AP ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE READING LIST 2010
Some of these books came from an AP Environment list serve, some I have read, some friends have read, some I’ve
been meaning to read. Ones that I can be fairly assured are worthwhile (either read by me, personally recommended
to me, or from “Best Nature Books” lists) are in BOLD.
(If you find a book that you think is appropriate that is not on this list, feel free to ask me for permission to read that
Austin, Mary. Land of Little Rain.
The literary voice of the Owen’s Valley, Mary Austin was one of the first authors to breath life into desert
Abbey, Edward. Desert Solitaire. 1968.
Abbey, Edward. The Monkey Wrench Gang.
Abbey’s controversial novel about eco-terrorism inspired many activists and has drawn many critics.
Barker, Rodney. And the Rivers Turned to Blood. 1998.
This discusses toxic “red tides,” and Amazon.com reviewers loved it.
Barlow, Maude and Clarke, Tony. Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water. 2002.
Bonnann and Kellert. Ecology, Economics, Ethics: The Broken Circle. 1991.
Brouder, Paul. Outrageous Misconduct: The Asbestos Industry on Trial. 1985. Pantheon.
Brower, David. Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run.
Published just before his death, David Brower reflects on decades of controversial environmental activism.
Brown et al. Beyond Malthus: 19 Dimensions of the Population Challenge. 1999.
Brown, Kenneth. Four Corners: History, People and Land of the Desert Southwest. 1995.
Burger, Joanne. A Naturalist Along the Jersey Shore. 1996.
Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring, 1962 (1994)
This book is generally considered to have started the modern environmental movement.
Two more by Rachel Carson: The Sense of Wonder. The Edge of the Sea.
Chase, Alston. Playing God in Yellowstone: Destruction of America’s First National Park.
Chasek, Pamla. Global Environmental Politics. 2006
Colbert, Elizabeth. Field Notes of a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change. 2006
This will help you understand what climate change is all about…and may scare you
Cone, Marla. Silent Snow.: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic. 2005 Great book!
Cronon, William. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. 1984.
Davis, Devra Lee. When Smoke Ran Like Water: Tales of Environmental Deception and the Battle Against
De Graf, John. Affluenza. 2001.
- Affluenza is about the personal, social, economic, and environmental costs of over-consumption
Devall, Bill. Deep Ecology. 1985.A classic.
Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs and Steel. 1999.
Diamond shows how geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world…won the Pulitzer Prize.
Diamond, Jared, Collapse
Outstanding book about the collapse of civilizations due to human caused environmental problems!
Ehrlich, Paul. The Population Bomb. 1997.
Eldridge, Niles. Life in the Balance: Humanity and Biodiversity. 1998.
Fitgerald, Dawn. Julia Butterfly Hill: T Saving the Redwoods.
Story of a woman that lived in a redwood for 2 years to protect the old-growth forest from logging.
Ford, Daniel. Three Mile Island. 1982
Gore, Al. Earth in the Balance. 1992.
Graedel, Thomas, and Paul Crutzen. Atmosphere, Climate and Change. 1997.
Gray and Rosen. The Warning-Three Mile Island. 1982.
Grossman, Elizabeth. Watershed: The Undamming of America. 2002.
Harr, Jonathan. A Civil Action. 1995. (This was a recent major motion picture, but you need to read the book.)
Harris, David: The Last Stand : The war between Wall Street and Main Street over California’s ancient
Hawken, Paul, et al. Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. 1999.
“Save the Earth and make money doing it!” Is this a new model for saving the environment and jobs?
Heinberg, Richard. The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies. 2003.
Hill, Julia Butterfly. The Legacy of Luna. 2000 (Get a feel for “tree-sitter” activists
who sit up in the giant redwoods to protect them from loggers!)
Houle, Marcy. Prairie Keepers: Secrets of the Grasslands. 1996.
Leakey and Lewin. The Sixth Extinction. 1995.
Claiming that humanity is on the verge of causing a massive extinction of other species, the authors argue for a
drastic change in the ways in which we impact on the environment.
Lear, Linda. Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature. 1998.
Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac. 1949.
A classic, and a quick read.
Lichatowich, Jim. Salmon without Rivers: A History of the Pacific Salmon Crisis. 1999. LIBRARY
Lopez, Barry. Of Wolves and Men. 1978.
Lovins, Amory. The Negawatt Revolution. 1990.
Mason, Colin. The 2030 Spike: Countdown to Global Catastrophe. 2003.
•A good summary of how six environmental problems facing the world may combine together by 2030 to cause
disaster, as well as what should be done to avoid this fate.
Meadows, et al. Beyond the Limits.
McKibben, Bill. The End of Nature. 1990. A new classic.
McPhee, John. Encounters with the Archdruid. 1971.
John McPhee’s account of three “encounters” with the Sierra Club’s David Brower is extremely readable. Each
encounter is a multi-day journey with Brower, McPhee, and one of Brower’s probable enemies, such as a miner,
developer or dam-builder.
McPhee, John. The Control of Nature. 1990.
McPhee discusses the various ways humans have tried to control nature, including a fascinating section on the
debris basins of LA County.
Miller, Char.. Gifford Pinchot and the Making of Modern Environmentalism.
-Study of the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, and the creator of the management plan of the “The greatest
good for the greatest number in the long run.”
Muir, John. My First Summer in the Sierra. 1998 (reprint).
Norris, Jr. Hundley. The Great Thirst: Californians and Water-A History, Revised Edition 2001.
O’Conner, Geoffrey. Amazon Journal: Dispatches from a Vanishing Frontier. 1997
Olsen, Jack. The Night of the Grizzlies. 1969/1996.
Peterson, Rolf. Wolves of Isle Royale: A Broken Balance. 1995.
Pimm, Stuart. The World According to Pimm: A scientist audits the Earth. 2001
Plotkin, Mark. Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain
Pollen, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma. 2006 (This will make you never want to eat corn again! Haha! I
loved it! )
Pointing, Clive. A Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations. 1992.
Pyne, Stephen. Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire. 1997.
Quammen, David. The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions. 1997.
Quinn, Daniel. Ishmael. 1995 reissue. (I loved this book! It’s a novel but will get you
Ray, Janisse. Ecology of a Cracker Childhood. 2000.
Reisner, Marc. Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water. 1986. (If you didn’t already read…
Reisner, Marc. A Dangerous Place: California’s Unsettling Fate. 2003 This outstanding book traces the history of
development in California and scientifically predicts the aftermath of a 7.2 Earthquake in San Francisco.
Revkin, Andrew. The Burning Season: The Murder of Chico Mendes and the Fight for the Amazon Rain Forest.
Scarce, Rick. Eco-warriors: Understanding the Radical Environmental Movement. 1990.
Schaller, George. The Last Panda. 1994
Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. 2001.
Shabecoff, Phillip. A Fierce Green Fire: The American Environmental Movement. Revised 2003.
Steinberg, Ted. Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History. 2002.
Steinbeck, John. Log from the Sea of Cortez. 1941
Steingraber, Sandra. Living Downstream: Cancer and the Environment. 1998.
Suzuki, David. The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature. 1998..
Terborgh, John. Where Have all the Birds Gone? 1989.
Wackernagel and Rees. Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth. 1995.
Ward, Diane Raines. Water Wars: Drought, Flood, Folly, and the Politics of Thirst. 2002.
Wargo, John. Our Toxic Legacy: How Science and Law Fail to Protect us from Pesticides. 1996.
Wessels, Tom. Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England.
Each chapter of this book starts with a drawing of a forest scene, and then Wessels describes all that can be learned
about that ecosystem (and it’s past) by the careful observer. Fascinating.
Weisman, Alan. The World Without Us. 2007 (Makes you see how things would be without
us on the planet)
Wilkinson, Charles. Crossing the Next Meridian: Land, Water, and the Future of the West. 1993.
Wilson, Duff. Fateful Harvest: The Story of a Small Town, a Global Industry, and Toxic Secret. (Pulitzer Prize
Wilson, Edward O. (anything by E.O. Wilson)
Biodiversity. 1989. The Diversity of Life. 1993. The Naturalist. 1994. Sociobiology. 1975.