The best books for inspiring you to make a difference

Pat Libby Author Of The Empowered Citizens Guide: 10 Steps to Passing a Law that Matters to You
By Pat Libby

Who am I?

I’ve dedicated my life to repairing the world. This work has taken on many forms – helping low-income people grow community gardens for food and beauty, providing fuel subsidies that helped people combat frigid New England winters, and working on building affordable housing and economic development programs in rural and urban communities. Ultimately, these experiences brought me to create graduate programs where students could learn how to lead healthy nonprofit organizations. Part of their education involved learning how to pass laws based on my own successful experience. I realized then that I had a passion for providing everyday citizens with simple tools they too could use to make a difference.    


I wrote...

The Empowered Citizens Guide: 10 Steps to Passing a Law that Matters to You

By Pat Libby,

Book cover of The Empowered Citizens Guide: 10 Steps to Passing a Law that Matters to You

What is my book about?

This book is for anyone who sees a glaring injustice or community-wide problem and feels like screaming, “there ought to be law!” but doesn’t know how to make it happen. Pat Libby makes the work of conducting a successful grassroots lobbying campaign seem relatively painless by sharing her easy-to-follow formula and pulling the curtain back on things we think we should know but don’t. The book is funny, relatable, and illustrated by a real-life example of people who successfully used her strategy to pass a law. For those who are passionate about creating change in their communities, cities, or states this book provides a simple recipe for making a difference.

The books I picked & why

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Our Time Is Now

By Stacey Abrams,

Book cover of Our Time Is Now

Why this book?

Stacey Abrams writes in a style that is so personal and compelling, you feel as if she is nestled in a nearby chair talking directly to you. If you live in a part of the country where voting is easy as pie, this book will give you a front-row seat into some of the incredible hurdles that untold numbers of Americans endure to exercise that right. But Abrams doesn’t just focus on the “woe is me” unfairness of it all. She provides insights on why we should and how we can fix this broken system. The book makes you want to leap off your seat and do something. Don’t let the fact that Abrams lost her most recent election deter you from reaping these valuable lessons.    

Our Time Is Now

By Stacey Abrams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Time Is Now as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New York Times bestselling author of Lead From The Outside and political leader Stacey Abrams, a blueprint to end voter suppression, empower our citizens, and take back our country.

"With each page, she inspires and empowers us to create systems that reflect a world in which all voices are heard and all people believe and feel that they matter." —Kerry Washington

A recognized expert on fair voting and civic engagement, Abrams chronicles a chilling account of how the right to vote and the principle of democracy have been and continue to be under attack. Abrams would have been the…


Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

By Matthew Desmond,

Book cover of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Why this book?

There is a reason Ann Patchett called Evicted “among the very best of the social justice books.” In it, Matt Desmond chronicles the painful sagas of eight low-income Milwaukee families who struggle continually to stay housed – some in a trailer park, others in an inner-city neighborhood. He gives us a fly-on-the-wall perspective that includes the hairy balancing act of their landlords. These are real people – adults and children – who are caught up in an endless loop that zig zags from hope to despair and back again. If you read this from the security of a place you can comfortably afford, you’ll feel lucky and perhaps confounded by the problem of soaring rents and homelessness facing this nation.   

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

By Matthew Desmond,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Evicted as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*WINNER OF THE 2017 PULITZER PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION*
'Beautifully written, thought-provoking, and unforgettable ... If you want a good understanding of how the issues that cause poverty are intertwined, you should read this book' Bill Gates, Best Books of 2017

Arleen spends nearly all her money on rent but is kicked out with her kids in Milwaukee's coldest winter for years. Doreen's home is so filthy her family call it 'the rat hole'. Lamar, a wheelchair-bound ex-soldier, tries to work his way out of debt for his boys. Scott, a nurse turned addict, lives in a gutted-out trailer. This is…


Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America

By Beth Macy,

Book cover of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America

Why this book?

Reading a book about people taking prescribed drugs end up being swallowed whole by addiction is heartbreaking. Realizing how easily kids can fall into that trap is terrifying. Knowing that much of that agony is fueled by aggressive profit-seeking is infuriating. Amidst the pain of this well-told story are heroes fighting to stop the onslaught. It reminds us that on the knife’s edge of life, it’s way too easy to fall to either side.   

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America

By Beth Macy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dopesick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Journalist Beth Macy's definitive account of America's opioid epidemic "masterfully interlaces stories of communities in crisis with dark histories of corporate greed and regulatory indifference" (New York Times) -- from the boardroom to the courtroom and into the living rooms of Americans.
In this extraordinary work, Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of a national drama that has unfolded over two decades. From the labs and marketing departments of big pharma to local doctor's offices; wealthy suburbs to distressed small communities in Central Appalachia; from distant cities to once-idyllic farm towns; the spread of opioid addiction follows a tortuous…


Solitary

By Albert Woodfox,

Book cover of Solitary

Why this book?

This book upended everything I thought I knew about the criminal justice and the penal system in the United States and shook me to the core. Albert Woodfox provides a raw, honest, and compelling narrative of his life which is centered largely upon the 44 years he spent in solitary confinement for crimes he did not commit. His strength is palpable which he attributes to friends who witnessed and shared his unwarranted punishment and others who fought for his freedom. Equally important is the context Woodfox provides that documents profound racial disparities in the criminal justice system throughout the country. Reading this book makes one wonder how we can change the entire system to become one that is more just and a better reflection of true American values.       

Solitary

By Albert Woodfox,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Solitary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Praise for Solitary:

FINALIST FOR THE PULITZER PRIZE IN GENERAL NONFICTION
FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN NONFICTION
Named One of Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2019
Winner of the Stowe Prize
Named the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year
Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, Publishers Weekly, BookBrowse, and Literary Hub
Winner of the BookBrowse Award for Best Debut of 2019
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

“An uncommonly powerful memoir about four decades in confinement . . . A profound book about…


Consensus Organizing: Building Communities of Mutual Self Interest

By Michael P. Eichler,

Book cover of Consensus Organizing: Building Communities of Mutual Self Interest

Why this book?

The world is filled with problems to be ignored or tackled. Voting rights, affordable housing, prison reform, healthcare reform, corporate responsibility… the list is endless. The first step to solving a problem is understanding it. The next step is having a strategy that shows you how you can make real change. Consensus Organizing does just that. It provides the reader with a seemingly incompatible combination of fascinating, fun, and in-depth explanations of how to organize effectively for social change. Eichler is a master storyteller and a masterful organizer. Best of all, he makes his model accessible for anyone who wants to roll up their sleeves.        

Consensus Organizing: Building Communities of Mutual Self Interest

By Michael P. Eichler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Consensus Organizing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Empowering a community takes more than organizing and mobilizing its people; it takes a simple, yet radical, notion that consensus can be reached by creating mutual self interest between key individuals in the community and players of interest. In Consensus Organizing: Building Communities of Mutual Self Interest, author Mike Eichler shows how even poor and disempowered communities can achieve lasting results by implementing some key consensus organizing strategies. Through personal, lively, and relevant examples, Eichler takes the reader on a road trip through various communities and shows how collectively they were able to reach lasting results by finding key areas…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in poverty, African-American men, and the opioid crisis?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about poverty, African-American men, and the opioid crisis.

Poverty Explore 55 books about poverty
African-American Men Explore 20 books about African-American men
The Opioid Crisis Explore 8 books about the opioid crisis

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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