Essential climate fiction books to read right now

Your cli-fi reading list: the best fiction books about climate change and the climate crisis.

Spanning genres from literary fiction to sci-fi and dystopia, climate fiction is the collective name for the increasing volume of writing that explores the effects of climate change and global warming. Here we share some of our favourite examples. 

Not Alone

by Sarah K Jackson

"Not Alone kept me breathless with tension. An outstandingly credible and gripping adventure story, rooted in a deep understanding of both ecology and family." Emma Donoghue, author of Room.

Five years after a toxic microplastics storm killed millions, Katie and her son Harry are forced to leave what they thought was the relative safety of their one bedroom flat. They set off in search of Harry's father, the man Katie was meant to marry, across a devasted country where even the air could be deadly. 

The End We Start From

by Megan Hunter

This critically acclaimed novel (recently adapted into a film starring Jodie Comer and Benedict Cumberbatch) is a startlingly beautiful story of a family's survival; a haunting but hopeful dystopian vision of a familiar world made dangerous and unstable. As apocalyptic floods submerge London, a woman gives birth to her first child. Soon the family are forced to flee in search of safety, moving from place to place on a journey of fear and wonder, as the baby grows and thrives against the odds. Megan Hunter's beautiful, spare prose paints an imagined future which is terrifying in its realism.

To Paradise

by Hanya Yanagihara

Hanya Yanagihara's follow up to A Little Life spans three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment. In an alternative 1893, New York is part of the Free States, and a gentle young member of a privileged family falls for a charismatic and impoverished music teacher. In 1993, Manhattan is being swept by the AIDS epidemic, and a young Hawaiian man with a wealthy older partner must hide his difficult family background. And in 2093, in a world beset by plagues and extreme heat, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him – and solve the mystery of her husband’s regular disappearances.

American War

by Omar El Akkad

2074. Much of America is underwater, oil is illegal, and the climate-change-driven paucity of resources has resulted in the outbreak of a second American Civil War. In the midst of this, Sarat fights for survival. She's lost her father, her home and cannot trust anyone. Omar El Akkad's debut asks us to consider what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons against itself.

Open Throat

by Henry Hoke

This unique and witty novel takes the reader into the mind of a mountain lion living in the drought-devastated land under the Hollywood sign in LA. Fascinated by the voices around them, the lion spends their days protecting a nearby homeless encampment, observing hikers complain about their trauma and, in quiet moments, grappling with the complexities of their own identity. But then a fire forces them into the city. A sharp, moving look at the effect the climate crisis has on animals and our environment – and the most original book you'll read this year. 

The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

With stark, unadorned prose befitting the barren, burnt out post-apocalyptic landscape it inhabits, The Road follows a man and a young boy as they walk, seemingly endlessly, to the coast. There's danger behind every tree stump, horror within every potential refuge and a dark, heavy sky above in this masterpiece of American fiction from Cormac McCarthy.

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Parable of the Sower

by Octavia Butler

Book cover for Parable of the Sower

This speculative fiction novel is set in a world heavily affected by climate change and increasing social inequality. It follows Lauren, who lives in a divided America with a powerful, difficult gift: the ability to feel the pain of others as strongly as her own.