Timely Titles

on Climate and the Environment



Greenwood by Michael Christie

Greenwood is a sprawling generational saga that charts a family’s rise and fall, its secrets and inherited crimes, and the conflicted relationship with the source of its fortune: trees.

Told in four timelines — 2038, 2008,1974, and 1934 — the book tells the story of the Greenwood family, a group of eco-conscious tour guides, carpenters, and environmentalists who are the descendants of liars, grifters, and criminals with a fortune amassed from their timber empire. That far-reaching story uses trees as a guiding metaphor for withering, weathering, and survival.

Harrow by Joy Williams

Harrow is Joy Williams’s intertwined tale of paradise lost and an uncertain landscape after an environmental apocalypse. It’s the story of a world in which only the man-made has value.

Khristen is a teenager who, her mother believes, was marked by greatness as a baby when she died for a moment and then came back to life. When Khristen’s mother disappears, she sets off across the dead landscape and washes up at a “resort” on the shores of a mysterious, putrid lake referred to by the elderly residents as “Big Girl.”

In a rotting honeycomb of rooms, the elderly lodgers plot to punish corporations and people they consider culpable in the destruction of the final scraps of nature’s beauty. What will Khristen and Jeffrey, the precocious ten-year-old boy she meets there, learn from this “gabby, seditious lot, in the worst of health but with kamikaze hearts, an army of the aged and ill, determined to refresh, through crackpot violence, a plundered earth”?

North Woods by Daniel Mason

North Woods is a sweeping novel about a single house in the woods of New England, told through the lives of those who inhabit it across the centuries.

Two young lovers abscond from a Puritan colony, unaware that their humble cabin in the woods will become the home of an extraordinary succession of human and nonhuman characters alike. An English soldier, a pair of spinster twins, a crime reporter, a lovelorn painter, a sinister con man, a stalking panther, a lusty beetle. As the inhabitants confront the wonder and mystery around them, they begin to realize that the dark, raucous, and beautiful past is very much alive.

This highly inventive novel from Pulitzer Prize finalist Daniel Mason brims with love, madness, humour, and hope. Following the cycles of history, nature, and language, North Woods shows the myriad, magical ways by which we’re connected to our environment, to history, and to one another. Not just an unforgettable novel about secrets and destinies, it looks at the world and asks the timeless question: How do we live on, even after we’re gone?


The Heat Will Kill You First by Jeff Goodell

This book is entirely about, well, heat! And how it has a branding problem.

Heat is a lethal force that threatens every living cell on Earth. Goodell examines the impact that rising temperatures have on our lives and the planet itself, considering where we’re headed, how we can prepare, and what’s at stake if we fail to act.

From wildfires to melting ice sheets, heat is the first-order threat that drives all other aspects of our climate crisis. Yet the basic solution is right there: stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow and the temperature will stop rising tomorrow. Stop burning fossil fuels in fifty years and the temperature will rise for fifty years, making parts of our planet completely uninhabitable. Spring is arriving a few weeks earlier, and fall a few weeks later. Heatwaves in major cities that used to be 30-degree events are now becoming 40- degree events. These are consequential changes that cull the most vulnerable people. But as the effects expand, the results will be much more democratic.

Goodell’s book forces us to confront heat, a force unlike anything we’ve ever contended with before.

Crossings: How Road Ecology is Shaping our Future by Ben Goldfarb

Crossings examines the 40 million miles of roadways that encircle the earth and the wild animals who experience them as entirely alien forces of death and disruption. Environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb travels across the United States and around the world to investigate how roads have transformed our planet. A million animals are killed by cars each day in the U.S. alone, but as the new science of road ecology shows, the harms presented by highways extend far beyond roadkill. Creatures from antelope to salmon are losing their ability to migrate in search of food and mates; invasive plants hitch rides in tire treads; road salt contaminates lakes and rivers; and the very noise of traffic chases songbirds from vast swaths of habitat.

Road ecologists are seeking to blunt this destruction through innovative solutions. Goldfarb meets with conservationists building bridges for California’s mountain lions and tunnels for English toads, and engineers deconstructing the labyrinth of logging roads that web national forests. Also on view are animal rehabbers caring for Tasmania’s car-orphaned wallabies, and community organizers working to undo the havoc highways have wreaked upon American cities.

Today, as our planet’s road network continues to grow exponentially, the science of road ecology has become increasingly vital. Written with passion and curiosity, Crossings is a timely investigation into how humans have altered the natural world—and how we can create a better future for all living beings.

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