Ecojustice Blog – Special Update Posted on December 19, 2017 (updated: February 20, 2018)

EJ recommends: Our favourite reads of 2017

Kimberly ShearonStaff
Reading The Rights of Nature by David R. Boyd, photo by Emily Chan
Reading The Rights of Nature by David R. Boyd, photo by Emily Chan

Rounding up the books we read and loved this year.

Looking to dive into a new book over the holiday season? Let us help you find your next favourite read!

Every book on this list was handpicked for you by someone on the Ecojustice team.  These are the books that inspired us this year. We hope you love them too.

Fun reads for the kids

The Biography of a Grizzly The Biography of a Grizzly, by Ernest Thompson Seton

This book was first published in 1899. At the turn of the 20th century, the author was a leading American naturalist. It’s a book which has stood the test of time and parents will enjoy it too. It’s rich fodder for the young ones’ book report assignments at school as well! (Kurt Stilwell, lawyer)

Cover credit: Dover publication.
The Wildwood Chronicles Wildwood Chronicles, by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis

My daughter and I are reading these books now. It is a delightful tale of a parallel world inside Portland where animals and humans live together. Kind of like contemporary West Coast Narnia. (Margot Venton, nature program director)

Cover credit: HarperCollins Publishers

For a new perspective

Beyond Words by Carl Safina
Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, by Carl Safina

Beautiful. (Margot Venton, nature program director)

Cover credit: Picador USA
A Field Guide to Getting Lost A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca Solnit

A series of meditations on different ways of getting lost and being lost, the idea of lost as a state of mind, and deliberately losing oneself and taking enjoyment from uncertainty and the elusive “blue of distance.” It’s a memoir, but also about the history of exploration and colonialism in America, art, and conservation. I especially enjoyed her writing about time spent in nature in the western United States, mostly in the desert landscapes to which she feels most drawn. (Dyna Tuytel, lawyer)

Cover credit: Penguin Random House
The Spell of the Sensuous The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World, by David Abram

Abram explores the estrangement of western civilization from nature, one that sees humans condone the destructions of rivers, forests, and important ecosystems. What follows is a philosophical examination of the link between human cognition and the environment that sustains us. Here’s one of my favourite passages: “As technological civilization diminishes the biotic diversity of the earth, language itself is diminished. As there are fewer and fewer songbirds in the air, due to the destruction of their forests and wetlands, human speech loses more and more of its evocative power.” (Kegan Pepper-Smith, lawyer)

Cover credit: Penguin Random House

Legendary people & places

Client Earth
Client Earth, by James Thornton and Martin Goodman

This book offers a narrative history of modern environmental litigation, as filtered through the experience of storied environmental lawyer James Thornton, who founded ClientEarth, Europe’s first public interest environmental law organization in 2008. Thornton contributes essays on the moral and philosophical bases for environmental law that are interspersed with the narrative. Sounds academic but it’s written for a general audience and is very readable (Charles Hatt, lawyer)

Cover credit: Scribe Publications
The Golden Spruce
The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed, by John Vaillant

Fans of Jon Krakauer will enjoy this quintessentially-Pacific Northwest tale, which for the uninitiated, will seem too unbelievable to be true. But it really happened! The Golden Spruce tells the story of Kiidk'yaas (which means "ancient tree" in the Haida language) and the man who felled it in 1997 as an act of protest against British Columbia’s logging industry. (Mark Dunphy, controller)

Cover credit: Vintage Canada
The Invention of Nature
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World, by Andrea Wulf

Almost everything with Humboldt in its name — towns, universities, streets — is named after Alexander von Humboldt, the famed German explorer and naturalist. This books traces Humboldt’s prolific and curious investigation of the natural world. Did you know he was the first person to describe the localized impact of climate change (e.g. flooding, temperature change) from massive environmental degradation, such as logging and road building? (Devon Page, executive director)

Cover credit: Penguin Random House
Warrior Lawyers
Warrior Lawyers: From Manila to Manhattan, Attorneys for the Earth, by Silver Donald Cameron

Meet the warrior lawyers who are changing the world. Silver Donald Cameron profiles environmental lawyers from nine different countries, inspiring visionaries who are litigating ground-breaking cases that are making a real difference for communities around the world. It’s well worth a read and an affirmation of the power of the law to protect the air, water, and land we all depend on. (Aaron Ward, lawyer)

Cover credit: Silver Donald Cameron

Straight talk on climate change

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken

Paul Hawken’s latest offering is simple, accessible, and the whole family has been skimming through it. It recognizes that now we need to do more than stop emissions — we need to turn things around and reverse greenhouse gas emissions. The good news is credible solutions exist, and this book presents 100 of them. (Karen Campbell, climate change program director)

Cover credit: Penguin Random House
Flight Behavior
Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver

This is a novel about climate change that is not just about climate change. Flight Behavior is the story of Dellarobia Turnbow, a restless farm wife who stumbles across a colony of migratory monarch butterflies. The ensuing hoopla pushes Dellarobia to re-examine everything she thinks she knows about science, faith, and truth. (Carol McDonald, executive assistant & board liaison)

Cover Credit: HarperCollins Publishers
Oil's Deep State
Oil's Deep State: How the petroleum industry undermines democracy and stops action on global warming - in Alberta, and in Ottawa, by Kevin Taft

Taft outlines how the oil industry has captured key democratic institutions in both Alberta and Ottawa. The book explains how the oil industry has influenced not only the obvious agencies such as the Alberta Energy Regulator, but also university research agendas and political parties of all stripes. This book just rang so true for me in my work at Ecojustice — from the AER letting the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers dictate new methane regulations to Rachel Notley’s sudden and surprising support for oil pipelines despite an avowed commitment to fight climate change. Great book. (Barry Robinson, lawyer)

Cover credit: James Lorimer & Company Ltd.

Against all odds

Hope for Animals and their World
Hope for Animals and their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink, by Jane Goodall

I read this over the summer and really enjoyed it as it was uplifting and filled with hope, while recognizing the many challenges that continue to plague some of the world’s most endangered species. I think that having the kind of hope that this book evokes is what inspires activists, conservationists and passionate citizens to get involved and join the fight. (Sarah May, philanthropy officer)

Cover Credit: Grand Central Publishing
Hope in the Dark
Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, by Rebecca Solnit

First published in 2004, this collection of essays by Rebecca Solnit saw a surge in popularity after the 2016 presidential election. The slim tome is a celebration of the hope and optimism that drives social activist moments to persevere, and even thrive, in the face of despair. (Kimberly Shearon, director of strategic communications)

Cover credit: Haymarket Books
The Rights of Nature
The Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Save the World, by David R. Boyd

This book seems to be on every person’s desk at Ecojustice, and for good reason. In it, Boyd issues a call to arms for people like you and me to embrace a fundamental shift in how humanity understands its relationship with nature – one that’s already underway in around the world and, in some instances, in our own backyards. (Sean Nixon, lawyer)

Cover credit: ECW Press

We want to hear from you! Have you read (or re-read) a book this year that’s inspired you to think about your connection to nature in a new way, or re-affirm your commitment to the environment? Drop us a line at with your book recommendations by Dec. 31, and we’ll enter you in a draw to win a copy of The Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution that Could Save the World by David R. Boyd!

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