Dana’s Reading List

Dana’s Reading List



While a professor at Dartmouth College, Donella Meadows sent her students a list of her favorite books. See her recommendations below:

The books that have been most important to me are (in no particular order):

Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The book that first aroused my curiosity about Eastern thought.

Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics. Linked Eastern thought to Western science for me, and taught me that they are compatible.

Suzuki-Roshi, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. The best introduction to Zen practice. I read this book more or less continuously.

T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Gave me the paradigm that there are paradigms.

E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful. I have some minor quibbles with Schumacher, but his thinking is the sort I wish were dominant politically all over the world.

Amory Lovins, Soft Energy Paths. And this is the book that should guide energy policy.

Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

Joanna Rogers Macy, Dharma and Development. And these two are my guides to working with the poor.

Carl Sandburg, Lincoln, The Prairie Years and the War Years.

Louis Fischer, The Essential Ghandi.

Dennis Malone, Thomas Jefferson biography (6 volumes). I go to these for inspiration since they are about the leaders I emulate. The Malone series is too much Malone and too little Jefferson for my taste, but I haven’t found a better biography of T.J. yet. The Sandburg is an absolutely beautiful biography.

Two others that have always resonated with me and never seem to wear out:

Thoreau, Walden

Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

And there are four periodicals that I never miss. The first two I read cover to cover:

Coevolution Quarterly


The New Yorker



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About The Donella Meadows Project

The mission of the Donella Meadows Project is to preserve Donella (Dana) H. Meadows’s legacy as an inspiring leader, scholar, writer, and teacher; to manage the intellectual property rights related to Dana’s published work; to provide and maintain a comprehensive and easily accessible archive of her work online, including articles, columns, and letters; to develop new resources and programs that apply her ideas to current issues and make them available to an ever-larger network of students, practitioners, and leaders in social change.  Read More

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