Books

Here are some useful references about key political, economical, or environmental issues. A few gems on universal human insights are added for good measure. The choice of books is purely personal.

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POLITICS

Books

The System – Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, by Robert B. Reich.

Our political and economic system is no longer working. Why? How to fix it? With passion and clarity, author and well-known civic actor Robert Reich lays out the structures of our modern-day oligarchy and its usual myths about corporate social responsibility, “free market,” and the elusive political “center.” A first good step for the rest of us to reclaim power.

Books

Democracy Incorporated – Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, by Sheldon S. Wolin.

Who could still believe that the United States a democracy? In this book, Sheldon Wolin argues that we have entered a new era of politics, where the power of the people has been utterly replaced by the power of money. The argument is not new; what makes this book a must-read is the author’s ability to go in-depth in all aspects of the emergence of our present-day corporatocracy.

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Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire – 20 years after 9/11, by Deepa Kumar.

Anti-Muslim bigotry is nothing new in the United States. This book analyses its tenets from the sixteenth century to Trump’s presidency, showing how it functions both as a set of coercive policies and as a body of ideas that have been reflected in the media, think tanks, the foreign policy establishment, the university, the national security apparatus, and the legal sphere. Showing, as well, that liberals are no less susceptible to contracting its virus than conservatives and right-wingers.

Books

The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine – A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017, by Rashid Khalidi.

The title says it all. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about a tragic clash between two peoples with claims to the same territory; it is about a colonial war that belongs to the same frame of mind and the same era when colonial powers justified their action in the name of civilization. Drawing on a wealth of untapped archival materials, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine puts back the Palestinians dispossession of their land in its own ideological and historical perspective.

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When They Call You a Terrorist – A Black Lives Matter Memoir, by Patrisse Cullors, Asha Bandele, Angela Davis.

Patrisse Khan-Cullors has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel peace prize. Still, she is a terrorist. At least for those who fear to live in an open and just society for all. Others may think that with other terrorists such as the Dalai-Lama or Nelson Mandela in his time, she and Asha Bandele are of good company. This book is an empowering account of survival, strength, love, and resilience in the face of a culture that considers black lives expendable.

Books

How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi.

This book takes the reader through a widening circle of concepts and ideas helping to see all forms of racism clearly and how to constructively oppose them in one’s life and in society. The author weaves a compelling combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. An essential work for those who want to work for the advent of a non-racist society.

ECONOMICS

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Doughnut Economics – Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, by Kate Raworth.

How can we turn economies that need to grow, whether or not they make us thrive, into economies that make us thrive, whether or not they grow? Stranded on an utterly unsustainable economic model, this is the challenge humanity faces in the twenty-first century. To answer it, Kate Raworth thoroughly provides the alternative to each of the conventional economics’ seven myths. Importantly, she does it in a totally accessible and attractive way for non-economists.

Books

A Small Farm Future – Making the Case for a Society Built Around Local Economies, Self-Provisioning, Agricultural Diversity and a Shared Earth, by Chris Smaje.

What if organizing society around small-scale farming was the most effective response to climate change and other crises of civilization, thus offering humanity its best chance at survival? Drawing on a vast range of data, Chris Smaje analyses the complex forces that make societal change inevitable; explains how low-carbon, locally self-reliant agrarian communities can be the way of the future; and explores this vision’s political pathways.

Books

Financing the Green New Deal – A Plan of Action and Renewal, by Robert C. Hockett.

The Green New Deal project is not just bold, it is innovative. So must be its financing. This book indicates how to structure it in a manner that advances the cross-cutting goals of maximum financial and economic inclusion, integrating into one complete and coherent architecture many novel ideas to facilitate our transition to a sustainable future. Financing the Green New Deal is a critical reading for all American policymakers and all citizens involved in the said transition.

ENVIRONMENT

Books

The Red Deal – Indigenous Action to Save Our Earth, by The Red Nation.

Only mass movements can do what the moment demands. This book is a powerful guide to indigenous liberation and the fight to save the planet. Part movement document and part activist handbook, its purpose is not to show how to heal the existing structures, but to present a way forward following their abolition, notably through a deal with the humble people of the earth.

Books

On Fire – The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, by Naomi Klein.

Naomi Klein has been for many years the foremost chronicler of the economic war waged on people and the planet. She is here at her most prophetic and philosophical, investigating the climate crisis not only as a profound political challenge but as a spiritual and imaginative one as well. We have all the genius, love, and talent we need for the brightest future. How much are we willing to build it?

Books

Growing a Sustainable City? – The Question of Urban Agriculture, by Christina D. Rosan, Hamil Pearsall.

What are the challenges and opportunities when it comes to institutionalizing urban agriculture in formal city policies? This book evaluates the role of urban agriculture through the example of Philadelphia. It is a story of change and growing pains, as the city attempts to reinvent itself to become altogether sustainable, livable, and economically competitive.

Books

The Permaculture Promise – What Permaculture Is and How It Can Help Us Reverse Climate Change, Build a More Resilient Future on Earth, and Revitalize Our Communities, by Jono Neiger.

Originally coined by combining the words permanent and agriculture, permaculture has evolved into an optimistic approach connecting all the systems of human life: gardening, housing, transportation, energy, and how we structure our communities. This book shows 22 ways through which humanity can thrive while making the earth a healthier place to live. You can incorporate permaculture principles into your life today. 

Books

The Sacred Balance – Rediscovering Our Place in Nature, by David Suzuki, Amanda McConnell, Adrienne Mason.

When considering the most basic elements making the web of life, we are the environment and the environment is us. Contrary to the imagery given in the early days of modern science, there is no separation between mankind and the natural world that surrounds us. As conscious beings, we bear the responsibility to acknowledge our interconnectedness with nature and the rest of humanity. This is good news.

PRACTICAL WISDOM

Books

Coming to Our Senses – Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness, by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Mindfulness is the way toward a life fully lived. Jon Kabat-Zinn explores how we can heal ourselves by the practice of “coming to our senses,” both literally and metaphorically. With a more intentional awareness of the senses, including the human mind itself, we become more compassionate, more embodied, more present to others, thus contributing to the healing in us and around us in ways big and small.

Books

Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius.

Your friend is an emperor. One who did not hide behind the overwhelming power bestowed upon him to avoid looking at his bare humanity. Never intended for publication, Marcus Aurelius’ (AD 121-180) Meditations are the personal notes of a man who found wisdom and inner balance in the most unlikely situation one can be in.

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Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness, by Chogyam Trungpa.

Warning: Using this book could be hazardous to your ego! Fifty-nine provocative slogans used over eight centuries in Tibetan Buddhism are presented here by the meditation master Chögyam Trungpa. At the core of mind training, these slogans powerfully help in meeting the ordinary situations of life with intelligence and compassion under all circumstances.

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On the Shortness of Life – Life Is Long if You Know How to Use It, by Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

On the Shortness of life, from the Stoic philosopher Seneca (BC 5 – AD 65), offers powerful insights into the art of living and has provided profound guidance to many throughout the centuries. The author’s eloquence and lucidity make a compelling call to reason and morality, expressing the universality of wisdom.

Books

Beyond Good & Evil – Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, by Friedrich Nietzsche (translated by Walter Kaufmann).

This is one of the most inspiring and provocative books ever written. Meant to give the reader a comprehensive view of the author’s philosophy, it contains nine parts which all are an invitation to question the moral comfort we so easily rely upon. You may not become Nietzsche’s disciple but you will certainly be grateful for his genius and a writing style that compares to none. Try to find the book in the translation by Walter Kaufmann.

Books

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki (50th Anniversary Edition).

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” Zen is not about thinking, quite the contrary. It is about being present, letting things be under the light of the mind. But simplicity is hard for a busy mind. Let Zen master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi show you the way in a manner that resonates with the joy of insight from the first to the last page.

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The Mindfulness Survival Kit – Five Essential Practices, by Thich Nhat Hanh.

An amazing introduction to cultivating peace and happiness for those who would not consider themselves spiritual people. With this book, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh offers a luminous contribution to how we can together define secular, moral guidelines for a sane, compassionate, and healthy way of living.

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The Miracle of Mindfulness – An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation, by Thich Nhat Hanh.

This book is the spiritual testament Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh offered at a young age to the first nuns of the Order of Interbeing as he was forced out of war-torn Vietnam. It teaches how peeling an orange or answering the phone mindfully also contains the essential wisdom about non-duality.

Books

The Sun My Heart – The Companion to The Miracle of Mindfulness, by Thich Nhat Hanh.

From shamata (calm) to vipassana (insight). The Sun My Heart is one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s most beloved books and was written as a sequel to Miracle of Mindfulness. In his simple yet beautiful and lively style, the author delivers the deepest understandings of the nature of reality coming from the Buddha’s teachings and as one own meditation practice may reveal them.

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The Root Stanzas of the Middle Way – The Mulamadhyamakakarika, by Nagarjuna.

“It is so amazing that people like Nagarjuna actually walked on this earth. It is even more amazing that he came up with this text. If you don’t read this book, it’s like being on the earth without ever noticing that there is a sky above your head.”—Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, author of What Makes You Not a Buddhist

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The Life of Shabkar – Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin, translated and edited by the Padmakara Translation Group.

Shabkar (1781–1851) was a renowned practitioner and teacher both of the Mind-Training and the Dzogchen traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. A free spirit, he chose to live like a hermit or wandering pilgrim with no home or possessions. This autobiography is that of a revered and cherished master in Tibet; it will bring the reader to tears as well as to laughing bursts, all the while delivering a treasure of spiritual instructions.