Books for Change Makers

You can’t move in blog land for Gift Guides at this time of year.
Wendy at Moral Fibres has put together a fabulous series of guides to ethical gifts, and if you’re not going handmade, or secondhand, then I would suggest that you allow her impeccable taste and ethical stance to guide you!
One of the things that I have relaxed our Nothing New rules on, is books. I love a good book, and I want my kids to love books.
We visit the library every week, and come home with an enormous bag full for all of us too sit and digest.
There are some books though, that I want to refer back to, and read again, and these ones I confess that I will buy new if I can’t find them secondhand.

I have made it harder for myself to easily find secondhand books with my Amazon boycott. Say what you like about their questionable tax choices, and seeming desire for world domination, but their marketplace is a great place to pick up a preloved book.
I tend to search eBay, or World of Books sometimes comes up with goods. And failing that I use my local independent book shop, or Hive if I can’t make it into town. I did a post a while ago with a whole list of Amazon alternatives if you’d rather try and avoid them.
(I’ve tried very hard not to link back to Amazon with any of these books, but couldn’t find any alternative for a couple.)

What you will find below is basically my wish list of books. Some I have read, most I haven’t.
But they are all books that change the world. However slightly.
Books that gently disrupt the status quo and show us how to forge our own path, when it comes to the things that matter.

Simple Living Books

:: No Impact Man: Saving the Planet One Family at a Time
Colin Beavan and his family undertook an experiment to see if it was possible to live in New York City, for one year, with no environmental impact. No shopping, no waste, and off grid..!

:: How Green are my Wellies: Small Steps and Giant Leaps to Green Living with Style
Anna Sheppard helps you “discover how to slim down your waste and throw a clothes-swap party; go in search of green love; and, start dreaming of a green Christmas!”

:: All You Need is Less: The Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity
I have a bit of a girl crush on Madeleine Somerville-her Guardian column is simply brilliant, and I often find it echoing thoughts that have been spinning around my own head, only more articulately!

:: Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping
Judith Levine spent a whole year without shopping. At all. Nothing new, and nothing secondhand. No meals out, no hair cuts. Extreme, yet inspiring!

:: Moneyless Manifesto
Mark Boyle, aka the Moneyless Man, lived for a year with no money. Staying true to the ethos of the book, you can download this one for free.

:: Everything that Remains
This memoir by The Minimalists is “not a how to book, but a why to” and follows what happened when one young man decided to let go of everything.

Zero Waste pic

:: Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life
Bea Johnson is the Zero Waste Queen and she written the “Ultimate guide to simple sustainable living”

:: Plastic Free: How I kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too 
Beth Terry is one of the plastic free pioneers and shows us all how to cut out plastic from our lives

:: That’s a Wrap: The eGuide for Plastic Free Living
Lindsay is a fellow blogger, and has become a firm online friend. I’m so excited to be able to include her fabulous e-book, which is “packed with tips, ideas and inspiration” for living plastic free

Slow Fashion pic

:: Sew Your Own
JP Flintoff’s attempt to “survive economic meltdown, tackle climate change and find the meaning of life – by making his clothes.

:: To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing out the World?
Lucy Siegle is the Observer’s Ethical Living Columnist and in this book she examines “the inhumane and environmentally devastating story behind the clothes we so casually buy and wear.”

::Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Fast Fashion
“The book that has changed the way thousands of people around the world think about their clothes, helped to set in motion a revolution of sustainable and ethical practices in the global fashion industry”

:: Six Steps to a Sustainable Wardrobe
Summer Edwards blogs about sustainable living and sustainable fashion at Tortoise and Lady Grey, and has put together this fabulous, practical guide that provides you with “the simple actionable steps you need to confidently commit to a sustainable wardrobe.”


:: The Armchair Activist’s Handbook: How to Change the World from the Comfort of Your Own Home
“this book will show how even the tiniest changes to your habits can have a positive impact”.
This totally sounds like my kind of book!

:: Craftivism
Betsy Greer was possibly the first person to coin the expression “Craftivism”, and to create what has become “a worldwide movement that operates at the intersection of craft and activism”. This book is packed full of inspiring projects for craftes who want to make a difference.

:: A Little Book of Craftivism
This little, but powerful book is the brainchild of Sarah Corbett, founder of Craftivist Collective, and contains “64 pages of photographs of projects, top tips on what to make and how to be an effective craftivist”, along with instructions for some of the projects.

:: How to Change the World
Another book by JP Flintoff, this time giving us “a sense of what might just be possible, as well as the inspiration and the courage we need to go about improving and changing the world we live in.”

:: The Power of Just Doing Stuff: How Local Action Can Change the World
Rob Hopkins founded the Transition movement, and in this book shows how we can all act together at a local level, to connect with each other, and work towards meaningful change.

I’m sure I will have missed some out. Do you have a favourite book for inspiring you to be the change?

Books to Change the World


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  • Reply Catherine Gordon April 6, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Thanks so much for this, Jen. So great to find more great things to read.

  • Reply Summer Edwards January 28, 2016 at 9:08 am

    This is such a great list! So many books that I want to read on there. Thanks for including my own, along with all of the other great titles 🙂

    I have to agree with you about books. I’ve been on a decluttering mission (doing it sustainably of course). I want to constantly question how much space we need as a family, and try to live with our modest house for as long as possible without needing to extend. But books are one thing that I can’t seem to whittle down too much. I am trying to be honest with myself about which books I will read again, and getting rid of the rest. But I still find myself borrowing library books, and then needing to buy a copy because I want to read it again and again. But books bring some much joy to my life, they have so much value in society. I think they are one thing that I am comfortable with buying and keeping in numbers. As long as I keep questioning what I really need, I should end up with a collection of well loved and well used titles. It sounds as though you are much the same!

    • Reply Jen January 29, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      I am indeed Summer!

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