Recommended: Net Impact’s 2020 summer reading list

Published by Net Impact Amsterdam on

The Net Impact Amsterdam community has shared some of our favourite books to help inspire and deepen your impact knowledge this vacation season! From personal memoirs, to sustainability leadership, and hard truths, we invite you to pick-up one of these favourites!


The Blue Economy by Gunter Pauli
Did you know that we could create energy for free by using gravity? Or clean our drinking water without any chemicals or energy, but purely through the natural phenomenon of the vortex? Maybe that termite nests use the laws of physics to regulate air flows, temperature and humidity without any external power source, showing us that we don’t need energy-intensive air conditioning, but simply better architecture? “If you are worried about the future, this book showcases many tested business models paving the way towards a truly sustainable future in which all basic needs are met and our economic model evolves form sufficiency to abundance – a must read for any person passionate about sustainability!”
Recommended by Thibaud Bastien, Net Impact Amsterdam Member

Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire by Rebecca Henderson
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 the world, gives us a path forward. She debunks the worldview that the only purpose of business is to make money and maximize shareholder value. She shows that we have failed to reimagine capitalism so that it is not only an engine of prosperity but also a system that is in harmony with environmental realities, striving for social justice and the demands of truly democratic institutions. Henderson’s deep understanding of how change takes place, combined with fascinating in-depth stories of companies that have made the first steps towards reimagining capitalism, provides inspiring insight into what capitalism can be. 
Recommended by Cathy Sorbara, Vice President of Net Impact Amsterdam

On Time and Water by Andri Snær Magnason
Icelandic author and activist Andri Snær Magnason’s ‘Letter to the Future’, is an extraordinary and moving eulogy for the lost Okjökull glacier, made global news and was shared by millions. Now he attempts to come to terms with the issues we all face in his new book On Time and Water. Magnason writes of the melting glaciers, the rising seas and acidity changes that haven’t been seen for 50 million years. Taking a path to climate science through ancient myths about sacred cows, stories of ancestors and relatives and interviews with the Dalai Lama, Magnason allows himself to be both personal and scientific. The result is an absorbing mixture of travel, history, science and philosophy.
Recommended by Audrey van Herwaarden, Net Impact Amsterdam Member and Volunteer

Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas
Former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas takes us into the inner sanctums of a new gilded age, where the rich and powerful fight for equality and justice any way they can – except ways that threaten the social order and their position atop it. We see how they rebrand themselves as saviors of the poor; how they lavishly reward “thought leaders” who redefine “change” in winner-friendly ways; and how they constantly seek to do more good, but never less harm. We hear the limousine confessions of a celebrated foundation boss; witness an American president hem and haw about his plutocratic benefactors; and attend a cruise-ship conference where entrepreneurs celebrate their own self-interested magnanimity. Giridharadas asks hard questions: Why, for example, should our gravest problems be solved by the unelected upper crust instead of the public institutions it erodes by lobbying and dodging taxes?
Recommended by Andrea Palmer, President and Co-Founder of Net Impact Amsterdam

Malcom X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
Years in the making, this is the definitive biography of the legendary black activist. Of the great figures in 20th-century American history, perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins’ bullets at age 39. Through his tireless work and countless speeches, he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death, he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.
Recommended by Marieke Houwers, Co-Founder, Net Impact Amsterdam

Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear
No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving – every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results. If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.
Recommended by Cathy Sorbara, Vice President of Net Impact Amsterdam

Impact: Reshaping Capitalism to Drive Real Change by Sir Ronald Cohen
Throughout the world, capitalism and democracy are being challenged with great force. The world must change, but we cannot change it by throwing money at old ideas that no longer work. We need a new path to a new world where inequality is shrinking, where natural resources are regenerated, and people can benefit from shared prosperity. Pre-eminent international investor, entrepreneur, philanthropist and social finance innovator, Sir Ronald Cohen, has dedicated two decades to leading the Impact Revolution to achieve real social and environmental change. As one of the founders of venture capital, he builds on his years of personal experience to deliver a compelling account of how impact investing is reshaping capitalism.
Recommended by Andrea Palmer, President and Co-Founder of Net Impact Amsterdam

The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing-up Gay in a Straight Man’s World by Alan Downs, PhD
In The Velvet Rage, psychologist Alan Downs draws on his own struggle with shame and anger, contemporary research, and stories from his patients to passionately describe the stages of a gay man’s journey out of shame and offers practical and inspired strategies to stop the cycle of avoidance and self-defeating behavior. The Velvet Rage is an empowering book that has already changed the public discourse on gay culture and helped shape the identity of an entire generation of gay men.
Recommended by Igal Avrahami, Founding Member Council Member

Building the Future of Innovation on millions of years of Natural Intelligence
In this book, Leen Gorissen, PhD in Biology, covers breakthrough insights from the life sciences and how these change the way we look at change and innovation. She shares some of the most advanced thinking and novelties in bio-inspired innovation – covering disciplines like biomimicry, biophilia, permaculture, living systems thinking, nature-based solutions and regenerative design – and clusters these nature-inspired disciplines under the umbrella of NI. Because nature is the largest R&D project in history. Millions of years of field tests have led to designs that outclass any man-made design in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, adaptability, resiliency and endurance. By tapping into the potential of NI, the business world can become an important engine of planetary regeneration and a beacon of creativity and meaningful work spreading hope and ingenuity, not despair and burn-out.
Recommended by Wendy Garces, Community Engagement Manager at Net Impact Amsterdam

Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo
Dead Aid unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth. In fact, poverty levels continue to escalate and growth rates have steadily declined – and millions continue to suffer. Debunking the current model of international aid promoted by both Hollywood celebrities and policy makers, Dambisa Moyo offers a bold new road map for financing the development of the world’s poorest countries.  Much debated in the US and the UK on publication, Dead Aid is an unsettling yet optimistic work, a powerful challenge to the assumptions and arguments that support a profoundly misguided development policy in Africa. And it is a clarion call to a new, more hopeful vision of how to address the desperate poverty that plagues millions.
Recommended by Andrea Palmer, President and Co-Founder of Net Impact Amsterdam

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