Six great reads to inspire change

Busy lifestyles don’t always leave us much time to read, and often then we want to escape into our minds and fantasize about romance or heroes or mysteries. Sustainability, and the future of our world can be just as much a joyous ride as these genres, but brings the added potential for you to create change.

So in the vein of our Six Things series, here are six great books to inspire change within us all.


1. Postcards from the Future


Postcards from the Future isn’t your normal novel – it’s actually a book of postcards built around the futuristic works of artists Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones. The works are a series of visualisations of London in the future, and how it might look as a result of climate change. The prints are from the London Postcards from the Future show, which was exhibited at the Museum of London from October 2010 to March 2011. A fascinating and thought provoking digital excursion into the future of one of our greatest modern cities. See more here, and the book is available from Robert and Didier’s website here.


2. The End of Poverty – Jeffrey Sachs


We may have mentioned this before, but here at Sustaining People, we are (perhaps) fanboys of the work of Jeffrey Sachs. This fascinating discussion looks at how poverty exists in our modern milieu, how it came about, and what we can do to end it. The Angus & Robertson online store states that the book draws “a conceptual map of the world economy and explains why, over the past 200 years, wealth and poverty have diverged and evolved across the planet, and why the poorest nations have been so markedly unable to escape the trap of poverty”. Using stories from his own 25 year career, Sachs shows that the end to this issue is possible. Some have called his work naive and impractical; judge for yourself. You can buy it here (hard copy) or here (ebook).


3. Cradle to Cradle – William McDonough & Michael Braungart


This book looks at how our society can, and is transitioning from a “cradle to grave” manufacturing model, towards a closed loop “cradle to cradle” philosophy. McDonough and Braungart discuss recycling and reusing wasteful (often toxic) products, and creating new forward thinking designs across various industries and sectors. Cradle to Cradle says no to the “paper or plastic?” question, and instead asks “why can’t we create a new [closed loop] industrial revolution. You can buy it online here in both e-book and hard copy styles.


4. The Upcycle – William McDonough & Michael Braungart


The Upcycle acts as a follow up to Cradle to Cradle, and looks at how we can not only minimise the impact on our planet from an industrial point of view, but how we can create net gains and improvements. This piece looks at how creative and outside-the-box thinking can lead to a positive footprint for future generations, on topics such as water conservation. This book doesn’t just look at the ethical and social implications of sustainability, but provides a good case for the economics of future-proofing our society. Worth a read; you can find it here (hard copy) or here (ebook).


 5. The Glass Closet – Lord John Browne


The Glass Closet is an open and hard-hitting look at how homosexuality is viewed and treated in the corporate world. Written by Lord John Borwn, former CEO and Chair of BP, this book accounts for his experience at the top of the oil and gas industry, and the effects of that on his life, sexuality, and eventually his coming out. He draws stories and sentiment from other high profile gay and lesbian senior global executives to promote the message that “despite the risks involved, self-disclosure is best for employees—and for the businesses that support them”. A great read, that should be on the list of anyone leading, or aspiring to lead an organisation (as well as everyone else). You can get it here (hard copy) or here (ebook).


6. The Great Disruption – Paul Gilding


The Great Disruption garnered critical acclaim when it was released in 2011. It posits a fairly bleak outlook for our future, saying that we can no longer avoid climate change and that “we need to brace for impact because global crisis is no longer avoidable”.  Whilst it paints a scary picture, Paul puts forth that we need to replace our growth addiction with that of ethical sustainability, and that this is the key to the future of our planet, and of humanity. A really worthwhile read. You can get it here (hard copy) and here (ebook).

Let me know in the comments if there are any books that are real stand outs for you, otherwise happy reading!

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