15 World-Changing Books to Gift this Holiday Season
The Bioneers community of leaders is working toward a more just world every day. It has been a true honor to share their ideas and projects throughout the year. One of the ways we do this is by working with authors to publish excerpts of their newly released books on Bioneers.org.
This holiday season, we’re excited to share a list of 15 incredible books that were featured on Bioneers.org this year. Each book can be purchased at your local bookstore or via the Bioneers Bookstore on Bookshop.org, an online bookstore with a mission to financially support your local, independent bookstore. Peruse. Support. And be inspired.
1. Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations | Lyanda Fern Lynn Haupt
Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations is a lively series that explores our deep interconnections with the living world. More than 70 contributors–including Robin Wall Kimmerer, Richard Powers, David Abram, J. Drew Lanham, and Sharon Blackie–invite readers into cosmologies, narratives, and everyday interactions that embrace a more-than-human world as worthy of our response and responsibility. These diverse voices render a wide range of possibilities for becoming better kin.
2. Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art | James Nestor
There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat twenty-five thousand times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences.
Journalist James Nestor travels the world to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. The answers aren’t found in pulmonology labs, as we might expect, but in the muddy digs of ancient burial sites, secret Soviet facilities, New Jersey choir schools, and the smoggy streets of S o Paulo. Nestor tracks down men and women exploring the hidden science behind ancient breathing practices like Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya, and Tummo and teams up with pulmonary tinkerers to scientifically test long-held beliefs about how we breathe.
3. Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora | Bryant Terry
In this stunning and deeply heartfelt tribute to Black culinary ingenuity, Bryant Terry captures the broad and divergent voices of the African Diaspora through the prism of food. With contributions from more than 100 Black cultural luminaires from around the globe, the book moves through chapters exploring parts of the Black experience, from Homeland to Migration, Spirituality to Black Future, offering delicious recipes, moving essays, and arresting artwork.
4. Plant Teachers: Ayahuasca, Tobacco, and the Pursuit of Knowledge | Jeremy Narby & Rafael Chanchari Pizuri
In Plant Teachers, anthropologist Jeremy Narby and traditional healer Rafael Chanchari Pizuri hold a cross-cultural dialogue that explores the similarities between ayahuasca and tobacco, the role of these plants in indigenous cultures, and the hidden truths they reveal about nature. Juxtaposing and synthesizing two worldviews, Plant Teachers invites readers on a wide-ranging journey through anthropology, botany, and biochemistry, while raising tantalizing questions about the relationship between science and other ways of knowing.
5. Nature, Culture and the Sacred: A Woman Listens For Leadership | Nina Simons
Bioneers co-founder Nina Simons offers inspiration for anyone who aspires to grow into their own unique form of leadership with resilience and joy. Informed by her extensive experience with multicultural women’s leadership development, Simons replaces the old patriarchal leadership paradigm with a more feminine-inflected style that illustrates the interconnected nature of the issues we face today.
6. Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter | Ben Goldfarb
In Eager, environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb reveals that our modern idea of what a healthy landscape looks like and how it functions is wrong, distorted by the fur trade that once trapped out millions of beavers from North America’s lakes and rivers. The consequences of losing beavers were profound: streams eroded, wetlands dried up, and species from salmon to swans lost vital habitat. Today, a growing coalition of “Beaver Believers”–including scientists, ranchers, and passionate citizens–recognizes that ecosystems with beavers are far healthier, for humans and non-humans alike, than those without them.
7. Solidarity Economics: Why Mutuality and Movements Matter | Manuel Pastor & Chris Benner
In this book Chris Benner and Manuel Pastor invite us to imagine a new sort of solidarity economics – an approach grounded in our instincts for connection and community – and in so doing, actually build a more robust and sustainable economy. They argue that our current economy is already deeply dependent on mutuality, but that the inequality and fragmentation created by the status quo undermine this mutuality and with it our economic well-being. They outline the theoretical framing, policy agenda, and social movements that we need to revive solidarity and apply it to whole societies.
8. Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures | Merlin Sheldrake
In Entangled Life, the brilliant young biologist Merlin Sheldrake shows us the world from a fungal point of view, providing an exhilarating change of perspective. Sheldrake’s vivid exploration takes us from yeast to psychedelics, to the fungi that range for miles underground and are the largest organisms on the planet, to those that link plants together in complex networks known as the “Wood Wide Web,” to those that infiltrate and manipulate insect bodies with devastating precision.
9. Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest | Suzanne Simard
In her first book, Suzanne Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths–that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.
10. The Arbornaut: A Life Discovering the Eighth Continent in the Trees Above Us | Meg Lowman
With a voice as infectious in its enthusiasm as it is practical in its optimism, The Arbornaut chronicles Meg Lowman’s irresistible story. From climbing solo hundreds of feet into the air in Australia’s rainforests to measuring tree growth in the northeastern United States, from searching the redwoods of the Pacific coast for new life to studying leaf eaters in Scotland’s Highlands, from conducting a BioBlitz in Malaysia to conservation planning in India and collaborating with priests to save Ethiopia’s last forests, Lowman launches us into the life and work of a field scientist, ecologist, and conservationist.
11. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land | Leah Penniman
Farming While Black is the first comprehensive “how to” guide for aspiring African-heritage growers to reclaim their dignity as agriculturists and for all farmers to understand the distinct, technical contributions of African-heritage people to sustainable agriculture. At Soul Fire Farm, author Leah Penniman co-created the Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion (BLFI) program as a container for new farmers to share growing skills in a culturally relevant and supportive environment led by people of color. Farming While Black organizes and expands upon the curriculum of the BLFI to provide readers with a concise guide to all aspects of small-scale farming, from business planning to preserving the harvest.
12. Life in the City of Dirty Water: A Memoir of Healing | Clayton Thomas-Muller
Tying together personal stories of survival that bring the realities of the First Nations of this land into sharp focus, and lessons learned from a career as a frontline activist committed to addressing environmental injustice at a global scale, Clayton Thomas-Muller offers a narrative and vision of healing and responsibility.
13. The Apology | V (Formerly Eve Ensler)
Through The Apology V has set out to provide a new way for herself and a possible road for others, so that survivors of abuse may finally envision how to be free. She grapples with questions she has sought answers to since she first realized the impact of her father’s abuse on her life: How do we offer a doorway rather than a locked cell? How do we move from humiliation to revelation, from curtailing behavior to changing it, from condemning perpetrators to calling them to reckoning? What will it take for abusers to genuinely apologize?
14. Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice | Rupa Marya & Rajeev Charles Patel
Boldly original, Inflamed takes us on a medical tour through the human body–our digestive, endocrine, circulatory, respiratory, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems. Unlike a traditional anatomy book, this groundbreaking work illuminates the hidden relationships between our biological systems and the profound injustices of our political and economic systems.
15. Diet for a Small Planet | Frances Moore Lappé
In 1971, Diet for a Small Planet broke new ground, revealing how our everyday acts are a form of power to create health for ourselves and our planet. This extraordinary book first exposed the needless waste built into a meat-centered diet. Now, in a special edition for its 50th anniversary, world-renowned food expert Frances Moore Lappé goes even deeper, showing us how plant-centered eating can help restore our damaged ecology, address the climate crisis, and move us toward real democracy.