Summer reading recommendations from distinguished climate leaders

July 29, 2015

It’s summertime! The days are longer and the living is easier. The perfect time to spend warm, lazy afternoons lost in a good book while lounging on a chaise longue, or hammock, or beach towel. For these precise moments, we thought you might want to get some reading recommendations from distinguished climate leaders. We asked a few of our good friends to share their favorite and most recommended books. We hope that these titles will inspire and enthuse your summer reading!


Climate leader Book recommendation

Len Hering
Rear Admiral (U.S. Navy, retired); Executive Director, Center for Sustainable Energy
Book most often recommended to friends: “The Power of Losing Control” by Joe Caruso. It was a game changer for me. As a type A personality this book changed my life and my leadership style. It caused me to reflect on what was possible and what simply was beyond my control, and not lose sleep over it.Book recently enjoyed and inspired by: I am a history nut and haven’t read a novel in years. I can’t get enough of how our founding fathers acted, thought and shaped our beginning. With all we heard about our Founding fathers and the role religion has played, I found the book “Founding Faith: Providence, Politics and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America” By Steven Waldman to be fascinating.

Favorite work of fiction or non-fiction: Again with all that is happening around the world much can be traced to the evils and mistakes of the past. If you want a good understand of why the Middle East is such a mess I would invite you to read “ A Peace to end all Peace” by David Fromkin is a must read.

Book planning to read this summer: “The Writings of Abraham Lincoln”. To say the least, Abe Lincoln is the most impressive and yet troubled president of our country’s past. I hope to learn more of how he managed to hold a country so divided that it was willing to sacrifice thousands of its own for a cause, and hold out for even greater end. Lincoln completes the journey our Founding Fathers were unable to make.

Ken Alex
Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jerry Brown and the Director of the Office of Planning and Research
Book recently enjoyed and/or inspired by: “Signs Preceding the End of the World” by Yuri HerreraBook planning to read this summer: “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” by Richard Flanagan

David Heurtel
Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, Québec
Here are a couple of books I’m reading: “Cities for people” by Jan Gehl and “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power” by Jon MeachamRecommendations and favorites: “The Plague” or “The Stranger” both by Albert Camus, and “The Dying Animal” by Philip Roth

Matt Rodriquez
Secretary for Environmental Protection, California Environmental Protection Agency
Book most often recommended to friends: I have fond memories of reading “Lincoln” by Gore Vidal. I have recommended it to friends through the years.Book recently enjoyed and/or inspired by: Recently, I enjoyed reading “The Swerve” by Stephen Greenblatt. It’s a wonderful story about an interesting 15th century scholar who’s chance rediscovery of an early writing by the Roman philosopher Lucretious affected the development of western thought and culture.

At a different level, I enjoyed “The Long Ships,” a swashbuckling bit of historical fiction by Frans Bengtsson about Vikings during the 10th Century.

Favorite work of fiction or non-fiction: Fiction: I’ll admit to being a fan of Alexander Dumas and either “The Three Musketeers” or “The Count Monte Cristo.” Non-fiction: I recall many, many years ago reading “Endurance” by Alfred Lansing about Ernest Shackelton’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. More recently, I liked Ross King’s “The Judgment of Paris” about the birth on Impressionism.

Book planning to read this summer: I anticipate it will take most of the summer to finish “The Prize,” Daniel Yergin’s book on the history of the oil industry. Next on the list are either “Embarrassment of Riches,” the history of Dutch Culture in the 17th century, or Amitav Ghosh’s “Flood of Fire,” the third novel in his trilogy about the opium trade and its effect in India in the 19th century.

Hector de la Torre
Board Member, California Air Resources Board
Book most often recommended to friends: “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – A great example of Garcia Marquez’s magical realism, telling the multi-generational story of the Buendía family in Columbia. His writing is so matter-of-fact in describing events that are so fantastic that they seem entirely plausible, maybe because these are the events of everyday life – birth, love, life, death.Book recently enjoyed and/or inspired by: “In the Garden of Beasts” by Erik Larson – Historical fiction based in Berlin in the early 1930’s as Hitler consolidated his power within Germany. Told from the perspective of the US ambassador and his family as they tried to get an understanding of all that was taking place in the crosscurrent of politics and national interests, and then the more difficult question: what to do about it.

Favorite work of fiction or non-fiction: “Yertle the Turtle” by Dr. Seuss – Whenever I am asked to read to children in schools or libraries, I bring this book because it is a fun parable of totalitarianism and human rights.

Book planning to read this summer: “Three Who Made a Revolution” by Bertram Wolfe – Growing up in the Cold War and as an undergraduate and graduate student of international relations, the Soviet impact on foreign policy was a fundamental aspect of the post-war interaction between nations. The nature of the Soviet Union was shaped at the outset by its revolution and subsequent leadership. This book focuses on the personal histories and relationship between Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin in building the nascent Soviet Union – their founding fathers.

Wendy James
CEO, The Better World Group
I’d like to recommend “The Great Race – The Global Quest for the Car of the Future” by Levi Tilleman. It’s a really good read, almost an action thriller, about the auto industry’s competition for new technology and markets. But the best part is the credit given to the policy drivers put in place by California that have resulted in these advanced technology vehicles being brought to market.The other book I am enjoying, prompted by a recent trip to San Francisco at the request of my 20-year-old great nephew, is pure summer enjoyment (nothing to do with work.) It’s the photography of Jim Marshall, called “The Haight – Love, Rock, and Revolution” and tells the story of Haight Ashbury during the 60s and the Summer of Love. The photos are quite spectacular, and if I close my eyes….



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