Environmental Fiction

I just finished Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, which uses the story of a pharmaceutical company investing in a fertility drug in the Amazon as the background to a story about the choices we make and the losses we face. While not as good as Bel Canto, this book does have some twists and turns that are unexpected.

It got me thinking about other authors who used our relationship with the environment as a major “character” in the story. Sometimes these novels can become too preachy, but a good author can teach and entertain at the same time.

Here are a few authors which environmental concerns:

Barbara Kingsolver: Especially Prodigal Summer, but also her earlier ones such as Bean Trees.

Ruth Ozeki: All Over Creation takes on genetic modifications of food plants and has some great characters.

Tawni O’Dell: Many of her novels are set in coal country which warps both the miners and the mine owners.

John Grisham: The Appeal and Pelican Brief

Erin Brockovich (yes, the one the movie was made about): Rock Bottom

Maeve Binch: Whitethorn Woods

Edward Abbey: The Monkey Wrench Gang

Nevada Barr: Ill Wind

Robin Cook: Fever

Carl Hiaasen: Skinny Dip (and some of his others)

Donna Leon: Death in a Strange Country

Marcia Muller: Cape Perdido

Michael Palmer: Fatal

Sara Paretsky: Blood Shot

Barry Siegel: Actual Innocence

Check out this list for more titles:


I’m only up to 58 books so far, so I’m still not keeping up with the 100-books-a-year rate. The best book I’ve listened to so far is The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. I’ll probably put it on the book discussion list.