Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly—they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.
~Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Summer is a special time especially here in Flagstaff where we emerged from a cool spring into warm, sunny weather.  In addition to spending time in Colorado preparing a property my father owns for sale, I’ve been doing a good amount of reading this summer.  Here’s a sampling of what I’ve read since May (in chronological order) with brief descriptions and my level of recommendation (based on the number of “hearts” I give it from one to five with five being the highest recommendation).

(If you would like to read any of these books, I strongly recommend you choose alternatives to purchasing them online [especially at Amazon.com which “undermines jobs, wages and working conditions“].  Instead, I invite you to do what I do:  Use your local library.  If the book is not on the shelves, I suggest you access the inter-library loan program.  Of the 12 books and articles listed below, I purchased only two and neither came from Amazon 🙂

Prosper!: How to prepare for the future and create a world worth inheriting (2015) by Martenson, Chris

  • This is the first book I’ve read by the author. He runs a website about preparing for the future especially regarding financial decisions called Peak Prosperity.
  • Comments:  The book focuses on personal resilience at our current time of uncertainty.  It offers a litany of ways to prepare yourself for the changes that are happening and will happen.  Very practical tools without as much focus on importance of supporting those who have fewer economic resources as I’d like.
  • Lukewarm recommendation

Falter: Has the human game begun to play itself out? (2019) by McKibben, Bill

  • This is the fourth or fifth book I’ve read by McKibben. The first was The End of Nature in 1989. I was also fortunate to see him speak in Flagstaff in 2014.
  • Comments:  This book opened my eyes to the potential damages of Artificial Intelligence which he presents as equal to those of the Climate Crisis. The two “technologies” he believes may help us not “falter” are solar cells (he details how they are changing the game in Africa) and nonviolent resistance.  Well-written and balanced between hope and fear.
  • Highly recommended

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after warming (2019) by David Wallace-Wells

  • This is the first book I’ve read by Wallace-Wells, a writer with The New Yorker.
  • Comments:  It’s an unvarnished description of the likely (and potential) impacts of the Climate Crisis.  It’s not a pretty picture and we must understand and accept where we’re headed to garner energy to move forward.  An eye-opener for those not well-versed on our current state.
  • Highly recommended

The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World (2011) by Paul Gilding.

  • This is the first book I’ve read by Gilding. He was once with Greenpeace and has more recently done consulting work with corporations.
  • Comments:  The descriptions of our current and projected state are similar to McKibben and Wallace-Wells.  The author’s faith that we will immediately change course to address these issue after a crisis (i.e. disruption) differs dramatically from the less-rosy view of the other authors.  His perspective was unrealistically positive, even panglossian, to me.
  • Not recommended

The New Good Life: Living better than ever in an age of less (2010) by John Robbins.

  • This is the first book I’ve read by the author. His most acclaimed book is Diet for a New America (1987).
  • Comments:  Robbins talks about our relationship with money drawing from his personal story. He presents four “money types” that describe common ways we relate.  I saw some value in his suggestions especially for those who aren’t as comfortable with money as they’d like to be.
  • Mildly recommended

Upheaval: Turning points for nations in crisis (2019) by Jared Diamond.

  • This is the first book I’ve read by the author. I have heard good things about his past work especially the book, Collapse (2005). He’s a historian from UCLA.
  • Comments:  I learned a lot. He details how 7 countries responded to various crises. I learned why Finland has been successful navigating foreign relations challenges with the USSR in the past and Russia in the present. I learned that Japan was strategic and intentional in “borrowing” from other countries to support its modernization in the second half of the 19th Century. And I learned more. He concludes by talking about USA’s current crises.
  • Highly recommended

Triumph and Tragedy: The Second World War, Volume 6 (1953) by Winston Churchill

  • First book I’ve read by the esteemed British diplomat. It is part of his very voluminous series on World War II.
  • Comments:  This is a remarkable book filled with primary sources in the form of telegrams between Churchill, his staff, and other world leaders.  I was moved by his vulnerability in sharing these exchanges with others and dissecting other leaders’ motives in the process.  The modern-day equivalent of this book would be if George W. Bush published all his Iraq War emails.  Churchill lays out how the “tragedy” of his title happened as Russia took control of Eastern Europe and deprived people of their human rights. I closed the book feeling very pleased to have increased my understanding of the period when the war ended and Europe’s new path was set and sad this new path did not honor human well-being to the extent I’d like.
  •  Highest Recommendation

Why does patriarchy persist? (2019) by Gilligan, Carol

  • I’m familiar with the author from my undergraduate days when I read about her work in a Psychology Course.
  • Comments:  I’ve very interested in transforming “patriarchy”.  Gilligan and her co-author look at the psychology of this cultural norm that trains us to see men and women in certain ways that both deny our humanity and diversity and limit our ability to fully express ourselves and experience well-being.
  •  Moderate Recommendation

Deep Adaptation:  A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy (2018) by Jem Bendell, Cambridge University

  • This is the first article I’ve read by this author. It’s a scientific article that has been suggested as a clear presentation of the realities of the climate crisis.
  • Comments:  Overlaps with McKibben, Wallace-Wells, and Gilding in it’s description of the current state of our world.  The source, a researcher and professor, is unique.  I especially liked how he goes into greater depth on all the ways we can deny the climate crisis.  He also inspired me by sharing how his willingness to share his fear and pessimism about our future with his students has generated “new creativity on what to focus on going forward.”
  •  Highly Recommended

No is not enough: Resisting Trump’s shock politics and winning the world we need (2017) by Naomi Klein

  • I read The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein in grad school and saw her speak in Flagstaff in 2014.
  • Comments:  Fascinating presentation of Donald Trump as a prime example of a “brand” that is devoid of humanity. Imagine that!  She also presents a vision for the future in the form of the Leap Manifesto: A Call for a Canada Based on Caring for the Earth and One Another that was written in 2015 in the book. I’m longing for a positive vision for the world I want to create and really enjoyed this one.
  •  Highly Recommended

The Community Resilience Reader: Essential Resources for an Era of Upheaval (2017) by Daniel Lerch, Sarah Byrnes, et al.

  • This book was a product of the Post Carbon Institute which can be found at Resilience.org. I’ve been reading their work since the mid 2000s when I learned about Richard Heinberg’s work.
  • Comments:  Concise description of our current state with practical tools to help communities adapt. This struck a chord with me because in my membership in the City of Flagstaff’s Sustainability Commission I am working to promote community resilience in my city.
  •  Highly Recommended

Reweaving Our Human Fabric (2014) by Miki Kashtan

  • Miki Kashtan is a trainer in Nonviolent Communication. I referenced her Doctoral dissertation in my Master’s thesis and she’s written two books.  Her first one focused on individual well-being.
  • Comments:  I love this book.  Miki not only speaks to the power of Nonviolent Communication to transform our world, she offers fictional vignettes about a future based on creating well-being for all people. I’m very excited to be part of a retreat she’s leading in Santa Cruz next month.
  •  Highest Recommendation

There you go! I’ve read some very powerful books this summer and am excited to share more about where this reading is leading me in future newsletters! I invite you to drop me a line to let me know what you’ve read this summer!