On The Same Page: Depictions of Nature In Honour of Earth Hour

This month of March, take part in Earth Hour by turning all the lights off!  This year, COVID-19 has left both good and bad effects on the environment. Many of us wiled our time away binge-watching TV shows and dabbling in kitchen recipes. But the absence of people outdoors has also caused nature to heal. As Earth Hour approaches, explore these books about nature – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Walden, Henry David Thoreau

An environmental literature staple, you don’t know nature if you haven’t read Walden. Written in 1854, the novel had a slow but steady rise to becoming an American classic. Almost 200 years later, it’s still as relevant as it was back then.

Just as its name suggests, Walden centres around Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Serving as Thoreau’s memoir/observation journal, the novel follows his 2-year stint living there. Yes, it’s literally a book about a pond. But give it a chance and you’ll find Thoreau’s descriptions of nature absolutely beautiful. It’s not just about nature itself, but what it adds to our lives. Walden reminds us of the beauty in the world, and that’s all the more reason to save it.

Walden is available on Book Depository.

No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference, Greta Thunberg

We couldn’t possibly run an Earth Hour-themed story without mentioning one of the most influential people in the environmental movement. Greta Thunberg made waves in 2018 for her climate strike initiatives, and she continues to be a huge inspiration today.

Her 2019 book, No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference has made our book list before. Her collection of speeches has been presented at the likes of the UN and the World Economic Forum. Powerful and evocative, Greta’s words depict how much of nature we’ve destroyed, and how little we’ve done to preserve it. It’s a harsh wake-up call to the realities we’ve created, although the title of the book gives us hope for change. Why not start now?

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference is available at Kinokuniya and Fishpond.

In The Shadow of The Banyan, Vaddey Ratner

Vaddey Ratner’s fictionalised story of the 1975-79 Cambodian genocides might be history, but the New York Times bestseller highlights resilience in the face of adversity – something we should keep in mind today.

The plot follows seven-year-old Raami, who witnesses the radicalisation of her homeland, and the deaths of her loved ones. Through it all, she seeks solace in nature. Woven with Cambodian folklore and history, In The Shadow of the Banyan paints an emotional journey of hope and loss. Today, we face a danger (climate change) that’s very different to Raami’s, but with consequences that are just as dire. Ratner’s writing emphasises the power of nature in a bleak world. 

In The Shadow of the Banyan is available on Amazon.

Silent Spring, Rachel Carson

Another environmental lit classic, Silent Spring broke the American chemical industry when it was published. The book also sparked a turning point in history: the rise of environmentalism in the US in the 1960s. Now that the movement has picked back up, Silent Spring is a great segway into the workings of human-environment interaction.

As a piece of nonfiction, the book exposed the use of harmful synthetic pesticides on plants. Well-researched and backed by hard facts, Carson holds nothing back in this tell-all about the dirty side of the chemical industry. It’s not a light read. Regardless, it’s a page-turner. Rife with hidden agendas, power play, and shocking finds, there’s a reason Silent Spring is considered one of the most iconic books of the 20th Century. It makes you think; how deeply are we connected with the nature around us?

Silent Spring is available at Kinokuniya and on Book Depository.

Into The Forest, Jean Hegland

Photo courtesy of TIFF

Earth Hour might just seem like a one-hour lights off challenge. But it’s important to remember the message behind it – small actions today impact our future. Set in a technologically-dependent near future, Into The Forest (1996) is a dystopian look into what our lives might look like if we continue a destructive path.

Adapted into a 2015 movie starring Elliot Page and Evan Rachel Wood, a worldwide power outage causes the collapse of society. Sisters, Nell and Eva, struggle to survive as the town they live in descends into chaos. The only solution is to seek refuge in nature. Along with the exploration of the sisters’ relationships, it’s an exhilarating novel with an appreciation for the land.

Into The Forest is available on Amazon.

Top image: Photo courtesy of Louis Maniquet on Unsplash.

If she’s not spamming her notes app with short story drafts, Yasmine can be found learning dances through youtube. She enjoys vintage movies, sushi, and is never seen without a cup of honey green tea.