Summer reading list! Book recommendations from TreeHugger

Summer book
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This week my Kindle wishlist surpassed 140 titles. I thought to myself that this, in addition to the small pile of books I'm currently reading, is a sure sign that a summer reading frenzy has begun -- and I might not be alone. So, I figure it is time for a summer book recommendation list tailored to TreeHuggers.

I've pulled together some favorites that we have reviewed, some I'm currently reading so can at least recommend if not provide a review, and some I have not yet read but that are on my wishlist. The topics range from ecology to sociology to psychology and more. If you're a gardener or a cook, a lover of nature who wants to better understand wildlife, a proponent of minimalist living, have an appreciation for design, or simply want to soak up some classics, this list has something for you.

I am including links for purchasing the titles and a blurb from the books' descriptions, as well as links to the reviews we have written on some of the titles. Scan the list and pluck out those you find most intriguing. And don't forget to look at the related links over there on the left for more book lists and reviews that may interest you.

A Greedy Man in a Hungry World

(read TreeHugger review):
"This engaging, witty and honest narrative is driven by the appetite of one large man: Jay Rayner – someone who lives to eat, but also understands that there is a world beyond the high-end obsessions of the farmers’ market. Combining sharply-observed memoir...with hard-nosed reportage, Jay Rayner will blow conventional foodie wisdom apart. For here is the reality: within a few decades we will have nine billion mouths to feed, and we won’t be doing that by flogging free-range eggs from a stall in Borough market."


Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

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"Nudge is about choices—how we make them and how we can make better ones. Drawing on decades of research in the fields of behavioral science and economics, authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein offer a new perspective on preventing the countless mistakes we make—ill-advised personal investments, consumption of unhealthy foods, neglect of our natural resources—and show us how sensible “choice architecture” can successfully nudge people toward the best decisions. In the tradition of The Tipping Point and Freakonomics, Nudge is straightforward, informative, and entertaining—a must-read for anyone interested in our individual and collective well-being."

The Ethiopian Wolf: Hope at the Edge of Extinction

(read TreeHugger review):
"The Ethiopian wolf hangs precariously close to extinction with fewer than 450 individuals left on the planet. However, the little-known species also offers us one of the greatest stories of hope for successful conservation today. The problems faced by the wolves for survival are solvable, if we act. Photographers Will Burrard-Lucas and Rebecca R Jackrel traveled to the highlands of Ethiopia to document the lives of these elegant canids and the work the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme is doing to preserve the species for future generations. Witness the intimate pack lives of the wolves, enjoy the beautiful landscapes they call home, and learn how these wolves are becoming a symbol for what can be accomplished by dedicated individuals set on saving a species from extinction."

Animal Tracking Basics

(a Jaymi recommendation):
"Tracking wildlife successfully requires more than just looking for trails and scat. It requires an awareness of how an animal behaves in its environment--how it finds food, travels, and rests. A tracker must know how to find and interpret behavioral clues animals leave behind. This how-to book teaches the basics of being a successful tracker--explaining what to look for to find or identify an animal and how to develop an essential environmental awareness. Also describes aging tracks and sign, understanding ecology and mapping, keeping field notes, using track tools, and making casts."

Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating

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"In this book, you will find the latest information about how what you eat affects your health, the environment, and the existence of the animals who share this planet, along with in-depth discussions of ground-breaking work by internationally respected experts"

In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart

(read TreeHugger review):
"Alice Waters has been a champion of the sustainable, local cooking movement for decades. To Alice, good food is a right, not a privilege. In the Green Kitchen presents her essential cooking techniques to be learned by heart plus more than 50 recipes—for delicious fresh, local, and seasonal meals—from Alice and her friends. She demystifies the basics including steaming a vegetable, dressing a salad, simmering stock, filleting a fish, roasting a chicken, and making bread. An indispensable cookbook, she gives you everything you need to bring out the truest flavor that the best ingredients of the season have to offer."

The Moneyless Man

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"Imagine a year without spending any money. Former businessman Mark Boyle did just that and here is his extraordinary story. Going back to basics and following his own strict rules, Mark learned ingenious ways to eliminate his bills and flourish for free. Encountering seasonal foods, solar panels, skill-swapping schemes, cuttlefish toothpaste, compost toilets and - the unthinkable - a cash-free Christmas, Boyle puts the fun into frugality and reveals indispensable tips for economical and environmentally friendly living. A testament to Mark's astounding determination, this witty and thought-provoking book will make you re-evaluate your relationship to your wallet."

The Quarter-Acre Farm: How I Kept the Patio, Lost the Lawn, and Fed My Family for a Year

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"The Quarter-Acre Farm is Warren’s account of deciding—despite all resistance—to take control of her family’s food choices, get her hands dirty, and create a garden in her suburban yard. It’s a story of bugs, worms, rot, and failure; of learning, replanting, harvesting, and eating. The road is long and riddled with mistakes, but by the end of her yearlong experiment, Warren’s sons and husband have become her biggest fans—in fact, they’re even eager to help harvest (and eat) the beautiful bounty she brings in. Full of tips and recipes to help anyone interested in growing and preparing at least a small part of their diet at home, The Quarter-Acre Farm is a warm, witty tale about family, food, and the incredible gratification that accompanies self-sufficiency."

The Wild Muir: Twenty-Two of John Muir's Greatest Adventures

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"Here is an entertaining collection of John Muir’s most exciting adventures, representing some of his finest writing. From the famous avalanche ride off the rim of Yosemite Valley to his night spent weathering a windstorm at the top of a tree to death-defying falls on Alaskan glaciers, the renowned outdoorsman’s exploits are related in passages that are by turns exhilarating, unnerving, dizzying, and outrageous."

Let Them Eat Shrimp: The Tragic Disappearance of the Rainforests of the Sea

(read TreeHugger review):
"What’s the connection between a platter of jumbo shrimp at your local restaurant and murdered fishermen in Honduras, impoverished women in Ecuador, and disastrous hurricanes along America’s Gulf coast? Mangroves. Many people have never heard of these salt-water forests, but for those who depend on their riches, mangroves are indispensable. They are natural storm barriers, home to innumerable exotic creatures—from crabeating vipers to man-eating tigers—and provide food and livelihoods to millions of coastal dwellers. Now they are being destroyed to make way for shrimp farming and other coastal development. For those who stand in the way of these industries, the consequences can be deadly. In Let Them Eat Shrimp, Kennedy Warne takes readers into the muddy battle zone that is the mangrove forest. A tangle of snaking roots and twisted trunks, mangroves are often dismissed as foul wastelands. In fact, they are supermarkets of the sea, providing shellfish, crabs, honey, timber, and charcoal to coastal communities from Florida to South America to New Zealand. Generations have built their lives around mangroves and consider these swamps sacred."

Sustainable Design: A Critical Guide

(read TreeHugger review):
"Written for students and practitioners in the fields of architecture and interior design, our new Architecture Brief Sustainable Design provides a concise overview of all the techniques available for reducing the energy footprint of structures and spaces. With clear, simple language and a practical "can-do" approach, author David Bergman covers everything from the profession's ethical responsibility, to design structures and spaces that sustain our natural resources, to specific considerations such as rainwater harvesting, graywater recycling, passive heating techniques, solar orientation, green roofs, wind energy, daylighting, indoor air quality, material evaluation and specification, and how to work with green building certification programs. "

Recycling Projects for the Evil Genius

(read TreeHugger review):
"This wickedly inventive guide explains how to create a variety of practical, environmentally friendly items you can use for yourself or resell for profit. Recycling Projects for the Evil Genius is filled with detailed directions on how to successfully complete each green project and discusses important safety issues. Using easy-to-find components and tools, this do-it-yourself book shows you how to brew up green cleaners, transform all types of paper into building materials, safety rid your home and yard of pests, and much more--all on the cheap! "

(low) tech writer

(read TreeHugger review):
"A collection of essays documenting the beautiful, old-school, low-tech, places and things that still exist here and there in and around Silicon Valley (and the other high-tech centers of our civilization). In my attempt to honor the things that don't get enough press in this technological society, I've written about everything from objects found in my kitchen (functional and edible) to almost- and already-obsolete tools like typewriters ... and sprinkled a fair bit of philosophy in as well. Never anti-tech, but pro-(low) tech, these fifty essays chronicle the kinds of things and places that more-or-less hold their ground against the overwhelming flood of leading-edge tech that we are surrounded by."

The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival

(read TreeHugger review):
"The Death and Life of Monterey Bay begins in the eighteenth century when Spanish and French explorers encountered a rocky shoreline brimming with life—raucous sea birds, abundant sea otters, barking sea lions, halibut the size of wagon wheels,waters thick with whales. A century and a half later, many of the sea creatures had disappeared, replaced by sardine canneries that sickened residents with their stench but kept the money flowing. When the fish ran out and the climate turned,the factories emptied and the community crumbled. But today,both Monterey’s economy and wildlife are resplendent. How did it happen? The answer is deceptively simple: through the extraordinary acts of ordinary people. The Death and Life of Monterey Bay is the biography of a place, but also of the residents who reclaimed it. Monterey is thriving because of an eccentric mayor who wasn’t afraid to use pistols, axes, or the force of law to protect her coasts. It is because of fishermen who love their livelihood, scientists who are fascinated by the sea’s mysteries, and philanthropists and community leaders willing to invest in a world-class aquarium. The shores of Monterey Bay revived because of human passion—passion that enlivens every page of this hopeful book. "

Suburban Howls: Tracking the Eastern Coyote in Urban Massachusetts

(a Jaymi recommendation):
"This book is about the experiences and findings of a biologist studying coyote ecology and behavior in urbanized eastern Massachusetts. Jon Way is acting out a childhood dream to study wild animals... The coyote is a remarkable animal, being one of the only carnivores to actually increase its range and distribution in the past one hundred years. Coyotes have taken over as top predator in all environments in New England from wilderness parks to city greenbelts. Along its migration to the northeast it has become larger, likely the product of hybridization between western coyotes and eastern wolves, and with that, we see more speculation and theories about what the animal is, how it got here, and why it is here. This book celebrates having these animals living among us and makes a passionate plea for their protection... A fascinating account details the author raising a wild-born litter of coyotes, capturing his first coyote in a box trap, tracking a coyote into downtown Boston, documenting an increase in local coyote numbers following the death of resident territorial coyotes, and seeing first-hand how coyotes mourn when separated from their family. The reader will discover that it is perfectly appropriate to have wildlife in developed areas and that people, not wild animals, are the ones that typically have a hard time adjusting to their new neighbors."

In the Company of Crows and Ravens

(a Jaymi recommendation):
"From the cave walls at Lascaux to the last painting by Van Gogh, from the works of Shakespeare to those of Mark Twain, there is clear evidence that crows and ravens influence human culture. Yet this influence is not unidirectional, say the authors of this fascinating book: people profoundly influence crow culture, ecology, and evolution as well. Examining the often surprising ways that crows and humans interact, John Marzluff and Tony Angell contend that those interactions reflect a process of “cultural coevolution.” They offer a challenging new view of the human-crow dynamic—a view that may change our thinking not only about crows but also about ourselves. Featuring more than 100 original drawings, the book takes a close look at the influences people have had on the lives of crows throughout history and at the significant ways crows have altered human lives. In the Company of Crows and Ravens illuminates the entwined histories of crows and people and concludes with an intriguing discussion of the crow-human relationship and how our attitudes toward crows may affect our cultural trajectory. As the authors state in their preface: “Crows and people share similar traits and social strategies. To a surprising extent, to know the crow is to know ourselves."

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