4 Books to Green Up Your Reading List

by ‐ Tags: green living, alternative energy

Hey Gang,

The air is (sometimes) feeling a little crisper these days, it’s (almost) sweater weather, and that means it’s the perfect time to queue up some books to enjoy the last few months of reading-outside-under-a-tree time.  I’ve read a few books recently that I think you might like, and I wanted to share.

So take a look, take a read, and let me know what books you love these days!



1. Before the Lights Go Out by Maggie Koerth-Baker

I’ve never found a writer that does such a great job of explaining the excitement, frustration, and nuance of scientific topics as Koerth-Baker, Science editor of BoingBoing.net. In Before the Lights Go Out, the author takes you through the history of the US electrical grid, telling the story of the somewhat alarmingly haphazard origins and operations of that most vital infrastructure. 

This book made me realize that I was an energy nerd, when I found myself enraptured thinking about the 24-hour control rooms where “wizards of the grid” summon, redirect, and orchestrate the flow of energy across the nation.  For anyone with an interest in our nation’s energy history, and its future, this is a can’t miss. 

2. Powering the Dream by Alexis Madrigal

Electric cars at the turn of the 20th century? Dust bowl farmers as wind-energy pioneers? Oh yeah.  Showing my cards as a big ole’ dork again, I recommend you check out Alexis Madrigal’s rundown of the quirky characters and ambitious dreams that make up the history of renewable energy in America.  Madrigal does a great job of telling the human stories behind technology like solar panels, battery storage, hydro and wind power.  Weird and fun and enlightening.

3. Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

I just finished this one the other day, and I think I was the last one in the office to read it.  ANYWAY, I found this manifesto on a new way of thinking about industrial production cycles to be inspiring, if a little light on actionable details.  The authors trace the development of our modern world from pastoral to apocalyptic, and somehow come out the other side with an optimistic and inspiring call to arms.  

Taking inspiration from natural systems, McDonough and Braungart draw on their experience in product design and architecture to outline a world where waste nourishes the environment and where by caring deeply about ourselves, our happiness, and our planet, we can all be rich happy and beautiful. This book definitely leans idealistic, but it’s a fascinating vision in a quick read that will leave you wanting to change the world.

4. Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Disclaimer: this one is definitely the black sheep of this list.  In Windup Girl, Bacigalupi tells the story of a post-petroleum future where big agribusiness controls nations, factories run on stored kinetic energy in tightly wound metal coils, and a seed vault in Thailand is the most highly guarded location on earth.

Strange, well written, exciting and offering a vision of the future that speaks to resilience and the need for ingenuity in the face of climate change, Windup girl is a blast. (Actual disclaimer: this book contains some upsetting material that is notappropriate for all audiences.) 


5. 5?? That's just excessive...



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