This is further training for those who have read my book on Intactivism.
You don’t need to read all these books.
I’ve bolded the best.
The rest are for those who want to train deep.
All of them are good.
The Activist Training List
How Change Happens: Why Some Social Movements Succeed While Others Don’t by Leslie R. Crutchfield – This book breaks down through tons of research and storytelling why some movements succeed and others fail. If you read one book on activism, make it this book.
Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution by Andrew Boyd and Dave Oswald Mitchell – This book is a collection of activist ideas from multiple contributors. Some are brilliant. Some are okay. The ones that are good are so good they make the whole book worth getting. A book you can pick and choose from.
Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals by Jonathan Smucker – This book reveals how activist groups become insular subcultures and explains how to avoid that for greater impact. Worth reading if you struggle to connect with non-activists.
Rules For Radicals by Saul Alinsky – This is the book on activism even people who don’t do activism have heard of. Honestly, it’s overrated. You should read it because so many in politics use his ideas, but Saul Alinsky teaches maximum zero-sum games. They work, but they’re cruel.
How To Start Your Activism by Brendon Marotta – This article is a good introduction for those starting their activism journey. I’d also recommend this video on finding your niche if you are interested in doing something new.
The Completion Process by Teal Swan – This is the best healing method I’ve tried. I believe in it so much, that my wife and I became a certified practitioner. You can do it on yourself from the book, or find a practitioner. (My wife practices here.)
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine and Ann Frederick – Classic book on how the body stores trauma. Any good somatic healing practitioner will have this on their shelf.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk – Another great read on how the body stores trauma. Less theory than Waking the Tiger, but more practical.
Inner Bonding: Becoming a Loving Adult to Your Inner Child by Margaret Paul – Great book on inner child work. If you do healing work, you will probably encounter inner child work, and this is a good introduction to the practice.
The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self by Alice Miller – All of Alice Miller’s work belongs on this list, but this is her masterpiece. This book reveals how even subtle bad parenting can cause lingering effects later in life.
If you like The Drama of the Gifted Child, also check out The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Hurtful Parenting, For Your Own Good, and The Truth Will Set You Free: Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self all by Alice Miller.
Silently Seduced: When Parents Make Their Children Partners by Kenneth M. Adams – This book covers the idea of emotional incest. When parents use children to fulfill their sexual needs, it’s called incest, but when they use children to fulfill their emotional needs, it’s emotional incest. Very relevant for some of the excuses parents make for circumcision.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini – This is the Bible of persuasion. You should know the six chapter-headings of this book and treat them like a checklist.
Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini – Introduces the idea of persuasion. I like this book more than Influence, but you should read Influence first.
Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter by Scott Adams – Scott Adams blogging on persuasion is what introduced me to the topic. His entire blog archive during the 2016 Presidential election is worth reading, but this book summarizes the best ideas. Scott also has his own persuasion reading list which you can find here.
Also recommended: Take a course on hypnosis or NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). The concept of pacing and leading in my book comes straight from hypnosis training. The Hypnosis Practioner Training Institute (HPTI) offers a free introductory course that will teach you the basics.
Speak Ericksonian by Richard Nongard and James Hazlerig – Great introduction to using hypnotic language patterns.
Win Your Case: How to Present, Persuade, and Prevail, Every Place, Every Time by Gerry Spence – This is a book by a trial lawyer on a persuasive argument. He won me over when he said he makes lawyers paint and create art at his events to get in touch with their feelings. Not the advice you would expect from a successful attorney.
Most of these books have implications for relationships. For example, the more you learn about healing, the more you will be able to understand people’s pain and unmet needs. However, this section is specifically on relationships.
Take a course in non-violent communication. Relationships are communication. The better you get at this skill, the better you will be at relationships.
Many of the ideas I share about relationships come from the work of Teal Swan. Here are a few of her videos on relationships that are relevant for activists:
- The Most Dangerous Parallel Reality – This video is especially important for Intactivists, because all activists have the experience of being in a parallel reality to the dominant culture. If you want to understand why people commit suicide, watch this video.
- Are You Being Triangulated? (A Common Manipulation Technique in Relationships) – Every time opposition tries to toxically brand you, they are using this negative relationship pattern.
- How to Create A Safe Relationship – Teal uses slightly different language than I do in my book, but the principles are the same.
- Stop Trying to Love Them and Start Trying to Understand Them – Understanding is more important than love. This video explains why.
- The Hidden Truth About Dysfunctional Relationships – Great video on understanding and aligning hidden needs.
- Her videos on Trust, Attunement, and Intermittent Reinforcement are also worth watching.
The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle – This is the best book on building a strong culture. The Marshmallow Design Challenge is especially relevant for how a less trained group can beat a better trained one if they are not playing hidden games. Everyone involved in the movement should read this.
How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide by Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay – Intactivism is a series of impossible conversations, and this book teaches you how to have them. This book fits in the persuasion section as well. Worth reading, many applications.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – This book is nearly a hundred years old and people still say it changed their life. I didn’t connect with it, because it focuses more on external behaviors than internal change. Still, it’s good advice. Read a summary and see if it’s right for you.
Speaker For The Dead by Orson Scott Card – Yes, this is a sci-fi novel. It’s also one of the best books about aligning different groups ever written. Just because they’re fictional alien species doesn’t mean the lessons aren’t true. Also, the novel that precedes this book, Enders Game, might be my favorite book of all time.
Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday – Although the examples might be dated, this book on media manipulation has only become more relevant over time. Keep in mind, this was written before the idiom “fake news” was coined and social media overtook blogs. Many media figures use these techniques.
Hoaxed (documentary) – A documentary on fake news. Worth watching if you want to learn how media narratives are crafted. Includes many controversial figures you’ve heard of.
Watch Gary Vaynerchuck videos. Gary Vaynerchuck is the absolute best at social media content creation. Yes, he was written books, but you’re better off watching his hundreds of hours of free YouTube content.
The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion by Virginia Postrel – This book will make you rethink how you use images. When people hear “glamour,” they think fashion, but glamorous images of soldiers are what drive young men to war. Likewise, glamorous images of protests are also what drive people to activism. If you can create glamor, you can recruit.
All the Techcomm Blogger’s Men by Kantbot – This article by a pseudonymous internet personality whose account got banned explains the drama of social media better than anything written in the mainstream press. It also explains why the press often gets social media “trolling” wrong.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson – Toxic branding is about shaming and this book explores what happens after people are publicly shamed. Worth reading if you’re worried about what opposition might call you.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey – I’d forgotten how many principles in this book I use not just in my life, but in the book I wrote until I went back through it to create this list. (Ex: Begin with the end in mind. Think win-win.) Worth reading.
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams – Great book on mindset. The concept of skill stacks comes from this book, but I expand on it in my book by showing how collaboration stacks skills. I reviewed the book here.
Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual by Jocko Willink – Great book explaining what it means to lead and take ownership of a group.
I would also recommend a daily meditation practice. I practice zazen or zen meditation. Learn how to practice zen meditation here. Classic books on zen are also good. Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki is a good introduction.
American Circumcision (documentary) – If you haven’t seen my film, I don’t know how you got here. Must-see if you are working on this issue. Go watch it now.
This page includes Amazon affiliate links, for which I get a small commission.
For more, subscribe to my email list here.