Long, sun-soaked afternoons… hammocks that seem to call your name… summer Fridays at the office… the beach, yes, summer really is the ideal time to catch up on all the reading you tell yourself you’re going to do the rest of the year – and inevitably brush aside in favor of more pressing activities (like scrolling your phone before bedtime to break that habit!).

Traditionally, summer beach reads have a reputation for being, well… not exactly challenging. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying an indulgent read, sometimes you want a little… more. Right? This summer, between the juicy novels-of-the-moment and dimestore paperbacks, why not make some time to take in a book that will inspire as much as it entertains? From stories of hiking across the Pacific Crest Trail to tales of self-sufficiency to a deeper dive into our impact on the planet, the 10 books below are sure to pull you in and make you think. 


#1 – Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Ever wish you could take the entire Eat Local philosophy just a few steps further? Author Barbara Kinsolver, along with her two daughters and husband, did just that. This book chronicles the year the family focused on producing as much of their own food as possible, and eating only locally-available fare. The resulting book contains recipes and notations from Kingsolver herself and her family – and demonstrates how focusing on what’s local can change your entire outlook on food.


#2 – Swell by Captain Liz Clark

Ever wished you could just get away from it all? Swell, authored by Captain Liz Clark, tells the tale of Clark, a surfer and sailor who sets out to charter a boat solo around the world. The adventure of a lifetime takes a turn, however, and Clark’s mission to simply sail and surf changes when she’s forced to confront the very real environmental threats she sees on a daily basis.


#3 – Wild by Cheryl Strayed

If you missed this best-selling memoir when it first hit bookstores back in 2013, why not make it your summer 2019 book? For anyone who has ever dreamt of dropping everything and hitting the trail – or hitting the trail to make some major changes, WIld could be the book that inspires you to start training for that bit backpacking adventure. Chronicling Strayed’s journey on the Pacific Crest Trail – all the ups and downs, from the terrifying to the enchanting. 


#4 – We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich

Before Wild, before Into the Wild, there was We Took to the Woods, the real-life story of Dickinson-Rish and her husband who took to the woods of Maine to live their dream of getting back to nature. Written in the 1940’s this classic book remains topical, especially for anyone who has ever dreamt of homesteading. Written with humor and candor, don’t be surprised if you find yourself researching off-the-grid living when you close the final page of We Took to the Woods.


#5 – Farming While Black by Leah Penniman

Did you know that farm management is one of the whitest professions, yet farm labor is often relegated to people of color? “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.” Written by Leah Penniman, the co-creator of the Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion at Soul-Fire Farm, this definitive book is an essential read for anyone who wants to expand their understanding of farming’s history and its impact on and intersection with race.


#6 – The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the myriad of food available to you at the grocery store, if you’ve ever wished you could shop the farmer’s market only, if you’ve ever been left feeling confused and frustrated after researching the most sustainable way to eat – read this. The groundbreaking book by food writer Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma delves into the politics behind your food and how we got to where we are. It may make you think differently about what’s on your plate.


#7 – Start Now! By Chelsea Clinton

For the youngest activists among us who want to make change – whether it’s fighting for the climate or stopping a bully – this compendium by Chelsea Clinton contains solutions to problems both large and small. Featuring engaging illustrations to go along with the topics discussed within, this book is for any young person who wants to make change – and inspire action in others. Perfect for the elementary-aged kiddo who wants to read – and learn – alongside you.


#8 – Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard

If you’re sick of news headlines profiling yet another corrupt or morally bankrupt CEO, this book, by Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard is for you. Profiling his early life as a handyman and his later expeditions and adventures – and how those experiences were eventually woven into his business philosophy – this book is for anyone who considers themselves an entrepreneur, adventurer, or is simply seeking to be inspired.


#9 – Earth Calling by Elaine Gunter

If you’ve been feeling disconnected from the planet we call home – Earth Calling is your invitation to reconnect as you work to save the environment. Discussing topics related to the climate crisis through a lens of spirituality and connectedness, Earth Calling takes a holistic approach to activism.


#10 – The Ice At the End of the World by Jon Gertner

Sometimes you have to look back to see where you’re headed, and in this case the author shows how scientists are using Greenland’s melting ice sheet to study the past but also look into our future and the impact climate change will have on the world as a whole. A great read for science-lovers, history buffs, and activists alike.


What are you reading? Share your summer book picks with us on social at @AvocadoMattress and #AvocadoGreenMagazine!

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