6 books that influenced our work in 2021

We all know that the media we engage influences the way we think and the way we engage the world. Here are some books that have impacted our creation care work this year!

The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet by John Green

This book of essays really helps me understand what it means to live in a world that is human-centric, and essays like Sunsets and Humanity’s Temporal Range also get me thinking about how we relate to the earth within that context. Also it’s just really funny and moving!”
― Marnie Klassen, Communications and Admin Assistant

“To fall in love with the world isn’t to ignore or overlook suffering, both human or otherwise. For me anyway, to fall in love with the world is to look up at the night sky and feel your mind swim before the beauty and the distance of the stars. It is to hold your children while they cry and watch the sycamore trees leaf out in June. When my breastbone starts to hurt, and my throat tightens and tears well in my eyes, I want to look away from feeling. I want to deflect with irony or anything else that will keep me from feeling directly. We all know how loving ends. But I want to fall in love with the world anyway, to let it crack me open. I want to feel what there is to feel while I am here.” ― John Green, The Anthropocene Reviewed

Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

In this fantastically illustrated children’s book, Canadian author Kyo Maclear narrates the story of Virginia as she has a “wolfish” day, creating a twist on the real life story of author Virginia Woolf. Her sister, Vanessa, is deeply concerned and stays by Virginia’s side, trying to cheer her up. Eventually, Vanessa paints a beautiful garden called “Bloomsbury” that they both escape to, drawing Virginia back out of her wolfishness. It is in connection with the natural world and with another human that Virginia is reminded of hope, meaning, and her place in the family of this world. 

This summer, Thursdays were “Water” days, where we learned about the cycle of water as well as getting to splash each other with water balloons. This book by Maclear was the story I used in our time of reflection to highlight how humans go through cycles too. Just as water cycles from the ocean, up to the clouds, then pours down again, so people cycle through happy days, wolfish days, and days in between, and that is ok! We spoke with the kids about how to cope on the hard days and, like Virginia, we were drawn back to the hope found in relationship with the earth and with each other.”

― Kari Miller, Environmental Education Coordinator

“If I were flying, I would travel to a perfect place. A place with frosted cakes and beautiful flowers and excellent trees to climb and absolutely no doldrums.”― Kyo Maclear, Virginia Wolf

Duck, Death and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch

“Sometimes death feels scary and yet inevitable. Wolf Erlbruch offers a hauntingly beautiful story about a Duck who befriends Death. Duck questions Death and in doing so, the meaning of her life as well. Unbeknownst to Duck, in the end of the book she dies in the arms of her dear friend Death and her body is laid to rest in the river, along with a red tulip.

As I wrap up my degree in Thanatology (the study of death), I am reminded how life and death are kin to one another. It is a narrative I see at play consistently in the natural world. Death and Life tango in the coming and going of seasons, in the stench of compost and the rich soil, even in the rise and fall of the sun. This book in particular highlights the inevitability of death in the natural world, the capacity of the earth to hold our questions, fears, and hopes, and finally the friendship of death that follows all beings throughout life.” 

Kari Miller, Environmental Education Coordinator

Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard
by Douglas W. Tallamy

“Nature’s Best Hope proposes a grassroots-level solution to biodiversity loss – Doug Tallamy calls it the Homegrown National Park. Essentially, if about half of private land was replanted with native species, we could solve biodiversity loss. He encourages people to worry about the specialists in the ecosystem, like monarch butterflies – plant milkweed, because monarchs won’t eat anything else! It’s inspiring to be given simple steps at home to contribute to biodiversity. It’s a very hopeful book!”
– Scott Gerbrandt, A Rocha Manitoba Director

“…humans now occupy or have seriously altered nearly all of the spaces outside our parks and preserves. Each of us carries an inherent responsibility to preserve the quality of earth’s ecosystems. When we leave the responsibility to a few experts (none of whom hold political office), the rest of us remain largely ignorant of earth stewardship and how to practice it. The conservation of Earth’s resources, including its living biological systems, must become part of the everyday culture of us all, worldwide.” ― Douglas W. Tallamy, Nature’s Best Hope

Words for a Dying World: Stories of Grief and Courage from the Global Church
edited by Hannah Malcolm 

“As I grapple with the overwhelming news about the uncertain future of our planet due to climate change, I find myself at times anxious or grieving or even numb. Words for a Dying World helped me feel less alone in those feelings. It is a beautiful collection of essays from people around the world giving voice to their grief and love and hope for the world. The book focuses on the power of lament to move us toward action. It is a fantastic resource for churches, small groups, and all those interested in how to talk about climate grief.” 

― Zoe Matties, Manitoba Program Manager

“When we choose a grief orientation that properly reflects our finitude as creatures, we participate in God’s orientation towards the earth-the One who takes on flesh to dwell among flesh, in time and space, and tastes death. This changes our nature and changes the nature of the things we grieve. They become to us what they already are to God: beloved.”  ― Hannah Malcolm, Words for a Dying World

“The work of lament invites us to stay with the trouble, not cutting short the real grief that we rightly feel, so that acts of repentance and reparation might flow as a grace-filled response rather than a begrudging exchange.” ― Kyle B.T. Lambelet, Words for a Dying World

Plants of the Western Boreal Forest & Aspen Parkland by Derek Johnson, Linda Kershaw, Andy MacKinnon, and Jim Pojar

“This was an incredibly helpful book during the process of identifying the variety of plants observed at the Boreal Ecology Centre. Filled with excellent pictures and detailed physical descriptions of the massive diversity of plants that can be found in Manitoba and across Canada. The book also has interesting trivia about uses that have been found for the plants. I would definitely recommend it for people who’d like to get to know the plants in their area better.”
Graham Peters

“Comprehensive coverage, with a wealth of interesting and useful information.” Vernon L. Harms, Curator, Fraser Herbarium, University of Saskatchewan

Click here for more Green Living Resources, or sign up for our newsletter!