100 books like The Upswing

By Robert D. Putnam,

Here are 100 books that The Upswing fans have personally recommended if you like The Upswing. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

Jay Belsky Author Of The Origins of You: How Childhood Shapes Later Life

From my list on development from childhood to middle age.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was almost by accident that I became who I turned out to be as a professional, a developmental scientist interested in how early-life experiences shape who we become. Had someone asked me when I graduated from high school what were the chances of me becoming a scientist and teacher, I would have answered “zero, zero”! During my now 40+ year academic career I've come to appreciate how complex the many forces are that shape who we become. There's no nature without nurture and no nurture without nature. This emergent realization led me to learn about and study many aspects of developmental experience, like parenting and peer relations, and the role of genetics and evolution.

Jay's book list on development from childhood to middle age

Jay Belsky Why did Jay love this book?

This one does not follow children from childhood to adulthood, but rather reveals how 100s of years ago events occurred that radically changed who people interacted with, married and spent their lives relating to.

It is a bold, strikingly original, and epic account of how the co-evolution of psychology and culture created the peculiar Western mind that profoundly shaped the modern world. While Nature matters, what this volume made clear to me is how “big Nurture”, meaning cultural practices, have changed over the past 1,000 years and the dramatic implications of such change for the world we live in today.

By Joseph Henrich,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The WEIRDest People in the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A landmark in social thought. Henrich may go down as the most influential social scientist of the first half of the twenty-first century' MATTHEW SYED

Do you identify yourself by your profession or achievements, rather than your family network? Do you cultivate your unique attributes and goals? If so, perhaps you are WEIRD: raised in a society that is Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic.

Unlike most who have ever lived, WEIRD people are highly individualistic, nonconformist, analytical and control-oriented. How did WEIRD populations become so psychologically peculiar? What part did these differences play in our history, and what do…

Book cover of The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good?

Paul Collier Author Of The Future of Capitalism: Facing the New Anxieties

From my list on how to renew our divided societies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Our societies have become increasingly polarised, both materially and psychologically. Our youth are riven with anxieties. Most people expect their children’s lives to be worse than their own. This reflects a staggering failure across business, politics, and public institutions. Fortunately, an intellectual revolution has begun that is resetting our course: you can become part of it. My own life has straddled these increasingly bitter tensions. My parents left school at 12, and we lived in a city whose industry moved to Korea so the jobs evaporated. The lives of my relatives collapsed, but by fortune’s wheel, I became a professor at Oxford, Harvard, and Paris. We can reverse such cruel divides: I want to share what I have learned from my work and my life to show how we can do it.

Paul's book list on how to renew our divided societies

Paul Collier Why did Paul love this book?

Tyranny is the landmark book that is moral philosophy’s contribution to the inflection point. Its fundamental concept of ‘contributive justice’ magnificently supersedes Rawls’ dated ‘distributive justice’. To give you a glimpse of two profound works, Rawls invoked some moral gymnastics involving a hypothetical withdrawal from society to a veil of ignorance about a hypothetical lottery of how a hypothetical national cake might be cut up. Sandel places us firmly back in our society and focuses on the agency needed for the moral duty to contribute to the baking of our national cake. Sandel, again at Harvard, is the most famous philosopher in the world, his superb online lectures have been so downloaded that they have triggered complaints from lesser philosophers fearing redundancy. Tyranny will shift your moral compass, but don’t be scared.

By Michael J. Sandel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


The new bestseller from the acclaimed author of Justice and one of the world's most popular philosophers

"Astute, insightful, and empathetic...A crucial book for this moment" Tara Westover, author of Educated

These are dangerous times for democracy. We live in an age of winners and losers, where the odds are stacked in favour of the already fortunate. Stalled social mobility and entrenched inequality give the lie to the promise that "you can make it if you try". And the consequence is a brew of anger and frustration that has…

Book cover of Radical Uncertainty: Decision-Making Beyond the Numbers

Jonquil Lowe Author Of Be Your Own Financial Adviser

From my list on insights for managing your money wisely.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an economist who started out in stockbroking. But that felt like an exploitative industry and, looking for a more positive role, I moved to the consumer organisation Which? There, I cut my teeth helping people make the most of their money and then started my own freelance business. Along the way, I’ve worked with many clients (including financial regulators and the Open University where I now also teach), taken some of the exams financial advisers do and written 30 or so books on personal finance. The constant in my work is trying to empower individuals in the face of markets and systems that are often skewed against them.

Jonquil's book list on insights for managing your money wisely

Jonquil Lowe Why did Jonquil love this book?

US economist Frank Knight is credited with distinguishing uncertainty from risk back in 1921. Yet the two are often conflated.

Kay (an eminent economist) and King (a former Governor of the Bank of England) argue powerfully that the distinction does matter. They range widely across macroeconomics, politics, and consumer choices to show why reducing the future to a set of numbers (probabilities) creates a false – and often disastrous – illusion of power over future outcomes.

They argue that instead we should aim to make decisions that stand a reasonable chance of being robust against unknowable, as well as forecastable, paths that the future might take. That’s very much the ethos of my own books: building in resilience is a key part of successful personal financial planning.

By John Kay, Mervyn King,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Radical Uncertainty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Some uncertainties are resolvable. The insurance industry's actuarial tables and the gambler's roulette wheel both yield to the tools of probability theory. Most situations in life, however, involve a deeper kind of uncertainty, a radical uncertainty for which historical data provide no useful guidance to future outcomes. Radical uncertainty concerns events whose determinants are insufficiently understood for probabilities to be known or forecasting possible. Before President Barack Obama made the fateful decision to send in the Navy Seals, his advisers offered him wildly divergent estimates of the odds that Osama bin Laden would be in the Abbottabad compound. In 2000,…

Book cover of Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire

Sarah Kaplan Author Of The 360° Corporation: From Stakeholder Trade-Offs to Transformation

From my list on stakeholder capitalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sarah Kaplan is Distinguished Professor and Director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. She is the author of the bestseller Creative Destruction: Why Companies That Are Built to Last Underperform the Market—And How to Successfully Transform Them and The 360º Corporation: From Stakeholder Trade-offs to Transformation, both address the challenges of innovation and organizational change in society. She frequently speaks and appears in the media on topics related to achieving a more inclusive economy and corporate governance reform. Formerly a professor at the Wharton School and a consultant at McKinsey & Company, she earned her PhD at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Sarah's book list on stakeholder capitalism

Sarah Kaplan Why did Sarah love this book?

If we want to reimagine capitalism as a system that does not destroy the planet and destabilize society, this must be enabled by corporations changing the way that they operate. Henderson’s Reimagining Capitalism gives us some principles for thinking about how to do this. A long-time innovation scholar, Henderson draws on her knowledge about how to succeed at organizational change to propose a more purpose-driven model of corporate action. Using numerous case studies of companies that have (partially) succeeded and those that have failed, she animates a number of principles for change. To start, such a model will require new metrics for social and environmental impact. This would involve more collaborative engagement amongst stakeholders to grow the economic pie and amongst companies to self-regulate in a more sustainable manner.

Particularly refreshing, at the end of the book, Henderson connects the macro conversation about economic and corporate change with a discussion…

By Rebecca Henderson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A renowned Harvard professor debunks prevailing orthodoxy with a new intellectual foundation and a practical pathway forward for a system that has lost its moral and ethical foundation.
Free market capitalism is one of humanity's greatest inventions and the greatest source of prosperity the world has ever seen. But this success has been costly. Capitalism is on the verge of destroying the planet and destabilizing society as wealth rushes to the top. The time for action is running short.

Rebecca Henderson's rigorous research in economics, psychology, and organizational behavior, as well as her many years of work with companies around…

Book cover of Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do about It

Anthony Biglan Author Of Rebooting Capitalism: How We Can Forge a Society That Works for Everyone

From my list on to find out what we can do to fix the USA.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my career studying how we can make our world more nurturing for every person. We can build a society that ensures that every child has the skills, interests, values, and health habits they need to lead a productive life in caring relationships with others. I created Values to Action to make this a reality in communities around the world. We have more than 200 members across the country who are working together to reform our society so that it has less poverty, economic inequality, discrimination, and many more happy and thriving families. 

Anthony's book list on to find out what we can do to fix the USA

Anthony Biglan Why did Anthony love this book?

Its central thesis is that the deficiencies and environmental harm of major efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are being ignored, so that the privileged and elite can continue to live in comfort and affluence. The authors present evidence that advocates for alternative energy such as wind and solar greatly overestimate the potential of these sources to replace fossil fuel energy. At the same time, the development of wind and solar power has harmful environmental impacts, including the mining necessary to obtain rare earth minerals, the decimation of wilderness both in the process of obtaining minerals, and widely implementing wind and solar installations. The undue optimism associated with these activities makes it unnecessary for those who are already privileged to consider adopting a much less consumptive lifestyle.

By Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, Max Wilbert

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“This disturbing but very important book makes clear we must dig deeper than the normal solutions we are offered.”―Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia Works

"Bright Green Lies exposes the hypocrisy and bankruptcy of leading environmental groups and their most prominent cheerleaders. The best-known environmentalists are not in the business of speaking truth, or even holding up rational solutions to blunt the impending ecocide, but instead indulge in a mendacious and self-serving delusion that provides comfort at the expense of reality. They fail to state the obvious: We cannot continue to wallow in hedonistic consumption and industrial expansion and survive as…

Book cover of The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story

Seth Mallios Author Of Born a Slave, Died a Pioneer: Nathan Harrison and the Historical Archaeology of Legend

From my list on confronting slavery and how it impacts society today.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an archaeologist, anthropologist, and historian who has worked on both the East Coast (Flowerdew Hundred and Jamestown, Virginia) and West Coast (San Diego, California) of the U.S. and dug sites from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, I am passionate about how archaeology can serve to offer new insights for marginalized peoples in American history. I specialize in exposing how narrow thinking, revisionism, and myth-making warp local histories and turn them into fabrications of the present. 

Seth's book list on confronting slavery and how it impacts society today

Seth Mallios Why did Seth love this book?

The 1619 Project fundamentally changed the study of American history by explaining and insisting that slavery and its consequences are at the heart of the nation’s origin story. A mix of non-fiction, fiction, and poetry, this volume saturates its reader with a stunningly broad mix of approaches to hammer home the enduring legacies of slavery that go well beyond Emancipation.

By Nikole Hannah-Jones,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The 1619 Project as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAACP IMAGE AWARD WINNER • A dramatic expansion of a groundbreaking work of journalism, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story offers a profoundly revealing vision of the American past and present.

FINALIST FOR THE KIRKUS PRIZE • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Washington Post, NPR, Esquire, Marie Claire, Electric Lit, Ms. magazine, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist

In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of twenty to thirty enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of…

Book cover of Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation

Kristin Ohlson Author Of Sweet in Tooth and Claw: Stories of Generosity and Cooperation in the Natural World

From my list on interconnection in nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a small agricultural town in California’s Sacramento Valley, and my parents didn’t even consider worrying if I was bored or lonely when I wasn’t at school. Consequently, I spent hours in a nearby vacant lot riddled with anthills watching the ants hustle back and forth and, occasionally, inserting myself in their lives with handfuls of sugar or sticks to block their paths. Pretty sure this is where my interest in science and nature began—and maybe even my interest in cooperation.

Kristin's book list on interconnection in nature

Kristin Ohlson Why did Kristin love this book?

I worry that people don’t hear enough about solutions to the climate crisis, but, thankfully, Paul Hawken and his collaborators lay many of them out in this book.

They focus not on the flashy technologies that often grab headlines—and not just on the reduction of fossil fuels—but on the power of a healthy, living Earth to heal itself. Of course, we need to be partners in this healing, and Hawken illuminates the people, organizations, and approaches that are doing just that.

By Paul Hawken,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A radically new understanding of and practical approach to climate change by noted environmentalist Paul Hawken, creator of the New York Times bestseller Drawdown

Regeneration offers a visionary new approach to climate change, one that weaves justice, climate, biodiversity, equity, and human dignity into a seamless tapestry of action, policy, and transformation that can end the climate crisis in one generation. It is the first book to describe and define the burgeoning regeneration movement spreading rapidly throughout the world.

Regeneration describes how an inclusive movement can engage the majority of humanity to save the world from the threat of global…

Book cover of Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality

James Cronin Author Of Fragile Victory: The Making and Unmaking of Liberal Order

From my list on the crisis of liberal order and democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Well before I trained as a scholar, I was an activist motivated by opposition to the Vietnam War and support for civil rights and social justice. Those commitments continued throughout my academic career and have now morphed into a resolve to write about recent threats to liberal order, democracy, and justice. The election results of 2016 – the triumph of “leave” in the Brexit vote and of Donald Trump in the Presidential election, forced me to rethink the history of things I have come to cherish – liberal order, democracy, and social and racial justice – how support for them has ebbed, and why they now require vigorous and informed defense.

James' book list on the crisis of liberal order and democracy

James Cronin Why did James love this book?

Hacker and Pierson argue that “plutocratic populism,” their term for what currently ails the United States and other democracies, is the latest solution to a structural dilemma in modern democracy.

Conservatives are regularly determined to protect wealth and privilege but need to win over voters who typically lack wealth and privilege to elect them. That means a continual effort to craft appeals that, in effect, disguise their aims.

The recent turn to populism means relying on non-economic issues – race, nativism, and various culture war issues concerning sex and gender most potently – to attract voters to support parties whose first allegiance is to the economic interests of elites.

This strategy can also lead, at times, to attacks on democracy and voting as well. 

By Jacob S. Hacker, Paul Pierson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Let Them Eat Tweets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Republican Party appears to be divided between a tax-cutting old guard and a white-nationalist vanguard-and with Donald Trump's ascendance, the upstarts seem to be winning. Yet how are we to explain that, under Trump, the plutocrats have gotten almost everything they want, including a huge tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, regulation-killing executive actions, and a legion of business-friendly federal judges? Does the GOP represent "forgotten" Americans? Or does it represent the superrich?

In Let Them Eat Tweets, best-selling political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson offer a definitive answer: the Republican Party serves its plutocratic masters…

Book cover of The Fountainhead

Luis de Miranda Author Of Philosophical Health: A Practical Introduction

From my list on improving your philosophical health.

Why am I passionate about this?

Choosing philosophy at 18 raised a few eyebrows: friends and family thought I was a bit mad and a little lost. Later, when I decided to write philosophical stories and essays, I heard the same refrain: “Most people are afraid of philosophy.” But those voices never swayed me. Deep down, I knew that thinking is a powerful tool for healing, a way to mend what’s broken within us and in the world. Ideas, I believe, can spark change and make the world a better place.

Luis' book list on improving your philosophical health

Luis de Miranda Why did Luis love this book?

This book is like a forbidden fruit, tempting and dangerous. But it came to my rescue when I’d lost sight of my own dreams for a little while. Sure, Ayn Rand’s philosophy has many simplistic flaws, but in this novel, she channels a Nietzschean spirit that jolts you awake. It was a call to never forget to embrace my ambition and to continue to forge my own writing path even when readers seem indifferent.

In a world full of compromises, there’s power in refusing to settle for less than your own extraordinary potential.

Book cover of The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism

Erwin Dekker Author Of The Viennese Students of Civilization: The Meaning and Context of Austrian Economics Reconsidered

From my list on cultural knowledge to understand the economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and economist who is fascinated by the intersection of the economy and culture. This started for me with the idea that economic ideas were shaped by the cultural context in which they emerged, which resulted in my book on the Viennese Students. Over time it has expanded to an interest for the markets for the arts from music to the visual arts, as well as the way in which culture and morality influence economic dynamism. Economics and the humanities are frequently believed to be at odds with each other, but I hope to inspire a meaningful conversation between them.

Erwin's book list on cultural knowledge to understand the economy

Erwin Dekker Why did Erwin love this book?

Perhaps Max Weber’s book on the Protestant Ethic should be on my list. But I prefer this book by sociologist Campbell which is at least as bold in its argument. It takes a fresh look at consumption and suggests that modern consumption draws on human imagination, a desire for novelty, and experimentation. Like Weber, Campbell traces the historical roots of modern economic action, and he does so by suggesting that Romanticism was not a hostile reaction to capitalism, but the imaginative counterpart to the productive revolution of the eighteenth century. As such Romanticism facilitated the Industrial Revolution and made the modern economy possible. Campbell does not explore this, but I think of the Romantic Ethic as the cultural background for the subjective theory of value in economics.

By Colin Campbell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1987, Colin Campbell's classic treatise on the sociology of consumption has become one of the most widely cited texts in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, and the history of ideas. In the thirty years since its publication, The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism has lost none of its impact. If anything, the growing commodification of society, the increased attention to consumer studies and marketing, and the ever-proliferating range of purchasable goods and services have made Campbell's rereading of Weber more urgent still. As Campbell uncovers how and why a consumer-oriented society emerged from a Europe…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in individualism, political culture, and narcissism?

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