It can be difficult to know where to start when trying to understand the climate crisis, and some books on the topic feel overwhelming. Here are The Climate’s end of year recommendations…

The future we choose

by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac

Words by Tom Howarth

While this book was published back in 2020, it remains a must-read for just about everyone on our planet in 2023. The book is written by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, who both played critical roles in brokering the 2015 Paris Agreement as UN Executive Secretary and Chief Political Strategist respectively. 

If, like me, you’re a fan of realistic climate optimism and pragmatism, then this book is for you. 

The book pivots around two juxtaposing possibilities for our future. It begins by setting out the hellish scenario that awaits us if we fail to halt global warming. The dystopian future that awaits us, according to science, is set out in plain, unfiltered language.

But then the book moves on to tell a tale of a world where humanity lives in balance with our planet. A world of clean air to breathe, greater equity between the Global North and South and a real opportunity for change. 

In the climate fight, it’s important to keep both these scenarios in your mind’s eye. The future might look scary, but a green revolution is also a great hope for something better.

The book finishes by presenting the reader with 10 actions we should all take in the fight against climate change. Individual action can sometimes feel futile in the face of government or corporate indifference, but these feel genuine and uncondescending. Take them as lessons for life, rather than the whole solution. 

Figueres and Rivett-Carnac do a great job of leaving the reader feeling inspired to take action without greenwashing the hard truths away. An important book that we should all take the time to read.


by Sadiq Khan

Words by Seb Lowe

Khan is a true climate leader. This book explains the rationale behind London’s ULEZ policy, showcasing how interrelated climate issues often are with issues of social justice. 

The Mayor of London presents compelling arguments in support of the policy, whilst acknowledging that there will be winners and losers. Evidence-based public policy making should be celebrated in a time of populism, where politicians seek to exploit complex problems such as the climate crisis with unattainable, overly simplistic yet electorally popular solutions. 

Khan embraces the challenge of climate change and shows that it can be a vote winner when done well. This is a must read for those interested in social policy.

Pink Slime 

by Fernanda Trías

Words by Charlotte Hall

An unnatural fog covers an unnamed South American seaside town. From it, Fernanda Trías’ novel Pink Slime emerges with a haunting familiarity, as an unnamed protagonist comes to terms with the ecological crisis and a lethal pandemic that has gripped her hometown. 

Trías’ dystopian tale is devastatingly beautiful and personal. Unlike much of the eco-fiction genre, which likes to dramatise the disintegration of the natural world and society, Pink Slime plots out an individual’s relationship with the fragile ‘new normal’ that has settled into the ruins. But how does an individual come to terms with the un-understandable? And what is keeping her in this crisis-ravaged place? 

This book is brilliant for fiction lovers looking for a literary way to process their own eco-anxiety. Despite writing pre-covid, Trías captures the claustrophobia and magnified significance of small details of the lockdown era. While this makes for eerie reading at times, the end result is cathartic, as both the ecological and interpersonal crises of the character’s life come to a head. 

The English translation of the book by Heather Cleary only came out in August this year, so might be tricky to get second hand. But it should be available to order in paperback for £11-12.99 from your local independent book shop. 

It’s not just you

by Tori Tsui 

Words by Jake Tapping

“It’s Not Just You,” by Tori Tsui, skillfully explores the widely acknowledged concept of ‘eco-anxiety’—a term that has become well known for discussing the detrimental effects of the climate emergency on our mental well-being. Tsui takes a transformative approach, urging readers to view eco-anxiety just as  a buzzword but as an urgent mental health crisis demanding immediate attention, as part of her call to action. 

Tsui draws on insights from environmental advocates worldwide, and she sheds light on the profound interconnectedness between climate-related mental health struggles and broader societal issues. Through her lens of eco-activism pioneers, the book compellingly argues that the battle against climate-related mental health challenges extends far beyond environmental concerns. It is a multifaceted struggle intricately woven into systems of racism, sexism, ableism, and, most of all, capitalism. 

The book has its accessibility at heart and whether you work in a climate related field, psychology or just want to explore the bridge between climate change and mental health, then it introduces the topic well.  It also explores other aspects of the climate crisis as Tsui brings in thoughts on how marginalised and indigenous communities are at the frontline of our climate crisis, but the impact on their mental health goes unnoticed in mainstream media. 

Finally, this book passionately notes that addressing both the climate crisis and mental health struggles needs a fundamental shift in perspective—one that embraces diversity and champions community-led initiatives. “It’s Not Just You” serves as a powerful reminder that the path to resolution lies in broadening our horizons and dismantling the prevailing narratives, forced by the capitalist system.

The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene 

by Simon L. Lewis and Mark A. Maslin

Words by Oli Tufft

This book focuses on humanity’s influence on the planet through a scientific lens, particularly within the geologic record. The authors adeptly convey how, by examining the fossil record, future civilizations could discern the timeline and duration of our species’ impact on the Earth. This perspective adds a fascinating layer to our understanding of the Anthropocene epoch, underscoring the significance of our actions in shaping the geological history of the planet.

The book meticulously traces our journey as a species, evolving from hunter-gatherers to agriculturalists, and progressing through various economic and social paradigms, including mercantile, industrial, and consumerist capitalism. By doing so, Lewis and Maslin offer readers a comprehensive view of the multifaceted ways in which we have transformed the environment throughout the ages. The narrative navigates the complexities of our societal evolution, providing a nuanced understanding of the interconnectedness between human development and environmental impact.

Whether buying as a present or for yourself, consider buying second hand for a lower impact on the planet.