86 books like The Limits to Growth

By Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis Meadows

Here are 86 books that The Limits to Growth fans have personally recommended if you like The Limits to Growth. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Tao Te Ching

Neal Allen Author Of Better Days: Tame Your Inner Critic

From my list on books on spirituality for people who hate books on spirituality.

Why am I passionate about this?

Until my early 50s, I detested all things spiritual. These books showed up practically on their own, without dogma or jargon, mainly to convince me that the divine existed. They’re easy to read and open to interpretation. They tricked me into a spiritual life by making it seem logical and simply a place to explore at my leisure. I try to write things that are clear and simple, and these books persuaded me that the ineffable isn’t so hard to write about. Also, I could return to these books years later, and they still speak to me. Each is capable of opening something new to me later in life.

Neal's book list on books on spirituality for people who hate books on spirituality

Neal Allen Why did Neal love this book?

Most ancient wisdom texts require a lot of effort. I love the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Buddhist Discourses, Dogen, Plato, Krishnamurti, and so on. But to read them, I have to take some time out of my day.

This book is a scroll of 81 aphorisms. I can pick any one, spend a little time with it, and get on with my day.

Plus, it starts with a bang: “The Way that you hear about is not the real Way.” I am invited to be confused! That takes all the pressure off me to figure it out. 

By Lao Tzu, Gia-fu Geng (translator), Jane English (translator) , Toinette Lippe (translator)

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Tao Te Ching as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For nearly two generations, this bestselling translation of the Tao Te Ching has been the standard for those seeking access to the wisdom of Taoist thought. Now Jane English and her long-time editor, Toinette Lippe, have refreshed and revised the translation, so that it more faithfully reflects the Classical Chinese in which it was first written, while taking into account changes in our own language and eliminating any lingering infelicities. This beautiful oversized edition features over a hundred new photographs by Jane English that help express the vast spirit of the Tao. Also included is an introduction by the well-known…


Book cover of Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity

Rex Weyler Author Of Greenpeace: The Inside Story

From my list on ecology from an ecologist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Rex Weyler is a writer and ecologist. His books include Blood of the Land, a history of indigenous American nations, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; Greenpeace: The Inside Story, a finalist for the BC Book Award and the Shaughnessy-Cohen Award for Political Writing; and The Jesus Sayings, a deconstruction of first-century history, a finalist for the BC Book Award. In the 1970s, Weyler was a co-founder of Greenpeace International and editor of the Greenpeace Chronicles. He served on campaigns to preserve rivers and forests, and to stop whaling, sealing, and toxic dumping.

Rex's book list on ecology from an ecologist

Rex Weyler Why did Rex love this book?

My all-time favourite ecology book, playfully but rigorously exploring complexity, co-evolution, a living systems language, and knowledge itself. “The major problems in the world,”  Bateson warned, “are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.” In Bateson’s world, all divisions of nature are arbitrary. We only witness relationships, not things in themselves. Bateson links our mental process with evolutionary process and urges ecologists to see those patterns that connect the apparent parts of the whole. 

By Gregory Bateson, Gregory Bateson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A re-issue of Gregory Bateson's classic work. It summarizes Bateson's thinking on the subject of the patterns that connect living beings to each other and to their environment.


Book cover of Deep Ecology for the Twenty-First Century: Readings on the Philosophy and Practice of the New Environmentalism

Rex Weyler Author Of Greenpeace: The Inside Story

From my list on ecology from an ecologist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Rex Weyler is a writer and ecologist. His books include Blood of the Land, a history of indigenous American nations, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; Greenpeace: The Inside Story, a finalist for the BC Book Award and the Shaughnessy-Cohen Award for Political Writing; and The Jesus Sayings, a deconstruction of first-century history, a finalist for the BC Book Award. In the 1970s, Weyler was a co-founder of Greenpeace International and editor of the Greenpeace Chronicles. He served on campaigns to preserve rivers and forests, and to stop whaling, sealing, and toxic dumping.

Rex's book list on ecology from an ecologist

Rex Weyler Why did Rex love this book?

The best available summary of Deep Ecology. An anthology of seminal essays inspired by Norwegian philosopher and activist Arne Naess, who sought to create an ecological paradigm shift in society – his work influenced the Greenpeace founders. This collection includes essays by Naess, Chellis Glendinning, Gary Snyder, Dolores LaChapelle, Paul Shepard, and others, who examine the ecological tradition from Spinoza and Thoreau to Santayana and ecofeminism. 

By George Sessions,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Deep Ecology for the Twenty-First Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every day, in newspapers and on television, we read and hear about the ongoing destruction of the environment: the greenhouse effect, ozone layer depletion, deforestation, and air and water pollution. Deep Ecology offers a solution to the environmental crisis through a radical shift in human consciousness—a fundamental change in the way people relate with the environment. Instead of thinking of nature as a resource to be used for human needs, Deep Ecology argues that the true value of nature is intrinsic and independent of its utility. Emerging in the 1980s as an influential philosophical, social, and political movement, Deep Ecology…


Book cover of Steady-State Economics

Rex Weyler Author Of Greenpeace: The Inside Story

From my list on ecology from an ecologist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Rex Weyler is a writer and ecologist. His books include Blood of the Land, a history of indigenous American nations, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; Greenpeace: The Inside Story, a finalist for the BC Book Award and the Shaughnessy-Cohen Award for Political Writing; and The Jesus Sayings, a deconstruction of first-century history, a finalist for the BC Book Award. In the 1970s, Weyler was a co-founder of Greenpeace International and editor of the Greenpeace Chronicles. He served on campaigns to preserve rivers and forests, and to stop whaling, sealing, and toxic dumping.

Rex's book list on ecology from an ecologist

Rex Weyler Why did Rex love this book?

Want solutions? Start with our failed economic system. Daly, a World Bank senior economist, examines the economic restructuring necessary to live on a finite planet. He corrects the errors of classic economics by showing that a human economy is a subsystem embedded in a finite, fragile ecosystem, maintained by extracting limited resources and exporting waste. A steady-state economy accounts for the limits of both resources and waste. 

By Herman E. Daly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Steady-State Economics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


First published in 1977, this volume caused a sensation because of Daly's radical view that "enough is best." Today, his ideas are recognized as the key to sustainable development, and Steady-State Economics is universally acknowledged as the leading book on the economics of sustainability.


Book cover of The Dispossessed

Joseph Pitkin Author Of Exit Black

From my list on fantasy-science fiction books that explore class and inequality.

Why am I passionate about this?

My science fiction and fantasy writing is concerned with the values I was exposed to growing up. As a lifelong Quaker, I have struggled—often unsuccessfully—to live out Quakerism’s non-conformist, almost utopian commitment to equality, simplicity, peace, and community. Not only have I tried to bear witness to those values in my writing, but those ideals led me to my career as an instructor at a community college, one of America’s great socioeconomic leveling institutions. My background as a speculative fiction writer has also made me into a teacher of science fiction and fantasy literature at my college, where I read and came to love the books I recommend here. 

Joseph's book list on fantasy-science fiction books that explore class and inequality

Joseph Pitkin Why did Joseph love this book?

I found this book (whose subtitle is “An Ambiguous Utopia”) one of the most thought-provoking works of fiction I have read.

The Dispossessed was my first introduction to anarchism as a political platform, and while it didn’t make an anarchist out of me, it was the book that allowed me to imagine anarchism as a coherent political philosophy. Practically every page of the book offers a critique of modern capitalism, and it’s impossible to read this book without considering the structures in our world today that ensure a system of haves and have-nots.

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Dispossessed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the very best must-read novels of all time - with a new introduction by Roddy Doyle

'A well told tale signifying a good deal; one to be read again and again' THE TIMES

'The book I wish I had written ... It's so far away from my own imagination, I'd love to sit at my desk one day and discover that I could think and write like Ursula Le Guin' Roddy Doyle

'Le Guin is a writer of phenomenal power' OBSERVER

The Principle of Simultaneity is a scientific breakthrough which will revolutionize interstellar civilization by making possible instantaneous…


Book cover of The Malthusian Moment: Global Population Growth and the Birth of American Environmentalism

Giorgos Kallis Author Of Limits: Why Malthus Was Wrong and Why Environmentalists Should Care

From my list on living within limits.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wrote a book on Limits. Limits is the core question of modern environmentalism. But I want to break environmentalism out of the grip of Malthusianism and a set of ideas about our world as being inherently limited, that have delegated us environmentalists to party-pooping prophets of doom. I want to reclaim a radical notion of self-limitation which is what makes the environmentalist movement unique – a claim that a free life worth living is a life lived within limits, a simple life so that others may simply live. It is not the planet that is asking us to limit ourselves, but we that desire it.

Giorgos' book list on living within limits

Giorgos Kallis Why did Giorgos love this book?

This is a brilliant intellectual history of US environmentalism and its rooting on what in the 1960s was seen as a global ‘population bomb’. The global population kept growing in the 1980s and 1990s, but slower, and the bomb has, for the time being at least, been defused. It is time for environmentalists like myself to reflect on the legacy of our roles as prophets of unrealised doom, and this book helps us get the historical record right. Paul Ehrlich is a key figure in this story of overpopulation scare, that was not a marginal academic debate, but one that made it into the political mainstream, and around which Ronald Reagan fashioned his persona, as the ever optimist who unlike Jimmy Carter, did not succumb to limits of growth, and the pessimism of Ehlrich and his likes. What I learned from this book is that unless environmentalists develop a positive…

By Thomas Robertson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Malthusian Moment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962) is often cited as the founding text of the U.S. environmental movement, in The Malthusian Moment Thomas Robertson locates the origins of modern American environmentalism in twentieth-century adaptations of Thomas Malthus's concerns about population growth. For many environmentalists, managing population growth became the key to unlocking the most intractable problems facing Americans after World War II-everything from war and the spread of communism overseas to poverty, race riots, and suburban sprawl at home.

Weaving together the international and the domestic in creative new ways, The Malthusian Moment charts the explosion of Malthusian thinking in…


Book cover of The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure

Giorgos Kallis Author Of Limits: Why Malthus Was Wrong and Why Environmentalists Should Care

From my list on living within limits.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wrote a book on Limits. Limits is the core question of modern environmentalism. But I want to break environmentalism out of the grip of Malthusianism and a set of ideas about our world as being inherently limited, that have delegated us environmentalists to party-pooping prophets of doom. I want to reclaim a radical notion of self-limitation which is what makes the environmentalist movement unique – a claim that a free life worth living is a life lived within limits, a simple life so that others may simply live. It is not the planet that is asking us to limit ourselves, but we that desire it.

Giorgos' book list on living within limits

Giorgos Kallis Why did Giorgos love this book?

Michel Foucault had a variety of interests and wrote about many different topics – ecology and limits to growth were definitely not among them. I have found this book super useful though in thinking about what I call self-limitation, the processes through which individuals and collectives voluntarily craft the limits of their action and their power. Foucault’s book analyses how ancient Greeks perceived sexuality, and how they managed their bodies and desires. For the Greeks mastery over one’s wants was seen as key to personal freedom and development. Sexual freedom was part and parcel of the self-regulation of sexual desire. I can´t say I understand everything Foucault writes, but this is definitely one of his clearest books, with a more American style short prose than his previous labyrythical French writing. Reading about a civilization that was so similar, but also so different from ours, and how it regulated without suppressing…

By Michel Foucault,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this sequel to The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction, the brilliantly original French thinker who died in 1984 gives an analysis of how the ancient Greeks perceived sexuality.

Throughout The Use of Pleasure Foucault analyzes an irresistible array of ancient Greek texts on eroticism as he tries to answer basic questions: How in the West did sexual experience become a moral issue? And why were other appetites of the body, such as hunger, and collective concerns, such as civic duty, not subjected to the numberless rules and regulations and judgments that have defined, if not confined, sexual…


Book cover of The Limits to Scarcity: Contesting the Politics of Allocation

Giorgos Kallis Author Of Limits: Why Malthus Was Wrong and Why Environmentalists Should Care

From my list on living within limits.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wrote a book on Limits. Limits is the core question of modern environmentalism. But I want to break environmentalism out of the grip of Malthusianism and a set of ideas about our world as being inherently limited, that have delegated us environmentalists to party-pooping prophets of doom. I want to reclaim a radical notion of self-limitation which is what makes the environmentalist movement unique – a claim that a free life worth living is a life lived within limits, a simple life so that others may simply live. It is not the planet that is asking us to limit ourselves, but we that desire it.

Giorgos' book list on living within limits

Giorgos Kallis Why did Giorgos love this book?

This edited volume questions the notion of scarcity, which is the lynchpin of modern economics. Ever since Malthus’s Essay on Population at the turn of the 19th century, there is a myth that human wants are unlimited (and illimitable) and that the world is too small for all of us and our needs. Economists invented this myth to justify capitalism´s perpetuation of inequality and poverty amidst plenty, constructing an ideology of limitless growth as the only possible response to our predicament of this supposed universal and eternal scarcity. The contributions to this volume reveal how this ideology of scarcity plays out till our day, and elites invoke scarcity and limits to control the bodies and desires of marginalized groups. 

By Lyla Mehta,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Scarcity is considered a ubiquitous feature of the human condition. It underpins much of modern economics and is widely used as an explanation for social organisation, social conflict and the resource crunch confronting humanity's survival on the planet. It is made out to be an all-pervasive fact of our lives - be it of housing, food, water or oil. But has the conception of scarcity been politicized, naturalized, and universalized in academic and policy debates? Has overhasty recourse to scarcity evoked a standard set of market, institutional and technological solutions which have blocked out political contestations, overlooking access as a…


Book cover of When God Was a Woman

Weam Namou Author Of Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: My Life-Changing Journey Through a Shamanic School

From my list on spiritual ancient teachings.

Why am I passionate about this?

Born in Baghdad and raised in America, I come from an ancient lineage of people called the Chaldeans (Neo-Babylonians who still speak Aramaic). The first book I read was Gone with the Wind, at age nine, in Arabic. We lived in Jordan at the time, awaiting a visa to the United States and Scarlett O’Hara’s land and people were my impressions of what America would look like. But Michigan in the 1980s was not Georgia in the 1860s. Still, that book proved that great storytelling transcends ethnicity, age, and gender. So in my writing and film career, I have focused on the art of storytelling as I share the stories my people, culture, and heritage. 

Weam's book list on spiritual ancient teachings

Weam Namou Why did Weam love this book?

Reading that once upon a time in my birthland, male dominance was not the natural order of things was liberating.

In this historical book that’s based on critical facts, one learns of the true nature of women as Goddess in the Middle East. She held prestigious positions and had a fairly peaceful lifestyle until religion and patriarchy changed all that.

Over the centuries, her stories were deleted out of history and also distorted in an attempt to strip her of her power. An attempt that has caused a hell on earth in that region.

By Merlin Stone,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked When God Was a Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The landmark exploration of the ancient worship of the Great Goddess and the eventual supression of women's rites.

In the beginning, God was a woman...

How did the shift from matriarchy to patriarchy come about? In fascinating detail, Merlin Stone tells us the story of the Goddess who reigned supreme in the Near and Middle East. Under her reign, societal roles differed markedly from those in patriarchal Judeo-Christian cultures: women bought and sold property, traded in the marketplace, and inherited title and land from their mothers. Documenting the wholesale rewriting of myth and religious dogmas, Merlin Stone describes an ancient…


Book cover of Stone Age Present: How Evolution Has Shaped Modern Life -- From Sex, Violence and Language to Emotions, Morals and Communities

Bruce Nappi Author Of Collapse 2020 Vol. 1: Fall of the First Global Civilization

From my list on the impending collapse of global civilization.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was an Eagle Scout selected for the 1964 North Pole expedition, graduate of MIT with both BS and MS degrees in Aero Astro – yes, a true MIT rocket scientist. I quickly took planning roles at the “bleeding edge” of technology: missiles, nuclear power, heart pumps, DNA sequencing, telemedicine… In every case, however, the organizations were plagued by incompetence and corruption. As an individual, I interacted with activist leaders in movements for: peace, climate, social justice, ending poverty, etc. Again, incompetence and corruption. Throughout, I dug for answers into the wisdom of the classics and emerging viewpoints. Finally. All that effort paid off. I found the “big picture”! 

Bruce's book list on the impending collapse of global civilization

Bruce Nappi Why did Bruce love this book?

Unravelling the confusion of our time always begs the question, “how could such confusion happen with the greatness of human thinking?” Allman has a simple answer: maybe our notion about “modern intelligence” isn’t so obvious. His point is: biological evolution is extremely slow. The time from the stone age to now is extremely short on evolutionary scales. Instead of focusing just on modern marvels like jet planes, what if we first compare our image of a “stone age man,” with the thinking ability of “modern” miners during the 1849 California gold rush? Hmmm… not “all” that different. Then compare a current apartment designer with the designers of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, 3,000 BC? Are modern brains actually going backward? This book will really challenge your “stone age” brain.

By William Allman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stone Age Present as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Simon & Schuster, The Stone Age Present explores how evolution has shaped modern life—from sex, violence, and language to emotions, morals, and communities.

In this fascinating synthesis of the disciplines of anthropology, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and biology, William Allman shows us how our minds have evolved in response to challenges faced by our prehistoric ancestors, and reveals how our brains continue to harbor that legacy in the present day.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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