Saturday, July 26, 2008

Long Time No Read

Many apologies for my long neglect of PinesAboveSnow. Family obligations post-vacation have kept me away, and I haven't even been reading that much. But I couldn’t resist spreading the word about an NPR commentary I heard on Thursday. This summer, National Public Radio is offering an occasional series where writers recommend three books on a particular theme. July 24, The Washington Post’s environmental reporter, Juliet Eilperin, contributed an audio commentary right up PAS’s alley: “Eco-Friendly Books Explore the Literary Green”.

Eilperin narrows the field of outstanding environmental books to three worthy choices. First, Bill McKibben’s new anthology, American Earth, includes two centuries of fine nature writing--not just essays but also song lyrics, poetry, and political speeches—and should have something for every summer reader. You can hear McKibben speak about the book here. I’m not familiar with her second choice--Where the Wild Things Were, by William Stolzenburg—a sobering look at the “environmental havoc” wrought by accelerating declines in large mammal populations. But the Green Skeptic calls it “Part history, part mystery, part philosophical treatise,” and “ a good read.”

Yet the book I’ll seek out first is Eilperin’s final pick, The Carbon Age by Eric Roston. I’ve heard buzz about this book elsewhere too and look forward to earning a deeper understanding of how carbon atoms, via human misjudgments and misbehavior, have become a threat to life on earth. Roston likens the potential human-induced planetary destruction to a meteor impact, leading Eilperin to conclude, “Reading words printed on dead trees doesn't automatically translate into saving the planet. But by encouraging us to reevaluate the world around us, these three books offer a vision of a different path forward, one that might steer us safely out of the meteor's path.”

I hope that I'll have time to recommend more books that fulfill Eilperin's criteria of excellence soon. Feel free to make your suggestions too. . . .