Recommended reading

Whether you are just getting started in your clean energy or sustainability career or you have been working for years, it is important to keep up to date on what is happening in the business. If you are signed up for the email list, you know that ever week I include recommended articles, but if you are like me, sometimes you just want a good book. This list includes a couple of books that have helped me along the way over the course of my career and life as a reader. 

Please note that I use affiliate links on this website and may receive compensation if you purchase using these links. If you want to support me, but none of these books appeal to you, you can buy other books through my bookshop at and I will receive a small commission. I recommend a couple of other books there, both fiction and non-fiction. I choose to use instead of Amazon because Jeff Bezos has enough money, thank you very much.

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken (editor). If you are trying to find your place in the world of climate solutions, this is a good place to look. This book is a collection of solutions to the climate crisis, and may give you an idea of how and where you can contribute your talents. 

Short Circuiting Policy: Interest Groups and the Battle Over Clean Energy and Climate Policy in the American States by Leah Stokes, Ph.D. 

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis. Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson. An inspiring book about dealing with the emotional impacts of the climate crisis and inspiration for doing the hard work to get us through it. 

The book that started it all for me is Getting Green Done by Auden Schendler. Before I started my sustainability career path, I lived in the mountains of Colorado and spent most of my free time snowboarding or mountain biking. This is relevant, because Schendler is the Sustainability Director for Aspen Ski Company. When I first started down this path, I hoped to land a similar position. While my goals have changed, this book will always be meaningful to me. Schendler has a new book on corporate sustainability that will be published in November 2024, called Terrible Beauty: Reckoning with Climate Complicity and Rediscovering Our Soul. Check it out and consider pre-ordering a copy, as I have done.  

Another foundational text for anyone who wants to work in this space is Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era by Amory Lovins. Amory founded the Rocky Mountain Institute (now RMI) along with Hunter Lovins. Lovins is often credited with inventing the term “negawatt” which is short hand for energy use avoided thanks to energy efficiency. Amory Lovins’ insight that people don’t care that much about energy, "they just want cold beers and hot showers," is a good quote to keep in mind when thinking about energy sources and energy use. Hunter Lovins co-authored Natural Capitalism, along with Paul Hawken and Amory Lovins.

If none of those books interest you, here are a couple of others that I’ve found useful:

The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability, Designing for Abundance by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman–Including 10 More Years of Business Unusual by Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia). 

The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and our Energy Future, by Gretchen Bakke, Ph.D.

Superpower: One Man’s Quest to Transform American Energy by Russell Gold. For those interested in renewable energy development and the transmission lines that must be built to connect it to the load centers. 

For climate fiction, I’m a huge fan of Kim Stanley Robinson. His Ministry for the Future starts out in the near future and very darkly, but offers a hopeful perspective in the end. It applies some of the technological, cultural, and economic ideas of his earlier works to a modern-ish day earth grappling with the implications of climate change. His Hugo Award winning Mars trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) explores the technology and ethics of terraforming Mars. This is one of Robinson’s early works and he eventually turns away from the vision of exploring the solar system to focusing on the impact of climate change here on Earth. The Mars Trilogy offers an interesting exploration of alternatives to capitalism, and looks at how technology might evolve. Themes from the Mars Trilogy repeat in his later works, which are focused on Earth. New York 2140 explores what life in a flooded New York City might look like for its residents. I found the book interesting for applying some of Robinson’s ideas about technological adaptations to climate change to life in 22nd century New Yorks.