Winter Reads

One of environmental sociologist Simone Pulver’s go-to research methods is in-depth interviews. Often, she says, she’s meeting and speaking with people whose life experiences and world views are vastly different from her own. She loves it. “And that’s part of what I appreciate about reading,” says Pulver, an associate professor of environmental studies and director of UC Santa Barbara’s Environmental Leadership Incubator. “It’s an opportunity to dip into worlds that I otherwise would never have access to, and to understand viewpoints and experiences that I think are absolutely central to navigating the complex world that we live in. Books let me do that.”

In her own words, here are five of Pulver's favorites:

Simone Pulver is an editor of “Foundations of Socio-Environmental Research: Legacy Readings with Commentaries” (Cambridge University Press, 2022), a compendium of 53 essential and fundamental readings and expert commentary that tracks the evolution of research on the reciprocal relations between society and environment.


Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1959)

The title of this novel quotes a poem by W.B. Yeats. In the poem, "things fall apart" is followed by the line, "the centre cannot hold." This powerful idea, as explored in Achebe’s novel, captures the corrosive power of colonialism on the beliefs and traditions that structured the life of a rural community in Nigeria.


Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina (1987)

This is a fictional account of the real labor struggles against a rapacious coal industry and a brutal state in West Virginia in the 1920s.


A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (1995)

This book opens a window on the dynamics of poverty in mid-1970s India. It presents an amazing story of lives on the margins and how they are made to unravel.


The Country of Marriage by Wendell Berry (1971)

The poems in this short volume exemplify the beautiful oneness of humans and nature.


Trust by Hernan Diaz (2022)

This novel is on my bedside table “to read” stack. A Pulitzer Prize winner, it’s a story about that most fictitious of commodities, money.

Fall / Winter 2023


lightning and purple sky

What’s the deal with weather?

Young black boy in juvenile detention

'I realized I was a conduit for their voices'

Black and white photo of Anna May Wong

Love Me, Love Me Not