My climate fiction reading list for 2024
A depressing reading list for a future worth living
First time here? Story Voyager is a climate fiction newsletter I email to subscribers. I am currently writing a cli-fi series, There Is Hope, about life on a planet devastated by climate change and the things that give people hope. Start by reading the first story, Human Island, here. Or you can dive into my narrative documentary about the history of climate change in the Holocene here.
Happy New Year, my dear story voyagers 🥳! I hope that you had an enjoyable holiday season with your loved ones. I’m back from a long awaited and much needed vacation and I’m ready to kickstart the year here on Story Voyager with my 2024 climate & fiction reading list.
One year ago, I shared for the first time my climate fiction reading list which got a great response from you in the comments section and helped me keep track of my cli-fi reading in2023. Last year, my reading list went out to 117 subscribers. This year, we are a community of more than 1750 story voyagers, and I hope some of you will find this reading list helpful.
We have a future worth living
In the 2015 Paris climate agreement, all nations agreed to make all necessary efforts to hold global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. By 2023, we had an average temperature 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than in pre-industrial times, we set the record for global fuel emissions, with CO2 emissions peaking at 424 ppm in May 2023 (vs. 280 in 1860), we witnessed the most climate extremes with July 2023 being the hottest month on record.
As we start a new year, we’re looking toward reaching a global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels between 2030 and 2035, with a 50% probability based on the current climate models. Why is the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold so critical? For the simple fact that beyond this threshold, it is harder to anticipate and handle the climate catastrophes caused by climate change.
However, there is still a window of opportunity for us to turn things around in the next six years and avoid reaching the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, given that the whole world takes swift action. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change created an overview of the actions we can take to reduce CO2 emissions in the short term. They also include the feasibility level of each potential action and the lifetime cost. There’s a potential to reduce 44% of CO2 emissions from food production, 67% from land transportation, and 66% from buildings alone by 2050.
Recently,wrote Why it’s hard for me to talk about climate change, an article about climate anxiety among the younger generations. At the end of her post, she mentions that Story Voyager and my ‘furious hope in the face of our current climate crisis’ inspired her to write about her grief. Her article is a raw and moving read, I highly recommend it.
A couple of years ago, I read for the first time that young people experience profound distress because of growing up with the threat of climate change, and it’s one of the main reasons why I decided to dedicate this newsletter to climate fiction. I noticed that a lot of adults have high hopes that the youth will save the planet from climate change, and I find it immoral and wrong to put this burden on the younger generations. As we grow older and the realities of adult life settle in, it’s hard to lose sight of the big picture. What do we leave behind for future generations? How do we contribute to bringing back hope to our youth?
As any psychologist will tell you, the antidote to anxiety is taking action. And what better way to do that than by reading a book and getting informed about climate change?
Want to do more? If you would like to take more action, I’m organizing a daily life project related to climate change in February, and this time, I invite you all to participate. Read until the end of this newsletter for more details.
My climate & fiction reading list for 2024
I selected the non-fiction climate books on this year’s list based on my research needs for two of my ongoing projects here on Story Voyager:
A narrative documentary series about the history of climate change in the Holocene. You can read the first two episodes here: The Great Dying and the Little Ice Age: Unraveling a climate mystery and Taming the ice: The climate power of ancient farmers.
The climate fiction books on this year’s list are a mix of recommendations that I received from you in the comments section of Story Voyager and other finds. I only have six out of twelve books on that list for now, and I would like your support in selecting the remaining six.
Below, I split the books into two categories:
Climate for the climate non-fiction reading list.
Fiction for the climate fiction or cli-fi reading list.
In the non-fiction category, I focused on themes that I wanted to research for my writing projects in 2024.
The treeline: The last forest and the future of life on earth by Ben Rawlence
For my third story in the series There Is Hope, I want to learn more about the Siberian taiga, the boreal forest biome that has survived several ice ages and might have something to teach us about coping with climate change.
For my fourth story in the series There Is Hope, I want to understand how the heat will shape our future and the main challenges of living on a significantly hotter planet.
The new climate war: The fight to take back our planet by Michael E. Mann
For my fifth and final story in the series There Is Hope, I want to dive into the murky waters of ‘fossil fuel companies, right-wing plutocrats and petrostates’ and their powerful grip on climate change.
Ecological imperialism: The biological expansion of Europe, 900-1900 by Alfred W. Crosby
The empire of cotton by Clovis D Rivers
Nomad century: How to survive the climate upheaval by Gaia Vince
For the third episode in my narrative documentary on climate change during the Holocene I want to understand how climate change during the Little Ice Age shaped our society and set the basis for the modern world. I also want to have a look at how climate change will reshape our world in the future.
The handbook of contemporary animism by Graham Harvey
Humankind: A hopeful history by Rutger Bergman
The dawn of everything: A new history of humanity by David Graeber, David Wengrow
A life on our planet: My witness statement and a vision for the future by David Attenborough
A world without us by Alan Weisman - this book was recommended by
Celeste Briefs author of- will I be able to read so many books?
Finally, for the fourth and last episode in my narrative documentary on climate change during the Holocene, I want to reflect on the future of humankind on this planet and our relationship with nature. I have technological animism on my mind.
So far, I have only six out of twelve books on my cli-fi list. Can you help me select the rest? I will add the selected books to this list, including the name of the person who recommended the book.
The great transition by Nick Fuller Googins
The future by Naomi Alderman
Seed by Rob Ziegler
How high we go in the dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu
The recognitions by William Gaddis, William H. Gass
Clade by James Bradley
Land of milk and honey by C Pam Zhang - this book was recommended byauthor of
Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson - this book was recommended byauthor of
The overstory by Richard Powers - this book was recommended byauthor of
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy - this book was recommended byauthor of
The deluge by Stephen Markley - this book was recommended byauthor of
The left hand of darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin - this book was recommended by- this is not a cli-fi book, blame Nathan!
What should I add to this list? Let me know in the comments! 👇
Announcement: A daily life project
Last year, I took on a challenge to shop for groceries plastic-free during the last three months of the year. It was not an epic failure, but I also cannot say that I am proud of the outcome of my challenge. To say that it was hard is an understatement. One month in, I had to adjust my initial plan and applied the challenge only to grocery shopping and not take away food. I also had difficulty sticking to plastic-free meals during my vacation, mainly because many places in Thailand still serve food and drinks in plastic containers even post-pandemic. I tried to avoid those places, but it wasn’t always easy.
I want to repeat the challenge in February for a whole month, and this time, I invite you to join me. We could do better together. I need support with learning about recyclable plastic—for example, how to recycle it—and generally what to do when I cannot buy certain foods because they are wrapped in plastic. I don’t want to travel to the end of the world to buy tofu or parmesan cheese not wrapped in plastic.
What do you say? Will you join me in this everyday life project to raise our awareness about the need to stop plastic pollution? I will kick start the challenge at the beginning of February with a newsletter and more details.
In the meantime, I hope you’re having a great start in the new year!
Story Voyager is where we explore climate change through the lens of climate fiction or cli-fi. Under the motto ‘travel your imagination’, we embark on a journey of reading, researching, writing, and exchanging ideas with like-minded people. Let’s change the narrative about the future of humankind together. If you’d like to support this space even more, please consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your financial support will go toward commissioning illustrations for my first cli-fi series, There Is Hope.