Ask Eartha: Summer reading for the environmentally conscience |

Ask Eartha: Summer reading for the environmentally conscience

Find out why islands are biologically unique, how human development creates isolated, island-like ecosystems and what this means for the future of life on our planet.
Special to the Daily |

Dear Eartha,

I have more time for reading over the summer, and I’m always on the lookout for great recommendations. Do you have any suggestions for the conservation-minded bookworm?

— Lisa, Blue River

There’s nothing quite like spending a warm summer afternoon outside with a book and a tall glass of iced tea. And, because of the growing stack of books I have piled next to my bed, I intend to spend many upcoming afternoons with a book in hand. From one bookworm to another, here are some of my favorites. There are several different topics represented in this list, so I hope at least one of these titles will pique your interest!

If you love adventures: “Song of the Dodo” by David Quammen

Science writing meets swashbuckling adventure, this is one of my all-time favorite reads. Don’t let the length scare you — this book is worth the time! Quammen travels to locations key to Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace as they both developed theories in evolutionary biology, and in doing so, delves into the science of extinction. Find out why islands are biologically unique, how human development creates isolated, island-like ecosystems and what this means for the future of life on our planet.

If you’re interested in water: “River Notes” by Wade Davis

In “River Notes,” Wade Davis recounts the human and natural history of the Colorado River as he journeys on a float trip following the wake of John Wesley Powell’s early explorations. With discussions on dams, municipal and agricultural uses of the Colorado River, as well as the downstream effects of overuse, this book is a poignant reflection on the waters that sustain the residents of the Colorado River Basin — that includes all of us who live and play in Summit County!

If you’re interested in climate change: “Field Notes from a Catastrophe” by Elizabeth Kolbert

Initially published in 2006, in 2015 best-selling author Elizabeth Kolbert added four new chapters to her book documenting the consequences of human-caused climate change. Describing observations from remote Alaskan villages, the Greenland ice sheet, Costa Rica, and beyond, Kolbert presents an understandable primer on the science of climate change and describes its impacts in clear, unequivocal terms.

If you’re a foodie: “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan and “Stuffed and Starved” by Raj Patel

“The Omnivore’s Dilemma” was first published ten years ago, so chances are you might have already read it. If not, crack open this wildly-popular book about food and be prepared to change the way you think about eating. In each of the book’s three sections, Pollan tracks the production cycle from farm (or lab) to table. Fair warning: The first section on corn just might make you reconsider your relationship with red meat.

Raj Patel’s “Stuffed and Starved” investigates the economics of the global food system. The writing style isn’t quite as conversational as “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” but the book is chock full of surprises about the impact of international trade agreement on local food systems, food aid, and how we don’t really have freedom of choice at the grocery store, despite what the apparent abundance of foods might lead us to believe.

If you want to read the classics: “A Sand County Almanac” by Aldo Leopold

“A Sand County Almanac” is a simple yet beautifully written collection of essays inspired by Leopold’s travels around the country. There are many inspiring passages in this book, but perhaps the most famous are “Thinking Like a Mountain” and “The Land Ethic.” In “Thinking Like a Mountain,” we learn the importance considering the long-term when it comes to land management and conservation. “The Land Ethic” defines Leopold’s rules for human relationships with land and challenges us to view ourselves as part of nature rather than separate from it.

Happy reading, and if you read any of these, let me know what you think!

If you’re an educator or a parent: “The Nature Principle” by Richard Louv

“The Nature Principle” is Richard Louv’s follow-up to his bestseller, “Last Child in the Woods.” In “Last Child in the Woods,” Louv introduces the concept of “nature deficit disorder” and presents research that shows that as children become increasingly connected to electronic media and disconnected from nature, they suffer both physically and cognitively. In “The Nature Principle,” Louv presents more research and ideas for how to better connect us all — adults and children alike — with nature, and why these connections matter for not only for the health of the planet, but also for our own well-being.

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable food, waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User