Reading Resolutions for Resistance in 2018

by Sybil Bullock

January 11, 2018

For many of us, January is a time of setting new goals and intentions. In 2018, I invite you to join me in setting resolutions about resistance. Here is one idea for getting started: Read!

Earlier this week, I emailed my colleagues at Greenpeace with the following question:

“If you could recommend one book (or film) for our supporters to explore in 2018 to inspire them to keep resisting, what would it be and why?” Within minutes, the email thread exploded.

Scroll down for some of our staff favorites to dig into — organizing manuals, graphic novels, revisionist histories and herstories, dystopian fiction, memoirs, and even a cookbook! We may have gotten a little carried away and even included some music, websites, and a podcast too. No regrets!

You heard it here first, folks: Readers make revolutions. 2017 was one hell of a year, but the stakes are too high for activist fatigue now. During this new year, may you find inspiration to keep resisting!

PRO TIP: Consult websites like this when you are ready to place your book order!  Amazon may be convenient, but they don’t have the greatest track record when it comes to their workers or the environment.


Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown
This book is the winner for receiving the most staff recommendations! Thank you Anna Wagner, Peter Molof, Gretchen Honnold, and David McElhatton for spotlighting this great find. Readers, if you’re going to choose just one book on this list, let it be this one. (But you should really explore more than one!)

MARCH by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
“I’ll go way less obvious because they aren’t environmentalist specific, but the graphic novel trilogy MARCH is a real reminder that activism is never easy, and there is always going to be more work to be done.” – Thomas Avila

Feed the Resistance: Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved by Julia Turshen
“May sound weird because this is mostly a cookbook, but interspersed in the book are really great essays about getting involved with activism. Greenpeace also gets a shoutout at the end as a group, readers should check out!” – Gabrielle Leyden

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
“Because how could it not make this list. And because it’s an eerily prescient description of the compounding impacts of climate change and how they intersect with racial justice, migration, poverty, and everything else already facing our society.”
– Ryan Schleeter

Organizing for Social Change: Midwest Academy Manual for Activists by Kimberley A. Bobo et al.
“This one offers good basics of organizing.” – Sarah Rasmussen

Earth Prayers: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations from Around the World by Elizabeth Roberts
“File this under self-care.” – Elizabeth Jardim

Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power by Seth Rosenfeld
“Composed almost entirely of primary documents, it sheds light on COINTELPRO, the free speech movement and the FBI’s targeting of progressive groups during the 60’s and 70’s. It is also an interesting character study of J. Edgar Hoover, Clark Kerr, Mario Savio and of course Ronald Reagan.” – Rico Sisney

Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions by Holger Rathgeber and John Kotter
I’m choosing this book because of the story of how change happens and how to prepare. I read it years ago while working for a Fortune 500 company that was in the midst of substantial change. This book and the themes present correlate to much of the work we do for change and solutions.” – Nakisa Glover

Conquest by Andrea Smith
“For me, this book really highlighted the intersection of racism, sexism, and colonization.” – Athena Matyear

Gods of Metal by Eric Schlosser
“It documents specifically the 2012 break in at a nuclear facility by anti-war activists including Sister Megan Rice, an 82-year-old nun, but also generally the history of the Plowshares movement.  It’s a short read, and I found it very inspiring.” – Michael Sedita

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
“It is one of the literary cornerstones of modern conservation science, policy and ethics.” – Matthew McGinnis

Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by John Lewis and Michael D’Orso
“Truly a powerful read, especially considering it’s from the perspective of living legend.”  – Dan Cannon

Dark Money by Jane Mayer and Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean
“Dark Money (the book of 2016) revealed how the Kochs and other radical right-wing/libertarian billionaires have been moving their agenda. Democracy in Chains describes what they are after in the long run. This book is a great way for students to understand how important the work of UnKochmyCampus is, and how important it is for our success to connect with other movements on democracy-related campaigns.” – Charlie Cray  

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
“No resource list is complete without A People’s History by Zinn, my go to recommendation, particularly for newer activists. A few more are a.) Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook by Mark Bray and b.) Abolition Now!: Ten Years of Strategy and Struggle Against the Prison Industrial Complex by the CR10 Publications Collective. Highly recommended, both. I also (finally) finished Assata Shakur’s autobiography (available on Audible) and can’t recommend it enough. ” – Maggie Ellinger-Locke

Re:Imagining Change: How to Use Story-based Strategy to Win Campaigns, Build Movements, and Change the World by the Center for Story-based Strategy
“Best, most accessible book on designing campaigns I know.” – Chris Eaton

The 5th Sacred Thing and its sequel, City of Refuge by Starhawk
“It’s a sort of post-apocalyptic dystopian/utopian novel. It’s really inspiring to me because it paints a beautiful picture of the world we want to create, and shows people fighting to create it.” – Anna Wagner

This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
“Not quite resistance-themed, but it really lays out a great argument for why change is necessary.” – Sarah Seipelt

Just a few more!

Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky
You Can’t Stay Neutral on a Moving Train by Howard Zinn
Meridian by Alice Walker
Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy
Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything by Becky Bond and Zack Exley
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth
An Indigenous People’s’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible by Charles E. Cobb  Jr.
Days of Rage: America’s Radical  Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence by Bryan Burrough
Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin
A Poetics of Resistance: The Revolutionary Public Relations of the Zapatista Insurgency by Jeff Conant
How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy by Joanna Macy
Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit
Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution by Andrew Boyd and David Oswald Mitchell, editors
Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements by Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha
Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken
This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century by Mark Engler and Paul Engler

Recommended by: Sarah Rasmussen,
Molly Dorozenski, Peter Molof, Rachel Butler, Anna Wagner, Martine Zundmanis, Harmony Lambert, James Brady, Travis Nichols, Chris Eaton

BONUS: Films, Music, Podcasts, and Websites for Resistance!

How to Survive a Plague

“Best (and most practical) film on what organizing and non-violent direct action looks like in practice.” (Recommended by Robert Banfitch)

Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator

“So, I’m really into movies and one of the movies I think about time and again and think volunteers will love especially in today’s political climate is Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. I’d highly recommend everyone watch it. It’s a satirical comedy about a Jewish barber who is mistaken for Hitler and uses his newfound powerful position to reverse the damage caused by fascism. It also features probably the single greatest speech ever given in a movie! The movie became famous and controversial because it was made while Hitler was still in power, and Chaplin actually sent the movie to Hitler’s house in Germany to try to get him to watch it. It’s one of those movies which not only exists as a brilliant work of political art, but actually became a weapon of resistance against hate and proved how art and cinema can be used for social good. Click here for more info on it!” (Recommended by Soham Gadre)

OTPOR! Bringing Down a Dictator

 “I love this documentary about the Serbian resistance against a dictator.” (Recommended by Athena Matyear)


“I made this playlist on Spotify back in March 2017. It’s a compilation of resistance songs ranging from the Civil Rights era, the Arab Spring, the Holocaust, 1960s American folk, South American and European anti-war songs, and contemporary protest music written by Indigenous artists, transgender activists, and other voices often marginalized in mainstream music culture. I crowd sourced some of it, but for the most part I had a ton of fun researching the stories behind some of history’s most significant songs of protests. Each song on this playlist has a special story. I hope you enjoy listening, and I encourage you to explore their origins to marvel at how persistent the theme of resistance is to our human experience.” (Compiled by Sybil Bullock)

“How to Survive the End of the World” 

A podcast by Adrienne Marie Brown. (Recommended by Peter Molof and David McElhatton)

Haymarket Books

Haymarket Books is a radical, independent, nonprofit book publisher based in Chicago, a project of the Center for Economic Research and Social Change. (Recommended by Alice Kurima Newberry)

Safety Pin Box 

Safety Pin Box is a monthly subscription box for white people striving to be allies in the fight for Black Liberation. Subscriptions are a way to financially support Black women and femme freedom fighters while completing measurable tasks in the fight against white supremacy. (Recommended by Gretchen Honnold)


Do you have a recommendation for us? Share your New Year’s reading resolutions for resistance by emailing!

Sybil Bullock

By Sybil Bullock

Sybil Bullock is a digital organizer at Greenpeace USA. She works to educate, empower and engage supporters to take action against single-use plastics and ocean pollution.

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