Sustainable & Unsustainable Books (now at Off Square Books)

It is logical that the amount of books published about the environment continues to increase in relation to the environment's worsening. Finding the proper category in our bookstore for these books has proved difficult. Many are closely related to nature, and have been shelved in our NATURE section, but a book on, say, solar power more aptly belongs in SCIENCE. A lot of the new books on the "slow" and "go local" movements are in some way related to environmental studies, but many of those have been categorized in GARDENING or HOME LIVING. As our inventory on these sorts of books has grown they have spread throughout various sections of the bookstore.

We felt our browsers would appreciate finding them all in one place. Thus a new section was born and we labeled it SUSTAINABLE LIVING, holding books such as Power of the People: America's New Electricity Choices, by Carol Sue Tombari (Fulcrum Books): Eat Your Yard: Edible Trees, Shrubs, Vines, Herbs, and Flowers for Your Landscape, by Nan Chase, who visited Square Books this spring; and Bill McKibben's books, including his latest, Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet (Holt), about which Barbara Kingsolver said, "nothing could be more important" than reading it.  These and many more such books, all together, made for a nice, cool, almost reassuring section.

But we continued to have a problem with all the books on the environment that do not belong in Sustainable Living; if anything, they are its opposite--books on such happy subjects as global warming, overpopulation, the extinction of species, and, guaranteed to come, a canon on the Gulf Oil Disaster that eventually may warrant its own section, as did Katrina literature not long ago. The answer was to make another new section, called UNSUSTAINABLE LIVING. We located it adjacent to, just beneath, SUSTAINABLE LIVING. Here you can find The Flooded Earth: Our Future in a World Without Ice Caps, by Peter D. Ward (Basic Books); Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization, by Spencer Wells, (Random House); and Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil (Knopf), by Peter Maass, which bears this blurb from (shelved above) Bill McKibben: "If you think drug dealing is a dirty business, then meet the biggest drug of all."

Problems solved. Until we came across Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians, and Misguided Politics That Hurt the Poor, by Roy Spencer (Encounter Books). "I heartily recommend it," says Rush Limbaugh. "Brilliant," according to Glenn Beck. Well, I thought, this seems more like a political tract than something that actually addresses environmental concerns. As an aid to booksellers and libraries in these common category dilemmas, the publisher usually prints on the back jacket the subject category it recommends. I turned this Climate Confusion over to see what the publisher thought and found that I was right -- "POLITICAL SCIENCE / GENERAL." So, POLITICAL SCIENCE is where you may find the two copies of Climate Confusion--that have been there since January.