Given the climate change and preapocalyptic tone of today’s news (and reality), club members may want to discuss some of the possibilities and chaos that could occur in coming decades. A number of fiction and nonfiction books delve into the subject of uneasy futures. Here’s a list of 11 titles:
“The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming” by David Wallace-Wells
Journalist Wallace-Wells first wrote an essay for New York magazine, where he’s deputy editor, then developed it into a book. He continues to write the column “Life After Warming” for that magazine. The author considers worst-case scenarios that are rapidly becoming more real in a world of drought, flooding, plague and famine, as well as economic collapse and conflicts. Some view the book as extreme, others say that’s where it’s at. Wallace-Wells says the situation is worse than we know. Judge for yourselves.
“There is no better, more readable look on the consequences of the climate change that will unfold in the span of the next human lifetime. You owe it to yourself to actually understand what’s happening and what can be done to try to mitigate the outcome,” said Eric McDaniel, editor at NPR Politics podcast.
“Eaarth” and “Falter,” both by Bill McKibben
The author is revered by planet knowledge-seekers, having written for three decades on global warming and other planetary threats. His writing style is fluid and easily absorbed, and he gives the facts to you straight. Barbara Kingsolver wrote of “Eaarth”: “Read it please. Straight through to the end … Nothing could be more important.”
In “Falter,” McKibben hypothesizes that maybe we’ve played out our existence on this planet by waiting too long. Now, he warns, we must prepare for change that’s already underway.
“No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference” by Greta Thunberg
A collection of the young planet activist’s speeches, given throughout the world as she has urged climate action, becoming the voice of a generation and an honored voice for Earth.
“We Are the Weather” by Jonathan Safron Foer
The novelist and nonfiction author of “Eating Animals” argues that saving the planet should begin literally at breakfast. Eating so heavily of animal products is the doorway to catastrophe, he argues.
“Sudden Spring: Stories of Adaptation in a Climate-Changed South” by Rick Van Noy
Van Noy says our communities are already confronting climate change, and he writes about how they’re trying to adapt to sea-level flooding, storms and warmer temperatures. We can best prepare by becoming aware of how those already affected are handling climate change.
“Flight Behavior” by Barbara Kingsolver
Many novels aim at climate-changed life and postapocalyptic realities. Kingsolver wrote “Flight Behavior” in 2012, and it’s a realistic glimpse of life as insects are victimized by climate change. In this book, the subject is monarch butterflies and what threatens them.
“Memory of Water” by Emmi Itaranta
People in the drought-impacted West and desert areas know the realities of diminishing water supply: regulation, rising costs of use, fewer resources. Itaranta is a Finnish author writing about a Nordic community in which a young girl risks being accused of water crime if she withholds her share of water from family and fellow villagers. Set in the distant future, it still contains concerns for now.
“Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell
Mitchell paints a future diminished by the kind of greed and cruelty we see around us today. Whether the Earth can avoid environmental collapse is considered in light of human nature.
“New York 2140” by Kim Stanley Robinson
New York City residents skate over a city long ago swallowed up by rising seas, trying to get rich on inundated resources. This struggle to survive reflects today’s realities: mass inequality, injustice and greed at the expense of the environment.
“The Overstory” by Richard Powers
Powers’ book won a Pulitzer Prize. Its central characters’ lives are interwoven through their connection to the life of trees. Here, lives touch on each other as they create an ecosystem of sorts, aimed at saving society in the future.
Appearing in Princeton
Helen Fremont, author of “After Long Silence” and her newly released “The Escape Artist,” will speak at 6 p.m. March 11 at the Princeton Public Library. Fremont’s book has been featured in People magazine. She is a public defender in Boston.
Area book groups
Women’s Issues Book Club will meet March 9 at Barnes & Noble, Lincoln Plaza, Worcester, to discuss “Tangerine” by Christine Mangan. Set in 1959 Morocco, with flashbacks to Bennington College, the story revolves around former college roommates.
Members of Lancaster’s Thayer Memorial Library Afternoon Book Group will meet at 1 p.m. March 12 to discuss James Lasdun’s “Afternoon of a Faun.”
Webster’s Gladys E. Kelly Library book club will meet at 6:30 p.m. March 16 at the library, 2 Lake St., to discuss Daniel James Brown’s “The Boys in the Boat.” This is the story of nine Americans in an epic quest to win gold at the 1936 Berlin games.
Conant Public Library’s Contemporary Book Club will discuss Delia Owens’ “Where the Crawdads Sing” at a 6:30 p.m. March 19 meeting at the Sterling library.
At 6 p.m. March 17, author Hank Phillippi Ryan will discuss her books with members of the Bigelow Library book club in Clinton.
Michelle Obama’s autobiography “Becoming” is the topic for the March 25 book group meeting at Levi Heywood Memorial Library, Gardner.
Thayer Memorial Library, Lancaster, offers two events relating to women’s history. “Short Skirts: Oh My!” is a lecture with historian/storyteller Anne Barrett, to be held at 6:30 p.m. March 17. “From Freedom to Flight — Changing Women’s Roles During King Philip’s War in New England,” with author Christine Duffy Zerillo, will start at 6:30 p.m. March 23. Zerillo’s book “Still Here” compares Mary Rowlandson and native sachem Weetamoo.
Three book club meetings are coming up in Worcester. Science Fiction Book Club at Worcester Public Library will discuss “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang at its 7:15 p.m. March 17 meeting in the library’s Talking Books Room. The Great American Reads Book Club has chosen “Flowers in the Attic” by V.C. Andrews for a 7:15 p.m. March 24 session. The library’s Mystery Book Club will discuss Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Hound of the Baskervilles” at a 7:15 p.m. March 25 meeting.
Read It and Reap is published the second and last Sundays monthly. Please send your book club selections and book-related topics, such as book reactions, to firstname.lastname@example.org.