The first sabbatical book I read was "Silent Spring," by Rachel Carson. This is a classic. I can't believe I hadn't read it before. It was the book that got DDT banned. I was concerned it was going to be all outdated, but I got a lot out of it. If you haven't read it, I recommend it. If you don't want to read the whole thing, I especially recommend chapters 11. Beyond the Dreams of the Borgias and 14. One in Every Four.
This book was not out of date, as 2-4D is still in use, and although we may not see as much spraying from the skies, people have been marketed home weed-killers and pesticides which are very difficult to use, store, and dispose of properly. Part of this I learned in my Master Gardener Class. Each herbicide or insecticide has a directions on it which are a contract that the one purchasing is making to use, store, and dispose of the poison properly and should be reviewed before each use. But most of us don't read the label and even if we do, we often don't or can't do the math to know how much to apply to our area, or when conditions are right to use the product safely (ie there isn't sufficient wind to blow the poison onto something we or our neighbors don't want it on.)
We see these products as safe, but they can be very dangerous. On our yards--we wonder why our pets get all these cancers. In our water--we wonder why there are these massive fish die-offs, or why the Willamette River is so polluted we are afraid to eat fish caught there. In our parks and trees--we wonder why the bees are dying and in certain places we find huge numbers of birds destroyed.
To think that we can't co-exist with insects is erroneous. Our welfare depends on them. The pollinate our food. They break down our waste so that plants can use the vitamins and nutrients. When we kill them off we ensure our own destruction.
But it isn't all doom and gloom. This book started this country examining our use of chemicals in the environment and got DDT and several others banned. She offers the alternative of using natural predators to attack insects and plants that are invasive and noxious. The Earth is resilient. Healing can and does happen.