5 Books to Influence Sustainable Thinking and Action

Updated: Jul 14, 2020

I want to think that growing up in a bookstore and in a small, rural town in Minnesota instilled in me a love for reading, learning, exploring, and conservation. Books and reading have shaped the way that I see the world, along with many other life experiences.

That’s why I’ve decided to share with you five books that influenced my life, my way of thinking, and encouraged me to take action for a more sustainable future.

**Wondering why there are no links to the books online? That’s because if you’re interested in reading one of these, I want you to contact your local bookseller and see if they have these in stock! Even right now, many local book stores are offering curbside pick up or even delivery. Support your local economy in this time of crisis.

The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka

I mentioned this book as a reading recommendation in my post about the 5 Ways Individuals Can Help the Environment. The One-Straw Revolution is an introduction to natural farming. While this may seem like a niche topic, it goes far beyond growing food.

Masanobu Fukuoka essentially turned this book into a manifesto for presenting radical changes that are possible to fix the ills of our failing global food system. He challenges things we often take for granted and proves that, at its core, human existence is deeply tied to wholeness and balance among the natural world.

If you are into anything like organic or market farming, homesteading, permaculture, or the prospect of a garden, this should be a consideration for your next read.

A Plea for the Animals by Matthieu Ricard

As an ethical vegan, it is only right that some books have shaped my journey to reach this point. At its core, the book is what it says it is: a plea for the animals.

Matthieu Ricard frames veganism in many different lights throughout the book while still keeping his focus on having compassion and respect for all beings, no matter their species. He appeals to all readers through compelling storytelling and relatable scenarios to bring us to the enlightenment that is empathy for all.

If you are a vegan, vegetarian, or animal lover, this book is a great way to solidify your beliefs and to find a deeper connection with animals.

I also found it to be helpful in framing conversations related to the ethical side of veganism.

Civilized to Death by Christopher Ryan

In his book, Christopher Ryan paints a picture of society as we know it and society as it once was in pre-civilized cultures. He argues that our obsession with growth and progress has gotten in the way of things that genuinely matter and core things that make us human.

I found it insightful, honest, and eyeopening. I was surprised by how much history I had yet to learn and how much about human nature I do not understand.

If you are interested in the idea of localizing economies, permaculture, or anthropology, this book is an excellent reflection on ecology, society, and us as humans.

The Man Who Quit Money by Mark Sundeen

Would you believe me if I told you that Daniel Suelo lived in America without money for 15 years? He didn’t beg, and he didn’t steal, in fact, he never took handouts. He found a way to live harmoniously with the land and the people that he met.

This book digs into much of Daniel Suelo’s life, but the main focus is on his journey to live with no money and to no longer be at the mercy of society. It gave me the sense that without the construct of money, people can honestly return to human nature and enjoy a sense of freedom and security that they create themselves.

If you are someone that struggles with consumerism and has often lived dancing on the outskirts of societal norms, this book is a view of how freedom is possible when you change your way of thinking and your perception of society.

The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey

Ah yes, the classic Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey. This book is iconic in the environmentalist movement.

It is a fictional story that follows the antics of a group of environmental activists as they sabotage industrialization efforts in the west. This story brings you into a world of upset, passion, humor, and relatability that may inspire you to take notice of environmental destruction across the globe.

If you are someone that identifies as a book worm, you’ll appreciate the storytelling. If you are someone that is an environmentalist to any degree, this book could inspire some modern-day monkeywrenching in your future. If you are someone that has a deep appreciation for desert landscapes, you’ll fall in love with the mission to save the west and all its wild spaces.

There are so many other great books that could have made the list, but these are my top five right now. What books have inspired you lately?

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