The Holiday Green Gift Guide for Book Lovers


The holiday season is just around the corner, and if you already start thinking about gifts, we hope you would think about books. A good book is always a great present!

To help you you find the best green books to give as gifts this holiday season, Eco-Libris blog begins a new series: Holiday green gift guide for book lovers. Yes, every Sunday you will find on our blog an interesting book to be considered for your gift list. This page will gather all of the recommendations published on the blog.


1. Raz Godelnik recommends on The Man Who Planted Trees

Author: Jean Giono

Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing

Originally published in: 1953

The story: it is a touching story of Elzéard Bouffier, a shepherd, who after being widowed, has decided to restore the ruined ecosystem of the isolated and largely abandoned valley in the south of France by single-handedly cultivating a forest, tree by tree. He planted 100 acorns each day before, through, and after two world wars, and transformed a sorrowful place into one full of life and joy.

Why it's a great gift: This is an inspirational story about what one person can do to restore the earth. Jean Giono's story offer a tribute to how much good one person can accomplish in a lifetime and advise on how to live life with deep meaning.

If you're not sure yet, you can watch the animated version of the story, produced by Frédéric Back in 1987. Also, if you look for a special edition of the book, Chelsea Green Publishing released a special twentieth anniversary edition on National Arbor Day 2005 with a new foreword by Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the African Green Belt Movement.

2. Nick Aster recommends on Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter

Author: Lloyd Kahn

Publisher: Shelter Publications

Published in: 2004

What it is about: Building on the enormous success of his book 'Shelter', Lloyd Kahn continues his odyssey of finding and exploring the most magnificent and unusual hand-built houses in existence. Page after page, the book describes homes built from the soul, inventiveness free from social constraint, but created with a solid understanding of natural materials, structure, and aesthetics.

From yurts to caves to tree houses to tents, thatched houses, glass houses, nomadic homes, riverboats and more, each hand built dwelling finds itself at one with its environment, blending harmoniously with the earth, using organically sustainable material.

'Home Work' is featuring over a thousand photos, including three hundred line drawings, stories of real people building and living in their own houses, plus Kahn's recollections, reminiscences and observations gathered over the 30 years since his previous book, 'Shelter', was first published.

Why it's a great gift: Inspired guide to hand build homes and shelters. Everything from Strawbale to Yurts. I've spent hours paging through this book and fantasizing about what to do with the imaginary land I'd someday buy. A perfect book to put on display for guests.

You can check it out at Google Book Search.

Nick Aster is the founder of Triple Pundit and media architect behind He currently works for a major print and online magazine and occasionally blogs at Triple Pundit.

3. Victoria E recommends on The Joy of Vegan Baking

Author: Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Publisher: Fair Winds Press

Published in: 2007

What it is about + Why it's a great gift: The holidays always make me want to slow down and spend more time in the kitchen, making delicious goodies from my friends and loved ones. I've been progressing to become a vegetarian for a few months now, and Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's podcast, Vegetarian Food For Thought has been a wonderful outlet for learning about compassionate eating and actions.

Though I don't drink soy milk or even have any blocks of soy in my fridge, I've learned so much from her tips that even my meat-loving boyfriend has been enjoying our dinners even more as of late. Imagine my delight when I heard Colleen was coming out with her first cookbook, titled The Joy of Vegan Baking.

The thought of not baking with milk or eggs put me on edge right away, but after tasting some delicious vegan donuts and cupcakes recently, it was clear that no taste would be lost in the transition. There are oodles of preconceived notions about vegetarian and vegan foods, especially desserts, but after tasting some goodies that I made from these recipes, it is clear that those perceptions are wildly outdated.

Though I won't be able to spend any of the holidays with my family this year, I will be making treats from my best friend and boyfriend out this book. Will I tell them its vegan? not until they eat 3 or 4 of them and rave about how tasty they are.

Any cook, experienced or novice, would enjoy The Joy of Baking - new food revolutions are on the horizon, and vegan baking is just one of them. "Featuring full-color photos and 150 familiar favorites -- from cakes, cookies, and crêpes to pies, puddings, and pastries -- this book will show you just how easy, convenient, and delectable baking without eggs and dairy can be."

This book is fresh from the oven - it came out on October 2007. Check out the book's website for sample recipes and of course to see where you can buy it.

Victoria E is a creatively versatile eco-powerhouse: she is a freelance writer, life-long model, on-camera personality, official U.S. spokesperson for Twice Shy Clothing and founder of the San Francisco Craft Mafia - a classic Renaissance woman and mistress-of-all-trades.

Starting as an outlet for updates about her freelance writing and modeling, her official website at has quickly grown into a dependable source for a variety of information on green, crafty, and DIY living. You're welcome to check it out!

4. Stefani Newman recommends on The Tiny Seed

Author: Eric Carle

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Originally published in: 1991

What it is about + Why it's a great gift: Since teensygreen is all about green kids, and I have two little girls of my own, I thought a great kid's book would only be appropriate!

Eric Carle is a true champion of animals and nature through his books, and "The Tiny Seed" takes readers on a beautiful journey through the life cycle of a seed. Kids love to find the smallest seed on every page as it travels many miles through the seasons, overcoming tough obstacles (like hungry birds and big feet!), and finally grows into a stunning, giant flower - only to start the cycle over again.

This book works on so many levels - it not only teaches kids about seasons and the life of a seed, but it subtly helps children learn respect for nature, such as why we not only need to plant more flowers and trees, but why we also need to leave what's already there alone. Young children love the colorful collage images, while older kids can get to know the subject through Carle's gentle words.

This book, and pretty much all of Eric Carle's books, are great gifts for kids of any age. The vibrant pictures and fun subjects really bring nature to life, and kids learn about the subject at hand through their imagination.

"The Tiny Seed" is also a great conversation starter about nature, the seasons, and helps kids open their eyes to the world outside. I was pleasantly surprised when my older daughter wouldn't pick any flowers at the playground because, as she put it, "they need a chance to grow, too"! I would recommend any Eric Carle book for the holidays, but "The Tiny Seed" is an absolute favorite!

Stefani Newman is a recent transplant from New York to Florida to Panama City, Panama. If getting used to a new country isn't enough, Stefani decided to jump into the blogging world with her informative blog, teensygreen.

teensygreen focuses on helping families make more eco-friendly decisions by highlighting innovative green products, and covering news that brings a little green to every family. When she's not writing she can usually be found at the park, pool, or counting the many ships waiting to get into the Panama Canal!

5. Siel recommends on Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

Author: Bill McKibben

Publisher: Times Books

Published in: 2007

What it is about: Drive alone into a gated community in the suburbs, to park in a private, 2-car garage and hole up in a secret internet room. This is what our wealth has bought us, according to McKibben: Ways to better seclude ourselves. In America, it's lonely being rich.

Deep Economy is most concerned about our sense of self in a "hyper-individualized world," a world in which we've been conditioned to deprioritize personal connections with other human beings in the pursuit of individual success, monetary or otherwise.

Personal ambition is important, of course. But to McKibben, these ambitions are too often one-sided — and unrealistic, in the age of mass media. It's one thing to keep up with the Joneses, quite another to keep up with The O.C., McKibben quips.

To prove his point, he takes you through multiple, wide-ranging journeys in Deep Economy: a year of spent eating only local food, a scientific and historical look at the possibilities of a community-based, post-petroleum agriculture, an exploration of mass media and the outlook on local radio, and a somewhat obligatory summary of the pending global warming crisis — a crisis that a more community-centered outlook can help mitigate, McKibben points out, as well as help absorb the aftershocks in the case of a true disaster.

Why it's a great gift: Deep Economy opens up a different way of thinking about happiness, individuality, community and ambition -- all while providing solid info on the most important issues facing us as a society today. Reading it's sure to give the recipient innovative and exciting ideas for starting off the new year!

As a teenager, Siel sped past Paramount Studios every day on the 10 Metro bus to get to Fairfax High School. Now she cuts through the concrete jungle of Los Angeles on her pink Townie bike to shop at local farmers' markets and socialize in pre-loved Prada heels. Siel writes Emerald City, a green blog for, as well as a personal blog, green LA girl.

6. Megan Kuhlmann recommends on The Armchair Environmentalist

Author: Karen Christensen

Publisher: M Q Publications

Published in: 2004

What it is about: The Armchair Environmentalist is “a three minute-a-day action plan to save the world.” It focuses on what individuals can do to reduce their use of energy and water and create a healthier environment at home and at work.

The Armchair Environmentalist is an easy read and chocked full of cute pictures and graphics. Printed on 100% recycled paper, this little book can fit easily into a briefcase or handbag, making it that much easier to take the info "to go".

A year or so ago, my friend Rachel loaned me her copy of this sweet little book and I instantly loved it. Discussing The Armchair Environmentalist and armchair environmentalism in general led us to launch The idea that in just a few minutes a day one person can make lots of tiny choices that positively impact the environment is what our site this book are all about.

Why it's a great gift: Green is sexy! Being eco-conscious is so popular these days, but a lot of people still think that being green means wearing hemp shoes, driving a hybrid and laying bamboo floors.

The Armchair Environmentalist is an entertaining, colorful way to show friends and family that being green is more about unplugging your cell phone charger and washing your clothes in cold water than installing a wind turbine in your backyard. This cheeky, chubby book makes a great stocking stuffer and is a fabulous intro-to-eco primer.

Megan Kuhlmann of lives and works in Los Angeles, California. When she’s not unplugging her unused appliances or extolling the virtues of chemical-free cleansers, Megan can often be found handing out recyclable toothbrushes and explaining cold-water washing to fellow folders at the Laundromat. In addition to pollution, Megan also dislikes olives, puns, and sleeping in socks. Alternately, Megan loves tree-huggers, karaoke, and a well-crafted sentence.

7. Alex Steffen recommends on Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21th Century

Author: Alex Steffen (Editor), Al Gore (Foreword), Bruce Sterling (Introduction)

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams Inc.

Published in: 2006

What it is about: Worldchanging: A Users Guide for the 21st Century is a groundbreaking compendium of the most innovative solutions, ideas and inventions emerging today for building a sustainable, livable, prosperous future.

From consumer consciousness to a new vision for industry; non-toxic homes to refugee shelters; microfinance to effective philanthropy; socially responsible investing to starting a green business; citizen media to human rights; ecological economics to climate change, this is the most comprehensive, cutting-edge overview to date of what's possible in the near future -- if we decide to make it so.

The Worldchanging book contains over 600 pages, divided into 7 sections which include a vast range of topics.

Stuff: green design, biomimicry, sustainable food, clothing, trade and technology.

Shelter: green building and landscaping, clean energy, water, disaster relief and humanitarian design.

Cities: smart growth, sustainable communities, transportation, greening infrastructure, product-service systems, leapfrogging and megacity challenges.

Community: education, women's rights, public health, holistic approaches to community development, South-South science, social entrepreneurship and micro-lending, and philanthropy.

Business: socially responsible investment, worldchanging start-ups, ecological economics, corporate social responsibility and green business.

Politics: networked politics, new media, transparency, human rights, non-violent revolution and peacemaking.

Planet: the big picture - everything from placing oneself in a bioregion to climate foresight to environmental history to green space exploration.

Why it's a great gift: Here's some of what people have said about it:

"To build that future, we need a generation of everyday heroes, people who—whatever their walks of life—have the courage to think in fresh ways and to act to meet this planetary crisis head-on. This book belongs in the library of every person who aspires to be part of that generation." Al Gore.

"Read it: it may change your life." Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker Writer.

Alex Steffen has been the Executive Editor of Worldchanging since he co-founded the organization in 2003, as the next phase in a lifetime of work exploring ways of building a better future. In a very short time, Worldchanging has become the most widely-read sustainability-related publication on the Internet, with an archive of over 7,000 articles by leading thinkers around the world. Steffen works tirelessly to share Worldchanging's ideas and message worldwide through regular speaking appearances to influential audiences and at leading companies such as Weiden + Kennedy, Nike, Amazon, Ideo, Arup, Nau, Yahoo! and the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Prior to founding Worldchanging, Steffen worked as an environmental journalist on four continents (where he wrote about everything from Japan's fast breeder reactor program to the UN "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro). That work led him to provide strategic consultation to over 50 environmental groups. He also served as president of the board of Allied Arts (the venerable Seattle urban design advocacy group), a co-founder of the Livable Communities Coalition and the Fuse Foundation, and has served on the boards or steering committees for numerous other NGOs and campaigns. Steffen's media work extends into newspaper, radio, and an on-air television, and he started the short-lived but influential magazine, Steelhead, in the mid-nineties.

8. Tracy Stokes recommends on How to live off-grid: Journeys Outside the System

Author: Nick Rosen

Publisher: Doubleday

Published in: 2007

What it is about: In "How to live off-grid", Nick Rosen goes into every detail of off-grid living. He provides not only the inspiration to get off the beaten track and find your own space, but also countless resources to help you do just what he suggests.

To gather the information to write this book, Nick took to the road with his wife and baby daughter in a converted care bus fuelled by vegetable oil and sun. They toured the UK meeting with off-gridders of all sorts. Yurt-dwellers, communards, utopians and rural squatters were all on Nick's path, all living happy and comfortable lives completely off-grid. Their stories are fascinating, inspiring and sometimes quite far-out. But they all have some lessons to pass on to those of us who until now have only dream about being self-sufficient.

Why it's a great gift: It's a great bit of escapism from the excesses of the holidays.

Tracy Stokes is a green blogger (she co-founded EcoStreet) and an online activist who lives in suburban Surrey. She lives life to the full as a stay-at-home-mother, organic food gardener, vegetarian cook, permaculture and green living enthusiast. If you should chance to meet Tracy, you'd be amazed at how fast she can turn a conversation round to recycling.

9. Adam Vaughan recommends on How to live a low-carbon life: the individual's guide to stopping climate change

Author: Chris Goodball

Publisher: Earthscan Publications Ltd.

Published in: 2007

What it is about: A handbook for cutting your carbon footprint and bills -written by a former director at consumer champion Which?. All the green choices consider the accompanying consider the accompanying cost, so in the case of a hybrid Prius, Goodall concludes that its £18K price means you’re paying £350 per tonne of CO2 the car saves. Which he thinks is too much.

When it comes to motoring he also does the maths and concludes car clubs like Streetcar and Zipcar are better news than hydrogen cars and biofuel vehicles. This book has bags of authority, and nicely couples personal anecdotes (his allotment) with table after table of hard-headed maths, saving you doing the tedious sums yourself.

The occasional slip into academic language (“replacing labour with energy is one of the primary engines of economic growth”) will turn off some readers, but for most people this’ll make for a rewarding and inspiring read.

Why it's a great gift: Because it’s ideal for anyone at the early stage of greening up their life when you want the facts, and you want a cash-saving incentive to help you get motivated. Goodall’s book has a sufficient depth of detail to help your giftee make decisions and shopping choices to cut their carbon emissions, instead of general and ultimately unhelpful advice like “drive less”, “use less energy” or “shop greener.”

If you want to learn more on the book's topic, please check out Chris Goodall's, a website with the single purpose of helping individuals in the UK and elsewhere to do something about greenhouse gas emissions.

Adam Vaughan is a green consumer journalist who edits and blogs at

10. Maureen O’Connor recommends on A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids

Author: Julie Hall (Author), Sarah Lane (Illustrator)

Publisher: Green Goat Books

Published in: 2007

What it is about: This “kid’s book” is unusual in that it is designed as a hands-on climate change guide for parents and teachers, as well as readers 9 and up.

Written by Julie Hall, cofounder of ProgressiveKid, and author of numerous science and social studies curriculum books for children, and skillfully illustrated by Sarah Lane, this soft-cover breaks down the facts into easily digestible bites, featuring: Hot Facts, Cool Facts, Eco Heroes and Action Plans to help heal the planet. Kids will appreciate the bold graphic layout and high-impact imagery on each info-packed page.

From defining climate change, to providing a clear understanding of what causes it and how it affects life on Earth, the underlying premise of the book is to demonstrate not only why we need to protect our environment, but also how. There are many valuable lessons to be learned from this book, along with encouraging words to instill change and a sense of hope for the future.

Why it's a great gift: A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids is a great way to empower parents, teachers and kids to engage in creative thinking, act on principles and realize progressive values.

Native New Yorker, Maureen O’Connor is the founder and publisher of, a blog for busy folks looking to cultivate a greener lifestyle.

If you choose to give your friends or family one of these books (or any other great book) as a gift on the holidays, we invite you to balance it out with Eco-Libris, add its sticker to the book and make it the perfect green gift for the holidays.

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