Reading for a Broader Understanding and Appreciation of the World
Earth Manifesto publication by Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
August 1, 2009
The following books have provided me with insight,
provocative perspective and reading pleasure over the years. I encourage readers to check them out, because
these books can help give broader understandings and a greater appreciation of
the world we live in.
I. General Philosophy and History and
(1) The Lessons of History, by Will and
Ariel Durant --- This book provides an excellent perspective on human history
and the evolution of civilization and societies.
(2) The Aristos, by John Fowles --- The
ideas in this book have provided a seminal contribution to the Earth
Manifesto. John Fowles’
philosophical explorations of existence are fascinating and thought-provoking.
(3) A Short History
of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson --- Great insights into intricacies of
the natural world and our interrelationships with it.
(4) The Alphabet
Versus The Goddess – The Conflict Between Word and Image, by the late
Leonard Shlain --- One of the most provocative hypotheses ever advanced,
concerning the dethroning of Earth goddesses in favor of patriarchal male gods
and the accompanying misogynistic assault on women’s status in early and more
recent cultures. Could literacy and associated
left-brained thinking have contributed to such a state of affairs?
(5) The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration
of Sustainability, by Paul Hawken --- This book should be mandatory reading
for all decision-makers, because it gives a sensible businessman’s views of
mankind's activities and impacts on Planet Earth.
(6) What Really
Matters - Searching for Wisdom in America, by Tony Schwartz --- This is a
valuable study of the important personal search for meaning in life.
(7) Philosophy for
Dummies, by Tom Morris --- This book represents a surprisingly thorough
investigation into the whole realm of thinking in philosophy and spirituality.
(8) Basin and
Range, by John McPhee --- The plain-spoken author gives readers an easily
comprehensible summary of astonishing geological insights and evolutionary
(9) The Botany of
Desire, by Michael Pollan --- Trying to see the world through the eyes of
plants, rather than our usual anthropocentric ‘Masters of the Universe’
perspective provides not only entertainment, but enlightenment. The book looks at the world from the
perspective of apples that have succeeded by appealing to the human desire for
sweetness, and tulips from the perspective of the human desire for beauty, and
potatoes that satisfy desires for nutrition --- and marijuana … you just have
to read it!
Politics and Economics
(10a) Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or
Succeed, by Jared Diamond --- Brilliant and important perspective on the
nature of civilizations!
(10b) The Assault on Reason, by Al Gore --- A
compelling analysis of reason, faith and fear, and the dilemmas of modern
(11) Don’t Think of an Elephant, by George
Lakoff --- Valuable insights into frames of reference, political spin and
strategic initiatives that could help create better societies.
(12) The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster
Capitalism, by Naomi Klein --- Powerful perspective concerning the
mega-trends of our economic and political institutions.
(13) Guns, Germs and Steel, The Fates of Human
Societies, by Jared Diamond --- A radically fresh perspective into human
civilizations and the nature of change.
(14) The Squandering of America: How the Failure of Our Politics
Undermines Our Prosperity, by Robert Kuttner --- This book provides a
concise and insightful summary of the bottom-line problems facing our economy
and society today.
(15) Supercapitalism: The Transformation of
Business, Democracy and Everyday Life, by Robert Reich --- Insight into our
conflicting desires as consumers, investors and good citizens, and ideas on how
we should be improving our societies.
(16) The Age of Turbulence, by Alan
Greenspan. Read about the fascinating
life and perspectives of the former long-time Federal Reserve Chairman, before
he was shocked with disbelief at how his deregulatory enthusiasms have
contributed to the international economic crisis that has unfolded after the
completion of this book.
(17) Addicted to War: Why the U.S. Can’t Kick
Militarism --- This is an illustrated expose by Joel Andreas that explains
U.S. war motivations and associated problems throughout history.
What’s the Matter with Kansas?, by Thomas Frank --- Valuable perspective
on how religious leaders have helped the Republican Party hijack people’s
emotions to get them to support a political platform that is distinctly
contrary to their own best interests and the common good.
(19) The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of
Profit and Power, by Joel Bakan --- A clear exposition detailing the
history and evolution of the corporate form of business and the problems
associated with the ascendance of corporations as the dominant institutions on
(20) Confessions of
an Economic Hit Man and The Secret History of American Empire, by
John Perkins --- Compelling insights into the world of high finance and the
‘corporatocracy’ that controls businesses, governments and the media.
(21) Rogue Nation:
American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions, by Clyde
Prestowitz --- A fascinating book by a conservative diplomat who provides valuable
insights into the national security, ideological arguments and the foreign
policy directions that our country has taken in the last several decades.
(22) The Nemesis
trilogy, including Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American
Empire, by Chalmers Johnson
--- These books provide valuable perspective that helps give Americans the
means to transcend our myopic and self-centered ways of seeing the U.S. role in
the world, and to give us a better basis for evaluating our foreign policies.
(23) Crossing the
Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil,
by Michael C. Ruppert --- A profoundly provocative book that uses the
perspective of a good cop to evaluate the evidence and the unknowns in the
actions of our imperial capitalist society and provides valuable food for
thought for our journey forward.
Contains disturbing details about the role of the government in the 9/11
(24) American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics
of Radical Religion, Oil and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century,
by Kevin Phillips --- This book contains important insights that we need to
understand for our own good and to help us move forward intelligently in the
(25) What Happened: Inside the
Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception by
Scott McClellan --- Revelations and perspective from inside the White House
(26) Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a
Financial Legend, by Mitchell Zuckoff --- Read
all about the Italian immigrant Charles Ponzi and his ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’
scheme that became a national sensation of feverish speculation in Boston in
(27) State of the World 2007: Our Urban Future,
and Vital Signs 2005: The Trends That Are Shaping Our Future, by the
Worldwatch Institute --- These Big Picture publications focus on the state of
human impacts on the planet, including key indicators, sustainable development
and social responsibility.
III. Wonderful Literature
(28) The Log from the
Sea of Cortez, by John Steinbeck --- A fascinating account of the 1940
biological expedition of ‘Doc’ Ed Ricketts and author John Steinbeck on a
seventy-six-foot-long chartered fishing boat, the Western Flyer. The book
reads like a manifesto, a treatise, and a parable, and it inspired my Tall Tales, Provocative Parables, Luminous
Clarity and Evocative Truths --- A Modern Log from the Sea of Cortez in the
aftermath of a voyage I made with 7 other gals north from La Paz in February
(29) Martin Eden,
by Jack London --- This is a great novel, and an enjoyable read, with a protagonist
whose aspiration, struggle, and transformation are inspiring and humbling.
(30) The Further
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Greg Matthews --- A very funny and
entertaining work of fiction that imitates and may even transcend Mark Twain’s
(31) East of Eden, by John Steinbeck --- A
powerful novel with Abel-and-Cain-like characters who act out a story of
struggle and elemental conflict California’s fertile Salinas Valley.
(32) Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis --- A
bold novel by a brilliant thinker with one of the most classic male characters
in the history of literature, Zorba, who is a bold rascal with a great heart.
(33) Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, by
Jorge Amado --- This novel is set during Brazil’s Wild-West-like cacao era, and
it introduces us to Gabriela, one of the loveliest of female characters in all
(34) Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
--- A great book To read aloud to children, and wonderful for adults too, with
its delightful animal characters, including the Mole, the Water Rat, the
Badger, and the obsessive folly of Toad.
(35) A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson ---
This book that will make you laugh out loud with its humorous stories, yet it
cleverly includes valuable deeper understandings.
(36) Sailor on Horseback, by Irving Stone ---
A fascinating story of the life of one of the most incisive and adventurous of
America’s great authors, Jack London.
Goddesses in Everywoman, and Gods in Everyman, two books by Jean
Shinoda Bolen, M.D. --- Enlightening insights into our collective unconscious
through a study of the very human characteristics and universal archetypes
embodied in Greek gods and goddesses.
(38) The Art of
Happiness, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D. ---
This book shares a refreshing worldview that focuses on observations of the
human condition that are truly spiritual and practical.
(39) The River of Doubt, by Candice Millard
--- The story of one of the most remarkable expeditions in the history of the
exploration of our home planet. The
‘Bull Moose’ Theodore Roosevelt and a party of 21 men set off on a 4-month
journey to chart the course of an unknown river, the Rio da Duvida (The ‘River
of Doubt’). They suffered incredible
adversities and problems in the undertaking.
The author weaves great storytelling with history, philosophy, geology
and insightful understandings.
(40) The Song of
the Dodo, by David Quammen --- This book is a seminal work in understanding
the natural world and the extinction of the flightless Dodo.
(41) The Power of Now
- A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, by Eckhart Tolle --- This is somewhat
of a “New Age” way of looking at the world, but it is a seamless introspection
into awareness and clarity in thinking.
(42) The Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean M.
Auel --- The first in a series of richly imagined narrative about Ayla, a girl
who lived 30,000 years ago in Ice Age Europe.
Ayla’s story is that of a heroine who dealt with great challenges in an
epic saga of people and relationships during prehistoric times.
Other Books that have Influenced the Earth
The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn
of Evolution, by Richard Dawkins.
The Story of Philosophy, by Will and
Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not, by Robert
Blessed Unrest, by Paul Hawken.
New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It
Means, by George Soros.
Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror,
by Richard Clarke.
Where Have All the Leaders Gone, by
Takeover: The Return of the
Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American
Democracy, by Charlie Savage.
The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and
by Robert Scheer.
of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart, by
The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on
Terror Turned Into a War on
American Ideals, by Jane Mayer.
Small is Beautiful, by E.F.
The River That Flows
Uphill: A Journey from the Big Bang to
the Big Brain,
by William H. Calvin
The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki
The Devil’s Dictionary, by
Travels, by Jonathan Swift.
Money as Debt.
Three Days of the Condor
Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism
The U.S. vs. John
Fog of War
WMD: Weapons of Mass
A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash
Good Night and Good Luck
Press for Truth
I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal
As Seen Through These Eyes (Maya
Angelou narrates this harrowing and enlightening
view of the holocaust as seen through the
eyes of artists and musicians)
Operating Procedure (compelling
… about Abu Ghraib prison photos)
Religulous (Bill Maher’s very funny
and thought-provoking film)
Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial (and it loses!)
Validation (Positivity rules!)
Jesus Camp (boo, child
Deliver Us from Evil (boo, child abusers!)
Why We Fight (wow, war -- what a
bizarre world we live in!)
Ten Canoes (elemental storytelling of
an ancestral Aboriginal fable)
500 Days of Summer (delightful creativity and
highly entertaining perspective)
American Teen (we’ve all been there with
those high school cliques)
Juno (off-the-wall girl, pregnant, and
an open-minded approach to adoption)
Mark Twain (illuminating documentary by