Our Favorite Environmental Fiction Books of the 2010’s and 2020’s

No matter who you are, everyone can greatly benefit from reading more books and exposing themselves to new and different perspectives. Here we’ve compiled a list of books with the theme of environmentalism. We hope that you enjoy these books as much as we have!

Remember, you don’t have to purchase books to get access to them. Your local library offers free check-outs. If you’re having trouble, you can visit this list of public libraries to get you started!


The Overstory by Richard Powers

the-overstory-best-environmental-books-richard-powersWhat it’s about: This centers around nine Americans whose unique life experiences with trees bring them together to address the destruction of forests. Artists, scientists, and citizens unite to prevent forest destruction.

What we like about it: This Pulitzer prize winning novel exhibits the relationship people have with life that’s mostly taken for granted, like the trees that grow around us.

Where to get it: Get it for free at your local library or purchase the audiobook, hard copy, or ebook


The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh

hungry-tide-best-environmental-books-amitav-ghoshWhat it’s about: Piya is an Indian-American marine biologist in search of a rare, endangered river dolphin. She’s thrown from a boat and rescued by Fokir, a young fisherman. Despite the language barrier, Fokir and Piya begin working together against the forces of political power and unrest.

What we like about it: This novel discusses endangered species and the power of working together to enact change.

Where to get it: Get it for free at your local library or purchase the audiobook, hard copy, or ebook


Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

flight-behavior-barbara-kingsolver-best-environmental-booksWhat it’s about: Flight Behavior follows Dellarobia, a woman from Tennessee, who encounters a huge orange blur in the sky. Unknown to her, it’s a massive migration of monarch butterflies. This draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintance with journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome.

What we like about it: This novel discusses one of the most urgent topics of our day: climate change and how different opinions and ideas can affect the outcome and the way we deal with the issue.

Where to get it: Get it for free at your local library or purchase the audiobook, hard copy, or ebook


Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

salvage-the-bones-jesmyn-ward-best-environmental-booksWhat it’s about: This book follows Esch, an under-resourced and pregnant 15-year-old. She lives with her family in Bois Sauvage, a mostly Black Mississippi bayou town smack dab in the path of Hurricane Katrina. Salvage the Bones is set during the 12-day lead-up to landfall (plus a few days of aftermath) of the historic storm.

What we like about it: The novel portrays how BIPOC and the vulnerable are impacted when natural disasters devastate. It’s a good depiction of environmental justice. Jesmyn Ward is the only woman and African American author that has won the National Book Award for Fiction twice. Salvage the Bones is one of the books that won her that prize.

Where to get it: Get it for free at your local library or purchase the audiobook, hard copy, or ebook


The Bear by Andrew Krivak

the-bear-andrew-krivak-best-environmental-booksWhat it’s about: In an Edenic future, a girl and her father live close to the land in the shadow of a lone mountain. They possess a few remnants of civilization: some books, a pane of glass, a set of flint and steel, and a comb. The father teaches the girl how to fish and hunt, the secrets of the seasons, and the stars. He’s preparing her for an adulthood in harmony with nature because they’re the last of humankind. But when the girl finds herself alone in an unknown landscape, it’s a bear that will lead her back home. Together they’ll travel through a vast wilderness that offers the greatest lessons of all, if only she can learn to listen.

What we like about it: The way the book portrays the strong connection humans can have with their natural habitats and animals. It shows us that there is a way of interdependence where animals and humans can coexist and benefit from this arrangement.

Where to get it: Get it for free at your local library or purchase the audiobook, hard copy, or ebook


Clade by James Bradley

clade-james-bradley-best-environmental-booksWhat it’s about: Bradley portrays three generations in this book. The story revolves around the family of scientist Adam and his artist wife Ellie as they decide to have a child. It follows the family in a radically changing world. It’s a place of loss and wonder where the extraordinary mingle with the everyday, through disasters and plagues, miraculous small moments, and acts of great courage.

What we like about it: Parents frequently say they’ll do everything for their children. This novel ponders questions like: what are we doing to stop climate change so our children and grandchildren can survive and thrive on Earth? Have we ever stopped to think about how climate change would affect our children’s lives?

Where to get it: Get it for free at your local library or purchase the audiobook, hard copy, or ebook


Fauna by Christiane Vadnais

fauna-christiane-vadnais--best-environmental-booksWhat it’s about: A thick fog rolls in over Shivering Heights. The river overflows. The sky is streaked with toxic green. Parasites proliferate in torrential rains. Now once safely classified species – humans included – are evolving and behaving in unprecedented ways. Against this poetically hostile backdrop, biologist Laura fights to understand the nature and scope of the changes transforming her own body and the world around her.

What we like about it: The question this book explores is asked in a climate change ravaged world: who will win in the struggle between humanity and nature? What will happen if the next endangered species is the homo sapiens?

Where to get it: Get it for free at your local library or purchase the audiobook, hard copy, or ebook


Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer

hummingbird-salamander-jeff-vandermeer-best-environmental-booksWhat it’s about: Security consultant and former wrestler Jane Smith receives an envelope with a key. The key is to a storage unit that holds a taxidermied hummingbird with clues leading her to a taxidermied salamander. Silvina, the dead woman who left the note, is a reputed ecoterrorist and the daughter of an Argentine industrialist. Jane accidentally sets in motion a series of events that quickly spin out her control. Soon, Jane and her family are in danger, with few allies to help her make sense of everything. Is this only way to safely follow in Silvina’s footsteps? Is it too late to stop? As she desperately seeks answers about why Silvina contacted her, time is running out―for her and possibly for the world.

What we like about it: One of the main topics of this book is wildlife trafficking and its consequences. Illegal wildlife trafficking is the fourth most lucrative global crime, just after drugs and arms. It has an estimated value of $23 billion each year. A business that threatens many species every year.

Where to get it: Get it for free at your local library or purchase the audiobook, hard copy, or ebook


The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

parable-of-the-sower-octavia-e-butler-best-environmental-booksWhat it’s about: Parable of the Sower is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel that provides commentary on climate change and social inequity through the lens of a young girl’s journey. The novel follows Lauren Olamina. She is a young woman who can feel the pain of others. After growing up relatively protected, her city is attacked and her community becomes displaced.

What we like about it: This book came out in 1993, but it’s so groundbreaking and influential that we had to include it. Octavia Butler is an amazing worldbuilder, and the plot just sucks you right in. Even though it’s post-apocalyptic, the novel displays a thread of hope and rebuilding.

Where to get it: Get it for free at your local library or purchase the audiobook, hard copy, or ebook.


The Fifth Season by NK Jemison

the-fifth-season-nk-jemisin-best-environmental-booksWhat it’s about: This is the first book in the Broken Earth trilogy. Followed by The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky.

This book takes place on a planet with a single supercontinent called the Stillness. Every few centuries, its inhabitants endure what they call a “Fifth Season” of catastrophic climate change. The story follows a woman trying to recover her kidnapped daughter while the world is collapsing around her.

What we like about it: The dangers of a massive ecosystem collapse are explored in this book. The characters are forced to make difficult choices about how to survive. Women characters are portrayed as strong and determined individuals.

Where to get it: Get it for free at your local library or purchase the audiobook, hard copy, or ebook


MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood

maddaddam-oryx-and-crake-margaret-atwood-best-environmental-booksWhat it’s about: This trilogy also includes the books Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood.

In Oryx and Crake, a man struggles to survive in a world where he may be the last human. In search of answers, he embarks on a journey. The travels through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. In The Year of the Flood the long-feared waterless flood has occurred, altering Earth as we know it and obliterating most human life. And in MaddAddam a small group of survivors band together with the Children of Crake: the gentle, bioengineered quasi-human species who will inherit this new earth.

What we like about it: Our negative impact on nature is leading to our world collapsing in front of us. This trilogy focuses on the world we know could end and what could happen after that. Our impact over nature is a key topic in this book. This trilogy can help us understand our environmental impacts.

Where to get it: Get it for free at your local library or purchase the audiobook, hard copy, or ebook


Final thoughts

What do you think about our list? Did we miss any great environmental books? Leave them in the comments below!

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