5 books that will make you feel better about the world

Don't get sucked in by the negative vortex of modern news. These balanced and well-researched books will lift your mood and help you see the positive ways that the world is improving all the time.

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

In a world where headlines often highlight the negative aspects of life, it's easy to fall into a sense of despondency and believe that everything is awful. However, it's important to remember that things aren't always as bad as they seem.

In fact, although there are plenty of bad things happening in the world, overall, the picture is pretty rosy. Life for billions across the planet is continually improving, and there are plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about the future.

Of course, the 24-7 news media doesn't reflect that because it's the negative stories that get the highest TV ratings and website clickthroughs. But there are ways to right the balance. In this article, we bring together five upbeat books that can help shift our perspective and remind us of the positive strides humanity is making.

So, as the end of summer approaches, let's flip the script on universal despondency and explore five bright and positive books that will make you feel better about the world and your role in it.

1. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About The World – And Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling

The title of this book pretty much says it all. This international bestseller is filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories that will change how you see the world and make you realise things are better than you thought. Former US president Barack Obama described it as: "A hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases".

This well-argued and clearly written book presents ten insightful reasons why we tend to misinterpret global trends and offers a refreshing perspective on progress. Inspiring and revelatory in equal parts, it's a reminder that an abundance of positive developments is happening all around us.

2. Humankind by Rutger Bregman

It's easy to think that humans are inherently selfish and destructive. It's a view that's held sway among philosophers from Machiavelli to Hobbes, Freud to Dawkins, and continues to dominate both sides of the political aisle today. Yet, in our personal experience, we typically find that – in most cases at least – we're actually quite a nice and supportive lot. So, where does the truth lie?

In this book, Rutger Bregman, a popular Dutch historian and author, draws from a diverse array of past events and psychological studies to argue that deep down, people are wired for kindness and cooperation. It's packed with inspiring instances of collective goodness throughout history and emphasises the potential for positive change. This unique exploration of our shared history provides a heartwarming perspective on human nature.

Casting his eye across 200,000 years of human endeavour, covering events ranging from the Blitz to the Stanford prison experiment, Rutger shows how believing in human kindness and altruism can be a new way to think – and act as the foundation for achieving true change in our society.

3. Utopia For Realists by Rutger Bregman

When we hear bad news from around the world, it's easy to feel like there's no future for humanity. But it doesn't have to be that way. In another game-changing tome by Rutger Bregman, he shows that we can construct a society with visionary ideas that are, in fact, wholly implementable.

Utopia For Realists envisions a future where radical ideas such as a universal basic income and shorter workweeks become the foundation for a better world. In it, Bregman explores real-world experiments and studies that support the viability of these ideas.

From a Canadian city that once completely eradicated poverty to Richard Nixon's near implementation of a basic income for millions of Americans, this book takes us on a journey through history beyond the traditional left-right divides. By highlighting the potential for transformative change, it will rekindle your optimism for a brighter future.

4. Now is Better by Stefan Sagmeister

We're huge fans of legendary designer Stefan Sagmeister at Creative Boom, both for his world-leading work and for his insistence that despite how we may feel on a day-to-day basis, things are much better now than they used to be.

In this radical and challenging book, Stefan offers stunning visuals and thought-provoking anecdotes that encourage us to appreciate the beauty in the world around us and find joy in the everyday. Statistics are vividly brought to life as numbers are transformed into graphs, inlaid into nineteenth-century paintings, embroidered canvases, lenticular prints, and hand-painted water glasses.

The book also includes a foreword from psychologist and leading authority on language and the mind, Steven Pinker; an essay by graphic designer and historian Steven Heller; and a conversation between Sagmeister and Hans Ulrich Obrist, curator and artistic director of Serpentine Galleries in London.

Contained within a die-cut slipcase and accompanied by a lenticular print designed by Stefan, Now is Better is an intriguing and thoughtful visual meditation on our daily lives. For more details, see our news story about the book's release back in July.

5. Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope by Mark Manson

Despite its provocative title, this book is full of optimism about the future, and it's ultimately about finding hope and purpose in a complex world. In it, the bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck navigates the challenges of modern society, exploring the paradoxes and struggles we all face daily.

Drawing on psychological research, as well as philosophers such as Plato and Nietzsche, Manson reminds us that even in the face of adversity, we have the power to shape our perspective and cultivate a sense of hope.

This book contains counterintuitive insights that will help you shift your perspective on the world, seasoned with bucketloads of humour that make it an entertaining page-turner. It's an easy read with some surprisingly deep insights.


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