Reading is not a lost art. Here are our Toad picks for best books on sustainable living, new perspectives, and some good ol’ fashioned fun.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig (1974)
Father and son hit the road on a shared motorcycled headed westward from Minnesota to San Francisco. It’s a time-capsule of what “on the road” looked like before Waze and podcasts. And yes, there’s some semi-practical motorcycle maintenance sprinkled in.
How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan (2018)
The full title of the book is about as concise a synopsis as you can get: How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. If you’re into why humans act and feel they way they do, this one’s for you.
The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America, by Timothy Egan (2009)
This came as a recommendation from our friends at the Conservation Alliance and it’s pretty stellar. This book recounts the 1910 wildfire that ripped through 3 states and eventually led to the pioneering notion of conservation and public lands. A must read for lovers of “America’s best idea.”
Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper (2010)
Melody is a total genius, but no one knows it. But that changes when a piece of technology allows her to speak up. A thick book in matters of the heart, this novel about a child with cerebral palsy just goes to show you should never judge a book by it’s cover. (Seriously, don’t judge this book by its cover…).
Barbarian Days, By William Finnegan (2016)
You don’t have to like surfing, you just have to like passion. Gorgeously written, Barbarian Days is a look at the addiction of nature and how a lifetime can be shaped by obsession. Adventurous, inspiring, and a great reminder of what it means to live, not just exist.
Just Kids, by Patti Smith (2010)
There’s no question that Patti Smith is a rock legend. So it’s no surprise that she’s parlayed her storytelling and penchant for poetic mischief into a great book about growing older (but not up) in 1960’s New York. A love letter to adolescence and a good reminder that even now, we’re all just kids in many respects.
Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins (1990)
Time is relative, words are meant to be played with, and plot lines are just suggestions. The closest thing to an acid trip that you can get while you’re sitting quietly reading. That’s either really compelling or the worst book review ever. Hard to pin down, so you might as well pick it up.
Drawdown, by Paul Hawken (2017)
We’ve read a lot of depressing books about global warming, but Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Roll Back Global Warming is not one of them. This book explores the bold and realistic solutions that a cross-functional team of international researchers, scientists and policymakers are putting forth. In short: Climate change is a big challenge, but there are many, many practical solutions. You’ll finish this book feeling optimistic and empowered.