Updated: Oct 25, 2020
Book & Film Recommendations by Students
What We Read When We Don't Zoom
Recommended by Solveig Granberg:
Havboka (Shark Drunk), Morten Strøksnes, 2015 A story about trying to catch a greenland shark in a small rubber dinghy in the north of Norway, sprinkeled with a lot of fun facts and old myths about the ocean. A good introduction to how climate change affects the ocean and the life dependent on it (which in the end is all life). Your inner fish, Neil Shubin, 2009 An easy-to-read book on how closely related humans are to fish, with a lot of interesting illustrations of this (for example how a shark embryo is almost identical to a human one)
The deep, Claire Nouvian, 2007 Claire Nouvian is a journalist and environment activist, and has in this book made a collection of stunning and sometimes terrifying photographs and texts about 200 different deep sea creatures. The book also sheds light on the issues of deep sea trawling, among other things. If you are interested in life in the ocean, I also recommend checking out Jean Painlevé (1902-1989) and his poetic underwater films, portraying octopuses and seahorses almost as if they have human traits. His motto was "science is fiction", and he wanted to make science more entertaining and informal. There's also a new movie on Netflix right now called My octopus teacher (2020) about a man who becomes "friends" with a wild octopus, and visits her everyday for a year
Recommended by Ådne Sandvik Dyrnesli
Ecology, Community and Lifestyle, Arne Næss, 1974
To solve the climate crisis we have to change the way we think. This book is surprisingly modern, even though it's written in 1974. I talked about the fact that we confuse abstract numbers and scales (meters, celcius etc.) for the truth, while he argues that everyones perception of the world is true, in relation to them. It's a long and sometimes complex book, but he explains most of it in a very pedagogic and understandable way. It made me change the way I see and experience the world, and I think everyone should read it at least once.
A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity, William S. Copperwaite, 2002
A book about living simply, about making things with your hands and about quality of life. Copperwaite argues that to live less watefull you should have few things, but the things you do have you should love. If you have something you really like, you take good care of it. A great book for anyone interested in crafts, sustainability or
Recommended by Alexander Hamish Millar:
The Spell of The Sensuous, David Abram, 1996
David Abram is an ecologist and philosopher, and his writings in this book range from philosophy to personal accounts of travels to indigenous tribes and lands in Australia and elsewhere. The main topic is how technologies, symbolism and language has evolved from an early, direct relationship to the natural landscape, to an abstract system of signs, that causes our alienation from the natural world; how animist cultures foster a more spiritual and symbiotic relationship with the life-giving earth. He writes about Heidegger's theories of time, Merleau Ponty's Phenomenology, and many other things in insightful and accessible ways.
Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer, 2005
Someone else mentioned that they were reading this, and it is in the reading list. Perhaps the extra recommendation is ok. It is a very weird science fiction (also called 'climate-fiction') in which an unknown even occurs on the west coast of America (I think). The event causes an expanding area of wilderness in which strange anomalies occur that evade scientific attempts at understanding. The scientists merge with the non-human life in monstrous and uncanny ways, with time-slippage and doppelgangers on top of it all. The film was ok, (you can find it on Netflix) but the book is way better!
The Word for World is Forest, Ursula K Le Guin, 1976
I also recommend The Dispossessed that Unn suggested, but this is also one by her that I really enjoyed. It includes the destruction and enslavement of the forest and native culture on a planet called Ashthe, by a human-like colonizing people called Terrans. The native people have an animist practice called 'dreamtime', reminiscent of Aboriginal songlines, like the themes discussed by David Abram. One of the natives leads a revolt against the colonizers, going against his peaceful culture
Psychoanalysis and Ecology at The Edge of Chaos, Joseph Dodds, 2011
I had a pdf of this one (attached). Only just started it, so can't say a huge amount other than what I have read has been hugely insightful - mostly chapter 9 which discusses the monster, and becoming-animal, in relation to psychoanalysis and ecopsychology. Seems like a treasure trove of philosophy and theory pertaining to eco-anxiety, ecology, time, and lots of other things.
Nature's Queer Performativity, Karen Barad
Solveig you mentioned Karen Barad also. I have read several of her essays that are really fascinating. This one discusses Judith Butler's theories of gender performativity in relation to causation in naturally occurring phenomena, such as lighting strikes, and the extra powerful smell of Hammerhead sharks (if I remember correctly). Her ability to relate quantum non-locality to these situations is also fascinating, showing how things - animals, humans, environment - are entangled in far more complex ways than we can imagine.
Recommended by Unn Devik:
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Hayao Miyazaki, 1982-1994
The manga behind the animated feature film with the same title, offers a longer and more in-depth account of this post-apocalyptic medieval universe where human activity has changed most of the world´s ecosystems and made them inhabitable - for humans. As we were speaking earlier of allegories, the human condition, memory and history, this work is an interesting attempt at creating a larger epic about human's neglect of nature in the face of private interest and power, despite their entwined destiny or co-existence. The story follows the princess Nausicaa as she is made to lead her people, as the first female, at a time of outmost uncertainty. War is coming and the toxic ecosystem, called the Sea of Corruption is spreading its spores closer to the Valley of the Wind.
The Dispossessed, Ursula Le. Guin, 1974
A sci-fi classic, that some of you might already have heard of or read. A group of humanoids from Urras, a fertile planet rich in natural resources, decide to leave their home behind. The reason is that they oppose against the current capitalist, patriarchal reign on Urras. They follow an anti-authoritarian ideology called Odonianism and decide to move to the moon Anarres, in the same orbit as Urras. The moon is habitable, but the resources are scarce. Several generations after the exodus, we follow the Anarresti Physicist Shevek as he is drawn to the restricted knowledge of Urras´s scientific heritage. The book poses many interesting and conflicting questions around suppression, distribution and extraction of natural resources, intelligence, the limits of science, politics, happiness, despair, and hope.
Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why we Need Insects, Ane-Sverdrup Thygeson, 2019
Fascinating book about insects and their ecosystems, easy to read, deep in knowledge and clearly manifesting the urgent importance of biodiversity for the survival of the 6-legged species.
To The River, Olivia Liang, 2011
Meandering between her own life, literature, history, geology, the life of Virginia Woolf and the river Ouse, Liang, a self-proclaimed hydrophilic composes a unique ode to water. At least in the first part of the book (for a non-scientist) art and science intersect so seamlessly you might wonder if there ever was a divide between the disciplines(of course there is.) However, in the moment, the wonder of water, the river, its cycles, and the complexity of the cosmos had me convinced otherwise, lost between the pages.
Geology: A Very Short Introduction, Jan Zalasiewicz, 2018
A brief introduction to the multiple layers of Geology. There is also a chapter about the Anthropocene.
Timefullness, Marcia Bjornerud, 2018
About the long history of Earth, seen through the lens of Geology. How can this discipline help expand our concept of time and the rhythms of the planet we inhabit? Parts of this book includes a discussion on how the term the Anthropocene has been received amongst professionals within the field of Geology.
The First Signs: Unlocking the Mysteries of the World´s Oldest Symbols, Genevieve on Petzinger, 2016 About the first symbols humans used to communicate, how they might have been of service to create a greater human conscious and how they further advanced into languages and technologies. An attempt at understanding when the ancient human became us, and the intelligence associated with the understanding of this us. Who are we? And what is intelligence?
Recommended by Flavia Parone:
Into eternity, Michael Madsen, 2010
This is a documentary about deep geological storage of radioactive waste at the Onkalo complex in Finland. With the chosen musics (for exemple Kraftwerk), aesthetic and rhythm, this documentary feels like a movies as it really immerse you in. Scientists are interviewed, and I felt this rare impression that scientific can hesitate and fail too. The goal of the site is to completely close the storage and prevent anything that can open it. As the radioactive wastes can be dangerous during more than 100 000 years, they try to figure out how to protect it for a period that is completely beyond us. Of course they want to prevent from climate changes, but also from future humans society that could want to open it, as a treasure from our time, as we did for example with the Egyptian graves, despites the symbols we recognized on it that were forbidding us to do it.
Viewable on : https://vimeo.com/168473601
Art forms in nature, Ernst Haeckel, 1899
It's a collection of drawings and engravings, from Ernst Haeckel, a biologist from XIXth century. He describe differents organisms, microscopic views, and many marine organisms with great talent. His work had a lot of influence on architecture and design.
You can here find a file of his beautiful drawing studies of meduses:
Recommended by Sofie Gustafsson:
Chasing Ice, Jeff Orlowski, 2012 is a documentary that "my scientist" Andreas shared with me, both mesmerizing and horrible. It's by a scientist gone filmmaker who makes timelapses of glaciers. (Would be nice to see on a big screen with you guys!)
Blue Heart, Britton Caillouette, 2018
documentary about europe's last wild rivers, bringing up the issues of hydropower and a beautiful portrait of local resistance. Where the dams are being built, it destroys the current ecosystems, sometimes also leaving villages under water, or without water further downstream. Raising the question of climate justice.
Ædnan, Linnea Axelsson, 2018 A novel in the form of poems, following generations of Sapmi natives. The oppression of people and land goes hand in hand. This was where i first learned about the issues of hydropower, which is usually just bundled up with wind and solar as the green energy solutions. Here, with the writer's deep attention and connection to the environment, it is exposed as brutal. I really recommend the whole novel for those who can read it in Swedish, but here’s a piece of it translated: (if you understand swedish don't read this one!) https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/article/march-2019-swedish-from-aednan-linnea-axelsson-saskia-vogel The history of bees, Maja Lunde, 2016 Fiction but the writer has thoroughly consulted scientists to make sure that the narrative is built around correct descriptions of the past and present, and then gives a possible future scenario where the bees have disappeared and everyone has to work long backbreaking days hand-pollinating.
IPCC report alternatives While looking up the summaries for policymakers, as shorter alternatives to the heavy IPCC reports, i also found this trailer which i want to share as it was so strikingly different from how science usually is presented, "epic" and flashy with short statements, questions and music, it seems to me as a desperate attempt to make something seem hip, it becomes funny. Also desperately positive. https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/mulitimedia/video/
Another alternative presentation of the IPCC reports is haiku poems written by Dr Andy Reisinger, vice-chair of Working Group III of the panel behind the report. He first wrote a series of haiku poems after the 2018 publication, and then another after the 2019, this format allows a whole other level of communication than i ever would have been able to receive reading the reports. Between the lines and especially thanks to the fact that he took on the same format again a year later, i get a sense of a shifts in attitude, a frustration. This language is so reduced that it becomes more direct and allows subtle things. I'll quote the initial poems of each year here:
2018: We wrote this report at your request, and with care. Will you listen please? 2019: Climate Change and Land. You asked for this report, what
will you do with it?
Watercolour of Qinglin You (Collin) by Aleksandra Mir, 2020