Friday Reads: My Green Manifesto


“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Topics may be new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

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The January meeting of the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club was post-poned one week due to the snow storm on the 4th.  We had a fine time yesterday, however, discussing and guffawing over My Green Manifesto:  down the Charles River in pursuit of a new environmentalism by one-time Cape Cod resident, David Gessner.

The publisher describes the book thus, “In My Green Manifesto, David Gessner embarks on a rough-and-tumble journey down Boston’s Charles River, searching for the soul of a new environmentalism.  With a tragically leaky canoe, a broken cell phone, a cooler of beer, and the environmental planner Dan Driscoll in tow, Gessner grapples with the stereotype of the environmentalist as an overzealous, puritanical mess.”

We covered many topics in our discussion, including ‘what is a manifesto?’  and noting the literary tradition from which this work stems (Think Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Edward Abbey, John Hay, Aldo Leopold, Bill McKibben, Wendell Berry and Rachel Carson.)  We also compared the author’s “new” environmentalism with older doomsday-style “environmental extremists” (Think Al Gore and the author’s favorite antagonists Ted Nordhouse and Michael Shellenberger.) Gessner’s “new” environmentalism is an approachable method rooted in having fun in the wildness and fixing what ails your own backyard.  It may also include beer.

Since we are in the midst of reading a series of books about social justice issues, we made sure to tie the book into the theme.  Climate change is responsible for drought, water shortages, floods, extreme weather, crop failures and a host of other calamities which strike the poor the hardest.

Next month we will discuss Glass House: the 1% economy and the shattering of the all-American town by Brian Alexander.  Pick up a copy of the book at the reference desk and join us in the Hermann Room on Thursday, February 1 at 10:00 for what is sure to be an illuminating and engaging discussion.


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