Our planet is in trouble. But how can we reverse the current crisis and create a sustainable future? The answer is: degrowth. By shining a light on ecological breakdown and the system that’s causing it, Hickel shows how we can bring our economy back into balance with the living world and build a thriving society for all.

 

Read more about degrowth at May 2022’s Rebel Library Recommends: A Degrowth Special

Purchase Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World at Hive online bookshop

What happens when the heroes disappear, when the battle for the city is over, when you return to the island and find a box in your hands? There was an instruction once that told us why the box should never be opened. But you don’t believe those stories anymore. You always open the box.

After Ithaca is a non-fiction work – part memoir, part essay, part travelogue – that follows a real life journey of descent in a world on the tip of crisis. It is set in the Peruvian rainforest, in the backrooms of Suffolk towns, in Japan, in France, Australia, in the desert borderlands, in borrowed houses and Occupy tents, in kitchens and burial chambers, underneath a lemon tree on an abandoned terrace…

The book revolves around the four initiatory tasks of Psyche, set by Venus, the goddess of love and justice: four territories that map this search for meaning and coherence in a time of fall. Each chapter starts with a memory of place as a clue to the investigation: the recovery of a relationship with wild nature, with being human, a kind of archaeology for the pieces of self that lie missing beneath a broken storyline, like the shards of a pot.

It is a personal story and also a social story, about the relinquishment of a certain world, that looks at writing as an existential practice: showing how myth can be a technique for finding our lost voice, our medicine of how to put a crooked thing straight.

How to pull ourselves out of the wreckage, and start again.

 

Purchase After Ithaca: Journeys in Deep Time at Dark Mountain Books

This remarkable book is about everything from echidnas to evolution, cosmology to cooking, sex and science and spirits to Schrodinger’s cat. Tyson Yunkaporta looks at global systems from an Indigenous perspective. He asks how contemporary life diverges from the pattern of creation. How does this affect us? How can we do things differently? Sand Talk provides a template for living. It’s about how lines and symbols and shapes can help us make sense of the world. It’s about how we learn and how we remember. It’s about talking to everybody and listening carefully. It’s about finding different ways to look at things. Most of all it’s about Indigenous thinking, and how it can save the world.

‘As consequences of civilisation squeeze modernity in a death grip, connecting with the ancestral world, breaking out of our box of time, is perhaps the most radical act any of us can do.

In his startling manual Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World, Tyson Yunkaporta describes five ways of seeing from an Aboriginal perspective – kinship mind, storytelling mind, dreaming mind, ancestor mind and pattern mind. All five help perceive the land and ourselves within it, kin with creatures, rivers, rocks and sky. This knowledge is embedded in ritual, storytelling and practice that hold communities and cultures together, so human beings can be ‘custodial’ for places and living beings. We have a thousand-year clean up ahead of us, Yunkaporta tells us, and generously hands us the imaginative tools to begin the work.’ – Charlotte Du Cann, guest contributor to May 2022’s Rebel Library Recommends

 

Purchase Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World from Hive online bookshop

From the War on Terror to resistance in Ramallah and traumatic dislocation in the Middle East, Berger explores the uses of art as an instrument of political resistance. Visceral and passionate, Hold Everything Dear is a profound meditation on the far extremes of human behaviour, and the underlying despair.

Looking at Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq, he makes an impassioned attack on the poverty and loss of freedom at the heart of such unnecessary suffering.

These essays offer reflections on the political at the core of artistic expression and even at the center of human existence itself.

‘Even though I have been looking at a world rocked by oil dependency and climate change for over a decade, the books I return to are about ways of being human that endure, that show a glimpse of the future embedded in time/physical. Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance is a slim book about a journey to Palestine written with the spare poetry and intellectual fire of old age. John Berger goes to the front line and sees for himself how the Palestinian people are living. He looks at the hyperreality of the media, the business of war, at poverty and privilege. He stands by a group of donkeys and by a young boy watering aubergines under olive trees and locates himself in an ancient land. He sits at his writing desk at night and addresses the dead revolutionary artists he once knew. The future is fraternal, he says. He is 79 years old and he is still a Marxist and reading these pages you know why. When the storm advances, hold everything dear, he is telling us. The people that matter, the trees that matter, the life that matters.’ – Charlotte Du Cann, guest contributor to May 2022’s Rebel Library Recommends

 

Purchase Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance at Hive online bookshop

 

What begins as the record of W.G. Sebald’s own journey on foot through coastal East Anglia, from Lowestoft to Bungay, becomes the conductor of evocations of people and cultures past and present.

From Chateaubriand, Thomas Browne, Swinburne and Conrad, to fishing fleets, skulls and silkworms, the result is an intricately patterned and haunting book on the transience of all things human.

‘The narrator walks a metaphysical path along coastal edge of Suffolk, past its abandoned great houses and fishing fleets, placing his melancholic gaze on the underbelly of Empire. A journey that weaves in the lives of poets and philosophers, Sir Thomas Browne’s skull, the Empress Tzu, the silkworm industry of Norwich, the bombing of German cities in WWII, the invisible cruelty of hierarchies that keeps us caught in the repeating wheel of History.’ – Charlotte Du Cann, guest contributor to May 2022’s Rebel Library Recommends

 

Purchase The Rings of Saturn from Hive online bookshop

‘To decolonise a culture, you have to deal with the Underworld. It’s easy to forget our ‘civilised’ educated democracies are underpinned by the ancient Greek gods’ lust for domination and amusement. Books that reveal how we are unconsciously trapped in the mechanics of power are mostly deep imaginative prose works that can bring this dark ‘material’ out into the light. Roberto Calasso’s astonishing remix of the classical myths, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, runs from the rape of Europa by Zeus to the Olympian carnage of heroes at the siege of Troy, and returns the gods to their enthralling amoral role in the drama of human affairs.’ ~ Charlotte Du Cann, guest contributor to May 2022’s Rebel Library Recommends

In a remote Polish village, Janina Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs.

She is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she’s unconventional, believing in the stars; and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken.

When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, Duszejko becomes involved in the investigation.

By no means a conventional crime story, this existential thriller by ‘one of Europe’s major humanist writers’ (Guardian) offers thought-provoking ideas on our perceptions of madness, injustice against marginalized people, animal rights, the hypocrisy of traditional religion, belief in predestination – and caused a genuine political uproar in Tokarczuk’s native Poland.

With Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, Man Booker International Prize-winner Olga Tokarczuk returns with a subversive, entertaining noir novel.

‘An ecological detective story set in a small Polish village, this strange, twisted, darkly brilliant novel –revolving around a nature-loving old woman obsessed with the poems of William Blake – infuriated the right-wing hunting lobby in Poland, which is as good a reason as any to buy a copy. One of the most original, exciting and surprising books I’ve read for years.’ Nick Hunt, guest contributor to May 2022’s Rebel Library Recommends

‘Something between a history book and a fable about consumerism, The Nutmeg’s Curse tells the story of how rapacious greed for spices led the Dutch East India Company to seize control of Indonesia’s Banda Islands – then the world’s only source of nutmeg – in the 17th century. Ghosh prises apart this overlooked history to draw a series of troubling links between the spice trade, imperialism, capitalism, climate change and war. He is a brilliant storyteller, and this striking and disturbing book helps us understand how the modern world came to be.’ Nick Hunt, guest contributor to May 2022’s Rebel Library Recommends

 

‘The air trembled, gold and green and clear, at the edges of the forest.’ A woman takes a holiday in the Austrian mountains, spending a few days with her cousin and his wife in their hunting lodge. When the couple fails to return from a walk, the woman sets off to look for them. But her journey reaches a sinister and inexplicable dead end. She discovers only a transparent wall behind which there seems to be no life. Trapped alone behind the mysterious wall she begins the arduous work of survival.

This is at once a simple account of potatoes and beans, of hoping for a calf, of counting matches, of forgetting the taste of sugar and the use of one’s name, and simultaneously a disturbing dissection of the place of human beings in the natural world.

‘Brilliant in its sustainment of dread, in its peeling away of old layers of reality to expose a raw way of seeing and feeling.’ Nicole Krauss, author of The History of Love

 

See more from Penguin Vintage Earth


‘This is not our world with trees in it. It’s a world of trees, where humans have just arrived.’ This is the story of a group of strangers, each summoned in different ways by the natural world, brought together to save it from catastrophe.

An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another.

Moving through history and across landscapes, this tree-filled novel unfurls our potential to destroy or restore the natural world.

‘This novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize, begins with the mass death of trees: the North American chestnut blight, which killed up to 4 billion trees at the start of the 20th century. While this book is very much about people – weaving together the interconnected stories of nine human protagonists – trees are the real subjects (not the objects) of the narrative, and Powers takes the reader deep into their inner lives, following the mycelial threads that link the human to the arboreal. This book genuinely changed how I saw the world: for weeks after finishing it, I could hardly walk down a street without stopping to stare at a tree, awestruck and dumbfounded, astonished that I could ever have taken their extraordinary presence for granted.’ Nick Hunt, guest contributor to May 2022’s Rebel Library Recommends

 

See more from Penguin Vintage Earth