• Events
SEE ALL
Jun 5
Talk
The Battle of Normandy LIVE on Zoom Alliance Française de Minneapolis/St. Paul 113 N First Street Minneapolis, MN 55401
Jun 6
Performance
She No Princess, He No Hero Broadcast LIVE on Zoom and Facebook
Jun 6
Performance
She No Princess, He No Hero Broadcast LIVE on Zoom and Facebook

MOTHER EARTH: A READING LIST

Today, we come together to celebrate the Earth. On this occasion, enjoy a bit of fresh air from the confines of your living room (or, if you're lucky, your backyard) by discovering some new environmentally-themed reads.

Here are a few books, podcasts, and various reflections of the state of nature that will help you celebrate Mother Earth and its living beings. May it be source of inspiration to you.

All content is available on Culturetèque. 

FOR THE CONSERVATIONISTS

Quelle part de notre humanité brûle avec la forêt ? (What Part of Our Humanity Burns with the Forest?), with Joëlle Zask

PODCAST OLIVIA GESBERT (PRODUCTION) France Culture - 2019 

Megafires are the symptom of something much bigger, a sign that society is moving in the wrong direction. Looking at this new phenomenon, Zask, a philosopher by trade and author of Quand la forêt brûle (Premier Parallèle), demonstrates how urgent it is to act. LINK 

Zask, a participant in our latest Albertine festival, discussed global warming with Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein. Watch it again here.

    L'île oubliée by Jacqueline Heissat and Paulinka

    (KIDS) EBOOK: Dadoclem 

    Lost in the middle of the Indian Ocean, this island had no name. Its first inhabitants—papangs, rams and Tropicbirds—once lived in harmony with nature. But when humans settled in, everything changed, and the animals started to revolt. You’ll encounter in this book, among other fascinating animals, the Dodo, an extinct animal that now only lives on beer bottles and tourist t-shirts… LINK

    La Forêt est en danger (The forest is in danger) by Gabriella CorcioneCaroline Petit and Edwige Planchin

    (KIDS) EBOOK, Les petites bulles, 2015

    For the longest time, garden moles have been hunted to the extent that they almost disappeared... Almost, because in this faraway forest, some have started to rebel…  LINK

     

    FOR THE FUTURIST GEEKS

    The debate is on: will science save the world, or do we need to change course completely? Does the answer lie somewhere in between?

    Animaux du futur: Survivre à Llextention (Animals of the Future: Survive the extinction) with Jean Sebastien Steyer

    (ADULT) PODCAST: La Méthode scientifique Niolas Martin, France Culture, 2018 

    Animaux du Future: Survivre à L’extention explores the biodiversity of the future. Podcast guests, including paleonthologist Jean Sebastien Steyer, consider what we can learn from the past and imagine what the future may hold. Spoiler: you’ll hear of experiments in speculative biology, drones as bee replacements, and many other contraptions and inventions that will capture your imagination. LINK 

      Pourquoi la technologie ne nous sauvera pas ? (Why Technology Won’t Save Us)  with Philippe Bihouix

      (ADULT) PODCAST: produced by Olivia Gesbert, France Culture, 2019

      Engineer Philippe Bihouix reminds us that the digital and technological worlds are heavy consumers of energy resources and raw materials, assets that are finite by definition. He contends that the omnipresent solutions promoted by technical thurifers won’t be nearly enough to save the world. Bihouix is the author of the topical Désastre de l'école numérique (Disastrous Digital Schooling, Seuil, 2016) and the fascinating L'Âge des low tech. Vers une civilisation techniquement soutenable (The Age of Low Tech: Towards a Technological Sustainable Civilisation, Seuil, 2014) and Le Bonheur était pour demain (Happiness Was for Tomorrow, Seuil, 2019).  LINK

      The End by ZEP

      (ADULT) COMIC BOOK: Rue de Sèvres

      Intern Théodore Atem joins a team of researchers in Sweden studying trees' inter-communication as well as their interactions with human beings. As the group attempts to demonstrate that trees hold the secrets of the Earth in their DNA and codex, global tragedy ensues. Théodore, one of the few survivors, is left to ponder if this could presage a new prospect for our human species.  LINK

      FOR THE ACTIVISTS...

      Petit manuel de résistance contemporaine (Little Handbook for Present-day Resistance) by Cyril Dion

      (ADULT) EBOOK: Actes Sud Nature, 2018

      For two years, documentary filmmaker and activist Cyril Dion travelled to 18 countries and 200 cities to promote Demain, a film he co-directed with Mélanie Laurent. Meanwhile, dreadful news accumulated, from accrued global warming to the tremendous increase of inequalities to the extinction of 80% of species of insects and 50% of vertebrates in Europe, among other chilling information. Remarkably, Dion brings us an uplifting essay in which he lays down some of the options that are still on the table, from individual to collective answers.  LINK

      Vers un nouvel usage du monde ? Une histoire environnementale des idées (Toward an amended use of the world) with Pierre Charbonnier

      (ADULT) PODCAST: Sylvain Bourmeau (Production), France Culture, 2020

      In an important essay, Abondance et liberté (Abundance and Liberty), philosopher Pierre Charbonnier uses history to contextualize the current state of ecological emergency, and pleads for a radical politization of environmental issues. (The book is available in French on La découverte’s website and it is forthcoming in English translation with Polity books.) LINK

      1000 vaches (1000 Cows) by Adèle Tariel

      (KIDS) EBOOK: Editions Père Fouettard

      A farmer lives happily with his three cows, until a man in a suit arrives at his door. He finds the milk absolutely delicious and settles in, eventually demanding that the farmer get more cows, ramp up production, and purchase new machinery… to the extent that the farmer’s life is completely upended, as is the life of his cows. A beautiful and delicate ode to simple pleasures, animal wellbeing, and sustainable production. LINK

      Comment ça, il a renoncé ? (What Do You Mean He Quit?) by Catarina Sobral

      KIDS EBOOKS: Notari

      Catarina Sobral pens a brilliant contemporary tale, as surreal as it is disturbing, on sustainable development. The illustrator imagines tongue-in-cheek visions of politicians, environmentalists, and physicists’ reactions to the world falling apart, and the best world soccer player is left to ponder: “Without the world what am I the best soccer player of?“LINK

      ...AND OTHER  IDEALISTS

      Ce à quoi nous tenons (What we hold Dear) by Emilie Hache 

      (ADULT) EBOOK, La découverte, 2014

      What happens when you consider that nature is not an infinite commodity? Starting with what needs to be protected as opposed to what we should forbid, the author will have you reassess your priorities. With the input of scientists, farmers, economists, and activists, she contemplates the relationship we sustain with animals, mountains, oceans and climate and devises a plan. Emilie Hache is a philosopher specializing in Political ecology, and an ecofeminist. LINK

      Pierre Rabhi, L’homme Colibri 

      (ADULT) PODCAST: France Culture - 2020 

      Join Pierre Rahbi, a farmer, pioneer in agroecology, poet, storyteller and UN expert on food security, for an enlightening five-part series on the author’s life journey, spiritual awakening, and commitment to ecology. Wisdom can be contagious, and Rahbi has much to share. LINK

      FOR THE MELANCOLICS & COUNTRYSIDE ENTHOUSIASTS

      Swapping urbanity for rurality or vice versa. Here are two subtle and entertaining comic works:

      Le Retour à la terre (Back to Nature) by Manu Larcenet and Jean-Yves Ferri

      (ADULT) COMICS: Dargaud

      Ahh the countryside, its pretty flowers, its cute animals, the sound of water flowing… Haven’t we all wished we could escape and refresh our spirits by being closer to nature? Filled with delicate humor, Manu Larcenet’s comics are absolutely charming in his description of two worlds colliding. LINK 

      Les Grands Espaces (Wide Open Spaces) Catherine Meurisse

      (ADULT) COMICS: Dargaud

      Illustrator Catherine Meurisse grew up in the countryside as her parents decided to restore a farm and make it their new home. The house is big and old; there are trees to plant, a garden to build, and nature to observe. The inspiration and creativity she finds in the countryside is telling of her future in illustration.  LINK

      FOR CITY DWELLERS CONVINCED OF THE COUNTRYSIDE HOSTILITY

      La Terre (The Earth) by Emile Zola

      (ADULT) EBOOK: Public Domain

      Published in 1887, the 15th volume of the Rougon-Macquart series is without a doubt one of Zola’s most violent works. He portrays a ferocious picture of rural life in the 19th century, its people hard at work and consumed by a devastating passion for the earth. The bestiality of the work led some to advise Zola to consult Charcot for his morbid obsession. LINK

      Règne animal by Jean-Baptiste Del Amo

      (ADULT) EBOOK: Editions Gallimard, 2016, 

      For a 20th century vision of the rural world's hostility, look no further than Règne animal, the brilliant pig farming saga taking place over 5 generations. In this prize-winning work, characters struggle to maintain the family farm through war, economic hardships, and industrial violence. A great novel on human’s failure to control nature. LINK

      FOR THE POETS

      L’Explosion de la tortue by Eric Chevillard 

      (ADULT) EBOOK: Minuit

      Florida’s turtles can’t be treated like objects. They need food and water. Upon returning home after a month-long absence, the narrator makes this puzzling discovery. Chevillard is the author of Prehistoric TimesThe Author and Me as well as the witty and unique blog/diary L’Autofictif published by the author since 2008. Discover the author’s unique prose and humor here. Hungry for more? Follow his entertaining confinement journal published in Le MondeLINK

      Sila, le raccommodeur de banquise (Sila Ice-Couturier) by Justine Vergès & Gaëtan Serra 

      (KIDS) EBOOK: Dadoclem

      Sila is a polar bear on a mission to repair the Artic ice. He is desperately seeking help from human beings, but to no avail. So, Sila turns to the fish for help and starts stiching the ice back together. The award winning book is a poetic call to action, bringing awareness to the consequences of our actions. LINK

      FOR THE BIRD WATCHERS

      Comment partager nos territoires avec les animaux ? (How to share our territories with Animals) with Vinciane Despret

      (ADULT) PODCAST- Olivia Gesbert production, France Culture, 2019

      Vinciane Despret, philosopher of science and specialist of ethology, mixes poetry and science in her latest essay on how birds perceive their territory in Habiter en oiseau (Actes Sud). Despret is the author of the fascinating What Would Animals Say If We Asked the Right Questions? (University of Minnesota Press, prefaced by Bruno Latour) and Hans : le cheval qui savait compter (Empêcheurs de penser en rond). LINK 

      Les Fables du moineau (The Sparrow’s fable) by Sami Tchak 

      (ADULT) EBOOK: Gallimard 

      Published on the 20th anniversary of Gallimard’s continent noir collection, The Sparrow’s fable by the author of mythic Place des fêtes will have you meditate on life and death and nature’s wisdom. You’ll hear of babobabs, and sparrows, eggs of snakes, agoutis and eels. The book is postfaced by Ananda Devi. LINK

      Colibri by Céline Delabre

      (KIDS) EBOOK: Points de Suspension,

      And the legend goes: one day there was a humongous fire. All the animals facing this tragedy were as terrified as they were powerless. All of them but one: A little colibri kept busy fetching droplets of water to throw them onto the fire. A beautiful tale on the power of collective action. LINK

      (PS: if you have missed it is still time to watch our latest Festival Albertine on climate change, curated by renowned environmentalist Bill McKibben.)

       


      Culturethèque, is the digital library of l’Institut Français, is accessible all over the world and is now free until the end of May.With more than 1000 books, 200 graphic novels, 400 magazines, 300 videos and countless learning manuals, you can have access to high quality content from the comfort of your own home. More info here.

      MORE IN BOOKS & IDEAS