer (Yale Univ., Apr.)

The author follows the annual 9,000-mile odyssey of the red knot, a threatened species of shorebird that survives on horseshoe crab eggs, from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic.

The Oyster War: The True Story of a Small Farm, Big Politics, and the Future of Wilderness in America

Summer Brennan (Counterpoint, Aug.)

Environmentalists, national politicians, scientists, and the Department of the Interior all joined a protracted battle over a Marin County, Calif., estuary, where a small oyster farm had operated since the 1930s.

Poisoned Planet: How Constant Exposure to Man-Made Chemicals Is Putting Your Life at Risk

Julian Cribb (Allen & Unwin, Apr.)

Science journalist Cribb shows how people regularly interact with harmful chemicals in food, water, cosmetics, furniture, and other everyday items, and explains why individuals, rather than governments, should take action.

Rain: A Natural and Cultural History

Cynthia Barnett (Crown, Apr.)

Barnett offers a sweeping look at the weather phenomenon of the title, beginning four billion years ago with the formation of the oceans, taking in the birth of modern weather forecasting, and building to a discussion of climate change.

Rethink: The Way You Live

Amanda Talbot (Chronicle, out now)

Images of homes around the globe illustrate how creative design choices—bringing more nature inside; installing moving walls for multifunctional spaces—can promote sustainable living.

Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells

Helen Scales (Bloomsbury Sigma, July)

A marine biologist shows how seashells have given us color, gems, food, and new medicines, and assesses the threats that molluscs and their shells still face.

The Western Flyer: Steinbeck’s Boat, the Sea of Cortez, and the Saga of Pacific Fisheries

Kevin M. Bailey (Univ. of Chicago, Apr.)

Drawing on John Steinbeck’s archives, interviews with family members of crew, and more than three decades of working in Pacific Northwest fisheries, Bailey traces the depletion of marine life through the voyages of a single ship.

What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action

Per Espen Stoknes (Chelsea Green, Apr.)

Stoknes identifies the five main psychological barriers to action on climate change, offering five strategies for talking about global warming in a simple, social, and positive way.

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