Currently — February 14th, 2023

What you need to know, currently.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours! We hope this day brims with radical love and compassion. Here at Currently, we believe in the power of journalistic storytelling to bring attention to the climate crisis. However, speculative nonfiction and fiction hold a specific impact that can’t be replicated elsewhere.

So this Valentine’s Day, we’ve compiled a list of climate love stories that will allow you to fall in love with nature amid constant environmental change. These stories awaken empathy, center change, and emphasize the underlying joy of experiencing weather as a community.

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This book is a collection of essays and stories about plants and animals and peoples’ weak, somewhat reckless relationship with nature. Botanist Kimmerer outlines how Indigenous knowledge can help address climate change and heal the land. Drawing on her own experiences as an Indigenous scientist, she explains the lessons people can learn from other living things, from sweetgrass to algae.

L.A. Weather by María Amparo Escandón

In this novel, Escandón tells the story of the Alvarado family. Oscar, the patriarch, is eager for a bit of rain, as L.A. has remained in a drought for as long as he can recall. Keila, the matriarch, craves more intimacy from Oscar, rather than weather tidbits and concerns. The couple’s three daughters, Claudia, Olivia, and Patricia, each have their own gifts and work as a television chef, an architect, and a social media manager, respectively. As their parents seem to grow more and more distant and the world around them burns, both figuratively and literally, it’s up to them to reexamine their relationships.

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

Similar to L.A. Weather, Mbue’s book maps the strain that everyday environmental concerns can have on even the most intimate relationships. Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, the story involves a community stunned in fear as an American oil company continues to wreak havoc on the environment. The oil spills have made the people’s farmlands infertile and children are dying from drinking toxic water. Long disappointed by the government’s empty promises and lack of reparations, the people of Kosawa fight back and start a revolution in hopes of saving their sacred, ancestral land.

World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

This book is a charming, vibrant, and lyrical collection of short essays about the natural world and how its many residents can teach us a new way of life, a new way of caring. Exquisitely illustrated by Fumi Nakamura, Nezhukumatathil invites readers into the many places she called home from a Kansas mental institution to the mountains of Arizona to the chilly wind chills of New York. When something isn’t going her way, she turns to the natural landscape for guidance: the axolotl teaches her to smile, the touch-me-not plant shows her the power of agency, and the narwhal shows her how to draw upon strength amid adversity, just to name a few. This book will make you feel small, in the best way possible.

We hope these stories, and others like them, show you the ways in which love persists, no matter the ever-changing landscape and circumstances we may find ourselves in.

—Aarohi Sheth

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