The story of the Earth is written into our landscape: it’s there in the curves of hills, the colours of stone, surprising eruptions of vegetation.

Wanting a fresh perspective on her own life, the writer Helen Gordon set out to read that epic narrative. Her odyssey takes her from the secret fossils of London to the 3-billion-year-old rocks of the Scottish Highlands, and from a state-of-the-art earthquake monitoring system in California to one of the world’s most dangerous volcanic complexes in Naples.

At every step, she finds that the apparently solid ground beneath our feet isn’t quite as it seems.

‘A terrific book, especially clarifying on the Anthropocene in context. I loved the especially eye-opening last chapter on the deep future, on the disposal of nuclear waste and the human failing to think and plan beyond the individual lifespan. Sobering and instructive time travel.’ ~ Max Porter, guest contributor to March 2022’s Hot Reads

 

Read more of Max’s recommendations in March 2022’s Rebel Library Hot Reads

Purchase The Falling Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman from Hive Books

Trees and woods offer great potential for rebuilding our wider relationship with nature, reinforcing local identity and sustaining wildlife.

‘I’d really like to ask some kindly philanthropist to buy a copy of this book for every household in the UK. Very important, beautifully produced, a bible of Common Ground’s research and ongoing progressive intent as regards wood, forestry, biodiversity and trees as community in this country.’ ~ Max Porter, guest contributor to March 2022’s Rebel Library Hot Reads

We need more trees and woods in our lives, to lock up carbon, to mitigate flooding, to help shade our towns and cities and bring shelter, wildlife and beauty to places.

Living with Trees is a cornucopia of practical information, good examples and new ideas that will inspire, guide and encourage people to reconnect with the trees and woods in their community, so we can all discover how to value, celebrate and protect our arboreal neighbours.

 

Read more of Max’s recommendations in March 2022’s Rebel Library Hot Reads

Purchase Living With Trees at Hive Books

The Falling Sky is a remarkable first-person account of the life story and cosmo-ecological thought of Davi Kopenawa, shaman and spokesman for the Yanomami of the Brazilian Amazon.

‘A revelatory and passionate cosmo-ecological life story. He is a really extraordinary human, and this book is a more truthful account of environmental devastation than many of our more compromised attempts here in the ‘merchandise’ societies. It’s a book like no other.’ ~ Max Porter, guest contributor to March 2022’s Hot Reads

Representing a people whose very existence is in jeopardy, Davi Kopenawa paints an unforgettable picture of Yanomami culture, past and present, in the heart of the rainforest–a world where ancient indigenous knowledge and shamanic traditions cope with the global geopolitics of an insatiable natural resources extraction industry. In richly evocative language, Kopenawa recounts his initiation and experience as a shaman, as well as his first encounters with outsiders: government officials, missionaries, road workers, cattle ranchers, and gold prospectors.

He vividly describes the ensuing cultural repression, environmental devastation, and deaths resulting from epidemics and violence.

To counter these threats, Davi Kopenawa became a global ambassador for his endangered people.

The Falling Sky follows him from his native village in the Northern Amazon to Brazilian cities and finally on transatlantic flights bound for European and American capitals.

These travels constitute a shamanic critique of Western industrial society, whose endless material greed, mass violence, and ecological blindness contrast sharply with Yanomami cultural values. Bruce Albert, a close friend since the 1970s, superbly captures Kopenawa’s intense, poetic voice.

This collaborative work provides a unique reading experience that is at the same time a coming-of-age story, a historical account, and a shamanic philosophy, but most of all an impassioned plea to respect native rights and preserve the Amazon rainforest.

 

Read more of Max’s recommendations in March 2022’s Rebel Library Hot Reads

Purchase The Falling Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman from Hive Books

 

Angela France’s distinctive new collection of poems eloquently considers the troubling terms of existence in an age of climate catastrophe and technological change. How do we negotiate a world where capitalism and greed threaten a fragile earth, where technology seems to promise us connection but might also fuel isolation? Where even finding solace in nature reminds us that the seasons can no longer be trusted? How is human urge and want hastening us towards our own ‘endling’ – and what might it mean to be the ‘last’?

In reframing ecopoetics in her own instinctive, radical, lyrical form, France juxtaposes the accelerated, all-consuming speed of contemporary and future times with the ‘longtime’ and ancient, and considers whether, rather than collison-course, there might be a better way to coexist. Where extinction threatens, these wry, alert poems and their eloquent, earthy voices try to find a way through and look for hope.

 

Purchase Terminarchy from Nine Arches Press

Pascale Petit’s Tiger Girl marks a shift from the Amazonian rainforests of her previous work to explore her grandmother’s Indian heritage and the fauna and flora of subcontinental jungles. Tiger Girl is the grandmother, with her tales of wild tigers, but she’s also the endangered predators Petit encountered in Central India. In exuberant and tender ecopoems, the saving grace of love in an otherwise bleak childhood is celebrated through spellbinding visions of nature, alongside haunting images of poaching and species extinction.

Tiger Girl is Pascale Petit’s eighth collection won the inaugural Laurel Prize 2020.

 

Purchase Tiger Girl from Bookshop.org

 

Taylor Strickland’s Commonplace Book moves across the Atlantic from the poet’s native United States to the landscape and seascape of Scotland, exploring through its inquiring lines the beauty of the terrain and the complexity of human life. Commonplace Book features poetry of fresh and dextrous language, firmly rooted in tradition, alive to the “melon-light dripping from each rock / like meltwater.”

 

Featured poem: Heil Valley
(for David George Haskell)

Field run to seed along the grain
of granite, trees under dusk and ruin
complete any piecemeal dark.
Blacker than char, a squirrel angles
toward pitched meadowland, listens
for anything else, an owl
concealed by shadow, or far off,
fast through the canyon that never stops,
the wind-splitter, a motorcycle
dying into night. Nature’s sonographer
with big probing ears, it can read sound
as well as hear. Watch how it scans
woodsmoke for a seasonless year
high among the pine-fork, then re-builds
its needle-stitched cup, cache that was
brimful with seed, berry and acorn,
until it realizes nothing
discerns nothing after wildfire, after
the aftermath. Only loss, and worse
the evergreen of memory is reversed
to never-green, a nothing-nest,
so eerily similar to nothingness.

 

Purchase Commonplace Book from Broken Sleep Books

 

 

Offering a counter-history of how economic growth emerged in the context of colonialism, fossil-fuelled industrialisation, and capitalist modernity, The Future Is Degrowth argues that the ideology of growth conceals the rising inequalities and ecological destructions associated with capitalism, and points to desirable alternatives to it. This book provides a vision for post-capitalism beyond growth. It charts a path forward through policies that democratise the economy, “now-topias” that create free spaces for experimentation, and counter-hegemonic movements that make it possible to break with the logic of growth.

 

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

Purchase The Future Is Degrowth: A Guide to a World Beyond Capitalism at Hive online bookshop

 

Climate change is inextricably linked with the consumerist, capitalist society in which we live. How do we stop the impending catastrophe and how can we create a movement capable of confronting it head-on? Post-Growth Living: For an Alternative Hedonism is plea for a new and ecologically sustainable vision of the good life.

 

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

Purchase Post-Growth Living For an Alternative Hedonism at Hive online bookshop

 

In his counter model of a post-growth economy, sustainability researcher Niko Paech calls for restrictions upon industrial value added processes and for patterns of self-sufficiency to be strengthened. He argues that his form of economic activity would not only be more frugal but also more stable and environmentally friendly.

 

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

 

When industrial civilisation collapsed in the third decade of the 21st century, a community living on a small island in the South Pacific Ocean found itself permanently isolated from the rest of the world. With no option but to build a self-sufficient economy with very limited energy supplies, this community set about creating a simpler way of life that could flourish into the deep future.

Determined above all else to transcend the materialistic values of the Old World, they made a commitment to live materially simple lives, convinced that this was the surest path to genuine freedom, peace, and sustainable prosperity. Seven decades later, in the year 2099, this book describes the results of their remarkable living experiment.

 

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

Purchase Entropia at Hive online bookshop