What they’re reading: Pritzker Award candidates’ book recommendations

At last night’s Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award ceremony, our 2017 candidates shared copies of books that made a real difference in their lives. Here’s the list, for anyone who wants to think like a young environmental genius.


Susana De Anda
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
“Once you dismiss all the labels and the prior influences to your judgment, you will start to see the bigger picture of why you act the way you do, or think the way you think.”

Danfung Dennis
Genesis by Sebastiao Salgado
“The images in this book remind me that we come from nature, that we are part of it and we must protect all of its beauty to sustain life.”

Dan Hammer
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
“The greatest California epic ever written. ‘But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul.’ “

Mark Huerta
Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
“This book changed my perspective and helped me ‘inner engineer’ my life. Peace and joy are always available in the present moment. I hope you enjoy.”

Lesley Marincola
Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid by C.K. Prahalad
“This book inspired me to start Angaza. I believe for-profit social enterprises can eradicate global poverty through market-driven approaches.”

Katie Rowe
Born Free by Joy Adamson
“I understand her love for wildlife and connect to that, knowing that they are living things with emotions not very different from ours, trying to find the best outcome.”

Ryan Flaherty
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“The book’s simple yet complex wisdom: Be infinitely curious, appreciate different perspectives, and – perhaps most importantly – focus on truly important things.”

Laura Flessner
What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles
“Through thoughtful self-inventory, this book helped me discover my personal/career goals which inspired a shift towards environmental GIS.”

Eddie Game
Throwim Way Leg by Tim Flannery
“Captivating science and writing that first drew me to the people and forests of New Guinea. Important in ways I’ve only realized with time.”

Quentin Gee
Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway
“The book reveals many important modes of deception that have been used against environmental science, and teaches you to be aware.”

Ed Hawkins
Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf
“Humboldt was the first scientist to identify that human activities, through deforestation & changes in land use, were impacting the climate.”

Nathan Hunter
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
“A multi-generational tale of survival and endurance through periods of hardship and change. The book gave me a feeling of solidarity and tenacity as we deal with an ever-changing world of paradoxical happenings. A great read I would definitely recommend to all!”

Lauren Kurtz
Merchants of Doubt by Erik M. Conway
“Merchants of Doubt covers efforts to manufacture doubt on climate change & the dire implications – those who care about our planet must read.”

Dawn Lippert
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
“Fiction takes us to new places of empathy, in this case regarding identity and the immigrant experience… and this book inspired me to live and work in India after college.”

Katherine Mach
Global Environmental Assessments: Information and Influence by Ronald Bruce Mitchell
I am focused on making knowledge actionable for people managing climate risk. This classic explores the ways that influence comes most of all from how people work and find solutions together.

Ashwin Madgavkar
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
“My first great adventure novel…also involves slaying a dragon named ‘Smaug’ (smog)”

Jennifer Moslemi
How to live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell
“Man who used vulnerability to create a new form of storytelling, so powerful it reaches across centuries. Now the dialect of our digital age.”

Christine Su
Lentil Underground by Liz Carlisle
“Carbon drawdown starts with soil. Farmers and ranchers building soil health in the Midwest are the unsung champions of climate resilience.”

Vien Truong
The Messy Truth by Van Jones
“As a refugee, I’ve felt first-hand the generational heart-break caused by a divided people. The U.S. is now being torn apart. This book shows how we can come together. Go to p.182 to read about my story!”

Michael Twitty
The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty
A culinary historian travels the routes of his ancestors in the Old South, immersing himself in a complex weaving of food history and politics, genealogy and genetics, and discovers on the way surprising truths about family, identity, and the destiny of the Southern table.