12 books to add to your holiday reading list

The holidays are here. 

It’s the perfect time to relax, recoup and unwind from what’s been yet another eventful year. And what better way to do that than with a great read? 

Our holiday book guide has plenty, from newly-released volumes to classic memoirs. So, whatever your interests are, you’re sure to find a book worth digging into.

Centered on themes related to environmental stewardship, collective resilience, and sustainable consumption, these impassioned works are worth revisiting year round, though they’re particularly relevant during the holiday season. 

What are you reading over the holidays? Let us know at info@shareable.net and we might include your selection in the first round up of 2022

From our Shareable family to yours: Happy holidays and happy reading!

Summaries excerpted from each book’s website.

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow

For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike—either free and equal innocents, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or, alternatively, by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the eighteenth century as a conservative reaction to powerful critiques of European society posed by Indigenous observers and intellectuals. Revisiting this encounter has startling implications for how we make sense of human history today, including the origins of farming, property, cities, democracy, slavery, and civilization itself.

The Dawn of Everything fundamentally transforms our understanding of the human past and offers a path toward imagining new forms of freedom, new ways of organizing society. This is a monumental book of formidable intellectual range, animated by curiosity, moral vision, and a faith in the power of direct action.

The $16 Taco: Contested Geographies of Food, Ethnicity, and Gentrification by Pascale Joassart-Marcelli

Drawing on extensive fieldwork, geographer Pascale Joassart-Marcelli traces the transformation of three urban San Diego neighborhoods whose foodscapes are shifting from serving the needs of longtime minoritized residents who face limited food access to pleasing the tastes of wealthier and whiter newcomers.

The $16 Taco illustrates how food can both emplace and displace immigrants, shedding light on the larger process of gentrification and the emotional, cultural, economic, and physical displacement it produces. It also highlights the contested food geographies of immigrants and people of color by documenting their contributions to the cultural food economy and everyday struggles to reclaim ethnic foodscapes and lead flourishing and hunger-free lives. Joassart-Marcelli offers valuable lessons for cities where food-related development projects transform neighborhoods at the expense of the communities they claim to celebrate.

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker

In The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker argues that the gatherings in our lives are lackluster and unproductive–which they don’t have to be. We rely too much on routine and the conventions of gatherings when we should focus on distinctiveness and the people involved. At a time when coming together is more important than ever, Parker sets forth a human-centered approach to gathering that will help everyone create meaningful, memorable experiences, large and small, for work and for play.

Drawing on her expertise as a facilitator of high-powered gatherings around the world, Parker takes us inside events of all kinds to show what works, what doesn’t, and why. She investigates a wide array of gatherings–conferences, meetings, a courtroom, a flash-mob party, an Arab-Israeli summer camp–and explains how simple, specific changes can invigorate any group experience.

Form and Flow: The Spatial Politics of Urban Resilience and Climate Justice by Kian Goh

Cities around the world are formulating plans to respond to climate change and adapt to its impact. Often, marginalized urban residents resist these plans, offering “counterplans” to protest unjust and exclusionary actions. In this book, Kian Goh examines climate change response strategies in three cities—New York, Jakarta, and Rotterdam—and the mobilization of community groups to fight the perceived injustices and oversights of these plans. Looking through the lenses of urban design and socioecological spatial politics, Goh reveals how contested visions of the future city are produced and gain power.

Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai

In Unbowed, Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai recounts her extraordinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to the world stage. When Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, she began a vital poor people’s environmental movement, focused on the empowerment of women, that soon spread across Africa. Persevering through run-ins with the Kenyan government and personal losses, and jailed and beaten on numerous occasions, Maathai continued to fight tirelessly to save Kenya’s forests and to restore democracy to her beloved country. Infused with her unique luminosity of spirit, Wangari Maathai’s remarkable story of courage, faith, and the power of persistence is destined to inspire generations to come.

Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next) by Dean Spade 

Around the globe, people are faced with a spiralling succession of crises, from the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change-induced fires, floods, and storms to the ongoing horrors of mass incarceration, racist policing, brutal immigration enforcement, endemic gender violence, and severe wealth inequality. As governments fail to respond to—or actively engineer—each crisis, ordinary people are finding bold and innovative ways to share resources and support the vulnerable.

This book is about mutual aid: why it is so important, what it looks like, and how to do it. It provides a grassroots theory of mutual aid, describes how mutual aid is a crucial part of powerful movements for social justice, and offers concrete tools for organizing, such as how to work in groups, how to foster a collective decision-making process, how to prevent and address conflict, and how to deal with burnout.  

Climate Adaptation: Accounts of Resilience, Self-Sufficiency and Systems Change edited by the Arkbound Foundation

Where is the world really heading, and what can we do about it? This book, edited by the Arkbound Foundation, takes an unflinching look at climate change – drawing upon the latest data to analyse what the next decades hold in store. With atmospheric CO2 at unprecedented levels and insufficient action being taken to prevent a rise in temperatures above 2 degrees centigrade, we are not just looking at significant disruption but the possibility of societal collapse. For the first time ever, the magnitude of this challenge is faced head on, with avenues to truly address it presented. Case studies and models from 16 authors around the world show ways that we can build adaptation and resilience, as well as what ‘zero emissions’ really mean.

The Green City and Social Injustice: 21 Tales from North America and Europe Edited by Isabelle Anguelovski  and James J. T. Connolly

Based on fieldwork in ten countries and on the analysis of core planning, policy and activist documents and data, The Green City and Social Injustice offers a critical view of the growing green planning orthodoxy in the Global North. It highlights the entanglements of this tenet with neoliberal municipal policies including budget cuts for community initiatives, long-term green spaces and housing for the most fragile residents; and the focus on large-scale urban redevelopment and high-end real estate investment. It also discusses hopeful experiences from cities where urban greening has long been accompanied by social equity policies or managed by community groups organizing around environmental justice goals and strategies.

Paint Your Town Red: How Preston Took Back Control and Your Town Can Too by Rhian Jones and Matthew Brown

Across the world, there is a growing recognition that a new kind of economy is needed: more democratic, less exploitative, less destructive of society and the planet. Paint Your Town Red looks at how wealth can be generated and shared at a local level through the experience of one of the main advocates of the new Democratic Economy, Matthew Brown, the driving-force behind the world-recognized Preston Model. 

Using analysis, interviews and case studies to explain what Matthew and Preston City Council have done over the last decade in order to earn Preston the title of Most Improved City, the book shows how the model can be adapted to fit different local circumstances, as well as demonstrating how Preston itself adapted economic and democratic experiments in ‘community wealth-building’ from elsewhere in the US and Europe.​​

Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change, and Consumerism by Aja Barber

A call to action for consumers everywhere, Consumed asks us to look at how and why we buy what we buy, how it’s created, who it benefits, and how we can solve the problems created by a wasteful system.

Barber calls for change within an industry that regularly overreaches with abandon, creating imbalances in the environment and in the lives of the workers who sustain it (often in unsafe conditions for very low pay). A story told in two parts, Barber exposes the endemic injustices in our consumer industries and explores ther uncomfortable history of the textile industry, which brokered slavery, racism, and today’s wealth inequality. Once the layers are peeled back, Barber invites you to participate in unlearning to understand the truth behind why we consume in the way that we do and to confront the uncomfortable feeling that we are never quite enough.

The Commoner’s Catalog for Changemaking: Tools for the Transitions Ahead by David Bollier

Commoners seek to prioritize people’s needs over market extraction, while stewarding the Earth, relocalizing the economy, and building new institutions of empowerment. The emerging Commonsverse can be seen in relocalized food systems and community land trusts, in racial empowerment through collective action and mutual aid, and in free and open source software, peer production, and platform cooperatives.

The expansive Commoner’s Catalog for Changemaking explains the transformational power of social collaboration by showcasing dozens of pathbreaking projects, books, websites, and activist initiatives. In 25 thematic sections, the book offers a rare collection of tools for navigating the transitions ahead and building a new world. It offers a portrait of the system-change activism that is creating an economics of sufficiency, a politics of fairness, and a culture of belonging.

The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

Matsutake is the most valuable mushroom in the world–and a weed that grows in human-disturbed forests across the Northern Hemisphere. Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s account of these sought-after fungi offers insights into areas far beyond just mushrooms and addresses a crucial question: What manages to live in the ruins we have made?

The Mushroom at the End of the World explores the unexpected corners of matsutake commerce, where we encounter Japanese gourmets, capitalist traders, Hmong jungle fighters, Finnish nature guides, and more. These companions lead us into fungal ecologies and forest histories to better understand the promise of cohabitation in a time of massive human devastation. The Mushroom at the End of the World delves into the relationship between capitalist destruction and collaborative survival within multispecies landscapes, the prerequisite for continuing life on earth.

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Check out these related articles:

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10 (more) books to read over the holidays

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