Books to help you change the world in 2020

If you read my last blog post, you’ll know I thought 2019 was a bit shit.

But 2020 is going to be more positive, I can feel it in my waters. Last year was all about fear, warnings, panic and doom, but it will come as no surprise that human beings respond poorly to this sort of attitude – in fact, we tend to stop trying to make a difference when threatened with too much negativity. It makes more sense to start thinking about the world’s current problems in more positive, practical ways. It may all be a bit shit, but there’s no use moping around about it.

So I’ve made a list of books that could help to make a more positive start to the year. While I don’t think these books will solve any of these issues (we mostly need governments and global companies to help with that), they do contain the kind of information that society needs to instigate real beneficial change.

As always, if you have any other recommendations for world-changing books, please let me know in the comments.

The plastic problem

How to Give Up Plastic | Will McCallum

Plastic is bad. We all know that. While it’s now a bit of a cliché to say this, we genuinely need lots of people trying imperfectly to change their habits rather than a handful of people doing it perfectly. This book is a great place to start – with practical, simple tips that will ultimately make a huge difference to the environment. How to Give Up Plastic is not the best for those who are already on their ‘plastic-free journey’, but it’s great if you’re looking at the whole situation feeling panicked and confused. Or even for those feeling sceptical about the whole thing.

The fake news problem

The Perils of Perception: Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything | Bobby Duffy

I never thought I would read a book about statistics and fake news as fast as I read this one. I also didn’t think it would make me laugh out loud, nor make me feel more connected with humanity, but it did. I needed this after the whole Brexit debacle. It outlines why people tend to think the way they do, why most of us believe lies, how these lies come about and what we can do to change our misperceptions. It shows a bit about how shit humans can be as well, but that stuff was unsurprising.

The morality problem

Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter | Peter Singer

I got into reading about ethics and philosophy at the tail end of last year after I started listening to the podcast Philosophize This. The first episode starts at pre-Socratic times and goes through the major philosophers throughout history. I wanted to read something from a modern philosopher, and Peter Singer is apparently as famous in the field as he is controversial. This book discusses life, death, animals, sex, gender, politics – pretty much all the major things are ticked off. A great conversation-starter that holds nothing back.

The self-love problem

Taking Charge of Your Fertility | Toni Weschler


This Book Could Help: The Men’s Head Space Manual – Techniques and Exercises for Living | Rotimi Akinsete

I bought Taking Charge of Your Fertility and was genuinely blown away by how little I knew about my own body. Schools really don’t teach you a great deal about it. Since reading it I not only understand so much more about my monthly cycle but have grown to love and respect everything my ovaries do. They’re phenomenal, complex, clever and fascinating. I couldn’t recommend this book more, even if you think you know absolutely everything there is to know about lady bits.

If you’re a man you might find it a fascinating read too, or you might prefer This Book Could Help. There are no books on men’s fertility that I could find, but I did find this one on mental health that a lot of reviewers have said was not only useful, but life-changing. I haven’t read it myself so I can’t completely vouch for it, but it does seem to approach the matter in a practical, no-nonsense way.

The racism problem

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race | Reni Eddo-Lodge

This book is on my to-read list this year. I’ve heard so many good things about it, with reviewers often commenting on its power and poignancy. Reni Eddo-Lodge’s blog post (with the same title) hit a nerve with a lot of people, which shows just how necessary works like this are. Race issues need to be tackled head-on in an unflinching way if any sort of impact is to be made in a world so desperate to whitewash over it. This is a very important book, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it challenges my perceptions.

Emily created Dystopic in July 2012 after requiring an outlet for her love of dystopian and apocalyptic fiction. Her debut novel 'These Unnatural Men' was self-published in 2018.

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