Advanced Search

Please click here to take a brief survey

The Worldchanging Reading List
Alex Steffen, 25 Oct 05

As you know, we're working on a book about how to change the world. As part of that, we want to make sure to recommend good resources which will help readers learn more about the topics we cover. You guys are a smart and well-read crowd: we want to know what books you think should go on a "required reading" list of worldchanging books.

What five books have you found most powerful in shaping your view of the world (and how we can change it to be more sustainably prosperous, fair and free)? What five books would you most recommend to your fellow worldchangers? Are there any books, in particular, that you think deserve a broader audience than they've gotten thus far?

And, as a special bonus question, what do you think is the best book along these lines published this year?

(Please share your picks in the comments section, so other readers can see them too, and thank you!)

Bookmark and Share


1. Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

2. Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan. A worldview-changing book!

3. The Age of Consent (published in the US under the awful title Manifesto for a New World Order) by George Monbiot

4. The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson (ok, that's three books, but utopian fiction doesn't get any better)

5. World Federation? A Critical Analysis by Ronald J. Glossop. Obscure but very important.

Posted by: Jane Shevtsov on 25 Oct 05

cosmos - carl sagan

food of the gods - terrence mckenna

valis - phillip k dick

simulation and simulacra - baudrillard

any noam chomsky

Posted by: octavio on 25 Oct 05

Radical Ecology: The search for a livable world -- Carolyn Merchant

The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka

Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature -- William Cronon

The Botany of Desire -- Michael Pollan

The Death and Life of Great American Cities -- Jane Jacobs

!!2005 Bonus!! Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection by Anna Tsing

Posted by: Eli Pousson on 25 Oct 05

1. Thomas Friedman The World is Flat
2. Thomas Friedman The Lexus and the Olive Tree
3. Charles Van Doren A History of Knowledge
4. James Burke The Pinball Effect /The Knowledge Web
5. Simon Winchester The Professor and the Madman

Posted by: Stu Spigel on 25 Oct 05

1. The Transparent Society - by David Brin
(on how to make universal surveillance work *for* us: and it's easier to say than Participatory Panopticon!)

2. Profiles of the Future - Arthur C Clarke (maybe a bit old, but I found these essays very thought provoking)

3. A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict - Peter Ackerman, Jack Duvall, Steve York, Miriam Zimmermann

Posted by: Tony Fisk on 26 Oct 05

To Have or To Be, by Erich Fromm

The Sane Society, by Erich Fromm

Posted by: Sherpa on 26 Oct 05

Natural Capitalism - Lovins, Lovins & Hawken
A Short History of Progress - Ronald Wright
The Design of Everyday Things - Donald Norman
Lean Thinking - Womack & Jones
The Elusive Quest for Growth - William Easterly
The Corporation - Joel Bakan
Being Digital - Nicholas Negroponte
The Carbon War - Jeremy Leggett
Dune - Frank Herbert
Neuromancer trilogy - William Gibson

Posted by: Mike on 26 Oct 05

All Time 5 Books:

1. Foucault's Pendulum: Umberto Eco
2. Hitch-hiker's Guide to The Galaxy: Douglas Adams
3. Capitalism & Schizophrenia, a thousand plateaus: Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari
4. The Glass Bead Game: Hermanne Hesse
5. Cryptonomicon: Neal Stephenson

Published this year: The Nature Of Order, by Christopher Alexander, but I haven't got my hands on it yet.

Posted by: rohit gupta on 26 Oct 05

"In defense of global capitalism"- Johan Norberg
Why capitalism is the greatest wealth producer of all time, for poor people in particular.

"Why globalization works" - Martin Wolf
A no-nonsense, facts and figures packed, sober, optimistic view on world development.

"The shackled continent" - Robert Guest
Why Africa has such huge problems.

"A short history of nearly everything" - Bill Bryson
A lot of bang for the buck (sorry).

Posted by: Dan on 26 Oct 05

Without repeating anything from above, FREAKONOMICS by Levitt and Dubner.

Posted by: John Platt on 26 Oct 05

Capitalism at the Crossroads - Stu Hart

The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid - CK Prahalad

More here

(and many cited above)

Posted by: Rob on 26 Oct 05

1. Regeln für den Menschenpark. Rules for the Human Zoo. Regras para o parque humano. Peter Sloterdijk
2. La possibilité d'une île Michel Houellebecq
3. Empire Antonio Negri.
4. Les temps capitaux Eric Alliez
5. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia I; Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia II Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari

This year:
Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals, 2005, Peter Sloterdijk.

Posted by: Lorenzo on 26 Oct 05

Most influential on me:
To Have or to Be - Fromm
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Pirsig
Future Shock - Toffler
Engines of Creation - Drexler

Most recommended for today:
America as Empire - Garrison
The Transparent Society - Brin
Systems of Survival - Jacobs
The Singularity is Near - Kurzweil

Posted by: Mike Treder on 26 Oct 05

local code - michael sorkin
last and first men - olaf stapledon
inifinte in all directions - freeman dyson
gaviotas - alan weisman
the timeless way of building - christopher alexander

Posted by: neil on 26 Oct 05

1. The Global Citizen - Donella Meadows
2. Guns, Germs, and Steel & Collapse - Jared Diamond
3. Being Peace - Thich Nhat Hanh
4. Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit - Daniel Quinn
5. Design for Human Ecosystems: Landscape, Land Use, and Natural Resources - John Tillman Lyle

Posted by: David Zaks on 26 Oct 05

1) Global change and the Earth system: a planet under pressure by Steffen, W., A. Sanderson, P. D. Tyson, J. Jager, P. M. Matson, B. Moore, III, F. Oldfield, K. Richardson, H. J. Schnellnhuber, B. L. Turner, II, and R. J. Wasson. 2004.

2) The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy by Kenneth Pomeranz 2001

3) Navigating Nature's Dynamics: Building Resilience for Adaptive Capacity in Social-Ecological Systems. Editted by Berkes, F., Colding, J. and Folke, C. 2002

4) Carl Walters, Adaptive Management of Renewable Resources, 1986

5) Sustainable Development of the Biosphere Editted by WC Clark and R. Munn 1986

-- and coming soon
The final reports from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. These will soon be online at Synthesis reports are online now.

Posted by: Garry Peterson on 26 Oct 05

Foundation Series - Issac Asimov
Woman on the edge of time - Marge Piercy

Posted by: ilan on 26 Oct 05

A good few favourites already mentioned above, so I'll limit myself to two not so far mentioned:

1) "Winning the Oil Endgame" - Lovins et al. (download available free or for donation:

2) "Unarmed Heroes - The Courage to go beyond Violence"
Personal testimonies on the peaceful resolution of conflict Compiled and edited by peace direct. Features some of the bravest people on the planet!
(available from


Posted by: Sami Grover on 26 Oct 05

Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart
Asphalt Nation by Jane Holtz Kay

Posted by: Rion on 26 Oct 05

Some of these have been cited before, but here's my list:

- For good journalism: The Global Citizen columns by Dana Meadows

- For good eco-fiction: The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. (Maybe Dune, by Frank Herbert?)

- For good science: the upcoming Millennium Ecosystem Assessment reports (and the older conceptual framework book, which is really good). Also Global change and the Earth system: a Planet under Pressure by Wil Steffen et al.

- Some more good science: Nature's Services by Gretchen Daily, and the Ages of Gaia by Jim Lovelock.

- Others? Some favorites out there are -- A Pattern Language by Chris Alexander, Collapse by Jared Diamond, etc?

Good luck! I can't wait to see the final reading list.

Posted by: Jon Foley on 26 Oct 05

Don't want to repeat any, so . . .

1. Some Assembly Required by Michael Sorkin
2. Your Private Sky by R. Buckminster Fuller (Both volumes)
3. Power of Myth by Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell
4. Advice for a Young Investigator by Santiago Ramón y Cajal
5. Cities for a Small Planet by Richard Rogers

Posted by: bpjc on 26 Oct 05

wow I have to check out all these books.

I'm going to add:

On the Nature of Things, a first century BC epic poem by Lucretius that grandly proclaims the reality of man's role in a universe without a god to help him along.

It's interesting to see how intellectuals more than 2000 years ago dealt with the same problems we are dealing with today. In a way, it’s discouraging because 2000 years after, even with the help of technology and education, intellectuals are still denouncing the same problems of war, religion and environment that Lucretius was denouncing back then. Lucretius, in this poem addressed to a member of the government, condemns creationism! It makes me wonder if we make _any_ progress politically and socially.

Posted by: BenE on 26 Oct 05

1. Massive Change by Bruce Mau and the Institute without Boundaries

2. Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

3. Birth of the Chaordic Age by Dee Hock

4. The Whole Earth Catalogue by Steward Brand

5. The Sciences of the Artificial by Herbert A. Simon

Posted by: Tobias Lau on 26 Oct 05

Sustainable: Cradle to Cradle - by William McDonough & Michael Braungart
Equitable: The End of Poverty - by Jeffery Sachs
Open: Free Culture - by Lawrence Lessig

Romantic: The Unbearable Lightness of Being - by Milan Kundera
Intricate: Things Fall Apart - by Chinua Achebe
Thoughtful: A Small Place - by Jamaica Kincaid

Noisy: Content - OMA & Rem Koolhaas
Big: Massive Change: The Future of Global Design - by Bruce Mau and the Institute without Boundaries (shameless self promotion)

Right now I'm reading: The World is Flat by Tom Friedmand and Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.

Posted by: Britt on 26 Oct 05

1. "Cradle to Cradle" by William McDonough
2. "Collapse" by Jared Diamond
3. "The Republic" by Plato
4. "Niccomachean Ethics" by Aristotle
5. "Tao te Ching" by Lao Tzu

Posted by: Damon Tighe on 26 Oct 05

Wow, everybody has there favorite book lists! I can't agree with many of the selections above unfortunately - many of them already get a bit too much attention in my opinion, relative to what they actually contribute... there were a few of my old favorites in there though. Here's my list of recent worldchanging books that deserve more notice:

* Innovative Energy Strategies for CO2 Stabilization, edited by Robert G. Watts (2002) - I have a longer review here.

* Energy at the Crossroads : Global Perspectives and Uncertainties, by Vaclav Smil (2003)

* The Discovery of Global Warming, by Spencer Weart - wonderfully supplemented online at

* The Republican War on Science, by Chris Mooney (2005) - if it helps change US politics it may help change the world too.

Posted by: Arthur Smith on 26 Oct 05

I'll add two by Christopher Alexander :

Timeless Way of Building
A Pattern Language

Both books a beautiful reminder that we ALL have knowlege to share and that ordinary people know more than acknowleged.

Posted by: Daniel N Smith Jr on 26 Oct 05

seeing as how Dick has already come up Solar Lottery is the one I would recommend. It's the one where capitalism breaks down becuase it becomes so cheap to produce things people just start giving stuff away.


Posted by: Andrew Jones on 26 Oct 05

Beyond the Limits, by Donella Meadows et al.

The Diversity of Life, by Edward O. Wilson

The Control of Nature, by John McPhee

A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold

Design with Nature, by Ian McHarg

and all of Jane Jacobs' books seem essential

Posted by: Ted Wolf on 26 Oct 05

Critical Path----- Buckminster Fuller

The Turning Point-------Fritjof Capra

The Only Dance There Is-----Ram Dass

Out of Control-----------Kevin Kelly

The Whole Earth Catalog--------- Stewart Brand

Posted by: gary demos on 26 Oct 05

The Great Wave - david hackett fisher
Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
The Party's Over - Richard Heinberg
Small Is Beautiful : Economics as if People Mattered - E.F. Schumacher

Posted by: Xavier on 26 Oct 05

Five? Wow, that's tough - like asking for the five best symphonies or paintings. Many fine suggestions above; here are mine:

For some overview of the human condition:

- "Material World: A Global Family Portrait" by Peter Menzel et al.
- "Hungry Planet" by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio
- "Earth Odyssey: Around the World in Search of Our Environmental Future" by Mark Hertsgaard

For remarkable clarity about growth and systems:

- "Beyond the Limits" by Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows and Jørgen Randers
- "The Global Citizen" by Donella Meadows


- "A Sand County Almanac" by Aldo Leopold

From my field, architecture and design:

- "A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction" by Christopher Alexander et al.
- "The Timeless Way of Building" by Christopher Alexander
- "How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built" by Stewart Brand
- "The Green Imperative: Natural Design for the Real World" by Victor Papanek

Two accessible books about "emergent properties" and life:

- "The Ages of Gaia" by James Lovelock
- "The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma" by Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart

For some alternative ideas about interacting with land and food:

- "Forest Farming" by J. Sholto Douglas and Robert Hart
- "Permaculture: A Designer's Manual" by Bill Mollison
- "How to Grow More Vegetables" by John Jeavons

Books from my youth that I still find relevant:

- "Living the Good Life" by Scott and Helen Nearing
- "Small is Beautiful" by E.F. Schumacher
- "Muddling Toward Frugality" by Warren Johnson
- "Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert Pirsig

An alternative to the science fiction books listed by others, emotionally draining:

- "Re: Colonized Planet Five: Shikasta" by Doris Lessing

And recent history as told by the same master:

- "The Sweetest Dream"by Doris Lessing

The "Tao te Ching" of course, but all of the world's spiritual texts contain worthwhile reading - but read the works of Joseph Campbell too, especially "The Power of Myth" and "The Hero with a Thousand Faces".

Finally, for a luminous, beautiful reminder that not all of the world's importance is in cities:

- "Growth of the Soil" by Knut Hamsun.

Posted by: David Foley on 26 Oct 05

5 books most powerful in shaping my worldview ("and how we can change it..."), in no order:

  • Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien (facing up to life's challenges stoically, bravely, without regard for one's size, power, cunning, etc.)
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel, J. Diamond (for the strength of his analysis as well as his conclusions)
  • Web of Life, F. Capra (understanding the non-linearity / connectedness of the world)
  • Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh (aphorisms that teach us how to be in relation to the Divine, to ourselves, and to the external world
  • Sand County Almanac, A. Leopold (recognizing the simple beauty, diversity, and relationships suffusing all aspects of life).

Posted by: Stephen A. Fuqua on 26 Oct 05

in addition to the classics already listed, i'll add two more:

the local politics of global sustainability - prugh, constanza, and daly

biomimicry - janine benyus

Posted by: katherine on 26 Oct 05

The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs

Notes on the Synthesis of Form, Christopher Alexander

The Social Logic of Space, Hillier and Hanson

A Hierarchical Concept of Ecosystems, O'Neill et al.

Rules of Play, Salen and Zimmerman

Posted by: Ted W. on 26 Oct 05

I add a single book to the discussion:
Ivan Illich's book, 'H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness'.

This book is about the history of the intersection of water and city, and how the possibilities of human imagination have changed as water's roles (and names) have.

Posted by: dba on 26 Oct 05

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
A Theory of Power by Jeff Vail
The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken
Days of War, Nights of Love by CrimeThinc
Digital Aboriginal by Mikela Tarlow

Posted by: Dale on 26 Oct 05

Off the top of my head, without my books in front of me....

Mother Country - Marilynne Robinson
Cradle to Cradle - Willaim McDonogh and Michael Braungart
The Need for Roots - Simone Weil
Dominion - Matthew Scully
Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics - Norman McCloskey

As far as lesser-known books go, I'd recommend Kroptkin's Mutual Aid, Giorgio Agamben's Homo Sacer, and Adorno's Psychological Techniques of Martin Luther Thomas' Radio Addresses.

Posted by: Phila on 26 Oct 05

I'm sitting at a break during the United Nation's Environment Program's Finance Initiative, so I'm a bit distracted- but willing to give this a go.

Top Five:

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Thomas Kuhn

Managing Uncertainty Havard Business School Press

Guns, Germs and Steel Jared Diamond

The Republic Plato

The Biography of Thomas Jefferson Pennack

Of course, either this list should be much longer, or I should give it much more thought! Great question and I look forward to studying all of the replies!

Posted by: j david on 26 Oct 05

Books! Who's got time for books? How about, five non- fiction writers that have changed
how we perceive the world, courtesy of The Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times and Harper's

John Macphee , pioneer of literary journalism

Ken Auletta, king of all media observers

William Langewiesche, a bird's eye view on macro topics

Jack Hitt, natural history as popular culture and other oddities

Peter Maas, NYT's foreign correspondent who mainstreamed the concept of Peak Oil

Posted by: enrique on 26 Oct 05

* I See Satan Fall Like Lightning -- Rene Girard

* Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit - Daniel Quinn

* The Seven Storey Mountain -- Thomas Merton

* The Good Life - Helen and Scott Nearing

* The Crosswicks Journals (3 books) - Madeleine L'Engle

Posted by: mw on 26 Oct 05

1. David Holmgren (co-originator of permaculture): "Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability"

2. Richard Heinberg: "The Party's Over" and "Powerdown"

3. H. T. and Elizabeth Odum: "The Prosperous Way Down" and many other works on energy and ecology.

4. Wendell Berry: "The Unsettling of America" and many others.

5. Ernest Callenbach: "Ecotopia"

Posted by: Bart on 26 Oct 05

1. 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu
2. 'Brave New World' by Huxley
3. 'Hegemony or Survival' by Noam Chomsky
4. 'Paper Money' by G.J.W. Goodman
5. 'Metaphysics' by Aristotle

Posted by: Victa G on 26 Oct 05

I believe at 25, it's kind a young to give suggestions on good books, but anyway, let me give it a shot.

Before that, I think I'd like to give some criterions of what a "world"-"changing" book "for the masses" should be, and it will be based on the three words inside the quote symbols. And later on, I shall try to give the books best suited for reading materials on each of the criterions I'll have mentioned. (The overall theme of the following criterions and book suggestions would be, "Wholistic yet trying-to-be-Simplistic approach")

First, the criterions.

I. The first group of criterions would be based on the word "world", which would be :

1. A good synthesize of the ultimate reality of our world : time, space, mind, matter, and the "immaterial". Which would translate into, history, philosophy, sci-tech and spirituality (wether the reader would be an atheist or a theist) which ultimately would end up in the redefinition of Progress for individual, humanity and the earth ecosystem as a whole.

2. A brief, to the point, real life, powerful arguments on the past, present and future states of the earth, and where the sci-tech solutions and the mindset-lifestyle changes fit in into the whole scheme. The opinions of the better historians and futurists would be suitable for this.

3. Since science & technology describes most of the ultimate reality we can perceive, and would be one of the key solution that will be presented, a good summary of appropriate, sustainable, widely applicable and economically sound scientific knowledge and technologies available at present or would-be-available in the not so distant future.

This area would be the area you guys at know best, so its needless for me to say anything. But if it be of any use, kindly allow me to have a say on this.
These sci-tech solutions should include for example, the science of sustainable development ranging from politics and economics concepts and practices which would be socio-eco-friendly such as eco-economy and other (more) sustainable economic structures and policies (eco-economy, environmental Tax, Tobin tax, etc), a better concept on national and global governance (maybe green politics, or other upgrades on the present representative democracy, and ultimately, all the necessary upgrades/overwrites/reforms on the United Nations and all its specialized bodies). And ofcourse the technological solutions should include things such as, a sustainable lifecyle "product" (of all kinds) design, manufacture and waste management. Alternative energies, alternative materials, etc, once again, you guys know best.

II. The second group of criterions would be based on the word "changing", which would be :

1. Good arguments on the indeniability and unavoidability of the need to Change our mindsets, our lifestyle, our ideals, our doings as individuals, groups, nations, and humanity as a whole. And ofcourse, propose the crosscultural, crossreligion, politically neutral, economically and ecologically sound, synthesis of the above.

2. Good arguments to tackle the psychological and practical problems the readers would face when incorporating the "Change" solutions that will be proposed.

III. The third group of criterions would be based on the word "for the masses", which would be :

1. Written in simple, humane, layman, yet sufficiently technical language.

2. No. 1 above suggests that, the book should provide the basic framework and applicable real life examples of thingking and doing for each sci-tech solutions or mindset-lifestyle changes, and provide follow up readings on later chapters (advanced details) or websites.

3. The book should be created in printed form and electronic form under a type of Creative Commons kind-of license. This should enable anyone, I mean, any person in the whole planet to at least obtain it and READ the knowledge and wisdom presented for free, as in free beer, inside the book. Consider also to donate the book for Wikibooks, and design an online course on the to-be-great online university : Wikiversity (From the good guys who brought us the Wikipedia).

4. After the publication of the book, your team should concentrate your effort to summarize in a audio-visually attractive and technically descriptive of the follow up reading for each of the background assumptions (mentioned in criterion category I for "world"), sci-tech solutions and mindsets-lifestyle changes (in criterion category II for "changing").

5. The book should also touch on the grand theme of changing everything on the face of the earth : Education !!! We have sufficient knowledge, know-hows, and wisdom to create an Education for the future.

6. You said you only have two months to write the book... think it over again... is it really worth it to rush into writing a book you hope to really really provide solutions to change the whole wide world into a better place ? just because your publisher or the opportunity you have is limited at the present being ? If you intent to create the book using the "opensource software"-like community-bottom-up approach... you should give in more time to it, and let it mature over time. We need to act in an urgently manner but not hurrily.
And you should create a more manageable community colaboration offline and online platform. The community colaboration looks like a good starting point. I'm sure it'll be a lot more easier ways to publish your GOOD book later on.


And now, I shall try to point out some books for each criterion which I have read whole/partially. I shall give one or more suggestions for each sub category (e.g. I-1, II-2, III-4)

I-1 and I-2 (I can't seem to be able to separate them properly): on the ultimate reality and destination.
- "The Lessons of History" by Will Durant, Ariel Durant. A highly recommended 100-page reading of synthesizes between history, philosophy, sci-tech and spirituality from one of the most wholistic and eloquent philosopher-historian writer who wrote 11-volume (some 12.000 pages of more) The Story of Civilizations over 40 years of his life.
- "The Earth Charter" : one of the most up-to-date wholistic global framework of ideas and ideals for a better future. ( )
- "Just The Way Things Are" by Huston Smith "The Transcendent Unity of Religions" by Frithjof Schuon : both on the convergence points of religions and spirituality.
- "All Men Are Brothers" by Mahatma Gandhi, a UNESCO publication. Collection of quotes and writings by one of our most beloved teacher, which had inspired and still and will keep on inspiring generations of peace-fighters on the path of love for all humanity and creations.
- Other works by the better historian or futurists such as Toynbee or Tofler (I havent had a chance to get my hands on those)

I-3 : on sci-tech solutions.
Since I believe the solutions should be applicable to the following real-life subjects, which are, the individual, the business world, city wanna-be villages, problematic cities, national government and the global governance of the UN then the solutions should be grouped acording/across them.
- for the Individual (the concentration should be on solutions for the home) so books such as : "Living Homes: Sustainable Architecture and Design", BBCs' "There's No Waste Like Home" (, etc
- for the business world : "The Natural Step for Business : Wealth, Ecology & the Evolutionary Corporation", "Green Building Guidelines: Meeting the Demand for Low-Energy, Resource-Efficient Homes", etc
- for the villages : "Ecovillage Living: Restoring the Earth and Her People" , a good book on wholistic living model for villages, not just on ecological perspective, but also on social, spiritual and economical perspective, with many great real-life solutions already done or in progress.
- for the cities : "Ecocities: Building Cities in Balance with Nature", "Cities for a Small Planet - Richard Rogers", and other more concrete-solutions type of book.
- as for national governments and global governance, books such as : "Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth", "Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution", "Parecon: Life After Capitalism", "Development as Freedom" by Amartya Sen, etc, would be nice.

- "On The Meaning of Life" by Will Durant. The title speaks for itself.
- "Voluntary Simplicity, Revised Edition: Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich" : a book on the absolute necessity of mindset-lifestyle change, and s book proposing one of the newkind of lifestyle which I assume would be crosscultural, crossreligion, politically neutral, economically and ecologically sound.
- "Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence" : The big problem... MONEY !!!
- "The Good Life" by Scott and Helen Nearing and "Loving and Leaving the Good Life" by Helen Nearing
- "The European Dream : How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream"
- other books on similar topics.

- Books on change management. I dont really know much on this one. But I'm sure there are many out there.

III-1, III-2 and III-4 :
- A good example of such writing style is an article titled "Take your spare room off-grid!" :
- Another one good example on "Ecological Footprint" :
- There should be many more of these kinds.

III-3 : on pubishing the electronic version for free.
- Creative Commons license : (They have an excellent visually attractive, technically informative, comical description for the license's concept on that page)
- ofcourse, the GPL license : Actually I know at least one guy who publish computer-related books under this license, and still reap enough benefits from sellling of the printed version of the book.
- "Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth" have theirs online for free here :
- "Natural Capitalism" have theirs online for free here :

- One of the better one book on Ecological-Humane Education : "Earth in Mind : On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect, 10th Anniversary Edition" , I'm halfway on this one.
- I'm just beginning the research on educational reforms, so, no more for now.

III-6 : on taking your time and building the community for your book.


That would be all from me, sorry if its kind-a unstructured, ambitiously bloated yet somehow partial, "young" and ofcourse immature. I was just trying to restate the idea for a more wholistic yet simplistic approach on writing your community-colaboration-based book. It might be possible to do if you use the III-1, III-2, III-3, III-4 and III-6 approaches I described above.

I sure hope to be of any help. I wish you the best for your effort and your book.

# It would be nice, if you let me read your first draft and give more inputs if I can come up with any. Think of it as, a will-be-customer input on your book :)
# Sorry if it's not the 5-books suggestion you requested :P

Posted by: Wibowo Sulistio on 26 Oct 05

I think any discussion of worldchanging books that would make possible the vision of the world as "more sustainably prosperous, fair and free" is incomplete without the Bible. Lived out, this book is God's textbook for reaching our best potential.
Another good book, which contains practical applications for those of us blessed enough to live in the first world is "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger : Moving from Affluence to Generosity" by Ronald J. Sider.

Posted by: Westy on 26 Oct 05

5 books that weren't mentioned above:

Mystery of Capital: why capitalism triumphs in the west and fails everywhere else
Hernando de Soto

The Future and it's Enemies
Virginia Postrel

Science and Sanity
Alfred Korzybski

Linked: the new science of networks
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman

Posted by: Kalin Harvey on 26 Oct 05

Yikes, too many books not enough time! Most of mine have been quoted already, so I'll stick to quick mind-benders:

Development: a guide to the ruins

Tunneling Through the Cost Barrier

Gandhi, Deep Ecology, Peace Research and Buddhist Economics
abstract only, the author has smaller articles online covering the same material, e.g.:

Posted by: Daniel Haran on 26 Oct 05

** EarthDance: living systems in evolution - Elisabet Sahtouris (pdf now free online)
** The Good News for a Change - Holly Dressel & David Suzuki
** A Theory of Everything - Ken Wilber
** Signs of Life: How Complexity Pervades Biology - Ricard Sole & Brian Goodwin
** Dr Strangelove's Game: a brief history of economic genius - Paul Strathern

I also support the mentions above of:
-Ages of Gaia - J lovelock
-the books by Capra
-Biomimmicry - Benyus

Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke
A Confederacy of Dunces - toole
Thief of time - Terry Pratchet
Everything is illuminated - Jonathon S Foer
The Hobbit

website - George Monbiot
not reading, but viewing: Big Picture TV, it rocks!
An Intimate History of Humanity - Theodore Zeldin
The Holographic Universe - M Talbot

Posted by: Flannel Flower on 26 Oct 05

bonus item for this year: perhaps "The Natural Advantage of Nations"

Posted by: Flannel Flower on 26 Oct 05

Only 5? Hmmm...

1. 'Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television' by Jerry Mander

2. 'Of Water and the Spirit' by Malidoma Somé

3. 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley

4. 'The Archaic Revival' & 'The Invisible Landscape' by Terence McKenna (yes I just cheated, but these are phenominal texts!)

5. anything by Disinformation.

And while I have yet to read their books, what I have seen of Rupert Sheldrake and Peter Russell look to bevery intriguing

Posted by: Justin Minich on 26 Oct 05

Kent, D. "Healthy Money, Healthy Planet". 2005 Craig Potton Publishing. ISBN 1877333298.

Posted by: Jonathan Harker on 26 Oct 05

There are so many good books. Choosing only 5 ... well ...

1) Definitely Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man, for the scope of the work, the quality of the research and the light that it sheds on human evolution. Although written in the 70's, it's still up-to-date;

2) Kenneth Clark's Civilisation. This is the equivalent of Bronowski's masterwork, explaining art through the lens of human evolution or human evolution through the lens of art;

3) Robert Wright's Non-zero, for establishing a much-needed link between science and religion. A brilliant theory, tackling the prisoner's dilemma;

4) Charles van Doren's A History of Knowledge ... a history of mankind based on ideas rather than on political eras or war issues;

5) Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier's Le Matin des Magiciens, written in french, in the 60's, a forebear of alternative thinking.

Posted by: Daniel, in Montreal on 26 Oct 05

Ishmael ( / My Ishmael / Story of B / Beyond Civilization [they're an unofficial series of sorts]) - Daniel Quinn

A Theory of Power - Jeff Vail

Against Civilization - Edited by John Zerzan (a compilation of provoking, deeply insightful essays)

Brave New World (+ Brave New World Revisited, for more direct analysis of and criticisms of modern civilization) - Aldous Huxley

I'm only suggesting those books that I've already read, but I have a pile of stuff I have yet to tackle that I'm sure I would be able to add to this list if I had already completed them. Ishmael was the big one for me, and set off my interest in pursuing similar anti-civilization works.

Posted by: ape on 26 Oct 05

I second the votes for _A Pattern Language_ by Christopher Alexander et alia, _Cradle to Cradle- by McDonough and Braungart, Tao Te Ching and _Art of War_ by Sun Tzu.

I'd add both volumes of _Synergetics_ by R Buckminster Fuller and the Bhagavad-Gita.

If you include Wendell Berry, you should also take a look at Gary Snyder.

Posted by: gmoke on 26 Oct 05

My world changing books in no particular order:
The Oxford Guide To Literature In English Translation by France
The Elegant Universe by Greene
Moby Dick by Melville
Querelle by Genet
The Magic Mountain by Mann
Moses and Monotheism by Freud
The Lifetime Reading Plan by Fadiman and Major
The Origin of Consiousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Jaynes
The National Lampoon High School Yearbook Parody
Macbeth by Shakespeare
Tristram Shandy by Sterne
A Moveable Feast by Hemingway
Black Lamb and Gray Falcon by West
The Story of Philosophy by Magee
The Greek Qabalah by Barry
The Alphabet Effect by Logan
The User Illusion by Norretranders
War and Peace by Tolstoy

Posted by: Dean Morris on 26 Oct 05

upwingers - f. m. esfandiary
discipline and punish - foucault
viridian manifesto - bruce sterling
whole earth catalog and magazine
risk society - ulrich beck

Posted by: abbie abbey on 26 Oct 05

...missed the request for five books, so here's two more:

The Goal - Daniel Goldratt (a scientific approach to improving a company's productivity in novel form. Not Booker Prize material, but an OK read. Plus, the presentation adds a human dimension to what could otherwise become an economic rationalist bible)

The Wisdom of Crowds - James Surowiecki (creepy how we're all better at guessing the right answer than each other!)

Posted by: Tony Fisk on 26 Oct 05

Thanks, folks, Great suggestions. Keep 'em coming!

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 26 Oct 05

An Asian perspective for you:

- Conversations with God - Book II, by Neale Donal Walsch (Philosophy, Daily Living)

- Tao of Physics, by Frtjof Capra (Physics and Philosophy)

- Principal Upanishads, by S. Radhakrishnan (Philosophy, Literature)

- MaveRick, by Ricardo Semler (Business)

- Road Less Travelled, by Scott M. Peck (Psychology, Philosophy)

- Ecology and Equity, by Madhav Gadgil and Ramachandaran Guha (Ecology, Environment, Economics)

Posted by: Rahul Dewan on 27 Oct 05

I guess I only mentioned two first time round, so I've got three left. One more then:
"The Earth Care Manual - A Permaculture Manual for Britain and Other Temperate Climates" Patrick Whitefield
- probably the most comprehensive application of permaculture in recent years, certainly for temperate climates, and covers all aspects of human activity, from shelter to food production to transport. A mountain of a book but well worth reading.

Posted by: Sami Grover on 27 Oct 05

They've mostly been mentioned, but I'll add my vote for:

Natural Capitalism, Amory Lovins et al.
Small Is Beatiful, E.F. Schumacher
Lateral Thinking, Edward de Bono (and also Simplicity)
Silent Spring, Rachel Carson
The Future Eaters, Tim Flannery
The Naked Ape, Desmond Morris
The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins
Media Virus, Douglas Rushkoff
Walden, Henry David Thoreau
The Mars Trilogy, Kim Stanley Robinson.
The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

I'm really looking foward to seeing the summarised reading list when the WorldChanging book comes out!

Posted by: Tom on 27 Oct 05

1. Bolo Bolo by P.M.
2. TAZ by Hakim Bey
3. Die Gluecklichen by Peter-Paul Zahl
4. Living my Life by Emma Goldman
5. Empire by Hardt & Negri

Posted by: geert lovink on 27 Oct 05

In no particular order.....

Placemaking: The Art and Practice of Building Communities - Robert Shibley and Linda Schneekloth

Chaos: Making a New Science - James Gleick

The Reenchantment of Art - Suzi Gablik

People, Penguins, and Plastic Trees: Basic Issues in Environmental Ethics -
Christine Pierce, Donald Vandeveer

Fragile Ecologies - Barbara C. Matilsky

Posted by: David R. Brown on 27 Oct 05

Culture of Make Believe - Derreck Jensen (extremely relevant for world changers!)
Hero with a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell
Peoples History - Howard Zinn
Tao of Physics - Capra
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

Posted by: JC on 27 Oct 05

Progress and Poverty - Henry George
One World - Peter Singer
Random Selection in Politics - Lyn Carson and Brian Martin
Guns, Germs and Steel - Jared Diamond
The Weather Makers - Tim Flannery

The Weather Makers was published in Australia this year, but won't appear elsewhere until 2006.

Posted by: Peter Maxwell on 27 Oct 05

1. Critical Path - R. Buckminster Fuller
2. The Closing Circle - Barry Commoner
3. Ishmael - Daniel Quinn
4. The Blind Watchmaker - Richard Dawkins
5. Anarchy: Mother Earth - Emma Goldman, Peter Kropotkin

Posted by: matt on 27 Oct 05

Must mention KarlHenrik Robert who actually developed the four principles that describe a sustainable society. He describes this in The Natural Step story, but also books, articles - his thinking is becoming richer and richer on issues of culture (shared stories of meaning).

Agree with anything written by Jane Jacobs;

Massive Change by Bruce Mau

Everything by the Lovin's (Hunter and Amory) & Paul Hawken

Books by Buckminster Fuller

What I love about these books is that they provide vision and means for moving forward (how to describe the ideal state), so that we can continuously improve our present with a view to a great future!

Posted by: Caroline on 27 Oct 05

Limits to Growth, the 30 year update (Meadows, et. al.)
Natural Capitalism (Lovins, et. al.)

These are the two most important for those trying to understand our current predicament.

Posted by: Phil Mitchell on 27 Oct 05

I can't believe nobody has mentioned this one yet - perhaps it's not as widely known as I thought (and it is 30 years old now):

"The High Frontier", by Gerard O'Neill

-- explicitly an answer, and a very inspiring one, to "The Limits to Growth", and, while it has aged somewhat, it's still very relevant. I reviewed it for Slashdot a while ago.

Along similar lines, much more detailed but on some counts not so technically justifiable, is:
"The Millenial Project", by Marshall Savage

And then among the books I'm hoping to read soon:

"Gödel, Escher, Bach" - by Douglas Hofstadter

Posted by: Arthur Smith on 27 Oct 05

Caroline, of course, Karl Henrik Robert -> TNS!

Posted by: Flannel Flower on 27 Oct 05

World-Changing Books in Mission-Driven Business:

1. The Wealth at the Bottom of the Pyramid
2. The World's Wasted Wealth 2 (probably 1 too)
3. Non-Zero (Wright) (technically not on business, a general recommendation, but the parallels are obvious)
4. The Mystery of Capital
5. Ploughing the Sea

Posted by: Stephanie McGillivray on 27 Oct 05

  • Web of Life by Fritjof Capra
    Ditching the mechanistic Cartesian worldview for the more accurate systems view.
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
    Being the most violent species on the planet, it's only natural to learn the best way to fight: without violence. If that's not possible (sometimes isn't, like it or not), we have to understand ourselves, our enemy, and our environment.
  • Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon
    History of the galaxy. The most incredible, mind-blowing story of life in the galaxy.
  • The Society of Mind by Marvin Minsky
    An amazing analysis of how our brains work. It will give you magnificent knowledge and a new perspective on the psychology of humans.
  • The Humane Interface by Jef Raskin
    The first step to changing the world: wake up and smell the truth. Breaking all convention of how we interact with machines, Jef gives us the hope we need to overcome our stupidity and gives us the knowledge we need to make machines work for us--not the other way around. (Note: He began creating the Humane Environment up until his death. It's development continues here:

  • Posted by: Corey Birnbaum on 27 Oct 05

    "Tao Te Ching" by Lao Tsu, "Everyday Tao" and "365 Tao" by Deng-Ming Dao

    "One World, Ready or Not" by William Greider (globalization)

    "Generations" by Neil Howe and William Strauss
    (understanding generational change)

    "Preparing for the 21st Century" and "Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" by Paul Kennedy
    (nationalism, imperialism)

    "A History of God" by Karen Armstrong
    (western religion)

    And many, many of those listed already have affected my thinking.

    Posted by: donna on 27 Oct 05

    1. CANDIDE by Voltaire

    2. LA MORT D'ARTEMIO CRUZ by Carlos Fuentes

    3. LE ROUGE ET LE NOIR by Stendhal

    4. L'ANNULAIRE by Yoko Ogawa

    5. FERDYDURKE by Witold Gombrowicz

    Posted by: Stéphane Rouzé on 28 Oct 05

    The Iliad by Homer

    The Odyssey by Homer

    Tod in Venedig by Thomas Mann

    Don quijote by Cervantes

    La Divina comedia by Dante

    Posted by: oups! on 28 Oct 05

    Hi everybody,

    Some great books here. I won't add any, but I have a comment for consideration. Even though I havn't checked them all it seems to me a majority of books appear to be by american authors.
    Given, these are great books but from a sociocultural point of view they share a certain preestablished state of mind (more or less).
    So, if in the end the recommended reading list boils down to 80% (wild guess) american authors it will not be "world changing" but rather "changing the world as seen through the eyes of americans".

    Now my estimate may be off but even 50% american authors would be high and might make for a bias worth mentioning.


    Posted by: Christian Walter on 28 Oct 05

    1 The Art of War by Sun Tzu
    Facing human nature

    2 The society of the spectacle by Guy Debord
    human spectacular-perceptive nature

    3 On the genealogy of morals by F. Nietzsche
    deconstructing all you take for granted.

    4 Bridge Trilogy (virtual light-idoru-tomorrow's parties) by William Gibson
    opening doors on what would feel/mean what could be

    5 Pouvoir, les génies invisibles de la cité by Guglielmo Ferrero
    ...sorry, french title of italian politic/philosophy classic. The nature of power. What bounds human groups together. Why, and how it works.

    Posted by: Matthieu Rozel on 28 Oct 05

    I would say ...

    "Après l'Empire", d'Emmanuel Todd (tracks for tomorrow's world after the fall of U.S. domnination)
    "Penser la complexité" Edgar Morin
    "fureur et mystère" René Char (french poet : we need poetry)
    "If it's a man" Primo Levi (sadness, madness, humankind)
    "The Prince" Machiavel

    And then .. (sorry) Hamlet by W.S.

    AnT, de chez Smith en face

    Posted by: AnT on 28 Oct 05

    Critical Path - R.B. Fuller
    - It's hard to be a Viridian / WorldChanger without Bucky.

    The Road back to nature - Masanobu Fukuoka
    A semi-utopian, very Japanese, agricultural vision

    The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature - Steven Pinker
    Kept me up at night. We can't change where we're going until we understand who we are.

    Winning the Oil Endgame - Amory Lovins
    Amory for Secretary of Energy!

    The Fifth Sacred Thing - Starhawk
    Sci-fi postapocalyptic ecotopic fantasy. Tear up the streets and plant gardens! Can't always read technical non-fiction..

    Posted by: Jason Cole on 28 Oct 05

    - "Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern" by Douglas R. Hofstadter (that i've read before Gödel Escher & Bach)

    - "The uses of enchantment: the meaning and importance of fairy tales" By Bruno Bettelheim

    - "Comment la parole vient aux enfants" by Bénédicte de Boisson Bardies

    - "Treason" by Orson Scott Card

    - all the books i've liked in my child years (it *would* definitely change our world if reading was open to many more children, not just in rich countries), as well as a few books that are important to me in a more personal way (like "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera that i've discovered at the perfect time).

    Posted by: Caz on 28 Oct 05

    - "Literature or Life" by Jorge Semprun
    - "Leviathan" by Thomas Hobbes
    - "Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin
    "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" by Haruki Murakami
    "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley + "1984" by George Orwell

    Posted by: bfgs on 28 Oct 05

    La vie devant soi de R.Gary
    L'idiot de Dostoievski
    Huset i mørket de T. Vesaas (The house in darkness)
    L'ecume des jours de Boris Vian
    La cuidad y los perros de Vargas Llosa (The town and the dogs)

    Posted by: Mumin on 28 Oct 05

    1 - Les Russkoffs 'Cavanna'
    2 - Le pendule de Foucault 'Eco'
    3 - 2001 Space Odissey 'Clarke'
    4 - Le livre noir du communisme
    5 - Vivre après Tchernobyl

    Posted by: Hodin on 28 Oct 05

    I'd say:
    1. Guns, Germs, & Steel - Jared Diamond
    2. Ecotopia - Ernest Callenbach
    3. Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World - Alan Weisman
    4. This Place on Earth: Home and the Practice of Permanence - Alan Thein Durning
    5. Becoming Native to This Place - Wes Jackson

    A runner up would be Ishmael or The Story of B - I tend to recommend Ishmael to folks, although I think the Story of B is better written and more coherent.
    Also, Zen and the art of motorocycle maintenance is a book that I also refer to people when chatting about worldchanging issues.

    As for the past year, I think the newest Jared Diamond book, Collapse, proved insightful. It is good to understand pitfalls from past civilizations to better prepare for the future.

    Posted by: Cortney on 28 Oct 05

    1) Portrait of the player - Philippe Sollers
    2) On the genealogy of morals - Frederich Nietzsche
    3) Antigone - Sophocles
    4) Mystérieux Mozart - Philippe Sollers
    5) Eloge de l'infini - Philippe Sollers

    Sophocle: my best esthetic feeling in my life.
    Sollers: the only guy who gives me real happiness. When I'm depressed by the world,I read 10 pages of one of his books and I feel better... Miracle? no, but he is and will stay probably the despair of the pharmaceutical companies. No drugs needed to feel better! As Shakespeare said: "O Word save us!"

    Posted by: Chris on 28 Oct 05

    Stranger in a Strange Land - Heinlein

    Posted by: Jonathan on 28 Oct 05

    "Les mémoires d'Hadrien" M. Yourcenar, a huge shock, at 25 yrs old

    "Grammaire des civilisations" Braudel, the kind of book that make you think you're intelligent (you're not, but the author is) at 20

    "Les croisades vues par les Arabes" A. Maalouf at 16 yrs, taught me empathy

    "The Lords of the Rings" Tolkien, at 12 yrs old

    Posted by: Simon on 28 Oct 05

    Has anyone mentioned Jeremy Rifkin's The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream ? I think it's a good introduction on a non-Anglosaxon vision of how a wellfare state could look like.

    Maybe some works by "postcolonial" intellectuals are welcome too: Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Achille Mbembe, Ania Loomba, Arundhati Roy, Homi K. Bhabha...

    In the same direction: the famous "Subaltern Studies" - these have been a major breakthrough in historiography, with historians from the former colonies writing their own critiques of history.

    Posted by: Lorenzo on 28 Oct 05

    I would pick two novels, one work of history/anthropology, one modern book of essays and one book of poetry:

    1.) Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
    2.) The Confessions of Nat Turner, William Styron
    3.) Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond
    4.) What are People For, Wendell Berry
    5.) Turtle Island, Gary Snyder

    This is, of course, an off-the-cuff response. There are lots of others that have impacted me as well. Thank you for the thought-provoking discussion.

    Posted by: Bryce Oates on 28 Oct 05

    So many books, so little time. Beaucoup de Francais aussi, salut ;)

    Not wanting to add more books, here are a few quick reads:

    Development: a guide to the ruins (Wolfgang Sachs)

    Thomas Weber has managed to communicate Gandhi to me in very relevant ways, e.g.:
    Gandhi's [...] had a large influence on important branches of the disciplines of ecology, peace research and economics through his profound influence on leading figures in the disciplines, such as Arne Naess, Johan Galtung and E.F.Schumacher.

    Academics may want to read for more details on the Gandhi connection in Deep Ecology and with Schumacher.

    People Power by David H. Albert is technically a book, but so small and lucid on the topic of power and non-violence that tt should be required reading (I have asked the author permission to publish it online, in the meantime try your library!).

    These authors (and the ones mentionned by Weber) all have actual books if you want more reading material :)

    Posted by: Daniel Haran on 28 Oct 05

    --Gaviotas, Alan Wiesman (Intentional, green community in Columbia; astonishing)

    --The Cultural Creatives, Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson Describes the world-changing people in our midst

    --The Tipping Point

    --How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, How to Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Faber and Mazlish; pivotal book in understanding communication, esp. with kis, but all humans

    --Heart at Work

    Posted by: Allisonin Seattle on 28 Oct 05

    No Logo - Naomi Klein : on our world
    Le Tunnel - André Lacaze : on Life
    Les Regrets (The Regrets) - Joachim Du Bellay : on Love
    Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien : on other worlds
    Les Mots (Words) - Sartre : on Litterature

    Posted by: Mickaël on 28 Oct 05

    An essential book I forgot: read it in English, or if you can, en français:

    "The Man Who Planted Trees" (L'homme qui platait des arbres) by Jean Giono. Factually fiction, but true in a much deeper way.

    Posted by: David Foley on 28 Oct 05

    Le petit prince (The little prince?),d'Antoine Saint-Exupéry.Humanity strangeness described through a poetic tale.

    Posted by: Ralala on 28 Oct 05

    Most that I would pick have been mentioned (Jared Diamond, E F Schumacher and Pattern Language among them). I would add some poetry (I couldn't see much): Dart and Woods etc by Alice Oswald. And, in a shameless but very relevant plug, 500 Ways to Change the World, a compendium of great social innovations from the contributors to the Global Ideas Bank. Just out!

    Posted by: Nick Temple on 28 Oct 05

    The first one that comes to mind is "A green history of the world", by Clive Ponting. It took me a while to recover from the bleak picture painted in it. Personally I have been very influenced by a number of books by Thom Hartmann on ADHD, which bring forward the thesis that we are progressing from a hunter to a farmer society, and not everybody is progressing along with that.

    Maybe i think of more later.

    Posted by: peter on 28 Oct 05

    In an attempt to balance your list with a bit of gender and geographical influences:

    I, Rigoberta Menchú. An Indian Woman in Guatemala. Edited and introduced by Elisabeth Burgos-Debray. New York and London: Verso, 1984. (Her life story, based on a week of recorded interviews with the editor, a Latin American anthropologist, who revised and arranged the transcripts. The original Spanish title in 1983 was “My Name is Rigoberta Menchú and This is How My Consciousness Was Raised.”

    Interest & Inflation Free Money- Creating an exchange medium that works for everybody and protects the earth By Margrit Kennedy (1994)

    La Pedagogia del Oprimido, Paulo Freire (1971+-)

    Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century," in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (1991)

    Posted by: Andrea on 28 Oct 05

    Nature Against Capitalism: Monthly Review Press, can't remember the author and I'm not at my bookshelf

    Anything by Murray Bookchin

    Cities and the Wealth of Nations & The Death and Life of Great American Cities: Jane Jacobs

    Posted by: greg ehrendreich on 28 Oct 05

    What five books have you found most powerful in shaping your view of the world (and how we can change it to be more sustainably prosperous, fair and free)?
    anything by Ken Wilber; Globalization/Z.Bauman; Desert Solitaire/Abbey; Cosmic Christ/M.Fox; anything by William Irwin Thompson; Jihad vs. mcWorld/Barber; Prison Notebooks/Gramsci... Oh wait - that's more than five. oh well.

    What five books would you most recommend to your fellow worldchangers?
    Anything by Ken Wilber; Snow Crash/Stephenson; Jared Diamond; anti-WTO activists' writings; Immanuel Wallerstein & A. Gunder-Frank; Marxist theorists....

    Are there any books, in particular, that you think deserve a broader audience than they've gotten thus far?
    Ken Wilber.
    Terence McKenna.

    And, as a special bonus question, what do you think is the best book along these lines published this year?
    people still publish books? seriously, though, I mainly read online now. No idea what's come out this year. Maybe "Collapse"?? or Wallerstein's new one?

    Posted by: katuah on 28 Oct 05

    Mémoires d'Hadrien, Marguerite Yourcenar
    Cien anos de soledad G.G.Marquez
    Illuminations Arthur rimbaud
    Everything from St John Perse
    Evrything from Shakespeare

    Posted by: Leon on 28 Oct 05

    1) Critical Path - Buckminster Fuller
    Get with the notion that we can make a rocking sustainable world for everyone, *right now*

    2) Quantum Psychology - Robert Anton Wilson
    Get with unsticking our thinking and freeing our minds to entertain new models of the world.

    3) Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From the Big Bang to the 21st Century - Howard Bloom
    Get with the collaborative intelligence.

    4) Mankind and Mother Earth - Arnold Toynbee
    Get with the notion that human civilisation keeps making the same mistakes - a similar riff to Collapse by Jared Diamond, but with a larger view - and that we need to know them before we can learn from them.

    5) Smart Mobs - Howard Rheingold
    Get with the communications tech that will make the reorganisation of society possible.

    Posted by: billy on 28 Oct 05

    beyond books:

    Record List:
    My world changing records/songs in no particular order:
    Jim Copp Tales
    Sing Along With Jonathan and Darlene Edwards
    Bill Cosby Is A Very Funny Fellow... Right.
    The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart
    Sound Effects Volume 1
    The Brandenberg Concertos (with historic instruments from the Smithsonian)
    [the first album] by The Doors
    Revolver by The Beatles
    Oh Happy Day single by Glen Campbell
    Talking Heads 77 by Talking Heads
    The Divine Miss M by Bette Midler

    Magazine List:
    My world changing magazines in no particular order:
    National Lampoon
    The Village Voice
    Bear Magazine
    The New Yorker

    Movie List:
    My world changing movies in no particular order:
    Mondo Cane
    Doctor Zhivago
    Fantastic Voyage
    Citizen Kane
    Bertolucci's 1900
    The Wizard of Oz
    Red [and/or] Blue
    8 1/2

    Posted by: Dean Morris on 28 Oct 05

    Very hard to think of books that others here haven't already mentioned. Also hard to think of what I've read that doesn't already have a pretty broad readership. Also my reading is lacking in some of the great classics of the liberal arts and humanities.

    Looking over the recommendations so far, and perhaps this is my unjustified sensitivity on the subject but, I notice a vaguely spiritual/mystical theme emerging here. Nothing really wrong with that I guess but, I think some great skeptical essays by great skeptical thinkers should be mentioned for balance:

    "Why I Am Not a Christian" by Bertrand Russell
    Pretty much any essay about religion by Mark Twain
    Pretty much any essay about science and skepticism by Issac Asimov

    That said, let's move on. On books that profoundly affected me upon reading them I can only second

    Cosmos - Sagan
    Guns, Germs and Steel - Diamond
    Godel Escher Bach - Hoftstader
    Engine of Creation - Drexler
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Adams

    I really wish I could recommend something cool and relevent that isn't getting enough readers but looking over this mighty list, it's hard.


    Longitude - Dava Sobel

    It's a story about a stubborn, self-taught guy, John Harrison, who managed to solve a problem thought insoluable by some of the best minds in his day. He did this in a highly unconventional way and more or less hacked together the entire technology of maritime chronometers thus changing the entire world irrevocably.

    I think that's an excellent metaphor for us here at Worldchanging.

    Posted by: Pace Arko on 28 Oct 05

    - Noir Chirac (in french), by Francois-Xavier Verschave (
    Maybe one can compare his work to Noam Chomsky's, to give a (very) simple comparison. the book is an assay on french and american economic colonalisation of third world, nuclear proliferation, fiscal paradises, white collar criminality, and and pamphlet on french president chirac. It revisit the official western history with a brilliant and very documented assay.

    - 1984 by Georges Orwell (psychology, propaganda, history, an insight in human mind)

    - Tao of Physics, by Fritjof Capra (bringing together western and eastern toughts)

    - The I Ching or Book of Changes : A Guide to Life's Turning Points by Brian Browne Walker (for some reason, this is the only translation of this famous book which i found was working for me, other translation are full of opinions from their translators, which perturbs the message of the book)

    - What Are You Doing With Your Life? by Jiddu Krishnamurti. A compilation of text from Krishnamurti's teaching. Here also this is the only book from K. work which i found was working for me, this book contains only the core substance of K.'s teachings

    For the bonus, Kevin Kelly's article published online this year (it's going to be part of a book): We are the web

    Posted by: lilious on 29 Oct 05

    1 Popper: The Open Society and its enemies
    2 Barrow: Theories of everything
    3 Morris: The Naked Ape
    4 Stone: Policy Paradox
    5 Adams: The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    Posted by: rikkert on 29 Oct 05

    1. Anything by Erich Fromm (To have or to be, Fear of freedom in particular. Seems to be a popular choice :’)
    2. Nation of rebels – Joseph Heath, Andrew Potter
    3. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
    4. How we can save the planet – Mayer Hillman
    5. The twilight of American culture – Morris Berman

    Phillip K Dick collected short stories vol 1 – 5

    Posted by: Cay Green on 29 Oct 05

    here are some more not mentioned;
    Water by Marq de Villiers
    Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner
    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
    and anything by Vandana Shiva...........

    Posted by: eliza on 29 Oct 05

    Well, old books are fine books, even to understand future !

    1°) Se questo è un uomo / Primo Levi
    2°) Le général de l’armée morte / Ismail Kadare
    3°) The Dreaming Jewels / Theodore Sturgeon
    4°) Voyage au bout de la nuit / Louis Ferdinand Celine
    5°) Also sprach Zarathustra / Friedrich Nietzsche

    => future will come from human beings !!!!!

    Posted by: furax on 29 Oct 05

    The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

    Posted by: JoNike on 29 Oct 05

    You have the makings of an amazing list here! My (5+) list is mostly seconds of books already listed.
    First, to plug a gaping hole:

    A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (audio recommended)
    I will argue - the most Worldchanging American of the 20th Century.

    On to redundancy! Everything written by the following people (ignoring all religious texts and the entire western canon, which is all relevant and too big to list):
    M. Gandhi
    B. Fuller
    F. Capra
    C. Alexander
    J. Diamond
    J. Campbell
    V. Shiva
    N. Stephenson
    J. Jacobs
    D. Meadows et al
    N. Chomsky
    Ernest Becker
    E.O. Wilson

    As for what got me started down this path:

    Design with Nature by Ian McHarg
    Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development by John Tilman Lyle (still the best intro to EcoDesign there is)

    Finally! best of this year (and another gaping hole):

    Presence : An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society by Peter Senge et al

    Posted by: Justus on 29 Oct 05

    Of Time and River, by Thomas Wolfe
    The Plague, By Albert Camus
    Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, By Haruki Murakami
    Outer Dark, By Cormac McCarthy
    Shalom, By Philippe Poree-Kurrer

    Posted by: Sean Mclellan on 30 Oct 05

    Conversations with God (All of them, especially, The News Revelations).
    Political Ideas - Bertrand Russell
    Has man a future? - Bertrand Russell
    I am right, you are wrong. - Edward de Bono. But I have only read the introduction, as there is enough in there to redesign politics completely.

    Posted by: Morgan Daly on 30 Oct 05

    A list from France :
    A La Recherche du temps perdu_M. Proust (I kid you not)
    Voyage au bout de la nuit_LF Céline
    L'Oeil et l'esprit_Merleau-Ponty (do you receive a prize for most pedantic list or something ?)
    Bartleby_H. Melville
    The Far Side_G. Larson

    Posted by: Pierre Bertrand on 30 Oct 05

    * Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque by René Girard (in English "Deceit, Desire and the Novel : Self and Other in Literary Structure" )
    * Se questo e un uomo by Primo Levi
    * Cien anos de soledad by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    * Getting to yes by Fisher, Ury, Patton
    * Petit traité de manipulation à l'usage des honnêtes gens by Joule, Beauvois

    Posted by: Cédric Negundo on 31 Oct 05

    Hello from France

    the five ONEs are :
    - Alvin Toffler : "the 3nd Wave"
    - Konrad Lorentz "l'agression" (in french, I guess the english title is "aggression ") - nobel medecine prize for his work about aggressiveness and ethologie
    - Alvin Toffler : "POWERSHIFT"
    - Alvin Toffler : "Future Shock"

    - impossible to select the last title. Too much books may take the 5th rank. Sorry.

    Posted by: Gilles JNJ on 1 Nov 05

    1)"Une saison en Enfer" A.Rimbaud
    2)"Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra" F.Nietzsche
    3)"Odyssée" Homère
    4)"Antigone" Sophocle
    5)"Illusions perdues" H.Balzac

    Posted by: rudy on 2 Nov 05

    hello from France

    1- Surveiller et punir de Michel Foucault
    2- City of Quartz de Mike Davis
    3- le bucher de Times Square (the public burning) de Robert Coover
    4- Continents à la dérive (continental drift) de Russell Banks
    5- La société du spectacle de Guy Debord

    Posted by: hausseguy on 3 Nov 05

    Do you want to do something really world-changing?


    1) Do not include in the reading list any book written by a person whose whole career has been developed in the United States.

    2) Give prominence to social scientists and humanistic thinkers from Latin America, Africa, Middle Eastern, and South East Asia.

    Posted by: Iria Puyosa on 3 Nov 05

    My best first five books:

    1- The Quran.
    2- Ghandi-AUTOBIOGRAPHY.
    3-The portrait of Dorian Gray O.Wilde.
    4-Out of Africa. K.Blixen.
    5-Bel ami of Guy De Maupassant.

    Posted by: OSMANI on 4 Nov 05

    1. 1984 (G.Orwell)
    2. The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else (Hernando Desoto)
    3. Man and His Symbols (Carl Gustav Jung)
    4. In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching (P. D. Uspenskii)

    Posted by: math on 4 Nov 05


    With emphasis on a few missing names:

    Charles Taylor - The Malaise of Modernity (which i believe also goes under the title The Ethics of Authenticity)
    J. Baird Callicott - In Defense of the Land Ethic
    Herman Daly and John Cobb - For the Common Good

    On the subject of how the emergent trend described in books such as NonZero, Global Brain, Emergence, and Smart Mobs can be captured and nurtured via mechanisms of common property rights, the definitive book has yet to be written. I would suggest a look at:


    Posted by: Howard Silverman on 11 Nov 05



    MESSAGE (optional):

    Search Worldchanging

    Worldchanging Newsletter Get good news for a change —
    Click here to sign up!


    Website Design by Eben Design | Logo Design by Egg Hosting | Hosted by Amazon AWS | Problems with the site? Send email to tech /at/
    Architecture for Humanity - all rights reserved except where otherwise indicated.

    Find_us_on_facebook_badge.gif twitter-logo.jpg