The following blurbs cover the last sixty or so years of environmental change and authors.
- 1962, Rachel Carson
- Silent Spring is a captivating environmental studies based book about DDT, or synthetic chemicals. These aerial sprays affected the physiological as well as environmental aspects of Long Island (as well as the rest of the country where they’re used). Carson’s book talks of the impact these pesticides have had on human bodies. Sadly, in 1960 Carson developed breast cancer which had metastasized. After dedicating the last fifteen years of her life researching the harmful chemicals, she herself was suffering at the hands of the cruel disease. The book is an amazing read. It’s concise and opened up the door for early discussions on how the environment was being torn apart by man made agencies. I can’t personally say it’s the most important novel on the topic, but it’s definitely up there.
- 1974, Gary Snyder
- Turtle Island is a collection of poems and short essays by the great Gary Snyder. Keen on us reconnecting with nature, Snyder’s poetry offers a push of encouragement towards the nature they need. As a reference to what some Native American cultures called this land mass we reside on, each poem helps to ground and remind its reader of our important connection to nature. I almost envy Snyder’s way with words. His ability to speak to the world that engulfs in terms of inevitable nurture is just… This is truly a read. I actually wrapped up my copy for my sister to read. The gift of knowledge.
- 1975, Edward Abbey
- The Monkeywrench Gang is a very active perspective to the phrase “be the change you wish to see in the world.” A novel about a band of individuals sick of environmental distruction set out to… Destroy those devices set out to destroy. The odd ball team lights fire to those machines determined to help capitalize on the outputs of nature. While personally not a book I enjoyed, I think this kind of lifestyle for change is one we must take note of. Not everyone is content in personal, passive change.
- 1977, Wendell Berry
- The Unsettling of America is not for those who like a passive read. Berry argues throughout his novel, and it is a very poignant move in how he gets his point across. In his book, he speaks of the ill farming practices and endorses food farming for a means of cultural and spiritual solitude. While a bit harsh, his words have merit. Berry believes the issues of society can be resolved by changes in practice. This idea of change in practice is pretty dang important.
- 1990, Gary Snyder again
- Another great work by Gary Snyder is The Practice of the Wild. A set of longer essays, the nine works look to Buddhism, wildlife, wildness, and our place within it all. It’s almost an etiquette book, comprised of wholesome ways by which to conduct a humble existence. As a follow-up to reading a poetry book of Snyders, this collection is very moving. With longer verses, what it means to articulate the constructs of all we know can be questioned. I’d love to suggest this book to every person I’ve ever met. The values discussed within it are universal laws for being kind.
- 1991, Terry Tempest Williams
- Another influential book about the impacts of cancer, Terry Tempest William’s Refuge gives a memoir perspective. As the effects of nuclear testing in the fifties ravages the bodies of women in her family, Williams compares this to the degradation to the bird populations of her favorite bird sanctuary. The outlooks of her family members who also lived through the testing range, and while Williams struggles to place her life as a Mormon in the world of environmentalism, she manages to find herself.
- 1995, Linda Hogan and TC Boyle
- It was a good year, 1995. Two very different yet purposeful novels were released. Hogan’s Solar Storms covers three generations of women in the Canadian indigenous peoples land and their struggles. As young Angle is trying to come to terms with her past, she and her family fight to keep the land connected to their memories and peoples. In TC Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain the everpresent issues of racism in California are depicted. As the world surrounding immigrant workers was unfolding, Boyle also managed to tell the story of Californias who were unaware of the purpose fo these workers. Where issues of character and morals began to rise, it was seen that the true victims were not the Californias, but the Mexican workers just trying to make a change.
These novels are just a few to take into consideration when thinking of this vast world we live in. They are helpful in widening how we view the world and breaks free of the conventional definitions for the space we reside in. These are not an end all, be all list of books, but they definitely outline the evolution of the word and help show how even the word itself can be broken free from the definition it holds.