An ecofeminist reading list is eclectic, multidisciplinary, diverse. Weaving strands of radical brillance from a wide range of thinkers, ecofeminists strive to re-envision the whole.
The books with the little pencil by them are especially ecofeminist. The authors may not label their output ecofeminist per se, but they sure do feel like it!
- Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens
John Mack, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1994.
- Mack, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is at the forefront of exploring the spiritual and environmental dimensions of extraterrestial consciousness. Questioning his own deeply rooted rationalistic belief system, he bears witness to cosmic mysteries that hold extraordinary implications for humankind's future.
Ancient Futures: Learning
Helena Norberg-Hodge, San Francisco:
Sierra Club Books, 1991. Video
- Norberg-Hodge resided for years with
the Ladakhi (Tibetan) people who lived simply and in
harmony with the earth and each other. Then came
industrial capital in the form of
"development." She watched with horror as
this ancient traditional society absorbed inflation,
pollution, divisiveness, and ecological imbalance.
What makes this book profound for Western readers is
that through the Ladakhi experience we not only see
the identical disintegration being perpetrated on
other peoples throughout the world, but can come to
understand the roots of our own social malaise as
- Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture
Jeremy Rifkin, 1993.
- Rifkin is a brilliant activist and Renaissance thinker. Interweaving anthropology, sociology, economics, and ecology, he outlines the staggering cost of addiction to beef: heart disease, cancer, and strokes; rainforest devastation and fertile plains turned to deserts; violence against other animals; and the injustice to the poorest peoples in the world starving for the sake of the appetites of the wealthy.
- Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War
Barbara Ehrenreich, New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1997.
- This highly provocative inquiry on why humans war spans pre-history through modern times. Ehrenreich's thesis is that sanctioned violence is not a result of a Darwinian killer instinct or man the great hunter myths. Rather, she postulates bloodshed became a sacralized cellular memory homage to our ability to overcome our terrifying victimhood from the jaws of large animal predators. Her wide and deep hypotheses on everything from women's blood to ritual animal sacrifice makes this a perfect book for study group discussions.
Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future
Riane Eisler, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987.
- Eisler presents compelling data from prepatriarchal history to explain how
patriarchal technologies of weaponry destroyed the
peaceful goddess societies. She calls for a
partnership relationship with men in which the
feminine principle is restored to its former position
of influence and power.
- A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War
Susan Griffin, New York: Anchor Books, 1992.
- A collage of memoir and social history, this deeply thoughtful book explores the connection between personal denial and ghastly public events. Weaving in and out of time and history, and biographies large and small, Griffin excavates the interiority of our body politic.
Creation of Patriarchy
Gerda Lerner, New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
- Lerner's scholarly work relies on
historical evidence from ancient Sumerian texts to
illustrate the origins of Western gender relations.
She traces the progressive decline of women's power,
respect, and status during an era in which patriarchy
was still consolidating. Lerner demonstrates that
over time male dominance became a culturally created
phenomenon and enforced ideology.
- Dead Meat
Sue Coe, New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1996.
- Sue Coe is a popular leftist artist whose dark, blunt pictures speak volumes about the horrors of factory farms, feedlots, and the "killing floors" of slaughterhouses. With stunning precision, she captures the tragic truth underlying our meat-eating culture: the castrations, debeakings, electrocutions, and decapitations of living, sentient beings.
Demon Lover: On The Sexuality Of Terrorism
Robin Morgan, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1989.
- Through a radical pacifist lens,
Morgan traces the roots of violence and its modern
day counterpart, terrorism. Analyzing myth,
literature, and history, she ingeniously lays bare
male fascination with death, the age-old cult of hero
worship, and the normalization of violent behavior.
Morgan asserts that female sexuality and women's
"erotic intelligence" provide a blueprint
for regenerating life affirming values.
Dreaming the Dark:
Magic, Sex and Politics
Starhawk, Boston: Beacon Press, 1982.
- Starhawk presents a transformative
vision of the goddess to heal the spiritual and
political schism between society and the individual.
She advocates replacing "power over"
relationships resulting in societal breakdown for
"power-from-within" relationships that tap
the deep sexual life force energy of the universe.
the Past, Dreaming the Future: A Herstory of the
Diane Stein, Freedom, California: The
Crossing Press, 1991.
- Through channelers, Stein probes our
collective consciousness back to the ancient
civilizations of matriarchal Mu and patriarchal
Atlantis, and then into the year 2,500. According to
Stein, earth is currently in quarantine until our
species heals. Dismissing patriarchal New Age
Armageddon theories, she claims a nonviolent
ecofeminist paradigmatic shift is possible, thereby
returning us as welcome members to the intergalactic
The Fifth Sacred
Starhawk, New York: Bantam Books, 1993.
- This action-packed, quasi-sci fi melodrama would make a great movie.
It is set in 2048 with the world's environment ravaged. San Francisco has created a city of spiritual harmony, multicultural diversity, and a reverence for
nature. In Los Angeles a wealthy white elite rules over a brutal military state. The utopia/dystopia plot allows Starhawk to explore the beauty of ecofeminism.
God of Small Things
Arundhati Roy, New York: HarperPerennial, 1997.
- Ms. Roy's first novel is an extradinary work of fiction. Characters are introduced in crypic sentences, later expanded on in paragraphs, until their lives are eventually laid bare through haunting, astonishing drama. With poetic erudition, this story of twins weaves race, class, gender, and colonialism into a gripping tragedy.
Gorgons, & Crones: The Fates of the Earth
Jane Caputi, Santa Fe, New Mexico: Bear & Company Publishing,
- Trolling popular culture, Caputi
examines with great wit the national fascination for
nuclear technology. At her most trenchant, she
explores the atomic priests' obsession with secrecy
and control, and extrapolates it into understanding the sexual abuse
The Great Cosmic Mother:
Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth
Monica Sjöö and Barbara Mor, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987.
- This book is quintessential herstoryprofound,
powerful, and moving. The first 200 pages is an
extraordinary compilation of women's multitudinous
contributions to the survival and development of our
species. The last 100 pages offer a radical analysis of Eurocentric imperialist
patriarchy. Alice Walker claims Cosmic Mother is
one of the most important books she has ever read.
Green Paradise Lost
Elizabeth Dodson Gray, Wellesley, Massachusetts: Round Table Press, 1979.
- This is an excellent, easy-to-read
study of the roots of our mythic and psycho-sexual
disconnectedness from nature. Excerpting key quotes
from Western philosophers, Gray documents how society
inculcates anthropocentric (human-centered) values in
all of us, and the negative impact this has on our
relationship with nature.
The Metaethics of Radical Feminism
Mary Daly, Boston: Beacon Press, 1978.
- Deeply intellectual, always
controversial, Mary Daly's profound body of work
constitutes the philosophical, theological, and
political underpinnings of ecofeminist thought. Deconstructing, reinventing language and reality, she
re-members our consciousness back to its original,
primordial, biophilic Be-ing.
In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology & the Survival of the Indian Nations
Jerry Mander, San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1991.
- Expanding on his earlier work, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Mander puts forth the definitive neo-Luddite rebuttal to the cyberspace drumbeat. The first half of the book is trenchant and original. Unfortunately, the second half dealing with indigenous peoples feels grafted on, like an obligatory, romanticized 101 version of the noble savage.
Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks At Cancer and the Environment
Sandra Steingraber, Reading, Massachusetts: Addison Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1997.
- See review by Cathleen McGuire.
Mother Machine: Reproductive Technologies From
Artificial Insemination To Artificial Wombs
Gina Corea, New York: Harper & Row, 1985.
- In this comprehensive study, Corea
shows how patriarchy usurps women's reproductive
capacities in order to solidify social control and political
rule. Although somewhat dated, it remains a
significant ecofeminist resource for understanding
the myriad forms of technology's invasion of
motherhood. Corea attributes men's obsession with
reproduction to their marginal role in the process.
Except for ejaculation, she sees paternity as an
abstraction, while maternity is experiential and
- Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival?
Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers, New York: Penguin Books, 1996.
- Picking up where Rachel Carson's Silent Spring left off, environmental scientists are finally discovering the scary truth about man-made industrial pollutants. This groundbreaking book exposes how synthetic chemicals known as endocrine disruptors are upsetting the hormonal balance of all living beings. An absolute must-read! Compared to endocrine disruptors, AIDS is going to seem like measles.
and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the
International Division of Labour
Maria Mies, London: Zed Books, Ltd., 1986.
- Mies examines the historical
connections between European colonialism, the witch
hunts, "housewifization" and the role of
women in national liberation struggles.
Deconstructing Marx's theory of labor, she exposes a
profound male bias in his work. One of Mies' main
arguments is that both capitalist and socialist
governments are economically dependent upon the
relentless exploitation of women and the earth's
The Politics of Women's
Spirituality: Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power
Within the Feminist Movement
Charlene Spretnak, ed., New York: Anchor Press, 1982.
- This comprehensive collection of
essays go beyond an elementary understanding of
women's spirituality. A cross-section of leading
feminists address personal power and self-images of
strength and wholeness. The writings call for new
postpatriarchal values based on the unity of politics
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
Eckhart Tolle, Vancouver: Namaste Publishing, 1999.
- This extraordinary book is utterly paradigm shifting. If I had to recommend one book to evolve our species, among all these incredible titles, The Power of Now would be it.
Rape of the Wild: Man's
Violence Against Animals and the Earth
Andrée Collard with Joyce Contrucci, Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1988.
- Collard asserts that our entire
society could not function without the continued
systemic violence perpetrated daily against all
nonhuman animals. Everything from the clothes we
wear, to the pharmaceuticals we ingest, to the
colonization of outer space, is a direct consequence
of endless experiments on and exploitation of other
living sentient beings.
the Web of Life: Feminism and Nonviolence
Pam McAllister, ed. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1982.
- This multicultural anthology focuses
on the struggle to remain pacifist in a world where
violence against women is ubiquitous. McAllister has
selected writings that speak to women's anger against
the patriarchy, yet caution against adopting the
tools of the patriarchy (i.e., weaponry or warfare).
Contributions from over fifty women maintain that our
revolutionary strength lies in nonviolently fusing
our rage with compassion.
- A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia
Blaine Harden, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997.
- An excellent read, this book is a case study in misguided development. Learn how one of America's mightiest rivers was reduced to an elaborately engineered, artificial machine. The Department of Energy is threatening to put the final nail in the coffin by turning over to developers Hanford Reach, the last free-flowing portion of the river ironically preserved by decades of nuclear secrecy.
Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist Vegetarian
Carol Adams, New York:
- In this cutting edge ecofeminist work,
Adams brilliantly analyzes language and literature to
show the connections between the oppression of women
and the oppression of animals. She critiques the
historically masculinist roots of a carnivorous diet
and chronicles a tradition of principled
vegetarianism among early feminists. Adams advocates
veganism as an effective political and personal tool
in the dismantlement of patriarchy.
Sisters of the Earth
Lorraine Anderson, ed., New York: Vintage Books, 1991.
- This rich collection of poems, essay,
stories, and journal entries is a unique compilation
of women's thoughts on nature. Bypassing theory,
diverse writers such as Joy Harjo, Willa Cather,
Alice Walker, and Annie Dillard speak to us through
the eloquent voice of experience.
- The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collusion of Two Cultures
Anne Fadiman, New York:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.
- This true story explores the clash between a small county hospital in California and a refugee family from Laos over the care of their Hmong child who has been diagnosed with severe epilepsy. The Hmong shamanic traditions run counter to the AMA-style treatment that is often enforced on all parents in this country by law. Sadly, the liberal, do-gooder doctors in the story can never seem to see beyond their own ethnocentrism to save little Lia Lee.
Velma Wallis, Seattle, Washington:
Epicenter Press, 1993.
- A beautiful Alaskan legend of two
indigenous elders abandoned by their people when
things got tough. Their inspiring story of survival
is a tribute to the power of all crones.
Call For What They Need.
Melissa Kwasny, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Spinsters Ink, 1993.
- This tender novel chronicles the lives
of three working class Midwestern women from young
girls to old age. Interwoven throughout is their
relationship to the land, capturing in essence a
vivid historical portrait of the displacement of
rural nature by the onslaught of urban
- The Way of Compassion: Survival Strategies for a World in Crisis
Martin Rowe, ed., New York: Stealth Technologies, 1999.
- This is a collection of 50 of the best articles from Satya, the superlative magazine dedicated to vegetarianism, environmentalism, and animal advocacy. One of the book's strong points is its inclusion of the spiritual component of social change. Words of wisdom on non-violence and local activism come from such contributors as Dick Gregory, Jane Goodall, and Maneka Ghandi.
on the Edge of Time
Marge Piercy, New York:
- Piercy's imaginative novel is about a
working class Chicana committed to a mental institution
where she is struggling to avoid a ruthless lobotomy.
Able to channel into the year 2137, she experiences a
remarkable ecofeminist utopia. To her horror, she
also stumbles into a competing techno dystopia. This
riveting work of science fiction has become a source
of inspiration for all ecofeminist visionaries.
and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her
Susan Griffin, New York: Harper & Row, 1978.
- An ecofeminist classic, this poetic
work gave a feminist voice to the metaphor of nature
as female. Forgoing dry documentation, Griffin
employs lyric narrative as she weaves illuminating
connections between the oppression of women and the
oppression of nature. Women and Nature early
on influenced many ecofeminists, and continues to do
so to this day.
God Was a Woman
Merlin Stone, New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1976.
- This is one of the first books to
document the ancient goddess cultures of the Middle
East from a feminist perspective. Uncovering
"overlooked" historical information, Stone
reveals the profound violence and misogyny of early
patriarchy. She deconstructs biblical texts to
demonstrate that patriarchy unequivocally informed
the roots of Judeo-Christianity.