From post-apocalyptic warnings to inspirational biographies, here are ten books that will push your thinking in a more compassionate, environmentally conscious direction.
George Monbiot gets straight to the point: Climate Change is no longer debatable. Procrastination about this issue has caused enough damage, and it is now our responsibility to take action. If we don’t reduce carbon emissions by 90 per cent, we will suffer widespread environmental disaster. Despite this gloomy prophesy, Monbiot’s final message is that it’s not too late to change. Through conscious adjustments in the way we live our lives, we can maintain the conditions that make human life possible on Earth.
Mathieu Ricard is often hailed as the happiest man in the world. This is perhaps no exaggeration – Ricard has plenty of techniques to foster compassion in life. An effective guide for cultivating contentment by helping others, and happiness outside of the profit incentive.
In a world populated by industries that ignore their environmental impact, it’s becoming harder to maintain the invaluable ecosystems we all depend on. Only by stepping into the worlds of animals can we understand their temperaments and their needs, Bekoff suggests. He pleads the following: to prosper, we must bridge the growing gap between humans and animals.
“Circumstance does not make the man, it reveals him to himself.” claims James Allen in this esteemed self-help classic. As a Man Thinketh seeks to prove that every shortcoming in life is an opportunity for positive change. Allen concludes that bad thoughts lead to sickness and disease, so we must overcome this by cultivating genuine positivity in our lives and spreading it to those around us. Doing this allows us to truly prosper, and the world becomes a better place as a result.
Visser wants us to redefine corporate responsibility by looking at the bigger picture. Business models need an overhaul, and we can begin by considering our effect on the wider environment. This book is an optimistic reminder of the importance of what Visser calls the ‘matrix of interconnectivity’. It’s a newer model of perception – the world as an interconnected whole.
Margaret Atwood’s early novel is an important pillar of eco-criticism. Taking place in Canadian land dying at the hands of negligent industries, this novel uncovers the innate connection we share with nature and, ultimately, the trauma we all face if we don’t live in accordance with our environment.
Walden is the result of Thoreau’s two years lived in the woods. It’s about living in accordance with nature, and the importance of sustaining it, which we ignore at our peril. Thoreau’s venture is an experiment in living simply and self-sufficiently. Sometimes a fresh perspective requires an outside perspective.
Leadership is not always pleasant or extravagant. It can be dramatic, and at times seems like a hopeless endeavour. in 1964, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for campaigning against the racist policies of South African apartheid. He was released 27 years later, and as South African president, he publicly forgave his captors. Nelson Mandela’s story is an effective reminder for us to take responsibility in our lives, and to forgive those who wish us harm.
Among his most popular works, and also Dr Seuss’s personal favourite of his books, The Lorax is an emotional exploration into the damaging practices of corporate culture. The morally problematic Once-ler ignores calls to clean up his behaviour – he simply doesn’t respect his environment. If we want to heal our environment, Dr Seuss suggests we must first care for it.
In 1944, Jewish psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was admitted to Auschwitz concentration camp. He survived by cultivating hope and purpose in his fellow prisoners. Frankl preaches compassion, regardless of the circumstances. He praises human determination, and endurance beyond expected capability. Frankl’s account teaches us to foster purpose in our lives, and not to live in prisons of our own making.
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