Now that the weather is changing and it’s pleasant to be out of doors again, I’m beginning to re-remember what a lovely part of the country we call home! Up until four years ago, I had only ever lived in one of those temperate, wet cities. You know, the ones with no seasons that are adamant about the fact that they DO have seasons (they don’t- “less rain” does not a season make). In Pennsylvania, we get to have a real summer- sticky afternoons filled with lush, exploding foliage; cooling evenings abuzz with lightning bugs and perfumed with grass clippings. And don’t get me wrong- nature is beautiful in the winter. There’s nothing quite as dazzling as a chilly blue morning, but, like most people, I’m much more willing to get outside in the summer than I am in the winter. This reawakened appreciation for nature combined with my current reading material- our upcoming book club selection, Jennifer Haigh’s Heat and Light (a small town saga which deals intimately with the ecological effects of fracking)- has got me thinking about environmental novels.
It goes without saying that if you’re going to read about the environment, especially if said writing figures in a contemporary setting, you’re bound to run into some scary ecological threats- things like fracking, deforestation, pollution, species extinction, and the like. The following books offer a literary lens through which to explore the natural world and the many threats it faces in our modern world:
Heat and Light
By Jennifer Haigh
DB 85894/CL 16523
In the town of Bakerton, Pennsylvania, which sits on top of the natural-gas-rich Marcellus Shale, prison guard Richard Devlin decides to sell his mineral rights to finance his dream. Meanwhile, his neighbors hold out against drilling, and his wife claims the water is poisoning their daughter. Some strong language. 2016.
By Annie Proulx
DB 85407/CL 16521
1693. Rene Sel and Charles Duquet arrive in New France and are committed to work for Claude Trepagny. Life in the northern woods is rough, and, through to the early twenty-first century, their descendants fight to better their lives. Some violence and some descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 2016.
By Barbara Kingsolver
DB 51048/CL 12893
At Zebulon Mountain in southern Appalachia, reclusive ranger Deanna Wolfe allows young hunter Eddie Bondo into her cabin and private space. In the valley two other women redefine their roles while championing ecological issues. Some explicit descriptions of sex and some strong language. Bestseller. 2000.