By Katie Sagal
If you’re interested in planning a green vacation, then you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re looking for when choosing a destination, a hotel, a mode of transportation, and even activities. Of course, it’s also important to know more about the significance behind these sustainable practices. So while you’ve scoured the internet for advice on the best sustainable hotels and top green accessories, there’s still more to do to prepare. For travelers who truly want the full eco-friendly experience when it comes to explorations, it’s important to read a few foundational books that will inform and inspire you.
Here are a few recommendations for the best books to read before your green vacation. Ranging from nature memoirs to critical studies, these volumes all address something important about the interconnectedness between humans and nature. These books are all available via indie bookstores, too, allowing you to contribute to sustainable business practices by purchasing from a small business!
Silent Spring – Rachel Carson
This now canonical work has been credited with inspiring the modern investment in protecting and conserving our fragile ecosystems. A striking study of the disastrous effects of synthetic pesticides on the natural environment with profound implications for the relationship between humans and nature, Silent Spring has impacted everyone from scientists to college students to housewives for decades.
A Sand County Almanac – Aldo Leopold
Another classic offering, this one by environmentalist and ecologist Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac is a collection of thoughtful essays that probe the relationship between humans and nature and then need for a “land ethic,” which Leopold articulates as the responsible stewardship of natural resources. This book has been credited with contributing to mainstream interest in ecology.
An Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore
Written by longtime environmental advocate and former Vice President Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth introduces the most critical issues when it comes to climate change and the important decisions we as a society face moving forward if we want to prevent further damage to our ecosystems. A documentary film related to the book was also released in 2006.
My First Summer in the Sierra – John Muir
Written by the man after whom the Muir Woods National Monument is named, My First Summer in the Sierra recounts the story of the author’s spiritual connection to nature in central California. It’s one of the most important books in the history of American environmental writing, and is especially significant because of the work that Muir would go on to do in advocating for the preservation of natural land in the United States.
The Turquoise Ledge – Leslie Marmon Silko
Only one of many inspiring and thought-provoking books by Native American author Leslie Marmon Silko, The Turquoise Ledge is a reflective memoir on the relationship between humans and desert life, as well as the struggle to find connections with nature in an increasingly busy modern world. Her other works also contain important meditations on the links between man and nature, if you want to expand your reading list.
Tomatoland – Barry Estabrook
An important volume focused on the history of agriculture in the United States, this challenging book takes the evolution of tomato growing as its case study for a larger interest in the ways in which modern, big business agricultural practices impact the environment and the people who work in the industry. Concerned with everything from the contemporary reliance on pesticides to the human cost of cheap labor, this is a must-read for those who care about what they eat.
The World Without Us – Alan Weisman
This imaginative book asks readers to envision the world without human habitation, and sketches out a vision of our planet where everything from highways to high-rises slowly recedes back into nature. This non-fictional work uses scientific observations to extrapolate what may happen to our everyday objects and to the billions of life forms whose existence is currently impacted by human habitation.
The Lorax – Dr. Seuss
This iconic children’s book (and recent animated film) is the perfect way to introduce your children to issues of environmental conservation and sustainability. A delightful fable that tells the story of how industrial development encroaches upon the environment, The Lorax is an important story that resonates with adults as well.