The best environmental books we’ve read in 2023

Best Environmental Books of 2023

This is the eighth year that we’ve gathered together a list of our favorite books from the past 12 months. Seeing this list makes me appreciate what EcoLit Books has accomplished over the years — drawing attention to authors and presses you might not read about in the more mainstream publications. But that’s what we’re all about — reading like you give a damn.

We hope you enjoy the reviews and that you support these amazing writers. And, if you’d like to purchase any of these books, we’ve created a list on, which helps support this blog.

See you next year…

Nicole Emanuel

NICOLE EMANUEL is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Her work brings together animal studies, weird studies, queer ecology, and other interdisciplinary fields. She earned an MA at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 2021 and completed a double major in Biology and English at Macalester College in 2016.

Solastalgia: An Anthology of Emotion in a Disappearing World ed. by Paul Bogard

Environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht coined the word “solastalgia” to name an emotion he felt English had inadequate words to describe. He defines it as “the homesickness we feel while still at home” or “the pain or distress caused by the ongoing loss of solace and the sense of desolation connected to the present state of one’s home and territory.”

In Solastalgia: An Anthology of Emotion in a Disappearing World, thirty-four different authors offer up brief meditations on their affective responses to climate change. The contributions include lyric poetry, first-person essays, and many forms that hybridize across genres. They dwell in moments of rage, grief, awe, terror, and ecstasy experienced while the authors bear witness to transformations wrought by hurricanes and forest fires, as well as much quieter events unfolding in their daily lives, such as picking black raspberries for a loved one or watching a child experience ocean waves for the first time. Editor Paul Bogard writes in his introduction that part of his intention in gathering these pieces was “to argue that in order to take effective action we must be willing to engage with our emotions; and—especially—to offer the reader our company, to give them evidence that they are not alone with their feelings.” By exploring such a rich array of viewpoints and reactions to the multifarious impacts of long term environmental change, Solastalgia has the capacity to make just about any reader, whoever and wherever there are, feel a little less alone.


JoeAnn Hart

JoeAnn Hart is the author of the prize-winning collection of short fiction, Highwire Act & Other Tales of Survival, from Black Lawrence Press. Other books include the novel Float, which swirls around conceptual art, bankruptcy, and plastics in the ocean, and Stamford '76, A True Story of Murder, Corruption, Race, and Feminism in the 1970s.

Query, a Novel by Zella Novikov

Query, a Novel, is snack-sized, but it took me a while to read because I kept laughing coffee out of my nose and onto the page, the best recommendation I can give for a book. When I wasn’t cleaning up coffee or phlegm, I’d pause for hours at a time to bleakly stare out the window and reflect on whether writing was the best use of my life. Oughtn’t I to be out trying to save the world from the coming climate apocalypse? Can I do both? Between the lines of these query letters, where “Zilla Novikov” tries to find an agent for her “post-modern eco-fiction novel,” you can watch the author Zilla Novikov wrestle with these bigger issues.


Lillie Gardner

Lillie Gardner is a writer based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her work has been published in Quail Bell Magazine, Delmarva Review, Long River Review, and more. She's also an essays reader for Hippocampus Magazine and a contributor at Feminist Book Club.

A Darker Wilderness, ed. by Erin Sharkey

New this year from Milkweed Editions is a must-read essay collection of powerful Black nature writing. Originated and edited by Erin Sharkey, A Darker Wilderness: Black Nature Writing from Soil to Stars is a stunning and needed anthology. These essays by eleven contemporary writers address the presence of Black people and their contributions not only to the literary field of nature writing, but to America’s relationship with nature itself—which is complicated at best. Sean Hill pinpoints the crux of the problem in his essay “This Land is My Land”: “This land was stolen, as were my ancestors.”


Christopher Lancette

Christopher Lancette is a Maryland-based freelance writer focused largely on nature, the environment, and books. He has written for more than 50 national and local publications ranging from Biography, DC Theater Arts and Entrepreneur to Fine Books & Collections, Salon, and the Washington Independent Review of Books. He has also served as a communications manager for The Trust for Public Land and a communications director at The Wilderness Society. He spends much of his time on his passion project at Follow him on Twitter @chrislancette.

Following Jesus In A Warming World: A Christian Call To Climate Action by Kyle Meyaard-Schaap

My climate change question to my evangelical Christian friends is always this: “If you believe that God created Earth and all living things, why are you so hell-bent on destroying them?”

I rarely get much of an answer. Silence, mostly — which is something that Reverend Kyle Meyaard-Schaap can relate to when he poses the same question.

But unlike people on the receiving end of the query, he is unafraid to answer: The genesis of his environmentally ambivalent to hostile views toward climate change and protecting the planet formed in his own Christian church and its accompanying religious right political bent.


Bill Streever

Bill Streever, a biologist, is the award winning and bestselling nature writer behind In Oceans Deep, Cold, Heat, and And Soon I Heard a Roaring Wind. Mary Roach, writing for The New York Times Book Review, called his writing a “love song to science and scientists, to Earth and everything that lives on and flies over and tunnels underneath it.”  

The Parrot and the Igloo by David Lipsky

This is a book that should be read by anyone working or intending to work in the sciences if for no other reason than its portrayal of the nasty drawn-out personal battles that often confront practitioners.  But more importantly, it is a book that should be read by just about everyone else. 


Midge Raymond

Midge Raymond is a co-founder of Ashland Creek Press. She is the author of the novel My Last Continent and the award-winning short story collection Forgetting English. Her forthcoming books are Devils Island, coauthored with John Yunker, and Floreana, coming in 2025.

Justice for Animals: Our Collective Responsibility by Martha Nussbaum

As with so many books about the plight of animals in today’s world, Martha C. Nussbaum’s Justice for Animals: Our Collective Responsibility needs to be read most of all by those who eat animals, visit zoos, buy puppies, and so on — in other words, those who may not realize (or who don’t wish to see) the horrific conditions in which so many animals in our society live. Yet Justice for Animals is also a hopeful and galvanizing book for anyone who deeply cares about animals.


Jacki Skole

Jacki Skole is a writer, communications professor, aspiring yogi and dog lover. Dogland: A Journey to the Heart of America's Dog Problem is her first book.

Pod: A Novel by Laline Paull

Pod is the coming-of-age story of Ea, a female spinner dolphin whose actions result in family tragedy and self-exile. In the vast ocean, danger confronts Ea everywhere, as she faces the horrors of sexual violence, animal cruelty, overfishing, and climate change. Laline Paull has brought to life a story that is as devasting as it is hopeful. And it will likely come as no surprise that her underwater world, in all its terror and triumph, is a reflection of our own. 

(A full review will be online at EcoLit Books in January.)  


John Yunker

John is co-author, with Midge Raymond, of Devils Island, forthcoming in 2024. He is also author of the novels The Tourist Trail and  Where Oceans Hide Their Dead. Co-founder of Ashland Creek Press and editor of Writing for Animals (also now a writing program).

Sea Change: An Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean, by Christina Gerhardt

Some atlases grace coffee tables and are rarely opened. But I suspect this book would not gather dust, and that’s a good thing as it deserves a wide audience. I guarantee anyone who reads it will come away with a better understanding of the world’s many islands and a desire to do something about protecting them.


Crossings: How Road Ecology is Shaping the Future of Our Planet, by Ben Goldfarb

In Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet author Ben Goldfarb shines a light on the millions of animals who perish on our roads. 

There are four million miles of paved roads in the US, on which a million animals die each year. Goldfarb notes the tragic irony of our road building, how we humans often followed in the paths forged by migrating animals. Is it any wonder these paved roads have led to many conflicts with the creators?


Previous lists…

The best environmental books we’ve read in 2022

The best environmental books we’ve read in 2021

The best environmental books we’ve read in 2020

The best environmental books we’ve read in 2019

The best environmental books we’ve read in 2018

The best environmental books we’ve read in 2017

The best environmental books we’ve read in 2016

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