Book Club

The book club meets every other month to discuss a book with an environmental angle. Our discussions are cozy, chill, and open-ended. We are a fluid group, always open to new members, and there are no obligations to attend every session. Feel free to stop by even if you haven’t finished (or started) the book!

Have an eco-oriented book you’ve been itching to pick up? Let us know what you want to read so we can create a more engaging schedule. Submit your ideas at books@dc.ecowomen.org.

Stop in! Mini Book Club

For those of us that can’t commit to a full book during our busy schedules, we’ve started holding (mini) Book Club meetings that include articles, excerpts, or podcasts on a chosen topic.  So far, we’ve discussed the nexus of food and love and the conservation challenges of the national park system.  Check our events calendar for upcoming meetings.

Next Up…

Stay Tuned!

Past Book Club Picks

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

By John Vaillant

This book combines the natural history of the Amur tiger, the illegal trafficking of animal parts to China, the sociological history of the Russian people in the Far East, and the difficulties faced by conservationists on the ground, all while following the hunt for a man-eating tiger in Eastern Russia.

Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change

By Andrew Guzman

In Overheated, Guzman takes climate change out of the realm of scientific abstraction to explore its real-world consequences. He writes not as a scientist, but as an authority on international law and economics. He shows in vivid detail how climate change is already playing out in the real world. Rising seas will swamp island nations like Maldives; coastal food-producing regions in Bangladesh will be flooded; and millions will be forced to migrate into cities or possibly “climate-refugee camps.” Even as seas rise, melting glaciers in the Andes and the Himalayas will deprive millions upon millions of people of fresh water, threatening major cities and further straining food production. Prolonged droughts in the Sahel region of Africa have already helped produce mass violence in Darfur.

 

Silent Spring

By Rachel Carson

Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation, and public officials of accepting industry claims uncritically. Pesticides have a major effect on biological diversity, alongside habitat loss and climate change. They can have short-term toxic effects on directly exposed organisms, and long-term effects can result from changes to habitats and the food chain.

Half a century ago, Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ clearly revealed the far-reaching  environmental impact of pesticides, showing how some chemicals, organochlorines, a large  group of insecticides are highly persistent in the environment.

Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation–and Positive Strategies for Change

By Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever

Combining fascinating research with revealing commentary from hundreds of women, this groundbreaking book explores the personal and societal reasons women seldom ask for what they need, want, and deserve at home and at work–and shows how they can develop this crucial skill.

By neglecting to negotiate her starting salary for her first job, a woman may sacrifice over half a million dollars in earnings by the end of her career. Yet, as research reveals, men are four times more likely to ask for higher pay than are women with the same qualifications. From career promotions to help with child care, studies show time and again that women don’t ask–and frequently don’t even realize that they can. Women Don’t Ask offers real-life examples of the differences between the negotiating habits of men and women, and guides women in retooling their attitudes and approaches. Discover how to:

• Take the first step–choosing to negotiate at all
• Develop a comfortable, effective negotiation style
• Overcome fear, personal entitlement issues, and gender stereotypes

 

Urban Homesteading: Your Guide to Self Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City

Kelly Coyne
This celebrated, essential handbook shows how to grow and preserve your own food, clean your house without toxins, raise chickens, gain energy independence, and more. Step-by-step projects, tips, and anecdotes will help get you started homesteading immediately. The Urban Homestead is also a guidebook to the larger movement and will point you to the best books and Internet resources on self-sufficiency topics.

 

Green Washed: Why We Can’t Buy Our Way to a Green Planet
We will be joined by the author: Kendra Pierre-Louis!

Many of us have come to believe that the path to environmental sustainability is paved by shopping green. Although this green consumer movement certainly has many Americans consuming differently, it raises an important and rarely asked question—”is this consumption really any better for the planet?”

 

MOBY DUCK: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn

When Donovan Hohn heard of the mysterious loss of thousands of bath toys at sea, he figured he would interview a few oceanographers, talk to a few beachcombers, and read up on Arctic science and geography. But questions can be like ocean currents: wade in too far, and they carry you away.
What did EcoWomen think?

 

Miles From Nowhere by Barbara Savage
May 2012

This story chronicles the adventure of Larry and Barbara Savage’s grand bicycling tour of the world, where they learn to embrace mishaps and push themselves farther than believed possible.  In this lighthearted story, Savage and her husband experience the world from the seats of their bicycles – seeing a staggering 25 countries in two years.   Not only do they pedal around the world, but they learn things about each other and the incredible diversity of people they meet along the way.

What did Ecowomen think?

Letters from Yellowstone by Diane Smith
Book Club Discussion in March 2012

In the spring of 1898, A. E. (Alexandria) Bartram–a spirited young woman with a love for botany–is invited to join a field study in Yellowstone National Park. The study’s leader, a mild-mannered professor from Montana, assumes she is a man, and is less than pleased to discover the truth. Once the scientists overcome the shock of having a woman on their team, they forge ahead on a summer of adventure, forming an enlightening web of relationships as they move from Mammoth Hot Springs to a camp high in the backcountry. But as they make their way collecting amid Yellowstone’s beauty the group is splintered by differing views on science, nature, and economics.

What did EcoWomen think? 

Dirty Life: On Farming,  Food,  and Love
January 2012

“This book is the story of the two love affairs that interrupted the trajectory of my life: one with farming—that dirty, concupiscent art—and the other with a complicated and exasperating farmer.”
Single, thirtysomething, working as a writer in New York City, Kristin Kimball was living life as an adventure. But she was beginning to feel a sense of longing for a family and for home. When she interviewed a dynamic young farmer, her world changed forever.

What did EcoWomen think?

A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit
November 2011

In A Paradise Built in Hell, award-winning author Rebecca Solnit explores these phenomena, looking at major calamities from the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco through the 1917 explosion that tore up Halifax, Nova Scotia, the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. She examines how disaster throws people into a temporary utopia of changed states of mind and social possibilities, as well as looking at the cost of the widespread myths and rarer real cases of social deterioration during crisis. This is a timely and important book from an acclaimed author whose work consistently locates unseen patterns and meanings in broad cultural histories.

What did EcoWomen think?

Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.
September 2011

Merchants of Doubt tells the story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. Remarkably, the same individuals surface repeatedly—some of the same figures who have claimed that the science of global warming is “not settled” denied the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. “Doubt is our product,” wrote one tobacco executive. These “experts” supplied it.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
July 2011

Like many young Americans, Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between enthusiastic carnivore and occasional vegetarian. As he became a husband, and then a father, the moral dimensions of eating became increasingly important to him. Faced with the prospect of being unable to explain why we eat some animals and not others, Foer set out to explore the origins of many eating traditions and the fictions involved with creating them.Traveling to the darkest corners of our dining habits, Foer raises the unspoken question behind every fish we eat, every chicken we fry, and every burger we grill. Part memoir and part investigative report, Eating Animals is a book that, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, places Jonathan Safran Foer “at the table with our greatest philosophers.”

 

Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Mathai
May 2011 

In Unbowed, Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai recounts her extraordinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to the world stage. When Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, she began a vital poor people’s environmental movement, focused on the empowerment of women, that soon spread across Africa. Persevering through run-ins with the Kenyan government and personal losses, and jailed and beaten on numerous occasions, Maathai continued to fight tirelessly to save Kenya’s forests and to restore democracy to her beloved country. Infused with her unique luminosity of spirit, Wangari Maathai’s remarkable story of courage, faith, and the power of persistence is destined to inspire generations to come.

Travels With Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
March 2011

In September 1960, John Steinbeck and his poodle, Charley, embarked on a journey across America. A picaresque tale, this chronicle of their trip meanders along scenic backroads and speeds along anonymous superhighways, moving from small towns to growing cities to glorious wilderness oases. Travels with Charley is animated by Steinbeck’s attention to the specific details of the natural world and his sense of how the lives of people are intimately connected to the rhythms of nature – to weather, geography, the cycles of the seasons. His keen ear for the transactions among people is evident, too, as he records the interests and obsessions that preoccupy the Americans he encounters along the way.

Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard
January 2011

We have a problem with Stuff. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, we’re consuming 30 percent of the world’s resources and creating 30 percent of the world’s waste. If everyone consumed at U.S. rates, we would need three to five planets!

This alarming fact drove Annie Leonard to create the Internet film sensation The Story of Stuff, which has been viewed over 10 million times by people around the world. In her sweeping, groundbreaking book of the same name, Leonard tracks the life of the Stuff we use every day—where our cotton T-shirts, laptop computers, and aluminum cans come from, how they are produced, distributed, and consumed, and where they go when we throw them out. Like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, The Story of Stuff is a landmark book that will change the way people think—and the way they live.

Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman
November 2010

Friedman brings a fresh outlook to the crises of destabilizing climate change and rising competition for energy—both of which could poison our world if we do not act quickly and collectively. His argument speaks to all of us who are concerned about the state of America in the global future.Friedman proposes that an ambitious national strategy— which he calls “Geo-Greenism”—is not only what we need to save the planet from overheating; it is what we need to make America healthier, richer, more innovative, more productive, and more secure.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard
July 2010

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is a series of essays that combines scientific observation, philosophy, daily thoughts, and deeper introspection with glorious prose. On the surface, Annie Dillard is simply exploring a place called Tinker Creek and its inhabitants: “It’s a good place to live; there’s lots to think about.” But as her observations range well beyond the landscape into worlds of esoteric fact and metaphysical insight, each paragraph becomes suffused with images and ideas.Whether she is quoting the Koran or Albert Einstein, describing the universe of an Eskimo shaman or the mating of luna moths, Annie Dillard offers up her own knowledge with reverence for her material and respect for her reader. She observes her surroundings faithfully, intimately, sharing what can be shared with anyone willing to wait and watch with her. In the end, however, “No matter how quiet we are, the muskrats stay hidden. Maybe they sense the tense hum of consciousness, the buzz from two human beings who in silence cannot help but be aware of each other, and so of themselves.”

More Green Reading

Leo Hickman’s Top Green Books

Green (and Blue) reading from The Ocean Project

The Ocean Bookshelf from Deep Sea News

Professional Development Reading

Reading for Women in Leadership by the Turknett Group

Women Negotiating by Clarke and Shister

Leadership and Professional Development Books by Battley Performance Consulting

Smart Women Read Books from R. Obergefell and the Women’s Leadership Institute

Reading on Women, Power, Historical Politics from the International Museum of Women

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