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Dealing with climate anxiety? Sarah Wilson wants you to read these five books

At Koala, we think there’s nothing better than snuggling up at home with a good book. That’s why we’ve partnered with Booktopia to bring you reading recommendations from some of our favourite Aussie authors. So pour yourself a cuppa, put your feet up and get those pages turning. 

There are few Aussies better equipped to suggest readings about the topic currently on everyone’s mind than New York Times best-selling author, thought leader, minimalist and philanthropist, Sarah Wilson

Sarah is on a mission to get people on this planet engaged with nature and to educate individuals and businesses about issues the world faces imminently, like the climate crisis and how living sustainably can have a palpable impact. 

“We currently consume the resources of five planet Earths… the bottom line—we simply can’t continue to live the way we are. We are at a massive fork in the road moment and we either do everything we can to save the life we love, or we sit back and let our home be destroyed.”

Sarah wilson

“I’ve always been one to fight for what I love.”

How to live more sustainably

On an individual level, Sarah believes that in order to help save life as we know it, we need to drastically reduce our consumption. She lives “minimally and modestly” and when she does buy necessities, buys from companies whose care for the planet shapes their products and practices. 

It is possible for businesses to focus on both planet and profit. Everything from Koala’s supply chain to our products’ end of life cycle has been designed and implemented with the earth in mind. Our new mattress range, for example, is unlike any other in Australia as it is GECA certified, made to meet strict environmental, health, social and performance criteria that prioritises people and planet. 

“Stop consuming,” says Sarah. “It needs to all start with not buying superfluous stuff in the first place, buying quality products – and products that are made as sustainably as possible – when we do have to buy something, and then looking after them for as long as possible (mending, repairing and so on as we go).”

“Recycling, composting and so on – they should be a last resort only.”

When everything feels heavy, the smartest thing you can do is get informed. Here Sarah shares her favourite books with us, including her own new release, on ways we can fall in love with earth, live more sustainably and regain a sense of hope. 

By the way, we’ve partnered with Booktopia to score you a discount code for these books and more. Happy reading.

Sarah Wilson’s five must-read books on sustainability 

1. The Living Mountain by Nan Shepard

What it’s about:
“[This is] the most exquisite meditation on the joy and vibrancy of hiking. Nan is a Scottish woman who outlines her experiences in the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland… hiking them during the Second World War.”

Why Sarah loves it (and you will too): 

“It’s so personal and intimate and relatable. The Living Mountain is really about being a human being and loving nature very deeply. A young woman handed it to me in a London bookstore – she simply said, ‘You look like the kind of woman who’d love this’. As it happened, I was on my way to hike the Lake District with my favourite poet David Whyte. It was a perfect travel moment.”

Who should read it:

“Anyone who needs to be reminded of what life is meant to be about and why we would want to live sustainably.”

2. Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

What it’s about:

“It’s essentially a long essay – told through anecdote – about why activism works.”

Why Sarah loves it (and you will too): 

“Solnit is one of my favourite writers. For anyone unfamiliar with her work, she writes sexy, contemporary philosophy and is responsible for coining the term ‘mansplaining’. The book dances unapologetically across theory, philosophy and literature and it is thoroughly convincing.”

Who should read it:

“For anyone needing an injection of hope and a scientifically backed reminder that engagement and activism works. It truly does!”

3. This One Wild and Precious Life, by me, Sarah Wilson

What it’s about:

“It’s my three-year journey around the world with one backpack as I follow in the footsteps of my favourite thinkers, philosophers and poets to find a path through the climate crisis, Covid-19, political and social polarisation and more. 

“I wrote it because I could feel a collective anxiety and despair building and I knew the climate movement wasn’t inspiring mobilisation or hope. The book is also indulgent hiking porn! I develop my ‘path forward’ while walking and camping through the Jordanian desert, along pirate trails on the Cornish coast, over the White Mountains in Crete, via Japanese pilgrim routes and so on. So I guess it’s part-memoir, part-travelogue, part-fired up climate polemic.”

Why Sarah loves it (and you will too): 

“[It’]s not really for me to say, but it would be the book I’m most proud of because it took me to my ‘edge’. And, as I write in the book, our edge is where we need to be right now. It’s where we live most vibrantly and can activate most vibrantly.”

Who should read it:

“Anyone feeling overwhelmed and lonely in the world right now.”

4. The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres with Tom Rivett-Carnac

What it’s about:
“This is a really awesome overview of the climate crisis and why we must act immediately … a bit of a 101 tome that explains the 1.5C targets, the IPCC, the Paris Agreement and also where we need to be targeting our energies as individuals.”

Why Sarah loves it (and you will too): 

“It’s written by the founding mother of the Paris Agreement and you can see why she was able to motivate more than 100 world leaders to sign on to the commitment. She’s emphatic and empathetic. It really isn’t dry…it’s more of an emotional climate information bible.”

Who should read it:
“Anyone after a good starting point and a very balanced and factually sound overview of the crisis, but one with a positive, hopeful tone!”

5. The Yield by Tara June Winch

What it’s about:

“This novel, which won the 2020 Miles Franklin Award, isn’t strictly a sustainability read, but I include it here because it’s a story of the indigenous fight for country, language, the past and identity – all of which is so tied up in the broader story of the destruction of the planet.”

Why Sarah loves it (and you will too): 

“The indigenous perspective comes through in this book and inspired me greatly. I’ve also become quite intrigued by Winch, who I heard speak at the Sydney Writers Festival. She spoke of feeling ashamed to be Australian right now, in big part due to our lack of climate policy and care. I’m interviewing her for my podcast, Wild with Sarah Wilson on all this.”

Who should read it:

“This is an important, rich book and is a good fictional read that can get you reflecting as opposed to thinking. Like poetry, this kind of ephemeral and heart-based writing goes straight to our visceral understanding of what matters, without having to explain – it’s evocative rather than didactic. There are a bunch of Australian books that emerge as mandatory reading…this is definitely one of them.”

Follow this link to the Koala x Booktopia storefront for more recommendations and get 10% off already discounted prices.

*The offer excludes gift certificates, eBooks, shipping, magazine and audio subscriptions, gift wrapping, and cannot be used with another promotional offer.

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