Rare Books: Inspiring behavior change

Our winter 2019 selections explore who is inspiring change, how we are hard-wired to enable change, and how change spreads — all of which are critical to successfully improving ourselves and our planet. Each book is an insightful read ahead of #BEHive19, our one-day summit exploring behavioral solutions to climate change.

How Behavior Spreads

Damon Centola

Two-sentence synopsis: Our social networks keep us connected, but do they really catalyze social movements? University of Pennsylvania communications professor, Damon Centola, dives deep into how social networks actually shift people’s behavior, what conventional wisdom has gotten wrong, and how we might realize the true potential of social networks to achieve real social change.

“Simple contagions, like viral media, often spread quickly because they are easy and familiar; by contrast, complex contagions, such as cooperation and sustainable practices, require a little more social reinforcement to get us to adopt them because they are challenging — even though they are ultimately more rewarding.” — Damon Centola

New Power

Jeremy Heimans & Henry Timms

Two-sentence synopsis: Since it’s easier than ever for people to participate in and coordinate movements and campaigns, power is shifting. In New Power, “movement builders” Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms break down how those who understand and harness power’s movement across people and networks will be more likely to mobilize them to inspire generational change.

“We badly need (new power players) to turn their energies and their power to big public good problems that are often beyond markets where investors can easily be found. And I think if we can do that, we might be able to fundamentally change not only human beings’ sense of their own agency and power — because I think that is the most wonderful thing about new power, is that people feel more powerful — but we might also be able to change the way we relate to each other, and the way we relate to authority and institutions.” — Jeremy Heimans


Daniel Pink

Two-sentence synopsis: In his latest work, New York Times bestselling author Daniel Pink explores how the precise timing of our decisions impacts the outcome of everything from marathon-running to marriage. When provides intriguing insight into human behavior and decision-making, and sparks ideas of how we might rethink approaches to conservation and development interventions.

“We live in time. It’s a fundamental feature of our lives. If we can start bringing the “when” questions to the table, we can increase our odds of living healthier, happier lives, and increase the odds that our big change endeavors can yield the outcomes we hope they will.” — Dan Pink

Take Pride: Why the Deadliest Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success

Dr. Jessica Tracy

Two-sentence synopsis: While pride has gotten a bad rap as a dark, brash emotion, it is also the motivator behind some of the most accomplished people in the world. If harnessed correctly, pride can propel us to be our best, for ourselves or our community. [Take it from Rare — we’ve put the power of pride to the test at the center of our behavior change campaigns in hundreds of communities around the world).

“If you’re looking for a way to convince yourself to finally commit to a diet, give up smoking, or even just clean your basement, pleasure-seeking will not get you there. But pride might.” — Jessica Tracy

OMD: The Simple, Plant-Based Program to Save Your Health, Save Your Waistline, and Save the Planet

Suzy Amis Cameron

Two-sentence synopsis: Changing our relationship with food is critical for improving our health and the health of the planet. In OMD, Suzy Amis Cameron suggest that a simple, individual behavior change — eating one plant-based meal per day — can have major impact on people and nature.

“One person, having one plant-based meal per day, for one year, saves 200,000 gallons of water and the carbon equivalent of driving from Los Angeles to New York.” — Suzy Amis Cameron

Children’s Pick

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

Miranda Paul

Two-sentence synopsis: With plastic bags littering her village in Gambia, Isatou Ceesay started collecting the bags and crocheting them into purses. This children’s book shares how her entrepreneurial spirit sparked change in her community, and how change from anywhere can inspire people everywhere.

“I think that children have a beautiful and natural intuition to do what is right, so including a sense of justice or hope will help engage them with the main character or subject matter.” — Miranda Paul

Future Pick

How Change Happens

Cass Sunstein

Two-sentence synopsis: Whether movements are a force for equality and justice, or advance intolerance, social change happens because of how humans are hard-wired. Best-selling author and Harvard professor Cass Sunstein is out with his latest exploration of how behavioral economics, psychology and other social sciences propel change by shifting social norms.

“Here’s how social change happens: People have strong beliefs and strong feelings, but because of a feeling of helplessness, or because of existing social norms, they don’t say or do anything. They shut up — or they speak falsely about their beliefs and desires. Once a few brave souls speak out, and a social norm starts to weaken, the world changes in a hurry. Apartheid falls in South Africa; Communism collapses in Eastern Europe; women say #MeToo; nations agree on the Montreal Protocol, to protect the ozone layer. (What makes this possible? You’ll have to read the book!) — Cass Sunstein

Coming in April!