Mid-summer reading list for impact makers

Published by Net Impact Amsterdam on

No better moment to enjoy a book than while relaxing in nature, at the beach or travelling (by train, of course). Our volunteer Camilla de Nardis has put together her favorite book titles to keep you sharp and inspired towards making a positive impact in the world.

Net Positive by Paul Polman and Andrew Winston (2021)

Probably the best sustainable business book of recent years! In Net Positive, former Unilever CEO, Paul Polman, and sustainable business guru, Andrew Winston, make a convincing case for companies to go beyond reducing their negative impacts. To thrive today and tomorrow, they argue, companies must profit by fixing the world’s problems, instead of by creating them. In a nutshell, this means being “net positive”— i.e., giving more to the world than taking from it. Check out our full review of the book here.

The Future We Choose: Surviving the climate crisis by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac (2020)

A hopeful yet realistic book on the climate crisis, with pragmatic take on what we can do about it. (So much so, that I have gifted it to several family members and friends!) As a manifesto from Global Optimism co-Founders, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, The Future We Choose is a practical, (stubbornly) optimistic and empowering book for every generation. This book shows how we can move beyond the climate crisis into a thriving future if we all play our part in the most important decade that we have ever faced.

Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming by Paul Hawken (2017)

Drawdown is an incredibly useful book that functions as a go-to guide for sustainability impact makers. It lists the 100 most impactful climate solutions (that we already have!) to reverse the buildup of atmospheric carbon by mid-century. The solutions range from clean energy, to educating girls in lower-income countries and better land use. Drawdown’s content has influenced university curricula, city climate plans, commitments by businesses, community action, philanthropic strategies and more. I also recommend checking out Paul Hawken’s latest book ‘Regeneration’ (2022).

Doughnut Economics: Seven ways to think like a 21st century economist by Kate Raworth (2017)

The doughnut metaphor has already become a classic among sustainability change makers. Did you know that the City of Amsterdam has officially embraced this model as part of their strategy to become 100% circular by 2050? In Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth identifies how mainstream economics has led us astray and offers an alternative roadmap of how humanity can thrive in the 21st century. It explores the ways to bring humanity into the doughnut (i.e., a safe operating space that adds a social foundation to the pre-existing concept of the planetary boundaries).

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben (2016)

Whether you think trees are boring or you consider yourself a “tree hugger”, you must read Peter Wohlleben’s book. A forester and author, he convincingly makes the case that trees are social beings and that the forest is a social network. The book is based on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. You’ll never look at trees in the same way again!

The Culture Map: Breaking through the invisible boundaries of global business by Erin Meyer (2014)

Impact careers often require a great deal of interpersonal skills, as you’ll need to be able to persuade and bring together people across all walks of the value chain. For this, you need to be well-equipped to navigate cross-cultural working environments. In this engaging and easy-to-read book, Erin Meyer combines a smart analytical framework with practical, actionable advice to help you decode cultural differences and improve your effectiveness when communicating and collaborating in cross-cultural professional settings. A must-read!

What is your favorite impact-inspiring book? Send us your suggestions to help us build our winter’s reading list!

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