The BKBF Interview: Bill McKibben

The BKBF Interview with Bill McKibbben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?


Where is your favorite place to read?
Lying on the porch, though it sometimes turns into a book nap.

What is your favorite book to give an adult or a child?
For young people, a book called Paddle to the Sea–I have yet to meet one who doesn’t get absorbed in it.

Tell us your best book-receiving experience.
My wife, the writer Sue Halpern, gave me a volume of Wendell Berry essays 35 years ago–it changed my life.

What books are currently piled in your “To Be Read” stack … and where can the stack be found in your home?
On the coffee table in the living room, in a tottering stack. On the top are the galleys of Naomi Klein’s new book On Fire. I’ve actually read it once, and am looking forward to the chance to go back to it.

What book do you return to most often, whether passages or whole?
The book of Job, in the Hebrew Bible–in the Stephen Mitchell translation from North Point Press if available, the King James if not.

What’s the best book about your hometown?
I grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts, and so there is lots of great historical writing–Rick Atkinson, most recently.

What’s the last book that had you reading past your bedtime?
Overstory, which I almost literally could not put down.

What book puts in you that “back to school” state of mind?
Well, I do like reading course catalogues, and imagining all the things I could learn (or alternately lamenting all the things I don’t know).

Who made reading important to you?
My mother, of course.

If you had the power to create your own fantasy BKBF panel – any writer or artist, dead or alive – who would you love to see discussing books?
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John–probably the four best read writers of all time, and it would be interesting to see them discuss why they told the story in such subtly different and interesting ways.

BONUS QUESTION: In honor of the 5th anniversary of Children’s Day, we’re asking everyone, What’s your favorite children’s book?
No question there–all of the Narnia books, if I had to choose one The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.


Bill McKibben is a founder of the environmental organization and was among the first to have warned of the dangers of global warming. He is the author of the bestsellers The End of Nature, Eaarth, and Deep Economy. He is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and the winner of the Gandhi Prize, the Thomas Merton Prize, and the Right Livelihood Prize.


Get The BKBF Interview delivered to your inbox.