20 Books & Podcasts to Get You Through 2020

January 27, 2020


As a social impact agency, staying up to date with culture and currents events is part of our job. So unsurprisingly, our team is always full of great recommendations: from books that will give you a different perspective on campaigning to podcasts about multi-level marketing. Even conversations about the best fiction reads can be heard around the office.

We asked our Purpose teammates what books & podcasts they are looking forward to in 2020. So from some of the smartest people we know, check out these recommendations:

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Synopsis: DiAngelo unpacks white fragility, explaining the underlying sociological phenomena. She’ll draw on examples from her work and scholarship, as well as from the culture at large, to address these fundamental questions: How does white fragility develop? What does it look like? How is it triggered? What can we do to move beyond white fragility and engage more constructively?

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  • Sara on our Creative team in London is really enjoying Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by David M. Kelley and Tom Kelley [book]  because it has some great case studies.

    Synopsis: IDEO founder and Stanford d.school creator David Kelley and his brother Tom Kelley, IDEO partner and the author of the bestselling The Art of Innovation, have written a powerful and compelling book on unleashing the creativity that lies within each and every one of us.

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  • Mat on our Strategy team in New York recommends Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a Potawatomi native American and botanist by training.

    She magically blends traditional thinking and knowledge with western science “objective” thinking – exploring the conflicts but also weaving (or braiding!) the two worlds together. It confronts, but also warms you with perspective that feels so enlightening and humbling, while also feeling intuitive.

  • Chris on our Campaigns team in Sydney is looking forward to finishing Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe [book] in 2020, because it is critical reading for any Aussie or folk interested in indigenous knowledge (and the travesty of a country trying to pretend it doesn’t exist.)

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  • Mallika on our Campaigns team in New Delhi is looking forward to reading Changeology by Les Robinson [book] it’s been on her list ever since she attended his workshop in Sydney!

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    • Mallika also recommends Rise and Resist: How to Change the World by Clare Press [book].

      Synopsis: Rise & Resist takes a wild trip through the new activism sweeping the world. The political march is back in a big way, as communities rally to build movements for environmental and social justice. But today’s context calls for increasingly creative strategies to make our voices heard.

books stacked up

  • Anne, Managing Director, Partnerships & Strategy in New York, is excited to finish reading Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson [book].

    Synopsis: A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice–from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

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  • Another recommendation from Anne was You’re Wrong About [podcast].

    Synopsis: Mike and Sarah are journalists obsessed with the past. Every week they reconsider an event, person or phenomenon that’s been miscast in the public imagination.

  • Catherine on our Strategy Team in New York is looking forward to finishing a book of essays called What If This Were Enough by Heather Havrilesky [book] about the intersection of peak consumer culture and peak optimization culture. It cites the cultural milestones and proof points that ladder up to our collective fatigue in a clear, smart, and compelling way.


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  • João, on our Campaigns team in New York recommends Hidden Brain by NPR [podcast] for campaign insights. 

    Synopsis: The Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain’s host Shankar Vedantam reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behaviour, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships. 

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  • João also recommends Campaign HQ [podcast] because it has interviews with the leading campaigners behind the democratic presidential campaigns.

    Synopsis: David Plouffe, President Barack Obama’s campaign manager, digs into what the candidates are trying to accomplish in their messaging, why they are making the campaign stops they are, whether they can recover from crisis…and what is their pathway to the Democratic Nomination.

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  • Shannon on our creative team in New York recommends Children of Vengeance and Virtue by Tomi Adeyemi [book].

    Synopsis: Children of Virtue and Vengeance is the breathtaking second title in Tomi Adeyemi’s YA fantasy trilogy, Legacy of Orïsha, following her ground-breaking, West African-inspired debut Children of Blood and Bone. After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji but also some nobles with magic ancestry.


Synopsis: With The Fire on High follows Emoni, an Afro-latina teen mom with a passion for food and cooking. The kitchen is the one place that she can let go of her responsibilities, adding something magical to everything she does.

book at library

  • Another recommendation from Shannon was Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates [book].

    Synopsis: It is written as a letter to the author’s teenage son about the feelings, symbolism, and realities associated with being Black in the United States.

    book cover with plant

  • Maddie on our People, Culture & Operations team in New York recommends Educated by Tara Westover [book] because it’s a beautiful memoir that examines many of the divides in the US in a way that encourages empathy over assumptions. 

    woman with animals in a field

  • Aaron on our Campaigns team in London recommends The ChickPeeps Vegan Podcast by Evanna Lynch [podcast] because it has some really interesting takes on adjacent issues surrounding the plant-based diet, including sustainability and campaigning in general!


Feature image: Hanna Barczyk for NPR, Hidden Brain Podcast