10 Books for change

Books for change

Over our lives, we’ve been inspired, shocked and motivated to seek change by a range of experiences and pieces of learning. Many of these have come from books. So, at ChangeStar we wanted to celebrate and share some of the books that have inspired us to change the world.

Here are 10 of them:

  1. What on Earth Happened?… in Brief: The Planet, Life and People from the Big Bang to the Present Day – Christopher Lloyd

To save the world, you need to know at least a bit about it! This is a very interesting, readable and accessible overview of the history of people and the planet from the Big Bang to the present day – in under 300 pages. A useful piece of perspective!

  1. Silent Spring – Rachel Carson

‘Silent Spring’ is often portrayed as the book that kick-started the modern environmental movement in the 1960’s. It argued that the over-use of pesticides was damaging the environment, and set out the evidence to support this.

  1. No Logo – Naomi Klein

A seminal book on consumer culture, exposing the lengths that advertisers go to in order to get us to buy more stuff, and the sophisticated tools they use to manipulate our decisions. A big influence on the anti-consumerism movement, including our director Richard Docwra’s own publication for Life Squared, ‘The problem with consumerism’.

  1. I shall bear witness: – the diaries of Victor Klemperer 1933-41, translated by Martin Chalmers

Viktor Klemperer was a Jewish professor in Dresden at the time that the Nazis came to power. He kept a set of detailed diaries from this time to the end of the war, which provide a picture of how his life – and those of the people around him – was affected by the growing horror of the regime.  The book is shocking yet provides many lessons for anyone seeking a kinder, fairer world.

  1. Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media – Nick Davies

An important book exposing how the news media works in the modern world, including how newspapers get their stories and the integral role of PR. It will make you re-consider the way you see the world through the media, and help you think critically about how you get your information.

Books for change

  1. Letters to a Young Contrarian – Christopher Hitchens

A passionate, entertaining challenge to everyone to think critically and independently, and to have the courage to act on your convictions.

  1. Walden: Or, Life in the Woods – Henry David Thoreau

The classic and inspiring story of one man’s escape from the encroachment of industrialisation to a cabin in the woods by a pond.

  1. Whoops!: Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay – John Lanchester

An accessible and entertaining book that helps you understand the recent financial crisis and the economic system around us in around 200 pages.

  1. Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet – Tim Jackson

A groundbreaking book that challenges perhaps the greatest and most harmful modern orthodoxy – the conventional view that endless economic growth is the panacea for global society. It provides a new vision of how human society can flourish within the ecological limits of a finite planet.

  1. The Spirit Level – Why Equality is Better for Everyone – Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

The book that nailed down the case that inequality is bad for everyone – even the well-off. It provides the evidence to show that almost everything – from life expectancy to mental illness, violence to illiteracy – is affected not by how wealthy a society is, but how equal it is.

It’s an inspiring book, with radical yet positive conclusions that could help us move towards a happier, fairer future.

By Richard Docwra, Director, ChangeStar
© ChangeStar September 2017

ChangeStar is a fundraising and social change agency: see our work.

YOUR books for change
Now over to you – what are the books that have inspired you to work for change? Let us know, by emailing info@changestar.co.uk, and we’ll share them and add them to the list. You never know – they may inspire other people to take action!

19 September 2017: Tanya Andrews
Tanya Andrews, Programme Director for the ‘Small Wonder Short Story Festival‘ at the wonderful Charleston Trust, contacted us via Twitter to recommend the following additions to our Books for Change list:
Protest: Stories of Resistance‘ edited by Ra Page and published by Comma Press
The Good Immigrant‘ edited by Nikesh Shukla and published by Unbound
The Underground Railroad‘ by Colson Whitehead and published by Little, Brown Book Group  
Thank you to Tanya!