Great Green Books: fiction and short story

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

Recommended: short stories, novels and poetry on landscapes, wilderness and the environment.

The Water Knife 

Paolo Bacigalupi

This dystopian fiction offers a world devastated by drought and explores the dangers that arise over the possession of water. In a society where water is a precious commodity, it must be protected by a group of assassins, the Las Vegas water knives. This shocking and twisted world is laced with a reality for many suffering from drought and engaging in water wars around the world.


by Naomi Booth, 2017

Climate change is the backdrop for this creepy horror story. An English countryside transformed beyond recognition by about a skin-sealing disease. Nominated for the Not the Booker Prize in 2018. (Recommendation by Housmans Books)

Baron in the Trees

by Italo Calvino

This beautiful novel tells the story of Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò, a child in 18th century Italy who decides to live the rest of his lives in the trees. Against a backdrop of the enlightenment and wars across Europe, Cosimo finds that "those who wish to look carefully at the earth should stay at the necessary distance."

The House on Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros

With the climate crisis touching lives in all settings, and perhaps with most complexity in cities, this collection of vignettes about life in urban Chicago has a lot to say. Exploring freedom, identity and displacement, this is a vivid account of the many issues with city-living that are set to become only more intense under our changing climate.


by Rita Indiana, 2017

Tentacle is a rollercoaster of a novel, incorporating climate catastrophe, Yoruba ritual, gender and art in a masterpiece of storytelling. It has an ending that'll have you heading back to page one immediately to see what you missed.

(Recommendation by Housmans Books)

A Winter Book and The Summer Book

by Tove Jansson

A collection of Jansson's short stories, as chosen by novelist Ali Smith. Moving between diverse landscapes and characters, the sum is a mournful mediation on vulnerability, sense of place and imagination. Also recommended is The Summer Book, a poignant story about 6 year old Sophia, who explores the wilds of a Finnish island with her grandmother, in the wake of her mother's death.

The Wall

by John Lanchester

A dystopian novel set in the future, in a Britain that has walled itself off from the outside world, and has been ravaged by the social and environmental consequences of climate breakdown.

The History of Bees

by Maja Lunde

Alternating between the UK, US and China between 1851-2098, Lunde traces the stories of three beekeepers against a backdrop of climate crisis. Both hopeful and cautionary, Lunde masterfully captures fragile yet deep-rooted places where ecosystems and modern life collide.

Tokyo Ueno Station

by Yu Miri

This compelling novel tells the story of Kazu Mori, the ghost of a labourer who haunts who haunts a Tokyo park after his death at the nearby metro station. This meditation on a park's history through political and environmental change is a sobering reminder of the grief built into our urban spaces.