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Best Books of 2019

November 12, 2019

Best Business, Civics and Leadership Reads of 2019

We're at a pivotal moment in history where we have a couple years left to save America's democracy and 10 years left to become carbon neutral.

Yet, the power dynamics of this moment are best described as an extinction burst by the concentrated powers of a few that have succeeded to this moment through exploitation and value extraction.

My 2019 best reads list builds on my 2018 best books list and 2017 best books with a continued focus on civics, economics, history, conscious leadership and circular solutions.

1) The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America

Timothy Snyder, professor of history, has written extensively on the rise of authoritarian and totalitarian movements in the 20th century. His latest book compares history with the 2016 US election and the conditions that led up to it. Gives context to the Mueller investigation as an investigation into global organized crime and why foreign influence is dangerous and illegal in elections. For documentation from the FBI, here's the latest 2018 update on anonymous companies used as money laundering vehicles and the threat they pose.

2) The Triump of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay

Emmanual Saez has been making the rounds in policy circles because of the jaw dropping statistic that the ultra-rich have seen their taxes drop to levels last seen in the robber baron days of the 1920's. This reality cuts to through the heart of the promise of the American dream that if you work hard, you will be rewarded with a decent home and job.

3) Activate the Circular Economy: Reconciling Economy and Nature

The solution to our climate crisis is to transition the global economy to a circular (regenerative / sustainable) economy. Searches for circular economy are up 30% giving me hope that more people are searching for pragmatic solutions to replacing extractive business models that have brought our economy to the brink multiple times in my lifetime with regenerative and sustainable ones with a longer term focus.

This is one of the first books published with a road map describing how to design out waste out of our current "take-make-waste" economic model to one that is designed for zero waste from the beginning rather than trying to re-purpose waste later in the cycle to the detriment of the environment.

4) Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st century economist.

Kate Raworth's Best Book of 2017 in economics walks through how our fundamental ideas around economics are centuries out of date and the best thinking available for regenerative and sustainable economy best visualized as a doughnut. You will hear similar themes as Marianna Mazzucato's Value of Everything which describes how modern economies reward value extraction rather than value creation and how to incentivize value creation into an economy that works for all.

5) Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

The 100 most substantive solutions to reverse global warming, based on meticulous research by leading scientists and policymakers around the world.

6) Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change

Stacey Abrams book has best been described as Lean In for people without power. Her insights on grit, staying true to yourself and personal stories of how to find your own way are inspirational and yet also pragmatic for emerging leaders.

7) Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up

Jerry Colonna wrote a book on leadership which focuses on radical self-inquiry. This book is crucial to shaping the type of leaders this next age requires: leaders aware of their own emotions and thus capacity for empathy, communication, and compassion at work.

8) These Truths by Jill Lepore (2018)

A single volume history book of the United States was an ambitious task, and Jill Lepore manages to describe the founding contradiction of America well. The central question she asks, is if America has lived up to "these truths" as described by Thomas Jefferson - political equality, natural rights and the sovereignty of people? She takes the history all the way up to the 2016 election.

9) Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right by Anne Nelson (2019)

Building on books by Jane Myer and Nancy McLean, Anne describes the group of fifty Republican operatives who met in 1981 to coordinate their attack on civil liberties and social safety net. Over the last four decades this group has become a central hub for channeling money and mobilizing votes. She describes how the collapse of local journalism laid the groundwork for the CNP's information war which has outmaneuvered the Democratic Party in a digital arms race still to be decided.

Katie M. Wilson
Katie Wilson is a communications strategist/producer and the founder of Prosperity CoLab.

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