As a scorching summer comes to a close, global warming seems to be a major concern for all. For those looking to deepen their knowledge of the crisis and the changes still to come, climate experts and fiction writers have provided striking summer reads speculating on the future of the blue planet. This list is a short overview of recently published climate-concerned writing, all having been published in 2023. Relevant, eloquent, and daring, these books promise to be a memorable literary end to a summer of record-breaking heat and worry.
1. The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet by Jeff Goodwell
The Heat Will Kill You First is a nonfiction achievement, detailing both the ways in which the planet is already changing and the changes still to come. Focusing on the rising temperatures and increasing frequencies of heat waves, Goodwell describes the consequences for those most vulnerable. Arguing that as the relentless heat builds, the effect will spread until its reality is unavoidable for the whole of society. Mixing excellent reporting with well-crafted story-telling, Goodwell presents a future of unprecedented and unbearable heat.
2. The Parrot and the Igloo: Climate and the Science of Denial by David Lipsky
Drawing inspiration from a 1956 report from The New York Times claiming that global warming would one day drive parrots into the Arctic, and a 2010 incident of climate change deniers building an igloo on the Washington Mall calling for passersby to “honk if [they] love climate change”, Lipsky book analysis America’s complicated past and future with climate change realities. Cataloging the various characters, follies, and scandals in the long climate change debate, The Parrot and the Igloo offers a real-life narrative that poses questions as to the roles of money and power in change and America’s relationship with the climate crisis.
3. Octopus in the Parking Garage: A Call for Climate Resilience by Rob Verchick
Inspired by a recent incident where an octopus was found stranded in the parking lot of a luxury Miami hotel, Octopus in the Parking Garage details the technical malfunctions and climate changes that led to this anomaly. Focusing on the ways that the climate crisis is already on America’s doorstep, the book aims to show how human society can at least manage the consequences it’s already facing.
4. Climate Travels: How Ecotourism Changes Mindsets and Motivates Action by Micheal M. Gunter Jr
Rebelling against the narrative that climate change is a crisis only striking distant countries and populations, Climate Travels reveals how climate change has impacted America both socially and economically. Interweaving examples of the climate crisis’ presence in America with inspiring initiatives across the country, Gunter offers grim modern realities with hope for the future. Offering a way forward through local action, Gunter inspires readers to do their best against increasing threats.
5. No More Fairy Tales: Stories to Save Our Planet by D.A. Baden
For short story readers, No More Fairy Tales compiles stories from a variety of authors including Sara Foster and Paulo Bacigalupi to offer an anthology cataloging the various realities of the climate crisis. Offering a wide range of tones and styles, No More Fairy Tales spreads itself through multiple genres, from science fiction to family drama, and topics, analyzing both our modern culture and political climate.
6. The Deluge: A Novel by Stephen Markley
Set in the early 2010s, The Deluge details the dilemma of scientist Tony Pietrus, who as he studies undersea deposits of methane, receives a death threat. Pietrus’s life is forever altered as he is thrown into new acquaintances and conflicts. The novel introduces a wide range of modern figures from eco-terrorists to young activists, and journeys through a 21st-century conflict wrapped around the realities of climate change and research.
As rising temperatures continue to threaten the planet and our society, important and inspiring writing serves as a wake-up call. Presenting the climate crisis in a variety of lenses and mediums, the books on this list are essential summer reading for those concerned with the future of the planet or curious about the place of climate change in our lives and literature.