I'm not a great one for 'top' lists. ('To do' lists are an entirely different matter.) Perhap it's a girl/boy thing: my life partner loves nothing better than to update his bird list, flick through the cricket statistician's bible Wisden, or relive his youth by combing down indexes of obscure Clash gigs.
As for me, when my kids ask me what my top three favourite songs are, I'm really stumped. I don't think I'd even be able to narrow it down to the eight specified by Desert Island Discs.
So I wasn't that interested when the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership and Greenleaf published The Top 50 Sustainability Books. In fact, it wasn't until I actually had a copy to take home from a workshop that I realised its great value.
Because of course it's so much more than a list. Each book in the top fifty is summarised, and its ideas put into a wider context. The author(s) are profiled, there are some choice extracts and reflections from the authors about the impact of the book.
Wayne Visser and Oliver van Heel have done a great job, creating a pass notes summary and bluffers guide to some absolute classics. The book helps the busy reader understand key ideas in the sustainability field, reminds them about what they've already read - sometimes years ago - and introduces them to some new thought leaders.
So I'm happy to discover that my initial reaction was wrong.
Off to begin my list of books I should have paid attention to first time around...
Update: May 2011
Wayne has been blogging about an updated list, noticing trends towards more practical titles and an increase from a low base of women authors. See here.