Recommended Reading

Books and publications are organized by topic.

Click on the books title to learn more about a given book…

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On Healthcare

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T.R. Reid


Sustainable Business, Government, and Community

Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester R. Brown

The Washington Post has called Lester Brown “one of the world’s most influential thinkers.” In Plan B 4.0, Lester provides a concise review of the major global challenges facing us. If you read one book to understand the essential challenges, this is the one. Lester then outlines how to address the challenges and puts a price tag on it. The cost is less than you would think, and the cost of not meeting these challenges is enormous. Read this book, dog ear the pages, underline the wisdom. This is the 4th revision, and it is a major one, so don’t bother with 2.0 or 3.0. The data and information is up to the minute.

Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World by Tina Rosenberg

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage by Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston

Small is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher

This is one of our favorite books. It changed how we looked at the world, when we first read it. This 25th anniversary edition has wonderful side-bar notes that give back story on Schumacher and his life. From Amazon description: As relevant today as when it was first published, this is a landmark set of essays on humanistic economics. This 25th anniversary edition brings Schumacher’s ideas into focus for the end-of-the-century by adding commentaries by contemporary thinkers who have been influenced by Schumacher. They analyze the impact of his philosophy on current political and economic thought. Small is Beautiful is the classic of common-sense economics upon which many recent trends in our society are founded. This is economics from the heart rather than from just the bottom line.

Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffrey D. Sachs

The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity by Jeffrey D. Sachs

The Price of Civilization is a masterly road map for prosperity, founded on America’s deepest values and on a rigorous understanding of the twenty-first-century world economy.

The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash a New Prosperity by Matt Miller

Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist by Interphase CEO Ray C. Anderson

Anderson talks about business as a test in morality — one he believes most American businesspeople are failing. He refers to himself as a “recovered plunderer,” because he believes that any company that makes money by taking more from the earth than it gives back is doing just that — plundering the planet. “Theft is a crime,” Anderson told the TED conference in 2009. “And the theft of our children’s future would someday be considered a crime.”

This is radical stuff. It makes sense that Anderson’s recent memoir was called Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist, because that’s exactly what he is. It’s a message that corporate America needs to hear — that the only kind of true growth is sustainable growth, and that everything else is essentially a Ponzi scheme. “It’s up to us, it’s up to the private sector, to change this world,” Anderson says. (Time Magazine)

Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose–Doing Business by Respecting the Earth by Interphase CEO Ray C. Anderson

In 1994, after reading Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce, carpet mogul Anderson decided to make his carpet company Interface, established in 1973, the first company to achieve 100 percent sustainability, a massively successful effort that has made him a sought-after business consultant (clients include Walmart) as well as an environmental hero. Sustainability, argues Anderson, makes just as much business sense as it does a liberal crusade, and he even makes absorbing reading out of the process that transformed his operations. Interface developed processes for recycling old carpets, invented a leased carpet program (too much ahead of its time, admits Anderson), utilized the work of indigenous peoples, switched over to solar and other alternative energy sources, reduced water use and contamination, and, in 2007, even managed to achieve negative net greenhouse gas emissions. What is even more impressive is that Interface achieved this globally-not just in the U. S.-while growing profits. (Publishers Weekly)


On The Economy

Who Stole the American Dream? by Hedrick Smith

Veteran investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Hedrick Smith’s new work steps back from the partisan fever of the 2012 campaign to explain how we got to where we are today — how America moved from an era of middle class prosperity and power, effective bipartisanship, and grass roots activism, to today’s polarized gridlock, unequal democracy and unequal economy that has unraveled the American Dream for millions of middle class families.  For more on this book and video of Smith speaking about the book, see Hedrick Smith: Who Stole the American Dream?

The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

From Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Wilkinson and Pickett make an eloquent case that the income gap between a nation’s richest and poorest is the most powerful indicator of a functioning and healthy society. Amid the statistics that support their argument (increasing income disparity sees corresponding spikes in homicide, obesity, drug use, mental illness, anxiety, teenage pregnancies, high school dropouts—even incidents of playground bullying), the authors take an empathetic view of our ability to see beyond self-interest. Wilkinson and Pickett do not advocate one way or the other to close the equality gap. Government redistribution of wealth and market forces that create wealth can be equally effective, and the authors provide examples of both. How societies achieve equality, they argue, is less important than achieving it in the first place. Felicitous prose and fascinating findings make this essential reading.

Winner-Take-All Politics by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson

Richistan by Robert Frank

The Tyranny of Dead Ideas by Matt Miller

When does the wealth of a nation hurt its wellbeing? by Jay Kimball

Rethinking the Measure of Growth by Jay Kimball

Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz on Sustainability and Growth by Jay Kimball


On Climate Change

Sustainable Energy Security: Strategic Risks and Opportunities for Business by Lloyds and Chatham House

National Intelligence Assessment on the National Security Implications of Global Climate Change to 2030 by US Director of National Intelligence (DNI)

The Impact of Climate Change to 2030 also by the DNI

Overcoming Obstacles to U.S.-China Cooperation on Climate Change edited by The Brookings Institute

The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity by US Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), May 2008

Assessment of Select Climate Change Impacts on U.S. National Security by Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Columbia University, July 2008


On Water

Water Consciousness edited by Tara Lohan

Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner

Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It by Robert Glennon


On Energy

Sustainable Energy Security: Strategic Risks and Opportunities for Business by Lloyds and Chatham House

Powering the Future by Nobel Laureate Robert B. Laughlin

20% Wind Energy by 2030 – Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply by US Department of Energy (DOE)


On Food

The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity by US Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), May 2008

Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food by Wendell Berry

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid It by Julian Cribb

Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg

Greenberg writes compelling prose that puts you in the thick of things. Bryan Walsh at Time said it “is one of the best environmental or food books I’ve read in recent years.


On China

A Post American World by Fareed Zacharia

When A Billion Chinese Jump by Jonathan Watts

China in Africa: Partner, Competitor or Hegemon? by Chris Alden

China Returns to Africa: A Rising Power and a Continent Embrace by Chris Alden

Overcoming Obstacles to U.S.-China Cooperation on Climate Change edited by The Brookings Institute