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The BookShelf features monthly reviews of the latest environmental and energy books of interest to journalists, as well as an occasional question-and-answer in which published authors offer insight into the motivations behind their work and provide advice to environmental reporters and writers.

For questions and comments, or to suggest future BookShelf reviews, or to offer to review a book, email the SEJournal BookShelf Editor Tom Henry at thenry@theblade.com.


May 29, 2024

  • With her new memoir, “The Exvangelicals,” NPR correspondent Sarah McCammon, a one-time, award-winning environmental reporter, may not have written a book directly about environmental issues. Instead, writes BookShelf editor Tom Henry, her highly personal story about religion, science and betrayal offers an important, if indirect, message to those on the environment beat seeking to understand the faith community. Read his review.

April 24, 2024

  • As human roadways sprawl across a global network, the planet’s other living things have not only found the vehicles that travel them among the world’s deadliest weapons but also that road noise, the impassable divisions of the landscape and more have massive implications for nature. BookShelf reviews Ben Goldfarb’s eye-opening new book, “Crossings,” and the realities of road ecology.

February 28, 2024

  • A new book makes the case that U.S. cities have had their environments, their housing and their businesses warped by parking policies. BookShelf contributor Jennifer Weeks, who shares her own parking-related frustrations, explores the arguments made in “Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World,” and also takes a look at what the author sees as “parking-light” solutions.

January 31, 2024

  • The climate change debate is often so focused on fossil fuels and mining that it ignores impacts in economic, political, neo-colonial and social terms, writes BookShelf’s Melody Kemp in her review of “Carbon Colonialism: How Rich Countries Export Climate Breakdown.” Why concepts like corporate social responsibility do little to stem the losses that come with such development.

January 3, 2024

  • Toilet-to-tap water jokes aside, the technology and economics of turning sewage into potable drinking water is increasingly seen as a remedy for water-stressed communities. The new BookShelf review of “Purified: How Recycled Sewage is Transforming Our Water,” explains how water shortages, climate change, unsustainable growth and other factors have led some communities, most recently Los Angeles, to consider going “all in” on purified wastewater.

November 29, 2023

  • To make climate change less abstract and more direct, writer Madeline Ostrander traveled the country to speak to those living with its impacts in the places they call home. In a BookShelf “Between the Lines” Q&A, Ostrander discusses her resulting book, “At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth,” and addresses the lenses she used, the characters she portrayed and the surprises she encountered.

October 25, 2023

  • Leading water expert Peter Gleick’s new book on water’s past, present and future is an ambitious volume that offers a panoramic look at this essential resource — and hope for living in harmony with it in the future. BookShelf Editor Tom Henry calls “The Three Ages of Water” a rare book of breadth and depth, part history and part sustainable remedy. Read his review.

September 27, 2023

July 26, 2023

  • A new book takes readers around the planet to better understand the world’s eight bear species and our relationships with them, including not just how we’ve popularized some but also the many ways we’ve mistreated or pushed others to the brink of extinction. In the new BookShelf, Frances Backhouse reviews Gloria Dickie’s just-published volume, “Eight Bears.” Plus, Freelance Files interviews Dickie.

June 14, 2023

  • When most people think of coastal tourist destinations, they imagine beaches lined by palm trees and exclusive resorts. But those are exactly the kind of realities that contribute to the environmental and economic decline of coastal communities and their local residents, argues a new book. Contributing Editor Jenny Weeks has our review in the new BookShelf.

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