As we head into the waning days of 2020, here are 21 books we at team Shareable think are perfect additions for your 2021 reading list — especially if you’re planning to build back better next year.
2020 upended every aspect of our lives. But where is our world heading next? Will pandemic, protests, economic instability, and social distance lead to deeper inequalities, more nationalism, and further erosion of democracies around the world? Or are we moving toward a global reawakening to the importance of community, mutual support, and the natural world? In our lifetimes, the future has never been so up for grabs.
The New Possible offers twenty-eight unique visions of what can be, if instead of choosing to go back to normal, we choose to go forward to something far better. Assembled from global leaders on six continents, these essays are not simply speculation. They are an inspiration and a roadmap for action.
Live a more sustainable and economical life using open-source technology!
Create, Share, and Save Money Using Open-Source Projects written by Joshua Pearce, lays out the many ways in which you can employ these resources on a small scale to live a more economical and sustainable lifestyle. You’ll find tons of DIY projects that demonstrate how to use open-source software and hardware to save money on:
- Digital photographs and videos
- Music, software, and instruments
- Scientific equipment
- Paper and audiobooks
- Maps and GIS data
- Patterns for clothing
- Security systems
- Electricity and much more.
The recognition is growing: truly addressing the problems of the 21st century requires going beyond small tweaks and modest reforms to business as usual—it requires “changing the system.” But what does this mean? And what would it entail?
The New Systems Reader highlights some of the most thoughtful, substantive, and promising answers to these questions as the world grapples with the effects of a global pandemic on top of the looming climate crisis, chronic structural racism, and worsening wealth inequities. The book draws on the work and ideas of some of the world’s key thinkers and activists on systemic change.
Amid the failure of traditional politics and policies to address our fundamental challenges, an increasing number of thoughtful proposals and real-world models suggest new possibilities. This book convenes an essential conversation about the future we want.
A groundswell of grassroots action emerged in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, hidden beneath the surface, the community-led response grew rapidly in scope and scale; often forming spontaneously by individuals and groups who recognized the immediate needs of those around them.
Throughout the year we’ve covered this wave of people-powered aid with great intensity. This included ramping up the production of Shareable’s The Response podcast about community-led disaster relief as well as publishing an extensive editorial series. Along the way, we’ve catalyzed more action by highlighting the best of what people are capable of accomplishing together.
As the daily case count is skyrocketing around the world, now is the time to take stock of everything we’ve learned from dealing with the pandemic over the past year.
Shareable’s Lessons from the First Wave features 25 case studies, interviews, and how-to guides that showcase some of the most effective community-led responses to this global crisis.
The Gratitude Project: How the Science of Thankfulness Can Rewire Our Brains for Resilience, Optimism, and the Greater Good
Gratitude is powerful: not only does it feel good, it’s also been proven to increase our well-being in myriad ways. The result of a multiyear collaboration between the Greater Good Science Center and Robert Emmons of the University of California, Davis, The Gratitude Project explores gratitude’s deep roots in human psychology—how it evolved and how it affects our brain—as well as the transformative impact it has on creating a meaningful life and a better world.
With essays based on new findings from this original research and written by renowned positive psychologists and public figures, this important book delves deeply into the neuroscience and psychology of gratitude, and explores how thankfulness can be developed and applied, both personally and in communities large and small, for the benefit of all.
With contributions from luminaries such as Sonja Lyubomirsky, W. Kamau Bell, Arianna Huffington, and many more, this edited volume offers more than just platitudes—it offers a blueprint for a new and better world.
The Future of Stuff asks what kind of world will we live in when every item of property has a digital trace, when nothing can be lost and everything has a story. Will property and ownership become as fluid as film is today: summoned on demand, dismissed with a swipe? What will this mean for how we buy, rent, share and dispose of stuff? About what our stuff says about us? And how will this impact on us, on manufacturing and supply, and on the planet?
This brief but mighty book is one of five that comprise the first set of FUTURES essays. Each standalone book presents the author’s original vision of a singular aspect of the future which inspires in them hope or reticence, optimism or fear. Read individually, these essays will inform, entertain and challenge. Together, they form a picture of what might lie ahead, and ask the reader to imagine how we might make the transition from here to there, from now to then.
The fabric of democracy is threadbare in many contemporary societies. Connections that are vital to the functioning and integrity of our democratic systems are wearing thin. Citizens are increasingly disconnected — from their elected representatives, from one another in the public sphere, and from complex processes of public policy. In such disconnected times, how can we strengthen and renew our democracies?
This book develops the idea of democratic mending as a way of advancing a more connective approach to democratic reform. It is informed by three rich empirical cases of connectivity in practice, as well as cutting-edge debates in deliberative democracy.
The empirical cases uncover empowering and transformative modes of political engagement that are vital for democratic renewal. Through their everyday practices of democratic mending they undertake crucial systemic repair work and strengthen the integrity of our democratic fabric in ways that are yet to be fully acknowledged by scholars and practitioners of democratic reform.
In the current housing market, with more people moving to cities than ever before, those who live with roommates are no longer exclusively recent college graduates with clashing decorating senses and mismatched furniture. For many, it is perfectly normal to share a house or an apartment with other adults in order to save money, without sacrificing personal style in the home.
Shared Living offers design examples for people who seek a sophisticated look in their shared space. Featuring roommates who are getting it right, this book delves into homes around the world where cohabitants have found savvy ways of decorating together. A restored storage unit in Brooklyn is now home to two creative brothers; a house in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, is decorated with an eclectic mix of old and new (including an original Matisse!); and a small London apartment merges bold colors with clusters of collectables to achieve domestic harmony.
Through each stage of shared living―from finding a place to merging styles― this book offers practical advice and tips for DIY styling, such as how to upcycle furniture or scour flea markets for unique finds. It is the essential resource for roommates seeking inspiration for their home.
Great inspiration for small spaces! Petite Places presents clever solutions for compact living. From living rooms and kitchens to bedrooms and bathrooms, small spaces can offer immense possibilities, if only the interior is well considered. By showing a variety of projects in different styles – from reduced and pragmatic to cozy – Petite Places delves into how small homes are being designed today, delivering insights from interior designers and architects. Floor plans will allow you to translate inspirations from the book into your home.
Living in small spaces is not a new phenomenon. By looking at pioneering projects from times gone by, one starts to understand where modern living concepts draw ideas from. Clever furniture and storage solutions create more room to cook, relax, read in a comfortable nook, or work from home. Explore how you can add striking changes to your modest home with only a few tweaks.
Wabi-Sabi Welcome is sharing a pot of tea with friends. It is preparing delicious food to nourish, not to show off. It’s keeping a basket of cozy slippers at the door for guests. It is well-worn linens, bouquets of foraged branches, mismatched silverware, and heirloom bowls infused with the spirit of meals served with love.
In this lush entertaining manual, author Julie Pointer Adams invites readers into artful, easygoing homes around the world—in Denmark, California, France, Italy, and Japan—and teaches us how to turn the generous act of getting together into the deeper art of being together.
In this book, readers will find: unexpected, thoughtful ideas and recipes from around the world; tips for creating an intimate, welcoming environment; guidelines for choosing enduring, natural decor for the home; and inspiring photographs from homes where wabi-sabi is woven into daily living.
This should be the last American election that works against the people. Kristin Eberhard, Director of the Democracy Program at Sightline Institute, has thoughtfully researched how the US election system is unjust, poorly designed, or broken, and walks you through 10 big but practical ideas for making our elections free, fair, and secure.
The Cooperative Culture Handbook offers a framework and practical toolkit for groups to solve problems, build community, and change culture towards greater empathy and authenticity. It is designed as a resource for leaders, facilitators and changemakers to develop core practices in discernment, curiosity, communication and engagement. In this inspirational guide, North American culture is broken down into 26 easy-to-understand Culture Keys, and 52 transformative group and individual exercises.
In Neighbors: The Power of the People Next Door, author Brenda Krause Eheart tells the story of Hope Meadows, the first intergenerational planned community in which seniors commit to intentional neighboring as a way to provide support to families seeking to adopt children out of foster care. Neighbors is a deeply personal story etched with Eheart’s compassion for all people in need. Her frustration with broken social service programs and policies that fail to address these needs began in the1980’s, and her determination to offer solutions that strengthen—and humanize—our social safety net is the mission of this book. Neighbors tells the stories of Hope Meadows residents as they unfolded over nearly two decades, stories that chronicle the profound ways in which three critical shifts in thinking—changing how we view family, how we view vulnerability, and how we view older adults—informed their relationships, and transformed their lives.
How liberals can talk with, and listen to, Trump supporters without blowing a fuse.
Liberal and progressive frustration, grief, and alarm over Trump’s destructive political agenda and behavior have prompted mounting disdain for Trump supporters and other conservatives. This reaction is contributing to political polarization and unwittingly serving to strengthen Trump’s hand as he sows divisiveness and hatred.
In Beyond Contempt, Erica Etelson shows us how to communicate respectfully, passionately, and effectively across the political divide without soft-pedaling our beliefs. Using Powerful Non-Defensive Communication skill sets, we can express ourselves in ways that inspire open-minded consideration instead of triggering defensive reaction.
Imagine a chimpanzee rampaging through a datacenter powering everything from Google to Facebook. Infrastructure engineers use a software version of this “chaos monkey” to test online services’ robustness—their ability to survive random failure and correct mistakes before they actually occur. Tech entrepreneurs are society’s chaos monkeys. One of Silicon Valley’s most audacious chaos monkeys is Antonio García Martínez.
After stints on Wall Street and as CEO of his own startup, García Martínez joined Facebook’s nascent advertising team. Forced out in the wake of an internal product war over the future of the company’s monetization strategy, García Martínez eventually landed at rival Twitter. In Chaos Monkeys, this gleeful contrarian unravels the chaotic evolution of social media and online marketing and reveals how it is invading our lives and shaping our future.
In Glimpses of Utopia Jess Scully asks, What can we do? The answer is: plenty! All over the world, people are refusing the business-as-usual mindset and putting humans back into the civic equation, reimagining work and care, finance and government, urban planning and communication, to make them better and fairer for all.
Meet the care workers reclaiming control in India and Lebanon, the people turning slums into safe havens in Kenya and Bangladesh, and champions of people-powered digital democracy in Iceland and Taiwan. There are radical bankers funding renewable energy in the USA and architects redesigning real estate in Australia, new payment systems in Italy and the Philippines that keep money in local communities, and innovators redesigning taxation to cut pollution and incentivise creative solutions.
Glimpses of Utopia is a call for optimism. Humans everywhere are rising up to confront our challenges with creativity, resilience and compassion. Harnessing technology and imagination, we can reshape our world to be fair and sustainable. This book shows us how.
A Small Farm Future: Making the Case for a Society Built Around Local Economies, Self-Provisioning, Agricultural Diversity and a Shared Earth
Drawing on a vast range of sources from across a multitude of disciplines, A Small Farm Future analyses the complex forces that make societal change inevitable; explains how low-carbon, locally self-reliant, agrarian communities can empower us to successfully confront these changes head-on; and explores the pathways for delivering this vision politically.
In lucid and engaging prose, Joel Bakan documents how increasing corporate freedom encroaches on individual liberty and democracy. Through deep research and interviews with both top executives and their sharpest critics, he exposes the inhumanity and destructive force of the current order–profit-driven privatization subverting the public good, governments neglecting duties to protect the environment, the increasing alienation we experience as every aspect of life is economized, and how the Covid-19 pandemic lays bare the unjust fault lines of our corporate-led society.
Beyond diagnosing major problems, in The New Corporation Bakan narrates a hopeful path forward. He reveals how citizens around the world are fighting back and making gains in ways that bolster democracy and benefit ordinary citizens rather than the corporate elite.
Innovation. Meritocracy. The possibility of overnight success. What’s not to love about Silicon Valley?
These days, it’s hard to be unambiguously optimistic about the growth-at-all-costs ethos of the tech industry. Public opinion is souring in the wake of revelations about Cambridge Analytica, Theranos, and the workplace conditions of Amazon workers or Uber drivers. It’s becoming clear that the tech industry’s promised “innovation” is neither sustainable nor always desirable.
Abolish Silicon Valley is both a heartfelt personal story about the wasteful inequality of Silicon Valley, and a rallying call to engage in the radical politics needed to upend the status quo. Going beyond the idiosyncrasies of the individual founders and companies that characterize the industry today, Wendy Liu delves into the structural factors of the economy that gave rise to Silicon Valley as we know it. Ultimately, she proposes a more radical way of developing technology, where innovation is conducted for the benefit of society at large, and not just to enrich a select few.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, capitalism was stuck. It had no answers to a host of problems, including disease, inequality, the digital divide and, perhaps most blatantly, the environmental crisis. Taking her inspiration from the ‘moonshot’ programmes which successfully coordinated public and private sectors on a massive scale, Mariana Mazzucato calls for the same level of boldness and experimentation to be applied to the biggest problems of our time. We must, she argues, rethink the capacities and role of government within the economy and society, and above all recover a sense of public purpose. Mission Economy, whose ideas are already being adopted around the world, offers a way out of our impasse to a more optimistic future.
Public libraries’ mission, skills, and position in their communities make them ideal facilitators of public access to local resources. In other words, the collection is all around, and libraries can help citizens discover historical, cultural, and natural riches that they might otherwise overlook. Providing smart planning and implementation advice, this guide shows public libraries how to make the most of these outreach opportunities. Using ideas drawn from libraries from around the country, it covers
- why this type of initiative is important, demonstrating how this model strengthens libraries with regard to community and institutional support;
- programs for brokering public access to cultural venues via ticketing platforms;
- using library event calendars to feature the programs and meetings of other city agencies, community organizations, and affiliated institutions;
- the joint use of library cards as IDs, for banking, and as parking/transit passes;
- ways that libraries can act as guides to local resources, including such examples of “pathfinding” as historical/cultural walking tours, navigating social services, and providing guidance on government benefits and civic involvement;
- parklets, crosswalk murals, food truck roundups, and other programs for extending the public library beyond its walls;
- initiatives for improving access and connections to natural surroundings such as nature-play environments, offsite StoryWalks, nature maps, and circulating outdoor gear and state parks passes; and
- talking points for new and existing partner buy-in, planning advice for getting started and managing the launch, budgeting guidance, technology considerations, and other helpful tips.