Some good books that would go well for that age group would be:
Silent Springs- Rachael Carson
Food Inc. (the book of course)
Omnivore’s Dilemma- Michael Pollan
In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto- also, Michael Pollan
The World without Us- Alan Weisman
I really like the book “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan. It is a super easy read, yet highly informative. The book provides readers with simple life-long changes they can make in their diet, which could lead to a longer, healthier lifestyle. I just recently turned twenty and loved the book. There is so much nutrition information out there, which at times can be hard to sift through. “Food Rules” provided a simplistic approach on what really is important.
Some of the recommendations already made are great ones, particularly Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. Hers is a seminal work in environmentalism and is the book that really sparked my interest in environmental writing.
Here are a few others your teenagers might enjoy (some of these might be better suited for mature readers – I’ll mark those with a bold M):
– Desert Solitaire – Edward Abbey (M – for some language and radical ideas)
– The Monkey-Wrench Gang – Edward Abbey (M – more adult oriented, if your kids are in their late teens, this is a fantastic novel about an unlikely gang of four people who sabotage developing plans in the American Southwest)
– Reinventing Eden: The Fate of Nature in Western Culture – Carolyn Merchant
– Gaia Girls: Enter the Earth – Lee Welles – This, I admit, is a children’s novel but it can (and should) be enjoyed by all audiences. Highly recommended.
– Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer – This is an excellent study of the meat industry in America. Addresses the problems that industry farming poses on our environment. Be forewarned, may affect your family’s consumption of meat. This is a good book to read before or after reading Michael Pollan’s work.
I just wanted to second eaiello1086’s answer and say that Edward Abbey’s work is great for older teens—my brother went through a big Abbey phase when he was a senior in high school and is still fascinated by his work. The Monkey Wrench Gang is cleverly written and would greatly appeal to a teenager who might not be as interested in learning about the environment and conservation as he or she is in learning about rebels and people who stand out from the norm.
I really liked “Our Choice” by Al Gore. Unsurprisingly it can be dense in places, but it’s also an excellent stating point for entering the often daunting sphere of climate change information. Gore’s tone is approachable, and he generally avoids the pedantic tone that is sometimes (understandably) present in similar titles. Plus, depending on the age of your teenager, there is also a “young readers” edition available, developed specifically for children under 14 years. If it’s not available in your library or local bookstore, you can buy either copy from your preferred online book store (the Amazon link is included below).
The book’s cover:
Anything by Michael Pollan is great. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto is an amazing book, and very easy to understand. Here is a list of other books:
1. Bottomfeeder by Taras Grescoe
2. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
3. 50 Ways to Save the Ocean by David Helvarg
4. Green to Gold by Daniel Esty and Andrew Winston
To add to what jessthemess suggested, I read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma for school when I was 17. If it was not required, I probably would not have finished it as it can be slow at parts. Four years later, however, I can say that book changed my life. It changed what I choose to study, how I eat, my lifestyle, and my work.
On another note, I have some additional ideas, which I guess would work for any age:
1. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes and Eric M. Conway will settle any doubts one could have about the validity of global warming. It also helps to explain how scientific proof can be dismantled by politicians and media, which is valuable knowledge.
2. A Language Older Than Words by Derrick Jensen is highly recommened by myself and everyone I know who has read it. However, it begins with a sad story of abuse from the author, which is of course relevant to his ideas, but is slightly graphic.
3. The book Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken is a good introduction to the green movement as it is taking shape today. His stories of grassroots efforts are moving and inspiring.
Dont Eat This Book: Fast Food and the Supersizing of America by Morgan Spurlock is an easy-to-read, very engaging book. It really opened my mind to the economic, environmental, and health dangers of the fast food industry both in America and in all the countries it is spreading to. I couldn’t put it down! It will definitely make your teenager think before he eats a big mac or drinks a Coke!
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