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20 Holiday Reads for Building Better Politics

Looking for a gift for your politics bookworm? Or, do you just want to curl up in front of a holiday fire with a good book? This list of politics and democracy reads, listed in no particular order, has you covered.

Thank you to all of you who sent us your recommendations! We love collaborating with you on these lists.

Of course, we couldn’t fit every great political book in this list. Never fear! We want to collate more like this in the future. Sign up for our briefing to get notified of new content, like the political podcasts, influential researchers and PLIs to watch lists, as they’re released.


Another World is Possible: How to Reignite Social and Political Imagination

By Geoff Mulgan

Another World is Possible lays out how we can use creative imagination to achieve a better future, visualizing where we want to go and how to get there.

Follow Geoff Mulgan on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.


The Persuaders: Winning Hearts and Minds in a Divided Age

By Anand Giridharadas

Anand Giridharadas highlights how activists, politicians and citizens are working to change minds, bridge divisions and save democracy in an increasingly polarized world.

Follow Anand Giridharadas on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.


Together: A Manifesto Against the Heartless World

By Ece Temelkuran

Together offers a manifesto for change, outlining the political action that the 21st century asks of humankind.

Follow Ece Temelkuran on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.



By Jon Alexander with Ariane Conrad

Apolitical Foundation Global Advisor Jon Alexander says we need to stop thinking like consumers and start thinking like citizens. This hopeful read offers insights and examples of citizen collaboration to help reimagine politics.

Follow Jon Alexander on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.


Why We Get the Wrong Politicians

By Isabel Hardman

Journalist Isabel Hardman explores how we end up with unrepresentative, unprepared and often unhappy politicians. Understanding why can help us build better political culture and improve trust in our leaders.

Follow Isabel Hardman on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


How to Stay Safe Online

By Seyi Akiwowo

Politics and activism can be toxic, especially online. Glitch CEO Seyi Akiwowo’s guide for digital self-care and allyship will help you stay safe and well.

Follow Seyi Akiwowo on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.


Psychology of Democracy: Of the People, by the People, For the People

Edited by Dr. Ashley Weinberg

A fascinating delve into the psychology behind political thoughts and behaviors. Check out our podcast episode with Dr. Weinberg on why we should care about politicians’ mental wellbeing.

Follow Dr. Weinberg on LinkedIn.


Intrinsic: A Manifesto to Reignite Your Inner Drive

By Sharath Jeevan OBE

Apolitical Foundation Global Advisor Sharath Jeevan explains how “intrinsic motivation” can help diagnose and find solutions to alienation and apathy. Politicians driven by intrinsic values are critical to democracies that deliver for people and the planet.

Follow Sharath Jeevan OBE on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.


Poles Apart

By Alison Goldsworthy, Laura Osborne, and Alexandra Chesterfield

Poles Apart explores the drivers of polarization and what steps we can take to heal divisions. Keep an eye out for our forthcoming A Political Hope episode with author Alison Goldsworthy.

Follow the authors on Twitter: Alison Goldsworthy, Laura Osborne and Alexandra Chesterfield.


Against Decolonisation: Taking African Agency Seriously

By Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò

Political philosopher Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò critiques today’s decolonization movements and asks how they can better serve empowerment.


On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

By Timothy Snyder

This quick read explores key moments in which European democracies gave way to tyranny and sets out lessons for how to resist authoritarianism.

Follow Timothy Snyder on Twitter and Facebook.


True Reconciliation: How to Be a Force for Change

By Jody Wilson-Raybould

Lessons from Canada’s former Minister for Justice and Attorney General on how citizens, organizations and governments can advance Indigenous reconciliation.

Follow Jody Wilson-Raybould on Twitter Instagram and Facebook.


Lula, Volume 1: Biografia

By Fernando Morais

Veteran journalist and biographer Fernando Morais tells Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s story — from the two-time Brazilian president’s working class upbringing to his two-year jail stint. This book is only available in Portuguese at the moment. A second volume, which will presumably cover Lula’s 2022 return to the presidency, is due in 2023.


How to Stand Up to a Dictator

By Maria Ressa

Maria Ressa won a Nobel Peace Prize for exposing online corruption around the world. How to Stand Up to a Dictator is the story of her game-changing investigations, for which she faces a 100-year jail term in the Philippines.

Follow Maria Ressa on Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram and Facebook.


Democracy Works: Turning Politics to Africa's Advantage

By Greg Mills, Olusegun Obasanjo, Tendai Biti, Jeffrey Herbst

Distinguished politicians and scholars address the need for a ‘democratic playbook’ robust enough to withstand threats to free and fair elections in Africa.

Follow the authors on Twitter: Greg Mills, Olusegun Obasanjo, Tendai Biti, Jeffrey Herbst.


Exponential: Order and Chaos in an Age of Accelerating Technology

By Azeem Azhar

Azeem Azhar sets out how technology can be used to solve our biggest problems, shape our society, and bridge cultural divides in the “age of acceleration”. He also discussed reviving trust in government with our CEO Lisa Witter on his Azeem Azhar’s Exponential View podcast.

Follow Azeem Azhar on Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram.


Spin Dictators: The Changing Face of Tyranny in the 21st Century

By Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman

Daniel Treisman and Apolitical Foundation Global Advisor Sergei Guriev explain how “spin dictators” emerge, the threats they pose and, crucially, how democracies should respond.

Follow Sergei Guriev on Twitter and LinkedIn and Daniel Treisman on Twitter and Linkedin.


Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the Twenty-First Century

By Hélène Landemore

Hélène Landemore makes the case for a new model of democracy which opens up power to ordinary citizens.

Follow Hélène Landemore on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.


The Revenge of Power: The Global Assault on Democracy and How to Defeat It

By Moisés Naím

Apolitical Foundation Global Advisor Moisés Naím explores how autocrats use “The Three Ps” — Populism, Polarization and Post-Truth — in pursuit of power.

Follow Moisés Naím on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


How to be a Politician: 2,000 Years of Good (and Bad) Advice

By Vince Cable

The former UK Business Secretary and Liberal Democrats Leader shrares insights on Westminster through a collection of political quotes.

Follow Vince Cable on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.


Feeling some inspiration for your holiday reading? Please share our list with your friends on social media.

And don’t forget to follow us!

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