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Bookmarked: Spiritual Rogues, Plant History, Shareholder Values, Afghanistan, and a Global Forecast

Every day, new books arrive in the offices of Utne Reader. It would be impossible to review all of them, but a shame to leave many hidden on the shelves. In "Bookmarked," we link to excerpts from some of our favorites, hoping they'll inspire a trip to your local library or bookstore. Bonne connaissance! 


Spiritual-Renegade-CoverTransform problems into opportunities; set yourself free from fear and anxiety; unburden yourself of past resentment; create an action plan for true happiness. In A Spiritual Renegade’s Guide to the Good Life (Atria Books/Beyond Words Publishing, 2012), Lama Marut voices the next generation of spiritualism by addressing today’s need for fearless honesty, practicality and simplicity, and offering meditations and action plans designed to incite true, unpackaged happiness. Read Chapter 1, “Burning With Desire: Consumerism and Its Alternative—Radical Contentment.” 





 The Seed UndergroundSeed varieties have declined significantly since the beginning of time, and even more so with plant domestication. World blight may come upon us if we continue to depend on limited varieties of corn, soy and wheat. This excerpt from The Seed Underground (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012) by Janisse Ray covers a brief history of seeds and how we must diversify our crops with heirloom and vintage seed varieties in order to increase agrodiversity and protect the health of Mother Earth. Read Chapter 1, “More Gardens, Less Gas.”




Shareholder-Value-Myth-CoverExecutives, investors and the business press routinely chant the mantra that corporations are required to “maximize shareholder value.” In The Shareholder Value Myth (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2012), renowned corporate expert Lynn Stout debunks the myth that corporate law mandates shareholder primacy. Stout shows how shareholder value thinking endangers not only investors but the rest of us as well. Read the book’s introduction, “The Dumbest Idea in the World.”  




Little-America-CoverWhen President Barack Obama ordered the surge of troops and aid to Afghanistan, Washington Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran followed. He found the effort sabotaged not only by Afghan and Pakistani malfeasance but by infighting and incompetence within the American government: a war cabinet arrested by vicious bickering among top national security aides; diplomats and aid workers who failed to deliver on their grand promises; generals who dispatched troops to the wrong places; and headstrong military leaders who sought a far more expansive campaign than the White House wanted. In Little America (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012), Chandrasekaran discusses the war in Afghanistan and explains how the United States has never understood Afghanistan—and probably never will. Read the prologue. 



2052-CoverWe know what we want the world to be like in 40 years. We know what the world could be like in 40 years if we all did what needs to be done to create a more sustainable future. But what do we know about what the world will actually be like in 40 years? This is the question Jorgen Randers tries to answer in 2052 (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012). Randers' glimpse of the future asks: How many people will the planet need to support? Will there be enough food and energy? Will the young revolt under the debt and pension burden of the old? Which nations will prosper and which will suffer? And several more pressing questions. Read Chapter 1, “Worrying About the Future.”