Resources  ·  Posted March 4, 2024

Our World Book Day Recommendations

For World Book Day, we asked our members, staff and trustees for some of their top reads about social innovation and running your own business.

Books about social innovation, creating community and delivering on social impact:

Mutual Aid by Dean Spade

Recommended by Xabi Villares, Community Coordinator at The Melting Pot

This small book contains a great deal of information on how a community may work autonomously. It’s well underpinned from a theoretical perspective and includes a very practical guide to understanding how groups can work better together. I’ve recommended it because we’re living in an extremely challenging time for communities. As the UK officially enters (another) recession, cuts in social spending are expected across the sector. It’s a moment for reinvention for local groups, and this book helps to shed a bit of light and hope.

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Recommended by Evie Simkins, Member and Trustee of The Melting Pot

One of the most positively inspiring books I’ve read in recent years is Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The book is a series of essays in which Kimmerer interweaves stories of the plants she loves and studies with her life and career as an indigenous woman and scientist.

At first glance, Braiding Sweetgrass will most likely appeal if you’re interested in natural sciences, but the book has found a wide following globally. Part of its wider appeal comes from Kimmerer’s skill in drawing connections. In her research career and writing, she bridges different ways of thinking about the natural world, especially modern science and indigenous wisdom, to uncover fascinating and often uplifting observations. I was moved by her accounts of how intimately humans and the natural world are connected, and how these relationships can benefit nature and humans alike.

The next few books are all recommended by Charlie Wright, Member of The Melting Pot

How Big Things Get Done by Bent Flyvberg

This one is for the Social Entrepreneurs among us! It is a deep dive into the successes and failures of large projects. With this book in one hand and a snorkel in the other, you can learn all about how to deliver truly transformative projects through deep design processes and careful advice from the authors who have decades worth of experience in delivering and evaluating big projects. I found it hard to put down.

The Art of the Gathering by Priya Parker

This book is fantastic and has really crept into my thinking when planning events and workshops. The author asks the question, why do we do gatherings and why do we do them the way we do? It’s a really good read for anyone involved in events, campaigns and social gatherings.

The Connected Community by John McKnight & Cormac Russel

This is an amazing and easy read. One of the authors is based here in Edinburgh. The book is all about getting things done at the community level through connecting people and local assets. It’s one of those books which has really practical applications for people at all levels who are trying to get things done locally.

The Common Cause Handbook by The Common Cause Foundation

This one is quite an intellectual exercise which helps the reader to explore people’s values. The premise is that by understanding each other’s values, you can develop a set of shared values which can be used to work together on common causes. The process also helps people to understand each other better and be more sympathetic to fears and joys of others.

Paint Your Town Red by Rhian Davies & Mathew Brown

The Making of a Democratic Economy by Marjory Kelly & Ted Howard

These two are kind of the Holy Grail of Community Wealth Building as a theory of practice which people can use to transform their cities and communities. The books set out an alternative economic approach to growth which is more centred on deepening and/or rooting the local economy through assets, contracts and investment. Read them! They will change the way you think about the economy.



Books to help you run your own business:

The 12 Week Year by Brian P Moran & Michael Lennington

Recommended by Aileen Carson, Member of The Melting Pot

Where many companies work on annual cycles and there’s a frantic dash at the end of the year to achieve objectives, this book teaches you to focus on what matters most and develop a healthy sense of urgency to get it done by working in 12-week cycles instead.

As well as setting goals and working out what you need to do to achieve them, the book encourages you to look at what actions you might struggle with and how you will overcome these, which can be really helpful if you’re finding it difficult to get something done.

This process was designed for athletes and has been adapted for business and everyday life. It works for both organisations and individuals and there are sections in the book showing you how to adapt the process for teams.

I created my first 12-week plan at the start of this year and although I haven’t completed it yet, I have found that I am more focused on my goals. By tracking everything on a weekly basis, I can see where I’m succeeding and where I need to put in more effort.

The book also encourages you to put time aside each week away from any distractions to focus on what you want to achieve and there’s an emphasis on accountability to keep you on track.

Your 12-week plan doesn’t have to be solely work-related. Mine includes business and personal goals which I’ve broken down into weekly actions that will help me achieve those goals.

I’ve found it really helpful so far and intend to continue creating 12-week plans rather than annual plans as I have found I get more done.

Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change by David L. Cooperrider & Diana Whitney

Recommended by Alice Paterson, Member and Trustee of The Melting Pot

Appreciative Inquiry is a new approach to change management that incorporates strengths rather than focusing just on fixing weaknesses.  This book contains a basic overview of the process and principles and includes stories to illustrate the many applications and benefits of Appreciative Inquiry.  This approach to change management helps individuals, organisations and communities become more effective.

It’s a short but impactful book.  I love that Appreciative Inquiry builds on what is working well already.  It is a positive approach to turning around something (e.g. a team or organisation) that isn’t working as well as it could be.  This approach helps engage, inspire and motivate a diverse and dispersed workforce instead of attributing blame and risking continuing on a downward spiral of failure.  Appreciative Inquiry helps everyone feel invested in the solutions and outcomes and it improves morale and relationships.

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller

Recommended by Sophie Badoux, Member of The Melting Pot

The book offers a practical step by step to clarify your marketing message so that customers understand the compelling benefits of using your products, ideas or services. Building a StoryBrand does this by teaching listeners the seven universal story points all humans respond to, the real reason customers make purchases, how to simplify a brand message so people understand it, and how to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures and social media.

Even if you don’t end up using the practical steps, this book will shift your mindset on how to talk to your customers, by placing them at the centre of your story. This is a game-changer when it comes to effective marketing. I’d encourage anyone who’s involved in marketing or runs a business to read it. I’ve particularly enjoyed it because the ideas are explained clearly with some really good analogies that have stayed with me for years. I still use some of the analogies to explain some marketing concepts to my clients.

Playing Big: For Women Who Want to Speak Up, Stand Out and Lead by Tara Mohr

Recommended by Sophie Badoux, Member of The Melting Pot

What could you achieve if you were confident enough to take risks? How much more fulfilled would you be if you ignored other people’s perceptions and forged your own path? All too often talented women feel unable to share their opinions, challenge the norm or take the lead. But now it’s time to play big. The author shares proven techniques for mastering self-doubt, dealing with criticism and communicating with authority. She also demonstrates how to become self-assured enough to stop planning and take a leap forward so that you can achieve the things you want most.

This book is really practical and has lots of tips on how to feel more confident. I’ve found it very useful in dealing with imposter syndrome. One chapter on receiving feedback has changed my whole mindset on the topic. It’s made receiving feedback from others much easier.


Thank you to everyone who shared their book recommendations with us this World Book Day! If anyone wants to add to this great list of resources, email us at [email protected] with the title, author(s), brief summary and why you recommend it.