The American Economy. Herbert Stein and Murray Foss. Washington, D.C. American Enterprise Institute Press, 1995. An easy-to-read (with great graphics) look at 100 key aspects of the American economy by two leading conservative economists.
Beyond The Limits. Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows and Jorgen Randers. Post Mills, Vermont. Chelsea Green Publishing, 1992. Through computer models, this book explains that our present high-consumption lifestyle will lead to a global collapse within the lifetime of our grandchildren. The good news is that we can create a permanently sustainable global economy that could offer everyone on Earth a lifestyle as comfortable as the average in Europe in 1990.
Biosphere Politics. Jeremy Rifkin. New York. Crown Publishers, 1991. One of America's most holistic and creative thinkers examines the environmental threats inherent in over-consumption and suggests strategies for a transition to sustainability.
Circle of Simplicity. Cecile Andrews. New York. HarperCollins, 1997. A leader of the voluntary simplicity movement shows how study circles can help citizens simplify their lives and find community. A thorough critique of consumer society.
The Consumer Society. Edited by Neva Goodwin, Frank Ackerman and David Kiron. Washington, D.C. Island Press, 1997. This is a fine collection of scholarly essays on all aspects of consumerism. Probably the best, most comprehensive introduction to the issue available. Includes a mix of current and historical material.
Down-Shifting. Amy Saltzman. New York. HarperCollins, 1990. Fascinating stories of many Americans who have opted for a slower, simpler life.
Giving Kids The Business. Alex Molnar. Boulder, Colorado. Westview Press, 1996. Molnar, a University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee educator, takes a close look at how corporate marketers are invading American schools and targeting children.
The Golden Ghetto. Jessie H. O'Neill. Center City, Minnesota. Hazelden, 1997. A fascinating look at the psychology of affluence and affluenza's negative impacts on the lives of wealthy Americans. Written by the granddaughter of the former General Motors CEO. An excellent analysis of our addiction to wealth.
The Harried Leisure Class. Staffan Linder. New York. Columbia University Press, 1970. A book that is becoming a classic. Linder shows how increasing affluence produces time scarcity and a stressful life.
How Much Is Enough. Alan Durning. New York. Norton, 1992. A meticulously researched look at how much we consume and why it isn't making us happier. Already something of a classic. We also recommend Durning's other books, This Place on Earth and Stuff: The Everyday Life of Material Things. Durning shows just what resources it takes to make our lifestyle possible.
Kids As Customers. James McNeal. New York. Lexington Books, 1992. An unabashedly favorable guide to marketing to children, with a special focus on "children as global consumers." This book is an excellent presentation of the marketers' side of the story.
Margin. Richard Swenson. Colorado Springs, Colorado. Navpress, 1992. A family doctor and devout Christian discovers that much of his patients' pain is a direct result of the pressures of modern society and what he calls "possession overload." Swenson not only diagnoses the disease, he shows how to treat it. This book deserves much more visibility than it has so far received.
Marketing Madness. Michael Jacobson and Laurie Mazur. Boulder, Colorado. Westview Press, 1995. Shows how advertising and other marketing strategies are invading every aspect of American life. Plenty of excellent illustrations.
Material World. Peter Menzel. San Francisco. Sierra Club Books, 1994. Menzel photographs the possessions of average families in countries throughout the world, showing in stunningly powerful pictures the abyss between the rich and poor in today's world.
The Overworked American. Juliet Schor. New York. Basic Books, 1993. In this excellent best-seller, Harvard economist Schor demonstrates that Americans are working longer hours today than they did a generation ago, as they've become caught in a "work and spend cycle."
The Politics of Rich and Poor. Kevin Philips. New York. Random House, 1990. Former Nixon adviser Philips examines the reasons that the United States has dropped to dead last among industrial nations in the fairness of its income distribution.
The Poverty of Affluence. Paul Wachtel. Philadelphia. New Society Publishers, 1989. Wachtel, chairman of the Clinical Psychology Graduate Program at the City College of New York, examines the price we pay for our obsession with economic growth and demonstrates why consuming more doesn't make us happier. A thorough look at the psychological dimensions of affluenza.
A Reasonable Life. Ferenc Mate. New York. Norton, 1993. A bitingly humorous look at modern consumer society with suggestions for a simpler, saner life.
Satisfaction Guaranteed. Susan Strasser. New York. Pantheon Books, 1989. A historian tracks the development of the consumer lifestyle. Well researched and eminently readable.
The Search for Meaning. Thomas Naylor, William Willimon and Magdalena Naylor. Nashville. Abingdon Press, 1994. Shows why the American consumer lifestyle leaves us without a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives and how we can find meaning.
The Simple Life. David Shi. New York. Oxford University Press, 1985. A history of simple living movements in the United States by the President of Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. First-rate scholarship and writing. Fascinating from start to finish.
The Simple Living Guide. Janet Luhrs. New York. Broadway Books, 1997. An excellent sourcebook for less stressful, more joyful living. Has sections on how to find more fulfillment in money, work, family and celebrations, as well as how to find cheaper housing and cut the clutter out of life.
Simple Living. Frank Levering and Wanda Urbanska. New York. Penguin, 1992. Reads like a good novel. The story of one couple's search for a simpler, less acquisitive way of life as they abandon the fast lane in Los Angeles to take over a failing family orchard in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Honest writing about the pitfalls and pleasures of voluntary simplicity. Hard to put down.
Steady State Economics. Herman Daly. Washington, D.C. Island Press, 1991. The former World Bank economist shows how it is possible to maintain a healthy
economy without constant economic growth. A classic-to-be.
The Tightwad Gazette. Amy Daczcyn. New York. Villard, 1996. Three volumes of helpful tips for anyone interested in living more frugally.
Trends 2000. Gerald Celente. New York. Warner, 1997. A careful look at emerging trends by one of the best trend-trackers in the business. Celente, director of the Trends Research Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, sees voluntary simplicity as one of the top 10 trends of the 1990s, and one which is growing in popularity all over the world.
Voluntary Simplicty. Duane Elgin. New York. Morrow, 1981. The classic on the subject. Elgin examines 1970s efforts toward simpler lifestyles and shows what it takes to succeed. Still highly relevant today.
When Corporations Rule the World. David Korten. West Hartford, Connecticut. Kumarian Press, 1995. A development expert and former Harvard Business School professor comes to realize that expansion of the American consumer lifestyle throughout the world threatens the environment and local cultures, and widens the gap between rich and poor. Shows how affluenza is becoming a global disease.
Whole Life Economics. Barbara Brandt. Philadelphia. New Society Publishers, 1995. An alternative paradigm to the consumer society. Good ideas for making the economy more friendly to people and the environment.
Work Without End. Benjamin Hunnicutt. Philadelphia. Temple University Press, 1988. A scholarly look at how the gospel of consumption replaced demands for shorter working hours as the American economy grew.
Your Money Or Your Life. Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. New York. Penguin Books, 1992. Shows readers how to take control of their lives by learning frugality, and how to help make the Earth a better place at the same time. Another classic-to-be, this book is becoming a best-seller worldwide and has been translated into several languages.