Reading List

Want to shift your perspective? Here are some books that we love because they make us think about things differently.


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Resilience and the Future of Everyday Life

By James H. Lee

Why We Like It

Ah this is a tough one. This book is loaded with doom and gloom. In fact, that’s the name of the first section. When my friend John recommended it to me, he did give me fair warning, which I am passing on to you. We’re all pretty well aware that there are endless sources of doom and gloom in the world. The first half of this book is one of them. However, the second half is full of examples of people figuring out clever new ways to make life work. From collaborative consumption to volunteer time banking. Imagine volunteering in your town, doing something you love, and having that time translate into another volunteer taking care of your elderly parent — 1,000 miles away. These are the creative people and the creative solutions that can inspire all of us to think a little diffently about the actual outcomes we want and how we can achieve them. –Anne

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The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul

By Dave Bruno

Why We Like It

This book tells the author’s personal journey from being a person who just spent money on stuff mindlessly to a person who paid very close attention to the things he bought. He challenged himself to reduce his personal belongings to 100 things for a year’s time. He reveals how the process of reducing his stuff was somewhat painful at first, but then liberating once he had fewer things that required his time, attention, and money. Having personally gone through getting rid of all of our belongings so that we could travel unencumbered, it was interesting to read a different person’s account. We recommend this book because it helps you to shift your thinking from keeping up with the Joneses (what you think you need) to being grateful for what you have (what you actually need). — Anne

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Eating Animals

By Jonathan Safran Foer

Why We Like It

I was skeptical about this book because I thought it would be go-vegetarian propaganda. It turned out to be a very interesting, very well-researched look into the food industry and how people go about eating. It addresses all aspects of eating: health, financial, economic,  moral, and of course, our traditions. This book helps you to explore for yourself just exactly what it means to be a human that eats things (as we all do) and how that impacts our own lives and the world around us. — Anne

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How to Be Idle

By Tom Hodgkinson

Why We Like It

Do you ever feel like when you go to work that you’re just a cog in a thankless wheel? Yeah, I have. This book is such a breath of fresh air because it explains why we work the way we do in the western world and why we’re so unhappy about it (and should be unhappy about it). Through historical research and explanation of different lifestyles, Hodgkinson argues quite poignantly how humans are really not supposed to work the way we do today. It’s a persepctive shifter because it questions all of those things we’ve come to take for granted like, if you’re not productive, you’re letting everyone else down. And adults don’t need to play. And worst of all, if you don’t work to make money, you will never be happy. There is another side and Hodgkinson shines a light on it for you.  — Anne

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Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

By John Perkins

Why We Like It

As a person who grew up in a powerful country, I really had no idea that my life was good or what it took to make my life good. I hadn’t seen or experienced anything different, so why question? This is normal life, right? As it turns out, I have had an inflated sense of “normal” for a very long time — something which has become more clear to me since traveling and seeing the way other people live with less. In this book, John Perkins outlines exactly how the US leverages relationships and money to acquire more power, resources, and money. This process makes the US richer and the other country, the “hit” if you will, left robbed of resources. It’s a tough read, an interesting read, and a worthy read. –Anne

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A Modest Proposal

By Jonathan Swift

Why We Like It

This 1729 satirical essay is an awesome source of fodder for discussion. Swift proposes a brilliantly efficient solution to Ireland’s food shortage, economic, and population problems in eating  children of the poor. Since we’re so far removed from politics of the day, we miss a lot of the nuance in the writing, but the arguments are really delightful. Read this one with friends and then discuss! — Anne

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The 4-Hour Workweek

By Timothy Ferriss

Why We Like It

We both hate the title of this book because it suggests a short-cut to working. This book is not about a shortcut to working. This book is about wiping the slate clean and choosing the life you want — then building a career and income sources around that to support you. I had trouble getting past Ferriss’ I-had-a-6-figure-salary-but-I-wasn’t-happy premise, but beyond that he makes very good points about prioritizing what you want, as opposed to what you think you can have. He outlines some tips and strategies for working towards what you want and outsourcing the rest so that you can build the life you actually want. At the risk of sounding all YOLO… you do only live once. Why not make this life the one you want it to be? –Anne

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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

By Charles Duhigg

Why We Like It

Habits are incredible things. Our brain is designed to learn new things and then move those new things into the autopilot department so they’re not hogging up thinking space. This is how we survive. We can let our bad habits get us down, or we can use our knowledge of habits to  enhance our lives. This book is full of interesting insight into our reptillian minds — giving us a few moments where we can forgive ourselves for some of our ridiculous behaviors while empowering us to change them. — Anne

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David & Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

By Malcolm Gladwell

Why We Like It

George Washington was winning the war against the Brits because he simply did not have the resources to engage in proper battle. What? The trick to winning a fight against something that’s much bigger and stronger than you (on paper) is to fight differently. Gladwell points out the pitfalls of perceived strengths and perceived weaknesses with engaging stories of how real underdogs manage to win battles over seemingly unstoppable opponents. By the way, once George Washington acquired enough resources to fight a proper British fight, he nearly lost the whole war. Gladwell gives story after story of people who have defeated their Goliaths by fighting like a David instead of like a weaker Goliath. This is an important perspecitve shift for me because so many important aspects of our lives are seemingly controlled by very big forces: agribusiness, water privatization, the economy, and so on. When I find myself thinking things like, “I really want food producers to step up and be responsible about the safety of our food” it is usually followed by “oh my god that’s a huge and thankless battle to fight.” Of course it is. If I want to fight big money with big money, I will not win with my current resources. However, this doesn’t mean I am destined to lose. If I focus on the outcomes that I really want — food security for individuals — and then make that happen at the individual level, I’ve fixed the glitch. And I didn’t even have to tussle with Goliath. Very clever, Gladwell. Thanks for the inspiration.  — Anne

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