13 captivating climate change novels

13 captivating climate change novels

In Reading Lists by G.G. Andrew

13 captivating climate change novels

While the topic of climate change and its repercussions can’t be consolidated into one convenient day a year, Earth Day is a good reminder to remain cognizant of our ever-changing planet. So we’ve compiled several thematic novels about or featuring elements of the environment that are difficult to put down — or stop thinking about afterwards. From eco-thrillers to fantasies set in the near future, the exciting stories below capture worlds where the climate has altered both the landscape and human lives.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

New York Times bestselling author Kingsolver is at her best with this novel which follows an unhappy farm wife in rural Tennessee who discovers a valley filled with monarch butterflies. But is the sight a miracle, a sign of environmental shifts, or something else entirely? Also available as an audiobook, this thought-provoking story offers reactions from the church, media, and ordinary townspeople all wrestling with their beliefs and the land around them.

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Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

In a post-apocalyptic Africa, Onye, a girl born out of violence, develops mystical powers to shapeshift, perform magic, and transport herself into the spiritual realm. But with her ability comes great danger and new enemies. You’ll be transfixed listening to Onye’s story, which has been optioned as an HBO television series with George R. R. Martin producing.

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The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

In a strange future where plagues are rampant, most plants are dead, and calories are scarce, Bangkok is home to both a man searching for rare food and an abandoned bio-engineered woman, among others. This novel, which won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards, follows the paths of these different citizens as they exist in a strange environment — and even stranger society.

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Thirst by Benjamin Warner

In the middle of a hot summer, all the drinking water in Eddie and Lauren’s community disappears. In the wake of this strange disaster, the two search for answers — and try to survive an increasingly desperate situation. You’ll want to keep a beverage nearby while reading this book, which Publishers Weekly hails for its “chillingly claustrophobic atmosphere in which everything in the outside world becomes a threat.”

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The Overstory by Richard Powers

Epic in scale, this Pulitzer Prize-winning audiobook offers interwoven stories of a group of people across time whose lives are affected in powerful ways by trees. Here trees are sources of comfort, inspiration, knowledge, and more, and many of the characters are eager to protect them from destruction. Both magical and thought-provoking, this climate change book is guaranteed to make you feel differently next time you stroll through a forest.

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Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

A science-fiction classic, this novel is set in a near-future rocked by climate change, disease, and the ravages of war. When her family is killed, Lauren — a young woman with an extraordinary ability to feel others’ pain — must learn to survive the harsh landscape. Whether you read the book or listen to the audiobook, it’s a memorable experience, along with a haunting cautionary tale.

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State of Fear by Michael Crichton

Hungry for an edge-of-your-seat climate change book? In this thriller, a group of eco-terrorists engineer natural disasters, threatening lives around the globe — and an environmental lawyer may be the only one who can stop them. You’ll burn through the pages of this novel so quickly, you may want the audiobook for when you’re in the car commuting to work.
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Tentacle by Rita Indiana

A Santo Domingo maid in a post-apocalyptic world is offered a chance to travel back in time and fix the planet. But to do so, she must get in touch with her gender identity through communing with a sea anemone. Bold and memorable, you won’t easily forget this novella that the Chicago Review of Books calls “a strange, unnerving, and at times beautiful book that critiques global inequality and the politicization of climate change.”

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The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Blending the supernatural with a compelling storyline, The Bone Clocks follows a teenage girl with psychic perception who gets caught in a battle between two groups with strange powers. Along the way, we’re treated to the perspectives of other characters across time — including those in an apocalyptic future. With several narrators reading this audiobook, it’s a rich listening experience.

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Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller

Whether you read the book or listen to the audiobook, you’ll be transported by this tale of a floating city in the Arctic Circle that is failing under the growing threat of crime, corruption, and disease. But when an enchanting woman arrives riding an orca, she inspires a group of citizens to take back their city, one act of resistance at a time.

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Trail of Lighting by Rebecca Roanhorse

This first in an action-packed supernatural series follows Maggie, a Navajo woman in a world where climate change caused rising waters to destroy much of the Earth — but allowed gods, monsters, and other creatures to return. Alongside a medicine man, Maggie must slay the monsters that threaten her reservation in this Hugo and Locus Award-winning novel which continues in Storm of Locusts.

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South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby

If you’re looking for a laugh, this comedy of errors set in Antarctica should do the trick. With her life in shambles, Cooper applies to live with a group of other quirky residents who fled to the South Pole Station. But the arrival of a scientist with controversial beliefs about climate change shakes up the community — and creates a global controversy.

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The Swan Book by Alexis Wright

In a world wrecked by climate change wars, Oblivia is rescued by a refugee woman who takes her to an Australian swamp and inspires her with stories about swans. But when Oblivia marries the country’s first Aborginal president, her life grows more complicated. Publishers Weekly praised the novel as one which “deftly highlights the racial and cultural politics facing Australia's indigenous people in a story that defies genre.”

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For more reading recommendations for nature lovers, check out the Books That are Love Letters to Earth list from our Scribd editors.

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About the Author: G.G. Andrew

G.G. is a freelance writer as well as an author of romance and women's fiction. A Texas transplant, she lives outside Houston with her husband and two sons, both of whom are on the autism spectrum. In her spare time, she enjoys browsing bookstores, yoga, paper crafts, themed food, swimming, and anything related to Halloween. She's probably drinking tea right now.
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