Eating to Extinction

The globalized food system of modern times relies on a surprisingly small number of plants, which we are quickly eating to extinction.
Pretty much anywhere you go, you will find the same varieties of bananas, wheat, tomatoes, and so on. This is great for world travelers who want access to familiar foods, but there are drawbacks.
Such dependence on low diversity puts humanity’s staple crops at a higher risk of disease and climate effects. Because of this, the indirect effects of climate change will include food shortages on a global scale.
In addition to reducing the strength of our food system, the low variety of foods we eat is not good for our health. Wild foods are richer in nutrients and good bacteria. The biodiversity of our internal microbiomes reflects the biodiversity of our food, which reflects the biodiversity of our planet.
How did we get the food system we have today, and what should the future of our food look like? How do we protect our food from eating to extinction?

The Nature of Nature

Have you always loved nature whether you chose it for a career or not? Enric Sala’s latest book, The Nature of Nature, is a well-written, future-focused Ecology 101 for any background, with a bias to the marine realm that I can appreciate.
If I can pull from the acknowledgements up front, Sala points out that writing a book is a good metaphor for an ecosystem. There are many moving parts, and many contributions from different players, some known and some unknown. They all work together to form the product you see in front of you.
The Nature of Nature is a quick and fairly easy read that gives modern real world examples. You’ve heard that climate change and human impacts are bad but exactly how and why? Sala shows us how it can play out in an ecosystem with cascading effects.

The Future We Choose

Books on climate tend to be passionate, fact-focused, and occasionally incendiary. The Future We Choose is the same, in a way, and yet it is the gentlest climate book I’ve ever read. Its focus is on optimism, through a political lens. The authors are active in the UN, and they work to promote action on climate change, because action is our only choice.


Another fun and informative read from Mary Roach, this time about animals that don’t follow human rules, and “break the law” (Fuzz, get it?). If you live in North America, you’re probably familiar with raccoons and bears getting into trash, or seagulls stealing food, but did you know that albatrosses are a nuisance for military operations at Midway? Or that monkeys are a real danger to tourists in Asia?

The Psychology of Money

Money, along with health, is a universal experience that every human has to deal with. Most people see money as a scary, hard thing. There are so many numbers and rules, how could we possibly keep up? In reality, however, money doesn’t have to be complicated. There are a few simple principles to follow that will make your experiences with money much easier and less stressful.


Amanda Montell examines cult success and reveals the cultish language in our everyday lives. Who isn’t fascinated by the power of cults?

The Color of Law

If you don’t believe that government and community housing policies can be racist, you need to read The Color of Law. Richard Rothstein lays out how African Americans were intentionally and systematically excluded from nicer suburban neighborhoods in the mid-twentieth century. They were driven into de jure segregated ghettos. The impacts from those efforts are still visible today.

Zen in the Art of Writing

Ray Bradbury is a master of short story writing. This collection is no exception, but is unique in knocking down the fourth wall and revealing how some of his works, including the popular ones like Fahrenheit 451, came to be.
Throughout his career, Bradbury published reflections on writing and his approach to it. This book is simply those pieces bound together, with his usual imagery, powerful metaphor, and light humor. There is advice in here for everyone, but some of it lands better if the reader is already familiar with at least some of Bradbury’s work.