Here’s my reading list! I hope you enjoy reading these books/websites too – or at least find them interesting or informative. As a general rule, I’ll add latest reads to the top of the list. Within each broad category, there’s no particular order, so you will have to do a certain amount of prospecting. The categories go in this order: Magazines / Climate Change / Bible / Nature Connection / Other. Just scroll down and imagine you’re in a proper, slightly-disorganised bookshop: squeeze down the narrow aisles, step over the piles of books that wouldn’t fit on the shelves, feel the worn carpet, blow off the dust and breathe down that smell of books … In fact, you can only read on if you promise me you’ll only buy any of these in a bookshop like that and definitely NOT online.
Magazines/Journals to keep reading
Resurgence Beautiful magazine exploring ecology with a strong slant from the creative arts and spirituality
Dark Mountain I find the basic honesty of this project very refreshing in our culture where we just seem to be spinning re-assuring lies that everything will keep getting better & we’ll be OK. Part of their manifesto says “We will write with dirt under our nails” – that’s my kind of writing! Twice-yearly book but also a website – dark-mountain.net
Climate Change and what to do about it
Warning: some of these books are getting old and present a more optimistic view of halting climate change than I think is presently warranted. While we must do all we can to limit temperature rise, it is likely to rise beyond safe limits and life will change. We must now also pay attention to how humans can collaborate to adapt to a changing climate, for the best possible outcome, under the circumstances, for all life.
Planetwise – Dave Bookless (2008, Nottingham, IVP). The introduction asks, ‘Why bother?’ and the book goes on to answer this in a very readable survey of creation theology. There are also four chapters on how to bother in terms of discipleship, worship, lifestyle and mission. Questions at the end of each chapter would be useful for study groups as well as individual readers.
Eaarth: Making a life on a tough new planet – Bill McKibben (St Martins Press, 2010), 2011. Bill McKibben is a leading environmental campaigner (and a Methodist). His basic thesis in this book is that we are living on a changed world, as if we had landed on a new planet in a sci-fi movie: it’s like Earth but not as we know it. He analyses aspects of the changing world and suggests ways in which we can learn to live on it “lightly, carefully, gracefully”. See my blog post – Eaarth
Sacred Longings: Ecofeminist Theology and Globalization – Mary C. Grey (SCM Press 2003). Mary Grey is a very creative writer and weaves story-telling into her eco-feminist, liberationist approach to our environmental crisis. She raises the big question: What is it we really want?
Enough is Enough: Building a sustainable economy in a world of finite resources – Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill (Routledge, 2013) Challenging the economics of endless growth, the authors explore an alternative: steady-state economics. The book is not overly technical and even has pictures. There is an associated website that includes a short film introducing the idea – http://steadystate.org/discover/enough-is-enough/
This Changes Everything – Naomi Klein (Penguin Books, 2015) An in-depth, fairly discursive but hard-hitting exploration of the causes, impacts and possible solutions to climate change. Klein focuses on some of the vested interests at work and the part played by power and money, but also tells how indigenous people are finding power to lead the change away from our extractive and destructive way of life.
L is for Lifestyle: Christian living that doesn’t cost the earth – Ruth Valerio (2008, Nottingham, IVP). Practical ideas for people wanting to lighten their footprint.
Ecological bible reading (Some of these are more general biblical studies books I’ve found helpful)
The Land – Walter Brueggemann (2nd edition: 2002, Minneapolis, Augsburg Fortress) A classic in which Brueggemann explores the importance of land in biblical faith, including themes of gift, memory and faith
Bible and Ecology – Richard Bauckham: (2010, London, Darton Longman and Todd) A thoroughly biblical treatment of ecology, including a detailed study on Psalm 148.
The Book of Psalms – Robert Alter (2007, New York, W.W. Norton). Robert Alter is a creative writer on the Bible, and here he gives a fresh translation of the Psalms, paying particular attention to their poetry, together with brief comments.
The Message of the Psalms – Walter Brueggemann (1984, Minneapolis, Augsburg Fortress). A theological commentary by this most inspirational of bible teachers.
The Outrun – Amy Liptrot (2016, Edinburgh, Canongate Books) Inspirational memoir of recovering from alcoholism in the bleak but beautiful Orkney Islands. Remarkable interweaving of the interior and exterior landscapes.
The Running Hare – John Lewis-Stempel (2016, London, Transworld/Penguin) Account of how wildlife is returned to some Herefordshire farmland, previously emptied through intensive farming. A passionate memoir: the author says, “I just want the birds back.”
The Wild Places – Robert Macfarlane (2007, London, Granta Books) A beautifully written account of the author’s search for wilderness in Britain
Earthed – Bruce Stanley and Steve Hollinghurst (eds) (2014, Llangurig, Mystic Christ Press) A collection of essays exploring Christian perspectives on nature connection
Common Ground – Rob Cowan (2015, London, Windmill Books). A beautifully written and absorbing memoir of the author’s exploration of some ‘edge-land’ near his new home, interweaving observation, natural history and stories, not least the expectation of his and his wife’s first child. Fabulous.
H Is For Hawk – Helen Macdonald (2014, London, Penguin). Amazing account of training a Goshawk at the same time as going through a major bereavement. Visceral and alive.
Forest Church: A Field Guide To Nature Connection – Bruce Stanley (2013, Llangurig, Mystic Christ Press) This is a good, practical guide for anyone wanting to develop a spiritual practice of nature-connection, whether individually or in a group. Filled with ideas.
Corvus: A Life With Birds – Esther Woolfson (2008, London, Granta) I learned so much about crows and other birds in this affectionate book, combining memoir and natural history.
Nocturne – James Attlee (2011, London, Penguin). I am perennially enchanted by the Moon and really enjoyed Attlee’s quest for moonlight through travel, science, art and music.
Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees – Roger Deakin (2007, London, Penguin). Such a wonderful book from the Master of nature connection
Original Blessing – Matthew Fox (1983, Santa Fe, Bear & Co). Fox explores creation-centred spirituality from deep within mysticism. I have yet to finish reading it (having started 25 years ago) – it’s quite dense and I found the dogmatic tone irritating (as well as his misinterpretation of panentheism). But it is a classic and so worth a look & I should probably give it another go!
Immortal Diamond – Richard Rohr (2013, London, SPCK). An eloquent and impassioned plea to search for our ‘true self’, rather than settling for the false self of the ego. There’s a reason why Richard Rohr is a popular writer at the moment, and it’s gentle, authentic wisdom like this.
Flight Behaviour – Barbara Kingsolver (2012, London, Faber & Faber (in US: Harper Collins)) Novel set in the context of the effect of climate change on the Monarch butterfly, telling the story of how a woman gets involved in that, with all the issues she struggles with in her ordinary life: marriage, children, work and just trying to make ends meet. Kingsolver is always such a creative writer.
The Word For World Is Forest – Ursula K. Le Guin (1972, New York, Tom Doherty Associates) Anything by Ursula Le Guin is worth reading, she is such a good writer, but this science-fiction story is particularly thought-provoking in terms of posing the question of humanity’s relation to the Earth. See my blog post – Mud People