This month we are featuring works recommended to us by users of the library. Thank you to all those who sent in their suggestions, and please keep them coming!
This selection is dedicated to the memory of the late Gboyega Odubanjo, whose poem, Oil Music, we feature below.
Venomous Lumpsucker by Ned Beauman
A dark and witty story of environmental collapse and runaway capitalism. In a near future in which tens of thousands of species are going extinct every year, a whole industry has sprung up around their extinctions, including biobanks housing DNA samples from which lost organisms might someday be resurrected. But then, one day, it’s all gone. A mysterious cyber-attack hits every biobank simultaneously, wiping out the last traces of the perished species.
Animal cognition scientist Karin Resaint is consumed with existential grief over what humans have done to nature, while extinction industry executive Mark Halyard comes from the dark side. But they are both concerned with one species in particular: the venomous lumpsucker, a small, ugly bottom-feeder that happens to be the most intelligent fish on the planet. The further they go in their hunt for the lumpsucker, the deeper they are drawn into the mystery of the attack on the biobanks.Who was really behind it? And why would anyone do such a thing? Virtuosic and profound, witty and despairing, Venomous Lumpsucker is Ned Beauman at his very best.
Habitat Man by D.A. Baden
Inspired by a real-life green garden consultancy, this rom-com artfully combines comedy, fiction and science to foster green solutions. Tim – the unlikely hero – is fifty, single and trapped in a job he despises. In a desperate quest to find love and meaning, Tim transforms himself into Habitat Man, an eco-friendly twenty-first century superhero who endeavours to rescue the planet through a combination of wildlife gardening, composting toilets, bird psychology and green funerals.
When Tim accidentally digs up the body of the fabled guerrilla knitter in a back garden, his struggle for a better future becomes threatened by secrets from his past. Tim’s crises mirror those faced by the planet, and his sharing-economy, costing-for-nature policies offer hope for us all. D.A. Baden is Professor of Sustainability at the University of Southampton. Her award-winning research centres on how to move beyond preaching to the converted and engage mainstream audiences in green solutions.
“Habitat Man is both great fun and a delightful reflection on the ways we live –and die! – at a time when more and more people are grappling with today’s environmental challenges.” Jonathon Porritt
The Fish by Joanne Stubbs
‘There is a fish on the sand; I see it clearly. But it is not on its side, lying still. It is partly upright. It moves. I can see its gills, off the ground and wide open. It looks as though it’s standing up.’
A few decades into the twenty-first century, in their permanently flooded garden in Cornwall, Cathy and her wife Ephie give up on their vegetable patch and plant a paddy field instead. Thousands of miles away, expat Margaret is struggling to adjust to life in Kuala Lumpur, now a coastal city. In New Zealand, two teenagers marvel at the extreme storms hitting their island.
But they are not the only ones adapting to the changing climate. The starfish on Cathy’s kitchen window are just the start. As all manner of sea creatures begin to leave the oceans and invade the land, the new normal becomes increasingly hard to accept.
Stolen by Ann-Helen Laestadius
The story of a young Sami girl’s coming-of-age, and a powerful fable about family, identity and justice.
Nine-year-old Elsa lives just north of the Arctic Circle. She and her family are Sami – Scandinavia’s indigenous people – and make their living herding reindeer.
One morning when Elsa goes skiing alone, she witnesses a man brutally killing her reindeer calf, Nastegallu. Elsa recognises the man but refuses to tell anyone – least of all the Swedish police force – about what she saw. Instead, she carries her secret as a dark weight on her heart.
Elsa comes of age fighting two wars: one within her community, where male elders expect young women to know their place; and against the ever-escalating wave of prejudice and violence against the Sami.
When Elsa finds herself the target of the man who killed her reindeer calf all those years ago, something inside of her finally breaks. The guilt, fear, and anger she’s been carrying since childhood come crashing over her like an avalanche, and will lead Elsa to a final catastrophic confrontation.
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
Franny Stone has always been the kind of woman who is able to love but unable to stay. Leaving behind everything but her research gear, she arrives in Greenland with a singular purpose: to follow the last Arctic terns in the world on what might be their final migration to Antarctica. Franny talks her way onto a fishing boat, and she and the crew set sail, travelling ever further from shore and safety. But as Franny’s history begins to unspool―a passionate love affair, an absent family, a devastating crime―it becomes clear that she is chasing more than just the birds. When Franny’s dark secrets catch up with her, how much is she willing to risk for one more chance at redemption? Charlotte McConaghy’s Migrations is an ode to a disappearing world and a breathtaking page-turner about the possibility of hope against all odds.
It’s Not That Radical: Climate Action To Transform Our World by Mikaela Loach
The environmental crisis is deeply entangled with colonialism and a capitalist system that places profit over people. Tackling the climate crisis cannot be achieved without an unfiltered examination of exploitation, inequality, poverty and racism.
Named as one of the most influencial women in the UK climate movement, Mikaela Loach offers a fresh perspective on the crisis through the lens of climate justice which creates the real possibility of huge leaps towards racial equality and collective liberation as it aims to dismantle the very foundations of these issues. ‘False hope won’t save us,’ Loach tells us. ‘But active hope can.’ This book is a must read for every climate activist.
Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency by Mark Lynas
Mark Lynas’ 2008 book Six Degrees soon became a must-read for anyone concerned about the speed and severity of global heating. In its 2020 incarnation, updated to reflect the most recent scientific research and projections, Lynas’ analysis of how the world will change with each degree of warming pulls no punches about what’s at stake. But in leaving space for optimism and hope, the evidence he sets out becomes a powerful call to action as well as a timely and terrifying warning.
Hope In The Dark: The Untold History of People Power by Rebecca Solnit
At a time when political, environmental and social gloom can seem overpowering, this remarkable book offers a lucid, affirmative and well-argued case for hope. This exquisite work traces a history of activism and social change over the past five decades – from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the worldwide marches against the war in Iraq.
Hope in the Dark is a paean to optimism in the uncertainty of the 21st century. Tracing the footsteps of the last century’s thinkers – including Woolf, Gandhi, Borges, Benjamin and Havel – Solnit conjures a timeless vision of cause and effect that will light our way through the dark and lead us to profound and effective political engagement.
What If to What Next: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want by Rob Hopkins
As founder of the burgeoning Transitions Movement, Rob Hopkins’ approach to creating the future we want, rather than the one we risk getting, is to showcase visionary projects that demonstrate what a regenerative future can look like. Full of positive examples of inspiring, change-making initiatives, his uplifting, clear-eyed guide argues that our imaginations are drastically under-used – yet they are the key to our survival, well-being, and social cohesion.
The Lost Words, A Spell Book by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris
‘Once upon a time, words began to vanish from the language of children. They dissappeared so quietly that at first almost no-one noticed – until one day, they were gone.’
This book began as a response to the removal of everyday nature words – among them acorn, bluebell, kingfisher and wren – from a widely used children’s dictionary, because those words were not being used enough by children to merit inclusion. Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris set upon a mission to bring back these lost words. This gorgeously illustrated ‘book of spells’ seeks to conjure back the near-lost magic and strangeness of the nature that surrounds us. Adults will love this book as much as children.
Poetry: Gboyega Odubanjo, June 1994-August 2023
A British-Nigerian poet born and raised in East London, Gboyega Odubanjo was celebrated for his literary talents and unique perspective on societal issues. He won the prestigious Poetry Business New Poets prize in 2020 for Aunty Uncle Poems, a poignant collection exploring the complexities of culture and family dynamics, the Society of Authors’ Eric Gregory Award, and the Michael Marks pamphlet prize. His last collection, Adam, focuses on the pressing issue of structural inequality in the search for missing Black people in the UK.
To honour his life and work, we share his poem Oil Music from Out of Time: Poetry from the Climate Emergency edited by Kate Simpson and published by Valley Press.
Poem of the Month
Oil Music by Gboyega Odubanjo
call it a love song.
i’ll get the bathtub ready.
i’m in. we in ceramic.
let’s say black. i’m bp
you’re shell. we all in.
we in the black. we both in
a barrel. call it a village.
we both in the pumping. the people
no get no nothing. no crabs in the river.
no periwinkles to pick. no day
de pas where they no dey cry
suffer dis kind suffer like dis. we no care
for them. i just want you to seep.
blacken my lot.
Looking for something you can’t find here? Contact our Librarian if you’re looking for something specific, or an educational book list to support teaching about climate change.
We’re always looking for contributors to our growing collection of literature to explain and explore the climate and biodiversity emergency. If you’re a writer or poet and would like to share your work or ideas, please get in touch! Contact email@example.com for prose or firstname.lastname@example.org for poetry.