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During the pandemic, many people are finding themselves with more time on their hands – and many are also in pursuit of new economic ideas and understanding.

WEAll and our members have compiled some recommendations for ‘must-read’ books  to understand the case for, and path towards, a wellbeing economy.

Here’s the result – 20 important books that provide answers, inspiration and hope.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive – comment below with your own recommendations. Why not get involved with the WEAll Read book group, which is holding monthly meetings? Find out more here.

Alphabetically by author:

  1. An Economy of Wellbeing: Mark Anielski
  2. 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism: Ha-Joon Chang
  3. Change Everything: Christian Felber
  4. Wellbeing Economy: Lorenzo Fioramonti
  5. The Divide: Jason Hickel
  6. New Economy Business: Margo Hoek
  7. The Age of Thrivability: Michelle Holliday
  8. Prosperity Without Growth: Tim Jackson
  9. The High Price of Materialism: Tim Kasser
  10. A Finer Future: Hunter Lovins, Stewart Wallis, John Fullerton and Anders Wijkman
  11. Economics Unmasked: Manfred Max-Neef
  12. Local Is Our Future: Helena Norberg-Hodge
  13. The Value of Nothing: Raj Patel
  14. The Spirit Level: Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson
  15. Doughnut Economics: Kate Raworth
  16. What Money Can’t Buy: Michael J. Sandel
  17. Small is Beautiful: E.F. Schumacher
  18. Local Dollars Local Sense: Michael Shuman
  19. How to Thrive in the Next Economy: John Thackara
  20. The Economics of Arrival: Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams

 

 

By Anna Murphy

Where does money come from? What’s the purpose of economics? What is economics? Is growth the means to an end or an end in itself? Why are there people still homeless and hungry when the world has so much wealth? Why have we developed economic and political systems which disregard nature’s power and beauty? Can we fix the system with the very tools that built it? What does ‘the system’ even mean? 

What can I, as an individual, do to create positive change? 

Welcome to WEAll Read. WEAll Read is WEAll’s new book club, a community reading and discussing books relevant to the wellbeing economy: in essence, the goal is to answer the questions above…and the many more that crop up with each new book! It’s about making economics everyone’s business, because it is too important to be left just to the experts. 

A core premise of the wellbeing economy is that economic growth must not be an end in itself: but rather a possible means to the ultimate goal of creating human and ecological health, wealth and fulfilment. This challenges a deeply embedded assumption of traditional economics: that it is a science, devoid of values. At WEAll read, we believe in the need to bring values back to economic thought, knowledge, theory and practice.

Where did it come from? 

As a recent graduate starting out with a sustainable finance project, my 2019 New Year’s resolution was to learn about sustainability and economics (and ideally to build a community with whom to chat about this slightly niche topic). It all started with a LinkedIn post. I promised wine. The Impact Economy Book Club kicked off in Edinburgh and 8 months later, we welcomed Katherine Trebeck to the local bookshop. We were so inspired by her ideas and organisation, the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, that we joined forces! It was immensely exciting to discover an organisation turning the things we were reading about into action. 

‘Together we are greater than the sum of our parts’ goes the WEAll mantra, and this collaboration felt like exactly that. 

Where is it going? 

Think hundreds of local book clubs, far and wide, with people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines coming together to learn and take action with the wellbeing economy. 

We’re up and running in Edinburgh (join this Whatsapp Group to get involved), and start in Glasgow this month. Beth Cloughton, the Glasgow organiser, is also planning a book swap and online dial-in, already showing the power of creativity! You can join their Facebook Group here

We’d love for you to get in touch if you’d like to set up either a place-based or online club, and also have a Goodreads Group for anyone to join (you can find the books we read in 2019 there).

How we are at WEAll Read

  • Brave and respectful: we listen attentively and respectfully, and challenge bravely
  • Curious and skeptical: we are open to new ideas whilst also rigorously challenging them
  • Grounded in knowledge and action: each month, we conclude our conversations by making personal intentions to take action, based on what we’ve learnt

Where we could do with some help

Challenging conversation isn’t always comfortable. A few months ago, in Edinburgh, a book club attendee criticised it for being a feminist echo-chamber: we had apparently been read too many books by females. After establishing robust argument against this critique, the whiteness and Western-ness of all the authors whose books we had read was obvious, and problematic. This is why we believe brave conversations are necessary: uncomfortable moments produce stronger arguments and reveal important blind spots.

If anyone from the wellbeing economy community has books to recommend from perspectives we might have inadvertently missed, please reach out, we would love to hear from you. 

Join us on Monday 27th in Glasgow to discuss Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson’s ‘The Spirit Level’ or Tuesday 28th in Edinburgh, for Naomi Klein’s ‘On Fire.’ Looking forward to some new faces!

Books we read last year: 

  • Winners Take All, Anand Giridharadas
  • Lean Impact, Ann Mei Chang
  • The Purpose of Capital, Jed Emerson
  • A World of Three Zeros, Muhammad Yunus
  • Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth
  • The Value of Everything, Mariana Mazzucato 
  • There is No Planet B, Mike Berners Lee 
  • The Economics of Arrival, Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams

Discussions so far in Edinburgh

Katherine Trebeck comes to the book club in Edinburgh 

Summary notes of The Economics of Arrival 

Summary of Discussion, The Value of Everything, by Mariana Mazzucato

Summary of Discussion: There is No Planet B 

 

‘A Finer Future: creating an economy in service to life’ has been awarded the Silver Nautilus Award in the Ecology & Environment category.

 

This book, by Hunter Lovins, Stewart Wallis, Anders Wijkman and John Fullerton, was published in September 2018 and sets out a blueprint for an inspiring regenerative economy that avoids collapse and works for people and planet (a wellbeing economy!)

For two decades, Nautilus Book Awards has recognised books that transcend barriers of culture, gender, race, and class, and promote conscious living & green values, spiritual growth, wellness & vitality, and positive social change. Last year, Nautilus received entries from 36 US States, and from 12 other nations. Dedicated to excellence and high standards of both message and presentation, the Nautilus programme celebrates books that inspire and connect our lives as individuals, communities and global citizens.

Nautilus Book Awards is held in particular high-regard for recognising and promoting outstanding print books in several dozen genres that nurture positive change to co-create a Better World.

Nautilus is one of the significant Book Award programs that welcomes entries from the full range of the print-publishing spectrum: Author Self-Published, Small Press (2 to 10 books annual & from multiple authors), Small Press-Hybrid, and from Large Publishers. All the books selected as Winners are potent seeds for the growth, coherence, and healing of our culture and world.

The Nautilus Mission is to recognize and celebrate a wide subject-range of Better Books for a Better World.

You can find out more about A Finer Future and order your copy here.

WEAll members submitted their recommendations for ‘must-read’ books  to understand the case for, and path towards, a wellbeing economy.

Here’s the result – 15 important books that provide answers, inspiration and hope.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive – comment below with your own recommendations.

 

Alphabetically by author:

  1. An Economy of Wellbeing: Mark Anielski
  2. Change Everything: Christian Felber
  3. Wellbeing Economy: Lorenzo Fioramonti
  4. The Divide: Jason Hickel
  5. New Economy Business: Margo Hoek
  6. The Age of Thrivability: Michelle Holliday
  7. Prosperity Without Growth: Tim Jackson
  8. The High Price of Materialism: Tim Kasser
  9. A Finer Future: Hunter Lovins, Stewart Wallis, John Fullerton and Anders Wijkman
  10. Economics Unmasked: Manfred Max-Neef
  11. The Spirit Level: Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson
  12. Doughnut Economics: Kate Raworth
  13. Small is Beautiful: E.F. Schumacher
  14. Local Dollars Local Sense – Michael Shuman
  15. How to Thrive in the Next Economy: John Thackara