Recommended Books

The Accidental Activist: Stories, Speeches, Articles, and Interviews

by Matt Ball

Not every activist starts out with the goal of changing the world. Some have their life shaped by chance, quirks of timing, and strange coincidences coupled with an unwillingness — or simple inability — to fully ignore the horrors perpetrated on animals today. Since Matt Ball learned of factory farms well over a quarter century ago, his journey has been anything but linear, but today he is a sought-after vegan strategist. In this book, Ball shares the difficult but ultimately pragmatic lessons he learned working to change the world. Ball's insights can help others be more effective and, hopefully, happier as well.

The Addictive Organization: Why We Overwork, Cover Up, Pick Up the Pieces, Please the Boss, and Perpetuate Sick Organizations

by Anne Wilson Schaef and Diane Fassel

Anne Wilson Schaef and Diane Fassel explain how managers, workers, and organization members may exhibit the classic symptoms of addiction: denying and avoiding problems, assuming that there is no other way of acting, martyrdom, and manipulating events to maintain the status quo. Addictive attitudes and behaviors are common among nonprofit organizations, and they can cause tremendous damage. Wilson Schaef and Fassel explain ways to address these dynamics, to help create a healthier and more effective organization.

Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World: A Guide for Activists and Their Allies

by Pattrice Jones

This book is for aftershocked activists and their allies, as well as for people and organizations that practice high-risk activism. It includes practical tips for individuals, organizations, and communities, as well as information about how traumatic events affect our bodies and abilities. Aftershock explores the culture of trauma that people have created through the violent exploitation of the Earth, other animals, and one another.

The Animal Activist’s Handbook: Maximizing Our Positive Impact in Today’s World

by Matt Ball and Bruce Friedrich

In The Animal Activist's Handbook, Matt Ball and Bruce Friedrich suggest that meaning in life is to be found in turning away from the futile pursuit of "more," and in focusing instead on leaving the planet a better place than we found it. Ball and Friedrich posit that the most critical component of creating a better world for all is thoughtful, deliberate, and dedicated activism that takes suffering seriously. The authors build a solid case for reasoned, impassioned, and joyful activism that makes the most difference possible, and they suggest a variety of ways to live a meaningful life through effective advocacy.

Animal Impact: Secrets Proven to Achieve Results and Move the World

by Caryn Ginsberg

Why do some animal protection efforts succeed while others fail? This book reveals how more than 80 leading advocates create change for animals, and presents a seven-step system including techniques that are successfully transforming advocacy.

Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others

by John C. Maxwell and Jim Dornan

In this book, John Maxwell, an internationally renowned leadership expert, explains that if our life in any way connects with other people, we are an influencer. Whatever our vocation or aspiration, we can increase our impact with Maxwell's simple, insightful ways to interact more positively with others.

Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World

by Paul Hawken

In this book, Paul Hawken weaves together the intricate threads of what he believes is a global humanitarian movement encompassing the numerous environmental, social justice, and indigenous preservation nongovernmental organizations throughout the world. Hawken offers insights into social change and he brings inspiration and hope to those whose awareness of suffering may be causing them to despair.

Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change

by Nick Cooney

Citing over 80 years of research, Nick Cooney explains how most people adopt their beliefs, react to new information, and change (or maintain) their behaviors. By understanding psychology, activists can be more effective in everyday advocacy work and in creating a more compassionate world.

Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People's Minds

by Howard Gardner

Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner explains what happens during the course of changing a mind – and offers ways to influence that process. Gardner points out that minds don’t change overnight, but in gradual stages that can be powerfully influenced along the way. This book provides insights that can broaden our horizons and enhance our lives.

Changing the Game: Why the Battle for Animal Liberation is So Hard and How We Can Win It

by Norm Phelps

Norm Phelps asserts that the animal rights movement has reached a crisis point. Faced with the overwhelming wealth and power of animal exploitation industries, animal activists are like the proverbial David trying to stand up to Goliath. Phelps proposes that, rather than follow unsuccessful strategies of the past, we change the game by adopting David's strategy of refusing to play by Goliath's rules.

Common Shock: Witnessing Violence Every Day – How We Are Harmed, How We Can Heal

by Kaethe Weingarten

Harvard psychologist Kaethe Weingarten defines a problem that previously had no name. Drawing on the latest scientific research and years of clinical and community experience, Weingarten describes "common shock" – the collection of biological and psychological responses that are triggered when we witness violence. Common shock is common because it happens all the time, to people in every community. Common shock is also treatable, and Weingarten explains how we can heal from it.

Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements

by Bill Moyer, JoAnn McAllister, Mary Lou Finley, and Steven Soifer

Doing Democracy provides both a theory and working model for understanding and analyzing social movements, ensuring that they are successful in the long term. Beginning with an overview of social movement theory and the MAP (Movement Action Plan) model, Doing Democracy outlines the eight stages of social movements and the four roles of activists, and offers case studies from various social justice movements.

Gandhi's Way: A Handbook of Conflict Resolution

by Mark Juergensmeyer

Gandhi's Way provides a primer of Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of moral action and conflict resolution. It offers a straightforward, step-by-step approach that can be used in any conflict – at home or in business and in local, national, or international arenas. Juergensmeyer sets out Gandhi’s basic methods and illustrates them with practical examples to show how parties at odds can rise above a narrow view of self-interest to find resolutions that are satisfying and beneficial to all involved. The author pits Gandhi’s ideas against those of other great social thinkers in a series of imaginary debates that challenge and clarify Gandhi’s thinking on issues of violence, anger, and love. He also provides a Gandhian critique of Gandhi himself, and offers viable solutions to some of the gaps in Gandhian theory.

Growl: Life, Lessons, Hard Truth, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate

by Kim Stallwood

Growl describes Kim Stallwood’s journey from being a meat-eating slaughterhouse worker to a vegan activist. Stallwood explains the importance of four key values in animal rights philosophy and practice – compassion, truth, nonviolence, and justice – and how a deeper understanding of these values leads us to discover our connection not only with animals, but also with ourselves.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

by Stephen R. Covey

The seven habits are a remarkable set of inspirational and aspirational standards for anyone who seeks to live a full and purposeful life and to achieve their goals as efficiently as possible. These habits can help busy activists make the most of their time and energy and maximize their impact, and to avoid burnout.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

by Dale Carnegie

In this timeless classic, Dale Carnegie explains the six ways to make people like us, the twelve ways to win people to our way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment. Carnegie offers practical and invaluable advice, and illustrates it with plenty of examples.

How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age

by Dale Carnegie

This book explains how we can communicate with diplomacy and tact, capitalize on a solid network, encourage people to like us, project our message widely and clearly, become a more effective leader, increase our ability to get things done, and optimize the power of digital tools.

Ideas for Action: Relevant Theory for Radical Change

by Cynthia Kaufman and Elizabeth Martinez

Ideas for Action gives activists the intellectual tools to turn discontent into a plan of action. Exploring a wide range of political traditions – including Marxism, anarchism, anti-imperialism, poststructuralism, feminism, critical race theory, and environmentalism – Cynthia Kaufman acknowledges the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of political movements and the ideologies inspired by or generated through them. Kaufman incorporates elements of her own activist experiences and offers a coherent analysis without pretending to offer "the final word" on complex issues, and she offers a glimpse of the excitement and rewards of serious intellectual engagement with political ideas.

In the Tiger's Mouth: An Empowerment Guide for Social Action

by Katrina Shields

In this book, Katrina Shields guides us through each step of social awareness and activism, from determining what changes need to take place and how we can effect them to understanding how to approach listeners with bad news that they may not want to hear. Shields also addresses ways to avoid burnout. This text includes exercises that encourage discovery and growth, for both individuals and groups.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

by Robert B. Cialdini

Influence explains why people say "yes." Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the field of influence and persuasion, and this book is the result of his 35 years of rigorous, evidence-based research and a three-year study of what moves people to change behavior. In Influence, Cialdini explains the six universal principles of persuasion and suggests ways to use these principles to become a skilled persuader.

Influencer: The Power to Change Anything

by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

This book combines the insights of behavioral scientists and business leaders with the stories of high-powered influencers from all walks of life. It explains each step of the influence process – including robust strategies for making changes in one's personal life, business, and the world. It also explains how to identify high-leverage behaviors that lead to rapid and profound change, apply strategies for changing both thoughts and actions, and marshal six sources of influence to make change inevitable.

The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way

by Hillary Rettig

The Lifelong Activist is a guide to living a joyful and productive life that includes a strong progressive mission. This book offers simple and clear instructions to help us figure out the form our authentic life should take – and to live that life with a maximum of joy and productivity and a minimum of fear, guilt, and shame.

Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian's Survival Handbook

by Carol J. Adams

In this book, Carol J. Adams offers real-life advice that vegetarians can use to defuse any situation in which their dietary choices may be under attack. Always insightful, this practical guide is full of self-tests, strategies, meditations on vegetarianism, and tips for dining out and entertaining at home when people who eat animals are on the invite list.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? In this book, accomplished educators and idea collectors Chip and Dan Heath tackle these vexing questions head-on. They reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the “human scale principle,” using the “Velcro Theory of Memory,” and creating “curiosity gaps.” A very readable book that offers very useable solutions.

Making the News: A Guide for Activists and Nonprofits

by Jason Salzman

This handbook, based on interviews with media-savvy activists and 25 professional journalists, explains how to generate news coverage about any cause or issue. Activists can learn how to stage media events; write press releases; compile media lists; contact reporters; deliver sound bites; book a guest on talk radio; lobby editorial writers, columnists, and photographers; and much more. Making the News also contains unique advice on how to create newsworthy visual imagery.

Messages: The Communication Skills Book

by Matthew McKay, Martha Davis, and Patrick Fanning

Messages is a book that can help everyone cultivate better relationships with friends, family members, coworkers, and partners. It explains how we can develop new skills to help us communicate our ideas more effectively and become significantly better listeners. Messages provides all the information necessary to communicate clearly, compassionately, and effectively about any topic in just about any situation.

Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life

by Zoe Weil

With a world steeped in materialism, environmental destruction, and injustice, what can one individual possibly do to change it? While the present obstacles we face may seem overwhelming, author and humane educator Zoe Weil shows us that change doesn't have to start with an army. It starts with us.

Move the Message: Your Guide to Making a Difference and Changing the World

by Josephine Bellaccomo

In Move the Message, communications consultant and activist Josephine Bellaccomo delivers a step-by-step process, complete with tips, tactics, strategies, examples, and exercises to ensure that our message is focused, powerful, and unstoppable. Whether the difference we seek is local or global, this guide is essential for activists and concerned individuals working to create lasting change.

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

Nudge is about choices – how we make them and how we can make better ones. Drawing on decades of research in the fields of behavioral science and economics, authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein offer a new perspective on preventing the countless mistakes we make – ill-advised personal investments, consumption of unhealthy foods, neglect of our natural resources – and show us how sensible “choice architecture” can successfully nudge people toward the best decisions. In the tradition of The Tipping Point and Freakonomics, Nudge is straightforward, informative, and entertaining– a must-read for anyone interested in our individual and collective wellbeing.

Organizing for Social Change: Midwest Academy Manual for Activists, 4th Edition

by Kimberley A. Bobo, Steve Max, and Jackie Kendall

The Midwest Academy Manual for Activists is a comprehensive manual for grassroots organizers working for social, racial, environmental, and economic justice at the local, state, and national levels. Included are anecdotes from a variety of successful organizations working on progressive issues. Whatever the cause, this manual can help guide organizers and ensure that they continue to reach their goals with efficiency and dignity.

Politics of Nonviolent Action, Part Two: The Methods of Nonviolent Action

by Gene Sharp

This volume offers a detailed examination of 198 specific methods of nonviolent action – illustrated with actual cases – within the broad classes of nonviolent protest and persuasion, noncooperation (social, economic, and political), and nonviolent intervention.

Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes

by Katya Andresen

Katya Andresen, a veteran marketer and nonprofit professional, demystifies winning marketing campaigns by reducing them to 10 essential rules. Andresen provides entertaining examples and simple steps for applying the rules ethically and effectively to good causes of all kinds.

Roots to Power: A Manual for Grassroots Organizing

by Lee Staples

This how-to manual presents strategies, tactics, methods, and techniques that community members can use to set their own goals, select issues, campaign for these issues, recruit members, develop leaders, hold effective meetings, conduct research, lobby politicians and legislators, and get the word out to the media.

Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals

by Saul D. Alinsky

Rules for Radicals is Saul Alinsky's classic treatise on how to effect constructive social change and know “the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one.”

Secondary Traumatic Stress: Self-Care Issues for Clinicians, Researchers, and Educators

by B. Hudnall Stamm (Ed.)

Caring for those who have been victims of violence puts the caregiver at risk for developing stress-related, traumatic symptoms. This book brings together some of the best thinkers in the trauma field who explain how to prevent and manage such "secondary traumatic stress."

Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Times

by Paul Rogat Loeb

Paul Loeb tells moving stories of ordinary Americans who have found unexpected fulfillment in social involvement, and he compels us to move from passivity to participation through their examples. The book teaches us that the reward for our socially supportive actions is nothing less than a sense of connection and purpose not found in a purely personal life. This book is an antidote to powerlessness and cynicism, and awakens within us the desire and the ability to make our voices heard and our actions count.

Stir It Up: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy

by Rinku Sen

Stir It Up identifies the key priorities and strategies that can help advance the mission of any social change group. This groundbreaking book addresses the unique challenges and opportunities the new global economy poses for activist groups, and provides concrete guidance for community organizations of all orientations.

Strategic Action for Animals: A Handbook on Strategic Movement Building, Organizing, and Activism for Animal Liberation

by Melanie Joy

Social psychologist Melanie Joy explains how to use strategy to exponentially increase the effectiveness of activism for animals. Drawing on diverse movements and sources, Joy offers tried-and-true methods based on well-established principles and practices. Joy also suggests ways to address some of the most common problems that weaken the animal liberation movement, problems that include infighting among organizations and activists, inefficient campaigns, wasted resources, and high rates of burnout.

Strategizing for a Living Revolution

by George Lakey

In this book, social change strategist George Lakey lays out a flexible five-step model for bringing about fundamental social and individual transformation. Lakey provides numerous historical examples, and he draws on his 20 years of experience in the trenches of nonviolent action, putting inspiration, reality, and courage behind his words.

Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism

by Mark Hawthorne

This book brings together the most effective tactics for speaking out for animals and gives voice to activists from around the globe. Each activist explains why his or her chosen model of activism has been successful, and how others can get involved.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

In this book, the Heath brothers bring together decades of often counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, one we can use to make the changes that matter to us.

The Trajectory of Change

by Michael Albert

The Trajectory of Change charts a course for the growing international movement against corporate globalization. Michael Albert, a longtime activist and analyst of popular struggles, challenges the movement to reach out to "ordinary people" by demonstrating how their lives are negatively affected by creeping corporatism.

Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others

by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky

Working to make the world a more hopeful and sustainable place often means having to confront pain, suffering, crisis, and trauma head-on, day in and day out. Over months and years this takes an enormous emotional, psychological, and physical toll, one that we’re often not even fully aware of until the day we feel like we just can’t go on anymore. This book offers those who care for others and the planet a way to stay engaged, hopeful, balanced, and healthy when dealing with hardship, suffering, and trauma.

Veganomics: The Surprising Science on What Motivates Vegetarians, from the Breakfast Table to the Bedroom

by Nick Cooney

Veganomics is a journey through the science on vegetarians and vegetarian eating, shedding new light on how and why people eat the way they do, and what impact their dietary choices can have on the world around us. Nick Cooney uses extensive studies from around the world to describe how those who don’t eat animals differ from those who do, not only in their eating habits but also in their psychology, personalities, friendship choices, and even their sex lives.

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism

by Melanie Joy

This book offers an insightful look at why and how we can wholeheartedly devote ourselves to certain animals yet allow others, especially those slaughtered for our consumption, to suffer needlessly. Social psychologist Melanie Joy explores the many ways we numb ourselves and disconnect from our natural empathy for farmed animals. She coins the term "carnism" to describe the belief system that has conditioned us to eat certain animals and not others.