The best books to make you want to change the world

David Rothenberg Author Of The Possibility of Reddish Green: Wittgenstein Outside Philosophy
By David Rothenberg

Who am I?

I’ve been trying to balance a need to help make the world a better place with my own small expertise as a musician and teacher. So I’ve played music with birds, whales, and bugs, taught philosophy to engineers for decades, written many books and released many albums, and traveled all over the world learning what people are doing to improve things. I need to find words to read that encourage me and lift me out of the looming pull of depressing statistics and real suffering that we all read about every day. I hope change is possible, and I urge everyone to work toward it in their own specific and unique ways.


I wrote...

The Possibility of Reddish Green: Wittgenstein Outside Philosophy

By David Rothenberg,

Book cover of The Possibility of Reddish Green: Wittgenstein Outside Philosophy

What is my book about?

The expression of his eyes remained the same: a cold, piercing sadness. Yet his final words were, "Tell them I had a happy life." This poetic book examines the way Ludwig Wittgenstein has influenced artists and writers beyond his own field, thereby touching on the subject of how philosophy can be relevant at large. Carefully illustrated with work by Leif Haglund, Doug Hall, and Muriel Wood-Ponzecchi, Rothenberg situates Wittgenstein in the age of the soundbite and the artistic fragment, promoting an aesthetic of detachment just as he seeks to find a route through the sea of churning ideas that mark our time.  

The books I picked & why

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The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis

By Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac,

Book cover of The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis

Why this book?

I read many books about the fate of our planet but few provide as fine a balance between fact and feeling, reporting and practical advice than this remarkable collaboration by two of the main architects of the Paris Climate Agreement. Should be read by anyone troubled or energized by the challenges of our threatened planet.


Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World

By Lisa Wells,

Book cover of Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World

Why this book?

Like Lisa Wells, I’ve spent years looking up to many possible heroes in my dream of making the world a better place. So much inspiration out there, and yet all our heroes become flawed the more we learn about them. How to remain hopeful when we find out the truth? Only through poetry, art, beauty, intensity. One of the finest books of the year, impossible to categorize.


Silence: Lectures and Writings

By John Cage,

Book cover of Silence: Lectures and Writings

Why this book?

From the 1960s but still one of the greatest books on how being creative means trying everything, trusting no one, and listening to everybody and everything. After you read this you will know that you can be an artist, that is, if you are meant to be one.


Meme Wars: The Creative Destruction of Neoclassical Economics

By Kalle Lasn (editor), Adbusters (editor),

Book cover of Meme Wars: The Creative Destruction of Neoclassical Economics

Why this book?

From the guy who came up with the phrase “Occupy Wall Street” is a manifesto for questioning authority and turning the tools of advertising and persuasion against the man. Lasn understood what memes really are before the internet trivialized the concept. He reminds us of the transformational power of simple, clear, addictive ideas.


Earth's Wild Music: Celebrating and Defending the Songs of the Natural World

By Kathleen Dean Moore,

Book cover of Earth's Wild Music: Celebrating and Defending the Songs of the Natural World

Why this book?

The great and wise philosopher/environmentalist takes music to be a metaphor for how to still trust beauty in our surrounding world despite all the bad news we hear about it. Sense the sublime in nature out there, but still dare to do better as a human in this world. Only this can save us.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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