Have you started a summer reading list? For those of us interested in the sharing economy, there is no shortage of great reads. Whether your interests lie in collaboration, sustainable cities, community-building, simplicity, or work in the new economy, there is something for everyone. We’ve rounded up the top 21 books for summer to inspire, empower, and inform.

1. The Business of Sharing: Making It in the New Sharing Economy, by Alex Stephany (Palgrave Macmillan): It’s not news that the sharing economy and collaborative consumption are big business, but how does one create a business in this new sphere? In The Business of Sharing, author Alex Stephany provides an insider’s guide to the sharing economy for anyone “thinking of entering the sharing economy and profiting from the upheavals ahead.” In it, he interviews entrepreneurs of companies including Airbnb and Zipcar, and offers case studies from companies around the world.

2. Stuffocation: Why We've Had Enough of Stuff and Need Experience More Than Ever, by James Wallman (Spiegel & Grau): Described as “a call to arms to stop accumulating stuff and start accumulating experiences,” Stuffocation: Why We’ve Had Enough of Stuff and Need Experience More, takes on the pervasive problem that we have more stuff than ever, and it’s not bringing us happiness. A trend forecaster, author James Wallman presents the ideas of anthropologists, economists, and psychologists to find out how and why this came to be. He also introduces a vision for a more conscious, experience-rich life with less stuff.

3. The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power, by Steve Fraser (Little, Brown and Company): America has a rich history of resistance, including the American Revolution and the Civil Rights Movement. In The Age of Acquiescence, author Steve Fraser argues that, in the last 50 years, the “political will and cultural imagination have vanished.” Hailed as “provocative” and “one of the most talked about books of the year,” this book seeks to answer the question of why American resistance is on the decline.

4. Reimagination Station: Creating a Game-changing In-home Coworking Space, by Lori Kane (Self-published): Coworking is booming right now, with over 3,000 coworking spaces around the world. But coworking doesn’t need to be confined to formal coworking spaces. In Reimagination Station: Creating a Game-changing In-home Coworking Space, author Lori Kane provides a fun, personable overview of what it takes to create a coworking space in your home. Full of humor, warmth and an unwavering community spirit, the book is big picture look at what makes in-home coworking wonderful and how to go about creating a vibrant, close-knit community.

5. Homemade for Sale, by Lisa Kivirist and John D. Ivanko (New Society Publishers): With food entrepreneurship on the rise, people are learning how to run small businesses out of their kitchens. Homemade for Sale is being described as the first authoritative guide that provides a clear roadmap to go from idea and recipe to final product. Whether selling pickles, pies, jams or cookies, this book will get you on the road to success.

6. From Print to Ebooks: a Hybrid Publishing Toolkit for the Arts, by Hogeschool van Amsterdam and Hogeschool Rotterdam, et al. (ebook): A toolkit for those working in art and design publishing, From Print to Ebooks: a Hybrid Publishing Toolkit for the Arts provides hands-on, practical advice and tools, paying particular attention to solutions for small-edition, low-budget publishing. It also looks at the future of arts publishing and poses the idea that the most appropriate publishing platform for the arts may be a hybrid of ebook and print.

7. The Role of Elites In Economic Development, edited by Alice H. Amsden, Alisa DiCaprio, and James A. Robinson (Oxford University Press): Around the world, elites have a disproportionate impact on economic development. But what factors determine whether they use their wealth for personal gain or national and global welfare. The Role of Elites in Economic Development looks at the role of elites in various countries to “seek a better understanding of the dynamics behind how elites decide to engage with economic development.”

8. Participatory Economics, by (ebook): A model for a new economy based on democracy, justice and environmental sustainability, participatory economics presents a viable alternative to our current system. The ebook Participatory Economics: a Model for a New Economy provides an overview and background of the system, a set of goals or values for a desirable economy to be based on, the key institutions of a participatory economy, articles exploring different aspects of the model and links to further resources.

9. The Misfit Economy: Lessons in Creativity from Pirates, Hackers, Gangsters and Other Informal Entrepreneurs, by Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips (Simon & Schuster): Who says that lessons in creativity, innovation, salesmanship, and entrepreneurship have to come from marketing firms and business schools. In The Misfit Economy: Lessons in Creativity from Pirates, Hackers, Gangsters and Other Informal Entrepreneurs, authors Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips argue that fringe-dwellers, including pirates, bootleggers, counterfeiters, hustlers, and others living and working on the margins of business and society, can be just as visionary as Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.

10. Gracias Por Guiarme: Papel y tierra comunal/With Gratitude for the Guidance: Paper and Communal Land, by Daniel Eizirik (drawings) and Paula Z. Segal (596 Acres, in Spanish and English): A zine-like “book-documentary,” With Gratitude for the Guidance: Paper and Communal Land looks at the communal land ownership movement in Mexico. Set in the state of Oaxaca, the book includes dialogue, historical research and drawings to provide an overview of the legal structure of land ownership in the state, twenty years after NAFTA. Stories told include those of hope, power, inspiration, and resignation.

11. Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it), by Salim Ismail with Michael S Malone and Yuri van Geest (Diversion Books): The world is changing, and with it, the way organizations are designed. A new kind of organization, the exponential organization (ExO), does away with the traditional, linear ways companies grow, leveraging, instead, assets such as community, big data, and new technology. In Exponential Organizations, the authors provide a guide to walk readers through making any company an ExO.

12. Free Knowledge: Confronting the Commodification of Human Discovery, edited by Patricia W. Elliott and Daryl H. Hepting (University of Regina Press): A collection of essays exploring how corporations are enclosing shared knowledge, Free Knowledge takes a critical look at the history of intellectual property and how it has become a tool of big business rather than a protector of the rights of creatives. Exploring the growing criticism of IP law by indigenous cultures, seed activists, healthcare experts, advocates for the poor, the academy, and especially users of digital technologies, the book is being lauded as a “welcome survey of [the] alarming impacts of IP law…and a valuable introduction to some salutary alternatives.”

13. Design, When Everybody Designs, by Ezio Manzini (MIT Press): In a world where anyone can design just about anything, what role do trained, professional designers play in shaping our lives. In Design, When Everybody Designs, author Ezio Manzini, a leading thinker in design for sustainability, explores the intersection between professional designers and citizen designers and presents ways they can work together through projects that positively impact our lives and communities.

14. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, by Adam M. Grant (Penguin Books): In Give and Take, author Adam M. Grant argues that the traditional drivers of success: passion, hard work, and talent, are being replaced by new drivers based on how we interact with those around us. In particular, he looks at the roles of takers, matchers, and givers and shows, through his own research, that where people fall on that spectrum of generosity to selfishness largely determines the level of success we have at work.

15. Handbook Of Research On Sustainable Consumption, edited by Lucia A. Reisch and John Thøgersen (Edward Elgar Publishing): A collection of current research on sustainable consumption from leading experts in the field, the Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption explores the notion that consumption is a “wanted and necessary phenomenon important for society and the economy” and also the fact that our current method and means of consumption “contradict many important ecological and social long-term goals.” A conversation starting collection, the book aims to encourage discussion about the realities and challenges of sustainable consumption.

16. The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age, by Astra Taylor (Metropolitan Books): The Internet is often hailed as the great equalizer—a democratizing force that allows anyone to be heard. In The People’s Platform, author Astra Taylor argues that this may not be the case; that the Internet is just a rearrangement of old power structures and dynamics where inequities are amplified. Described as “a seminal dismantling of techno-utopian visions,” the book takes a critical look at the Internet and argues that we can do better, and that we must if we want it to truly belong to the people.

17. From Bitcoin to Burning Man and Beyond: The Quest for Autonomy and Identity in a Digital Society, edited by Dr. John H. Clippinger and David Bollier (ID3): Are decentralized autonomous organizations the next great Internet disruption? In From Bitcoin to Burning Man and Beyond, 15 essays explore the new digital technologies that are “re-imagining the very foundations of identity, governance, trust and social organization.” Among the technologies and movements examined are open Web standards, data commons, a society of decentralized autonomous organizations, a world of trustworthy digital currencies, and self-organized and expressive communities like Burning Man.

18. The Book of Community: A Practical Guide to Working and Living in Community, by Los Indianos, translated by Steve Herrick (ebook): An overview of communities “across time and space,” The Book of Community takes a look at what has worked, and what has not, when it comes to creating communities. Created by Los Indianos, an egalitarian and transnational community with a goal of creating a new world though collaborative consumption, the direct economy and the P2P production, the book explores the possibilities for a sustainable future through healthy communities.

19. Societe Collaborative (Collaborative Society: the End of Hierarchies), by Ouishare under the guidance of Diana Filippova (Rue de L'echiquier, in French): Many innovative organizations have emerged to replace crumbling institutions of the past, but oftentimes, they possess the same hierarchical structures of traditional institutions. Societe Collaborative, a project of Ouishare, explores a new different way of organizing—the social organization, which is based on cooperation, participation, contribution and collaboration.

20. We Own the City: Enabling Community Practice in Architecture and Urban Planning, edited by Tris Kee and Francesca Miazzo (Valiz/Trancity): Urban dwellers used to be treated as clients of cities, but increasingly, people are taking city-making into their own hands, through grassroots, neighborhood level initiatives aimed at transforming the urban environment. We Own the City explores this new city-making movement by looking at five case studies, focusing on Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Moscow, New York and Taipei.

21. New Slow City: Living Simply in the World's Fastest City, by William Powers (New World Library): After living off-the-grid in a tiny cabin in North Carolina, as recounted in his award-winning memoir Twelve by Twelve, author William Powers wondered if he could have the same minimal and simple-living lifestyle in New York City. To find out, he and his wife moved into a 350 square foot micro-apartment and furthered their adventures in slow food, slow money, technology fasts, and urban sanctuaries. He recounts his discoveries and challenges in New Slow City.

BONUS BOOK #1: Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism, by Robin Chase (PublicAffairs): The forthcoming book Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism, which hits shelves on June 9, is an overview of how the collaborative economy—Peers Inc—is transforming traditional economics. Written by sharing economy visionary Robin Chase, who cofounded pioneering sharing business Zipcar, the book is already being celebrated by thought leaders in the movement as it explores how focusing on excess capacity delivers abundance to all; how collaborative companies can grow more quickly; how leveraging the Peers Inc model can address climate change with the necessary speed and scale; and more.

BONUS BOOK #2: It's a Shareable Life, by Chelsea Rustrum, Gabriel Stempinski, Alexandra Liss (Self-published): The most thorough guide to living the shareable life we've seen by three pioneers who've pushed the boundaries of sharing as a complete lifestyle. Preface by Shareable's Neal Gorenflo.


Many of the above book links include an Amazon affiliate link. Resulting purchases support Shareable, a nonprofit. The books may be available at local, independent bookstores, a choice we recommend too. Top photo: Germán Poo-Caamaño (CC-BY-20). Follow @CatJohnson on Twitter

Cat Johnson


Cat Johnson | |

Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist focused on coworking, collaboration and community. She's the author of Coworking Out Loud, a guide to content marketing for coworking space operators. Publications include Yes!