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School of Geography

Summer reading list

We often get asked what our academics recommend offer-holders and applicants read before they start at university. Here’s our recommended list.


Mile End Library

It’s the summer and you might be finding yourself with a little time to dive into a good book, whether it’s during some downtime at home, in your local library or even on the beach!

We polled our academic staff to get their recommended reads for Geography, Environmental Science and Global Development students - as well as for alumni and friends of the School. The intention was to provide a list of books that they have found tell important stories about our societies and planet.

This selection below is not a module or programme reading list – if you’re an incoming student you’ll be provided with these when you start your studies – but they are examples of books we recommend. Browse through the recommendations and try to pick one or two that interest you – they should be accessible in a local library or via any good bookshop.

Human Geography and Global Development

  • People vs Tech: How the Internet is Killing Democracy (and How We Can Save It) by Jamie Bartlett
  • Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands by Hazel Carby
  • One Midsummer's Day: Science and the Imagination by Mark Cocker
  • Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
  • The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu by Mike Davis
  • Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England's Colonial Connections by Corinne Fowler
  • Weathering: The Extraordinary Stress of Ordinary Life on the Body in an Unjust Society by Arline Geronimus
  • The Nutmeg's Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis by Amitav Ghosh
  • Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval by Saidiya Hartman
  • The Book of Trespass: Crossing the Lines that Divide Us by Nick Hayes
  • Life is Not Useful by Ailton Krenak
  • Capitalism, a Ghost Story by Arundhati Roy
  • Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain by Sathnam Sanghera
  • I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain by Anita Sethi
  • The Wake: On Blackness and Being by Christina Sharpe

Physical Geography and Environmental Science

  • Our Biggest Experiment: An Epic History of the Climate Crisis by Alice Bell
  • There is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years by Mike Berners-Lee
  • A World Without Soil: The Past, Present, and Precarious Future of the Earth Beneath Our Feet by Jo Handelsman
  • Cornerstones: Wild Forces That Can Change Our World by Benedict Macdonald
  • The New Climate Wars: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet by Michael Mann
  • Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway
  • Rivers of Power: How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations, and Shapes Our World by Laurence Smith
  • Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree
  • Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made by Gaia Vince
  • The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future by David Wallace-Wells

Ideas and Thinking

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling
  • Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking by Matthew Syed



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