Books of the Month

Here are current and previous Books of the Month. Also, check out my book list on IndieBound here.

The End of Growth: Book of the Month For July 2011

The End of Growth proposes that humanity has reached a fundamental turning point in its economic history. The expansionary trajectory of industrial civilization is colliding with non-negotiable natural limits.

Richard Heinberg‘s latest work goes to the heart of the ongoing financial crisis, explaining how and why it occurred, and what we must do to avert the worst potential outcomes. It also describes what policy makers, communities, and families can do to build a new economy that operates within Earth’s budget of energy and resources. We can thrive during the transition if we set goals that promote human and environmental well-being, rather than continuing to pursue the now-unattainable prize of ever-expanding GDP.

The Great Disruption: Book of the Month For May & June 2011

We are physically constrained by our planet. Climate change is already happening, we are over the capacity of our planet. It is only a matter of time before The Great Disruption arrives. However, as a species we do amazingly well in crisis – often this is the only time we act. Much in the same way we as a global society reacted in World War II we will react when the planet finally forces us to do so.

The Great Disruption is a surprisingly uplifting book, though it is filled with the dire outcomes of climate change it provides a window into the enduring human spirit and our ability to adapt. Paul’s voice and views are fresh in a world of doom-and-gloom.

Update: This book gets two months of selection because (a) I’m still reading it and (b) still loving it.

The Post Carbon Reader: Book of the Month For April 2011

From the Post Carbon Institute about this book:

“How do population, water, energy, food, and climate issues impact one another? What can we do to address one problem without making the others worse? The Post Carbon Reader features essays by some of the world’s most provocative thinkers on the key issues shaping our new century… This insightful collection takes a hard-nosed look at the interconnected threats of our global sustainability quandary and presents some of the most promising responses.”

Contributors include Bill McKibben, Richard Heinberg, Stephanie Mills, David Orr, Wes Jackson, Erika Allen, Rob Hopkins, Joshua Farley, and dozens more.

The New Economics: Book of the Month For March 2011

Andrew Simms, Director of the new economics foundation, has written a much needed book all about how we can and must reshape the face of our economic paradigm. The New Economics: A Bigger Picture outlines all the aspects of the “new economy,” one that values real wealth rather than illusory wealth, putting both planet and people first.

I’ve just picked this book up, but based on all the other nef publications and my good friend Jeremy’s review over on Make Wealth History, I know it won’t disappoint.

Good Work: Book of the Month For February 2011

E.F. Schumacher, the enlightened man who envisioned “Small is Beautiful” and shaped a lot of thought on the concept of ecological limits to industrialization. This book was published after his death and is a collection of lectures.

His chief concern is that our technology has become too large and complex, is unsustainable and instead of being our slave technology has become our master. His solution is to move to more reasonably, human scaled technology. This is a good read, and a little easier than some of his other works.

Managing Without Growth: Book of the Month For January 2011

The depth of Peter Victor’s work is amazing. He’s taken the entire Canadian economy and modeled it, taking into account a range of environmental, social and economic factors. Managaing Without Growth is an account of the models and how they fare with continued growth or if attempting a steady state economy.

The results are interesting – the transition to a steady state economy is rough at first, but pretty soon things level off and overall well-being improves while we also combat climate change. If we stick to growth, well, then we fail at combating climate change and eventually all hell breaks loose (because, newsflash, we can’t growth forever).

Prosperity Without Growth: Book of the Year, 2010

Tim Jackson’s pivotal book expands upon the Prosperity Without Growth report released earlier this year. The impact, depth and quality of this work makes it my first choice for books on this topic – I am constantly telling people to read this book.

Prosperity Without Growth is extremely well written, with straight-forward logic and research to back it up, showing that it is not only imperative that we transition to a non-growing economy, both of ecological and social reasons, but that we can do it. Jackson explains why further growth is actual harmful and how our society’s growth addiction is not conducive to prosperity and human well-being any longer.

That is why this book is my Book of the Year for 2010 (and book of the month for December).

The Spirit Level: Book of the Month for November, 2010

Making waves with it’s thesis, thoroughly showing how much inequality destroys society, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have put together quite a wonderful book. They show how more equal societies fare better than those less equal with a range of social issues: ill-health, violence, lack of community life, teen pregnancy, mental illness, et cetera.

The book also, as Jeremy at Make Wealth History points out, it “hits the nail on the head with economic growth, declaring it to have ‘finished its work’ in the rich countries… ‘It is fortunate that just when the human species discovers that the environment cannot absorb further increases in emissions, we also learn that further economic growth in the developed world no longer improves health, happiness, or measures of wellbeing.'”

Steady State Economics: Book of the Month for October, 2010

I don’t know why this wasn’t the first book of the month on this blog, but it is easily one of the most essential of a steady stater library. Herman Daly’s quintessential outline of a steady state economy, Steady State Economics started it all; it is the definition of a sustainable economy.

A great story with this book – my friend Rob Dietz over at CASSE got this book in college, only to find out it was printed backwards! How perfect is that?!

Peak Everything: Book of the Month for September, 2010

The last century brought unprecedented growth in population, energy consumption, and food production. As the population shifted from rural to urban, the impact of humans on the environment increased dramatically. The next century has begun an era of declines: Global oil, natural gas and coal extraction; yearly grain harvests, climate stability, fresh water, minerals and ores.

“Peak Everything” addresses many of the cultural, psychological, and practical changes we will have to make as nature rapidly dictates our new limits. This latest book from Richard Heinberg, author of important books on Peak Oil, touches on the most important aspects of the human condition at this unique moment in time.

Local Money: Book of the Month for August, 2010

“Whoever controls money controls our lives. Taking back that power for good, not harm, has to be at the heart of new thinking after the crash. Without change, the next one could be Armageddon. This book tells every community everywhere how to make local money work for local good.” – Polly Toynbee, Guardian columnist.

Taking the Transition Movement one more step and creating further resiliency in our local communities, this book outlines the local money aspect. Great Read!

Transition Handbook: Book of the Month for July, 2010

Quite possibly the best guide towards creating a more resilient, sustainable community out there, The Transition Handbookis just as much a manual for a steady state community. It focuses on creating a community and economy more local and able to survive without oil – entirely.

This is a great guide book for your life, as well, with insights into how to make yourself and your local community stronger, more self-sufficient while also improving your well-being and long-term prosperity.

Plenitude: Book of the Month for June, 2010

Juliet Schor is a co-founder of the Center for a New American Dream and a well-resumed author. She has partnered in the past with the likes of Tim Jackson and Bill McKibben. A personable, well-spoken women from Boston College, Juliet has a new vision for the economy: plenitude.

Plenitude: The Economics of True Wealth offers not only a great argument against economic growth as we’ve known it, but a vision for a rethinking productivity and innovation for our future. It is provides an integrated approach to work on all these fronts towards a new way of living that is low-footprint and puts people back to work, createing new forms of wealth and well-being. Read my article on Post Growth and check out the video of her talk at Town Hall Seattle on Vimeo here.

Limits To Growth: Book of the Month for May, 2010

Donella H. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and Dennis L. Meadows have recently revisited their landmark work, Limits to Growth, that released 30 years ago. The revised edition is now available on paperback, too. This book was one of the very first major works to bring into light the conflict between continued economic growth and the environment.

A striking view of the consequences of our economic expansion, this book shows us that we’re eating into the biosphere’s reserves and not replenishing them. As the authors point out, “We… believe that if a profound correction is not made soon, a crash of some sort is certain. And it will occur within the lifetimes of many who are alive today.”

Small is Beautiful: Book of the Month for April, 2010

In what many call a break through in economic thought, E.F. Schumacher’s undeniable classic, Small is Beautiful, sets the tone for an economy built for people and planet, not profit and expansion.

“As relevant today as when it was first published, this is a landmark set of essays on humanistic economics. 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.” – Google Books

The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Book of the Month for March, 2010

“If we continue to do exactly what we are doing, with no growth in the human population or the world economy, the world in the latter part of this century will be unfit to live in,” says Gus Speth. Where do we go from here, then? We’re not leveling out, we’re growing at a fast rate!

Speth outlines this situation as a severe slap in the face of modern capitalism. Our task is now must be to change the destructive system of our world economy. This book explains out to do just that: save the world from itself.

Deep Economy: Book of the Month for February, 2010

Bill McKibben, author, activist, and environmentalist, gives the world this “powerful and provocative manifesto” challenging predominant economic thought.

This book is a great introduction to sustainable economics and outlines a move beyond growth. This new economy is focused on local economies, local food, community involvement, and localized energy. This economy is one of resilience and independence. More importantly, this new economy is a better one for us and our grandchildren.

Prosperity Without Growth: Book of the Month for January, 2010

Tim Jackson’s pivotal book expands upon the Prosperity Without Growth report released not to long ago. I would recommend if you read only one book this year, make it this one!

Prosperity Without Growth shows in straight-forward logic, with research to back it up, that not only can we transition to a post-growth economy but we must. Jackson explains why further growth is actual harmful and how our society’s growth addiction is not conducive to prosperity and human well-being any longer. He goes further by show we can make the transition.

Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train: Book of the Month for December, 2009

This is the book that inspired my writing on the steady state economy and a sustainable way of life. What better way to end the year than to highlight a book that has inspired many to think differently about the growth.

Brian Czech opens the book with a compelling argument against growth and finishes with an argument for a steady state economy. This is definitely the book to read if you’re still looking for an introduction, or if you are interested in a good steady state book for the holidays.

The Road: Book of the Month for November, 2009

Cormac McCarthy’s view of a post-apocalyptic world where a father and son try to survive long enough to reach the coast has been hailed by many. George Monbiot called it “the most important environmental book ever written.” I haven’t been moved by a novel like this since I was a teenager reading the Lord of the Rings. Of course, this time I was moved more by shock and awe.

Not only is this a gripping novel, it is a look into one of the many possible futures our rampant, uncontrolled consumption could lead us. Read it because it is a great novel, but take from it the important lessens of humanity – both good and bad.

Heat: Book of the Month for October, 2009

George Monbiot‘s pivotal book on climate change destroys climate change deniers in the first chapter, then relentlessly goes after the solutions to our pressing global problem. This book is well researched, incredibly written, and comprehensive. By far the best climate change book I have read so far. Best of all, it offers solutions and hope instead of doomsday predictions and fear.

George Monbiot is easily my favorite investigative journalist. If you are looking to read more of his stuff, check out his website for all of his articles. He writes at length for the Guardian and has written a few other books as well.

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?: Book of the Month for September, 2009

Greg Craven has figured it out – why bother debating about whether or not climate change is happening and we’re causing it. The experiment is being run right now, we’re part of it. If it turns out to be a successful experiment, we’re all in some big trouble. It’s risk management – what’s the worse that could happen if we do nothing? IF we do something?

This is a great book, well thought out discussions about decision making. Greg’s journey all started with a little video.

Beyond Growth: Book of the Month for August, 2009

Herman Daly is the “godfather of ecological economics.” His works are many, and his contribution to the discipline is lengthy. This book is a great overview of the topics and reasoning beyond key concepts in ecological economics.

Some warning, Daly is a heady writer, I would recommend reading another book or two on the subject before trying to decipher his loquacious text. It is a very good book though.

Ecological Economics: Book of the Month for July, 2009

The definitive textbook on the subject, but don’t let the title or the fact that it is a textbook scare you. It is very well written, and deciphers the subject step-by-step so even a laymen could learn it.

I would also recommend reading the companion work book.

Slow Money

Slow Money: Book of the Month for June, 2009

The concept of slow food has been a movement for some time, but its ideals can easily be applied to our economy and use of money. As descirbed by the Slow Money Alliance website:

“Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money presents the path for bringing money back down to earth- philosophically, strategically, and pragmatically- and with an entrepreneurial spirit that is informed by decades of work by the thousands of CEOs, investors, grant makers, food producers, and consumers who are seeding the restorative economy.”

Plan B 3.0: Book of the Month for May, 2009

This incredible book is jam-packed with facts and figures that will surely make even the slightly doubtful complete believers in the damage humans have done and are doing to the Earth. Lester R. Brown offers new perspective on the steps we can easily take to remediate, slow, and even stop the path we are on towards civilization collapse.

I would recommend a highlighter when reading this book, as there are lots of good things to come back and reference later. Warning: You might be inspired to write your congressman or vote differently in the next election.

New & updated: Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization