8 titles to inspire appreciation for Mother Earth

We can no longer play fast and loose with the only planet that can support life.

Take a leaf out of these books to make our world inhabitable again

Malaysian Nature Society


From tracking hornbills in the wild and fleeing from irate elephants to peeling fat leeches off one’s feet, conservation work is a field meant for the bravest and toughest. Ever since it was established in 1940, the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) has been a strong voice for the protection of our natural heritage, making a difference through environmental education and outreach. Thumb through articles by 82 contributors, with Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor (MNS’ longest-serving president), Geoffrey Davison, John Koh and Lee Su Win as editors. (shopmns.easy.co, RM180)


Hannah Gold

Rio has to stay with a grandmother he barely knows when his mother is hospitalised for a mental health intervention. Alone and adrift, he can only derive joy from the whale-watching trips with his new friend Marina and her dad. Gold is adept at describing the anguish of young carers, and also the magnificence of large cetaceans, whose presence Rio is able to sense before anyone else can. Dive into this lyrical page-turner, which illustrates the connection between a boy and the ocean’s most majestic creature, with strong ecological themes. (malaysia.kinokuniya.com, RM49.95)


Shaunna & John Stith

Before Earth Day was turned into an environmental movement, a massive oil spill put a spotlight on the dangers of pollution. In 1969, major petroleum explorer Union Oil leaked roughly three million gallons (equivalent to the volume of 4½ Olympic swimming pools) of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean, devastating sea habitats across 35 miles. This children’s book based on a real-life disaster is told through the eyes of a fictional hero named Sam, who will inspire readers of all ages to take action and preserve marine life. (bookdepository.com, RM134)


Johan Eklöf

When did you last revel in the glory of a night sky with the Milky Way gleaming gently between thousands of twinkling stars? Many urban inhabitants will probably answer “never”. Astronomers, concerned about the worsening implications of light pollution, started a “dark skies” initiative in the 1980s to curb excessive illumination that will endanger nocturnal wildlife. Eklöf, a Swedish bat scientist, joins the cause, chronicling how baby turtles are disorientated by bright glares of seaside developments and the way migratory birds are blinded by shiny skyscrapers when they fly in the dark. (malaysia.kinokuniya.com, RM99.90)


Greta Thunberg

At 20, this vocal activist who escalated the discourse around climate emergency is still attracting an army of obsessive detractors, including government bodies, who call her a hypocrite. Not one to cave in to political pressure, Thunberg takes on a curatorial role in her new book (whose release coincides with COP27), which features a supergroup of scientists, activists and authors, each of whom contributes a short essay about the hot mess we are in. Many choose to avoid climate news as they induce an overwhelming sensation of hopelessness, but this ironclad summary of our problems, combined with some credible remedies, serve as our best defence against despair. (malaysia.kinokuniya.com, RM133.87)


Peter Wohlleben

Ancient forests can save us if we let them. Coupled with an enlightening discovery about the social networks of trees and how they communicate, Wohlleben puts forth a searing critique of forestry management and exploitation. While politicians and business leaders would have us believe that cutting down forests can be offset by mass tree-planting campaigns, such acts will only lead to more ecological disasters as these trees with rocky foundations are more susceptible to disease, flooding, fires and landslides. (bookdepository.com, RM127.90)


Juli Berwald

Like fairy gardens bursting with colour and life, coral reefs are extraordinarily diverse, deeply interconnected and teeming with wonders. However, they are suffering from an unprecedented die-off, beset by warming oceans and pollution. This book is not just a polemic call to action but also a personal narrative that links Berwald’s journey of coral reef conservation to the trauma of coping with her teenage daughter’s struggle with overwhelming anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. (bookdepository.com, RM116.49)


George Black

The American War in Vietnam has left many indelible scars that have not yet been examined. Black, a British journalist living in New York, gathers his areas of expertise in international affairs and the environment to unravel a landscape littered with the detritus of war: scrap metal, unexploded ordnance, soil and water contaminated by herbicides that were dumped on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The book was published on the 50th anniversary of the day the last American combat soldier left Vietnam. (bookdepository.com, RM124.64)



This article first appeared on Apr 17, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.


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