Gifts - Books

Below are just a few of the dozens of books we have seen and/or read this year.

If you'd like to see something added to the list, email with your suggestion.

Two remarkable and much cherished reads from 2012 are Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie and Fire Season by Philip Connors. Both were a Book of the Week on Radio 4 - and would make a fine present.

1. How to be an Everyday Kitchen Magician

By Richard Fox

Don’t bin it! With this book you will be astounded by what you can make from the most uninspiring food at the back of your fridge or cupboard.

This book is so much more than a recipe book – in fact, it’s about learning to cook without using recipes at all. It’s about making the most of what you have, reducing your waste dramatically, and discovering how to create spontaneous, delicious dishes in minutes. It’s filled with ingredients that most of us would throw away without so much as a second thought.

Price: PB £9.95
ISBN: 978 085784 027 1
Publisher: Green Books -

Price: HB £25
Publisher: The Food Education Trust -

2. What's for Dinner? Second Helpings

By Romilla Arber

This is a new 767 page cookery book, published to help raise funds for The Food Education Trust, a charity dedicated to equipping children and adults with basic cookery skills so they can learn the importance of a balanced home-cooked diet.

Over the last 35 years, there has been a gradual decline in the importance placed on the food people consume. It is no coincidence that while obesity levels and the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes are on the rise, home cooking is on the decline. Only through the promotion of healthy, home cooking, can we begin to combat unhealthy eating habits.

100% of sale proceeds go directly to the charity.

3. All You Knead is Bread

By Jane Mason

From baguettes in France and soda bread in Ireland, to naan bread in India and cibatta in Italy, discover the global endurance of bread in all its forms in a collection of unique bread recipes from around the world.

Cook book and travelogue, this book explores the role of bread in our lives and presents over 50 easy recipes for completely individual types of bread. Gorgeous photography provides the reader with ideas on how to pair the bread with food for any occasion.

Price: HB £18.99
ISBN: 978 1 84975 257 2
Publisher: Ryland Peters & Small -

Price: HB £9.99
ISBN: 9781903141946
Publisher: Aquamarine -

4. Wood Fired Oven

The country’s most passionate wood-fired oven cooking experts, Holly and David Jones at Manna from Devon Cooking School, have recently compiled a new ‘Wood-Fired Oven Cookbook’. Packed full of helpful tips, beautiful photography and easy to follow recipes, which can be cooked either in a wood-fired oven or in a conventional oven, this cookbook is a must for any cooking enthusiast looking for a new challenge.

Cooking with a wood-fired oven is a long standing tradition in many countries around the world. Although the shape and building materials may vary, the thing they have in common is how efficiently they produce and retain heat. In Europe, the communal bread oven was pivotal to village life for many centuries. The baker would use the oven early in the morning to bake his bread and then other villagers would use the residual heat in the oven to cook their evening meals.

5. Shine Inside & Out

By Rebecca Kane

For experienced Raw Foodies and for those who want to add something different to their diet, Rebecca’s second book Shine Inside and Out is packed with amazing but simple raw food recipes that can all be made from ingredients found in your local supermarket.

She takes you step-by-step from getting started with how to incorporate more living foods in your diet to simple and refreshing natural flavoured waters, to smoothies, soups, main meals and deserts. All the recipes are wheat-free, dairy-free and uncooked!

Price: PB £14.99

Price: HB £17.99
ISBN: 978 0 9569822 0 9
Publisher: Citrus Press. Se also

6. First Preserves

By Vivien Lloyd

Acting as the go-to-guide for beginners and enthusiasts alike, this new book not only features a variety of recipes, but covers everything you need to know to understand the science of making successful preserves, including the history, method and most importantly, the reasons why.

First Preserves features a collection of 30 traditional recipes for marmalades, jams and chutneys, ranging from a classic Seville Orange Marmalade recipe, with which Vivien won 'Best of the Best' at the 2008 World's Original Marmalade Festival, to Merry Marmalade, Apple & Ginger Jam, Damson, Ginger & Cardamon chutney and Apricot & Orange chutney.

The book is divided into Marmalade, Jam and Chutney sections, with detailed explanations of every stage of the preserving process, from the preparation to how to fill and seal the jars. There are recipes for all seasons, and the book includes a 'Fruits for Jam and Chutneys' chapter detailing varieties and their seasons.

7. Chicken Nuggets

By David Squire

A delightful gift for smallholders and chicken fanciers.

Few farmyard and back-garden animals display such appealing and amusing characteristics as chickens. Some continually scratch the ground in search of insects, many just bustle and hustle, while others reveal self-importance through a measured walk. They would have been outstanding vaudeville acts, but their egg-laying and meat-producing abilities have been hijacked by humans to produce food for millions of people throughout the world each day.

Decorated throughout with historical woodcuts and engravings, and packed with intriguing facts and folklore, this book is not only a charming gift but is also a useful practical guide.

Price: HB £9.95
ISBN: 978 0 85784 092 9
Publisher: Green Books -

Price: £35
ISBN: 978 0 500 290569
Publisher: Thames & Hudson

8. Sustainable Fashion Handbook

By Sandy Black

The fashion industry has undergone an overhaul in the last decade. Now designers must bear responsibility for their impact upon both the environment and product sources, and sustainable fashion has never been more relevant.

Packed with facts, features, inspiring images and interviews from leading designers, The Sustainable Fashion Handbook is big, bold and impressive

Five thematic chapters cover every aspect of contemporary fashion: fashion culture from high street and haut couture to blogosphere and web; design and innovation, the industry’s life-blood; the business of fashion, an industry of 40 million people worldwide; the system’s eco-footprint; and outlook for the future and the role of technology in greening fashion.

Resolutely positive in outlook, this is an ideal companion for fashion students, design professionals, and anyone with an interest in fashion, sustainability or design innovation.

9. Ghost Milk

By Iain Sinclair

This Summer, the Olympic and Paralympic Games were an undisputed success. By many accounts the best ever, they have set new standards which will be difficult to surpass. But what happens now the Games have gone? What is the true legacy of a grand project, and what will become of East London after the joy of the Games has faded? Published in April this year, before the pageant of Jubillee and the Olympic festival, Iain Sinclair considers the trouble to come.

Beginning in his east London home many years before it will be invaded by the Olympian machinery of global capitalism, Sinclair strikes out near and far in search of the forgotten and erased.

Burrowing under the perimeter fence of the grandest of grand Projects - the giant myth that is 2012's London Olympics - Ghost Milk explores a landscape under sentence of death and soon to be scorched by riots. This is a road map to a possible future as well as Sinclair's most powerful statement yet on the throwaway impermanence of the present.

Price: PB £9.99
ISBN: 978 0 141 03964 0
Publisher: Penguin -

10. The Viral Storm

By Nathan Wolfe

The threat of a global pandemic is greater than we have ever imagined. In this alarming book, award-winning biologist Nathan Wolfe - known as 'the Indiana Jones of virus hunters' for his work in jungles and rain forests across the world - examines how viruses like HIV, swine flu, and bird flu have almost wiped us out in the past - and may do so in the future.

The Viral Storm explores why modern life makes us so vulnerable to global pandemics and what new technologies can do to prevent them. Wolfe's provocative vision may leave you feeling distinctly uncomfortable - but it will reveal exactly what it is we are up against.

Price: PB £9.99
ISBN: 978 0 141 04651 8
Publisher: Penguin -

11. Silent Spring

By Rachel Carson

Fifty years on from its first publication in 1962, Rachel Carson's ground-breaking book is republished in hardback by Penguin.

The modern environmental movement sprang from Carson's seminal book on the destruction of wildlife through the widespread and indiscriminate use of pesticides. She described nests full of eggs that would never hatch, rivers bloated with poisoned fish and children killed by the chemicals previously lauded as miracle potions. The book's impact is still being felt today.

As a gift for a budding young ecologist, or as a memento for a life-long conservationist and treehugger, you'd be hard-pressed to do better.

Fifty years on, the powerful messages in Carson's work - and tragically mirrored in her personal life - resonate just as strongly today.

Price: HB £14.99
ISBN: 978 0 141 39152 6
Publisher: Penguin -

12. The Death of Grass

By John Christopher

Not a new book at all; but one published nearly 60 years ago. It's the story of the global death of wheat and how the world quickly falls apart. Mass starvation leads to the fall of nations and the crumbling of all civilised norms. Barbarism descends upon the people of England in a desperate quest to survive.

While not a great work of literature, the compelling story offers an insight into what might happen to our own world should an increasing reliance upon monoculture foods and a globalised food system fail. Read as a trilogy with The Viral Storm and Silent Spring above to understand just how dependent we have become upon a system that pays little heed to nature and its very powerful imperatives.

Price: PB £8.99
ISBN: 9780141190174
Publisher: Penguin -

13. The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 40 Years

By Yvon Chouinard & Vincent Stanley

Written by Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia, and Vincent Stanley, Patagonia’s head of marketing, this book draws on the authors’ cumulative years of experience at Patagonia – and knowledge of current efforts by other companies – to articulate the elements of responsible business of today.

“I co-wrote this book because I wanted to provide concise step-by-step solutions for people who want to green their business,” said Yvon Chouinard, “The Responsible Company is a practical sequel to Let my People Go Surfing and was written for individuals and businesses that want to stop causing unnecessary harm. Most notably, it includes checklists of activities that every company, including our own, needs to address in the coming years.”

In plain, compelling prose, the authors articulate how companies can reduce the harm they cause, improve the quality of their business, and provide the kind of meaningful work everyone wants today. Its advice is simple but powerful: reduce your environmental footprint (and its skyrocketing cost), make legitimate products that last, reclaim deep knowledge of your business and its supply chain to make the most of opportunities in the years to come, and earn the trust (and business) you’ll need by treating your workers, customers and communities with respect.

Price: £18
Publisher: Patagonia Books -

Price: PB £17.50
ISBN: 978 1 906093 70 9
Publisher: Greenleaf Publishing -

14. Changing Business from the Inside Out: A Treehugger’s Guide to Working in Corporations

By Timothy J. Mohin

Changing Business from the Inside Out provides a fascinating roadmap to the corporate responsibility and sustainability fields, from beginning a career, to forming a programme, to navigating the complicated politics of a company. Mohin likens the corporate treehugger role to "being the designated driver at a cocktail party." Throughout his book, he argues strongly that activists can accomplish more for the planet and society by serving as a voice of responsibility within the company rather than protesting outside the factory gates. Businesses are clearly the drivers of the world economy, and the corporate responsibility practitioner has an essential role in bringing ethical and sustainable values to the boardroom and making sure that they are accomplished.

15. What Money Can't Buy

By Michael Sandel

"Sandel brings the power of his political philosophy to bear on our general sense of unease" The Times

This book - subtitled "The Moral Limits of Markets" - is a timely look at the relationship between markets and morals, a book that asks fundamental questions about the reach of markets into our daily lives.

Covering all aspects of life - from health to education, public safety to national security, criminal justice, environmental protection, sports and arts, family life and personal relationships - Sandel delves into the difficult arguments missing from our public debate about the value being assigned my markets to non-market norms.

Price: HB £20
ISBN: 978 1 846 14471 4
Publisher: Allen Lane -

16. How to Make Your Company a Recognized Sustainability Champion

By Brendan May

Is it really worth the time and resources to make your company a recognised sustainability champion? And how on earth should you go about it? Companies that will be fit for purpose in 2020 are addressing sustainability now. This short, expert book outlines a strategy for how to do it and communicate it. Read more…

Praise from Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business at Marks & Spencer:
"The greatest skill in life is to say something useful, briefly. That's what Brendan May has done here. Simple, engaging and to the point, his book is based on years of practical experience on the subject of building a sustainable business, where brevity (and usefulness) are rarely the norm. Read, learn, do!"

Price: £30 to buy; £8.50 to rent
Publisher: Dō Sustainability -

17. Promoting Sustainable Behaviour: A Practical Guide to What Works

By Adam Corner

"Many environmental communicators still labour under the misunderstanding that ethical behaviours can be isolated and sold in the same way as iPhones or deodorant. With characteristic clarity and authority, Adam Corner shows us why this cannot be the case - and highlights what we should be doing instead."
Tom Crompton, Change Strategist, WWF

Promoting sustainable behaviour is a critical part of society’s response to climate change. This short, practical book is the definitive guide to building a sustainable behaviour campaign that works. Read more…

Price: £30 to buy; £8.50 to rent
Publisher: Dō Sustainability -

18. Solar Photovoltaics Business Briefing

By David Thorpe

"This easy-to-understand guide offers a comprehensive overview of why solar PV makes environmental and economic sense. It is essential reading for business owners considering installations."
Martin Dowley, MD, 7Energy Ltd

This DōShort explains, for a UK business audience, the technical, scientific and economic aspects of solar photovoltaics (PV) technologies. It is useful to anyone considering a business use of solar PV, whether an investor, potential purchaser, or thinking of setting up a company in the sector. Read more…

Price: £30 to buy; £8.50 to rent
Publisher: Dō Sustainability -

19. Green Jujitsu: The Smart Way to Embed Sustainabilty into the Culture of Your Organisation

By Gareth Kane

"In my experience most businesses see the sustainability agenda as 'business as usual but a bit greener'. Gareth Kane's book illustrates the need for culture change - and gives practical advice on how to make sustainability a reality, rather than just tokenism."
Julia Hailes, writer and sustainability adviser to M&S, P&G and McDonalds

Green Jujitsu presents tactics that have been battle-proven with some of the world’s leading organisations. It distils dozens of examples of best practise from small and large organisations in a range of sectors. Green Jujitsu is the opposite of what most companies actually do -- but is the approach that achieves culture change that lasts. Read more…

Price: £30 to buy; £8.50 to rent
Publisher: Dō Sustainability -

Price: PB £19.99
ISBN: 9781846146985
Publisher: Penguin -

20. Meme Wars: The Creative Destruction of Neoclassical Economics

By Kalle Lasn & Adbusters

Fresh ideas in economic thinking from the radical, anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters – the instigators of OccupyWallStreet.

Revolutionary, heretical economic concepts much-loved by Adbusters are rarely covered in the mainstream media. But, with our economic system in tatters, and our future draining away, we need radical alternatives to the status quo.

A war of really big ideas within economics is coming. Through a striking mix of text and images, Adbusters is making the first forays into that meme war, placing new emphasis on the environmental and human factors that are often left out in discussions of economics.

This textbook for the future has everyone from Nobel prize-winning economists like Joseph Stiglitz to those working on the fringes of economic theory, clamouring for change. Read their inspiring ideas here.

21. Plants as Persons

By Matt Hall

Plants are people too? Not exactly, but in this work of philosophical botany Matthew Hall challenges readers to reconsider the moral standing of plants, arguing that they are other-than-human persons.

Plants constitute the bulk of our visible biomass, underpin all natural ecosystems, and make life on Earth possible. Yet plants are considered passive and insensitive beings rightly placed outside moral consideration. As the human assault on nature continues, more ethical behavior toward plants is needed. Hall surveys Western, Eastern, Pagan, and Indigenous thought, as well as modern science and botanical history, for attitudes toward plants, noting the particular resources for plant personhood and those modes of thought that most exclude plants.

The most hierarchical systems typically put plants at the bottom, but Hall finds much to support a more positive view of plants. Indeed, some Indigenous animisms actually recognize plants as relational, intelligent beings who are the appropriate recipients of care and respect. New scientific findings encourage this perspective, revealing that plants possess many of the capacities of sentience and mentality traditionally denied them.

Price: $24.95 (note price is in US dollars)
ISBN: 978 1 4384 3428 5
Publisher: State University of New York Press -

Price: HB £22.00 PB £12.99
ISBN: 9781848870765
Publisher: Atlantic Books -

22. Green Philosphy

By Roger Scruton

The environment has long been the undisputed territory of the political Left, which has seen the principal threats to the earth as issuing from international capitalism, consumerism and the over-exploitation of natural resources. In Green Philosophy, Scruton argues that conservatism is far better suited to tackle environmental problems than either liberalism or socialism. He believes that rather than entrusting the environment to unwieldy NGOs and international committees, we should assume personal responsibility and foster local sovereignty. People should be empowered to take charge of their environment, to care for it as a home, and to affirm themselves through the kind of local associations that have been the traditional goal of conservative politics.

Even if you think that Scruton's premise that conservatism is the key to conservation is wrong (and to those of us here at the Green Guide it does seem wrong), from a liberal perspective it is interesting to challenge and reconsider long-held and cherished views. While Scruton may not be correct in his re-interpratation of the green movement, he does posit some compelling and thought-provoking ideas about how to engage and galvanise an often - and increasingly - uninterested society.

23. The Better Angels of Our Nature

By Steven Pinker

This riveting, myth-destroying book reveals how, contrary to popular belief, humankind has become progressively less violent through history.

Debunking both the idea of the 'noble savage' and an over-simplistic Hobbesian notion of a 'nasty, brutish and short' life, Steven Pinker argues that modernity and its cultural institutions are actually making us better people. He ranges over everything from art to religion, international trade to individual table manners, and shows how life has changed across the centuries and around the world - not simply through the huge benefits of organised government, but also through the extraordinary power of progressive ideas.

Price: PB £12.99
ISBN: 978 0 141 03464 5
Publisher: Penguin -

Price: PB £12.99
ISBN: 978 1 4710 6350 3
Available: from

24. Finding Our Way

By H. Louise Ashley

Louise’s new book inspires with facts about animals, the planet, health, children and more. She spent three years researching the ideas and stories behind the book and is passionate about creating awareness to make the world a better place.

“We are all custodians of the Earth. With each action that we take, each purchase that we make, we either help people, animals and the environment to live more harmoniously in our interconnectedness or we help to condemn them to misery, pollution and possibly destruction.”

25. Urban Mammals

By David Wembridge
Foreword by Chris Packham

Over twenty species of mammals make use of the green spaces and the brick and timber habitats of our towns and cities - from bats and wood mice, to muntjac and badgers -and, when we take the time to look, it can be surprising who we find our wild neighbours to be.

David Wembridge of the People’s Trust for Endangered Species has compiled this introduction to the mammals we can see without even venturing out of the garden. It's an essential illustrated guide for children and adults alike.

Twenty-two species are described in detail, with information on:

  • Urban and wider ecology
  • Key features and field signs
  • Distributions in Great Britain and Ireland
  • Plus chapters on urban habitats, possible conflicts and urban surveys.

Price: PB £9.99
Available: from

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