The best books to equip you to fight for change when the world is conspiring to make you feel powerless

Who am I?

I have spent 20+ years working on the question of how social and environmental change happens, from my long-time career in progressive politics to my current work writing about the most pressing issues of our time through an economic lens, and occasionally talking about them on my podcast, also called Wallet Activism. So I know well how intimidating it can feel to get involved, whether it’s worrying your voice isn’t needed (trust me, it is!) or not knowing the nuts and bolts of where to start. But we have so much power when we act collectively, and I want you to feel personally invited to take action.

I wrote...

Book cover of Wallet Activism: How to Use Every Dollar You Spend, Earn, and Save as a Force for Change

What is my book about?

Wallet Activism is about using your financial power in all its forms to address the climate crisis and the inequality crisis. You have so much more power than you think! Corporations and leaders want you to feel powerless so you’ll go along with the status quo, but Wallet Activism debunks that myth and shows you how to see through marketing lies and use your financial power to address the climate crisis and social injustice when choosing what you buy, who to work for, where to live, how to give money away, where to save and invest your money, and so much more. It equips you with the best questions to ask to make choices that have real impact and don’t just make you feel better.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change

Why did I love this book?

I can’t stop recommending The Wake Up, because it so perfectly articulates the importance of examining our own intentions and goals when embarking on work aimed at changing the status quo, especially work focused on racial and gender inequality and other social justice issues. It’s easy to have good intentions but still do harm, and Michelle’s wonderful book guides you step by step through that much-needed process of examination with an abundance of love and generosity.

By Michelle MiJung Kim,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As we become more aware of various social injustices in the world, many of us want to be part of the movement toward positive change. But sometimes our best intentions cause unintended harm, and we fumble. We might feel afraid to say the wrong thing and feel guilt for not doing or knowing enough. Sometimes we might engage in performative allyship rather than thoughtful solidarity, leaving those already marginalized further burdened and exhausted. The feelings of fear, insecurity, inadequacy are all too common among a wide spectrum of changemakers, and they put many at a crossroads between feeling stuck and…

Book cover of Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change, and Consumerism

Why did I love this book?

My secret theory (or formerly secret, anyway) is that if books had best friends, my book's BFF would be this book. Aja and I were clearly on the same wavelength when writing our books, and there are many common threads, but Consumed takes a much deeper dive into consumerism broadly and the fashion industry specifically, tying environmental and worker exploitation concerns together seamlessly. You’ll come away with real resolve to consume much less, as well as clarity on how to push producers of goods you buy to do much, much better.

By Aja Barber,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'This powerful, speaking-truth-to-power book is an essential read for everybody who wants to stop feeling clueless and helpless about the impacts of cosumerism, and start doing their part to help create a more sustainable world' - Layla Saad

'A critique on what we buy, how it's made and the systems behind it that make an unfair and broken cycle' - New York Times

'The book is a blueprint for anyone who wants to do better' - VOGUE

'SUCH integrity. Aja is no bullsh*t.' - Florence Given

'Consumed takes us through the hideously complex topic of fashion and sustainability, from…

Book cover of Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It

Why did I love this book?

Ignore the word “youth” in the title, because this is not just a book for kids and teens! Jamie is a young, queer activist who has achieved some impressive activism victories at a young age, but best of all, she combines real activist know-how with a sense of hope and optimism that’s hard to find in older activists. This book is an excellent guide to getting involved and staying involved anywhere from the local level up to a global scale. This is a must-read for people who are fired up to take action but don’t know where to start.

By Jamie Margolin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Youth to Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 1963 Children's March in Birmingham, Alabama. Tiananmen Square, 1989. The 2016 Dakota Access Pipeline protests. March for Our Lives, and School Strike for Climate. What do all these social justice movements have in common? They were led by passionate, informed, engaged young people. Jamie Margolin has been organizing and protesting since she was fourteen years old. Now the co-leader of a global climate action movement, she knows better than most how powerful a young person can be. You don't have to be able to vote or hold positions of power to change the world.

In Youth to Power, Jamie…

Book cover of As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock

Why did I love this book?

Sure, you can read lots of environmental books by non-Indigenous writers about the climate crisis, and some of them even offer a solution or two! But Dina’s book, which chronicles the intertwined histories of colonization against Indigenous peoples in the Americas and widespread environmental injustice, paints a much fuller picture of the problems we’re facing and their origins and offers a range of helpful models for fighting back against the entities who’ve created the climate crisis and now refuse to act to address it.

By Dina Gilio-Whitaker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked As Long as Grass Grows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of Native peoples’ resistance to environmental injustice and land incursions, and a call for environmentalists to learn from the Indigenous community’s rich history of activism

Through the unique lens of “Indigenized environmental justice,” Indigenous researcher and activist Dina Gilio-Whitaker explores the fraught history of treaty violations, struggles for food and water security, and protection of sacred sites, while highlighting the important leadership of Indigenous women in this centuries-long struggle. As Long As Grass Grows gives readers an accessible history of Indigenous resistance to government and corporate incursions on their lands and offers new approaches to environmental justice activism…

Book cover of Anti-Racist Ally: An Introduction to Activism and Action

Why did I love this book?

There are a bunch of great anti-racism books out there, but few are all about taking action, as Sophie’s book is. Because I’m guessing if you’ve made it this far into my recommendation list, you are already familiar with anti-racism and many of the systemic problems we must address, and just want someone to point you in the right direction to do the work. This is a great book for that! It’s short but packed with practical tips.

By Sophie Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anti-Racist Ally as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Gives you the information you need to begin, or continue, your understanding of what it means to be a true anti-racist ally' Pippa Vosper

Do you want to be an anti-racist ally?

This punchy, pocket-sized guide shows you how, whether you're using your voice for the first time, or are looking for ways to keep the momentum and make long lasting change.

Sophie Williams' no-holds-barred posts about racism and Black Lives Matter on @officialmillennialblack have taken the online world by storm. Sharp, simple and insightful, they get to the heart of anti-racist principles and show us all how to truly…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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