IC Book Recommendations

Hi all - I thought I’d start a new thread for book recommendations since the last one is a year old. I’ve done a lot of reading lately, so I’d love to share what I’ve picked up. Likewise, please share some books you’ve read as well!

:books: Listed in the order I read them:

Utopia by Thomas More
This is the 16th century classic that gave us the word “utopia” and that inspired many modern, utopian concepts. Personally, I didn’t get much practical information from it, but it was interesting to see a positive perspective on socialism from a perspective so different from my own.

Paradise Now : The Story of American Utopianism by Chris Jennings
I really enjoyed this book! In it, Jennings gives an account of America’s history of communities that were founded upon communist, religious, and utopian ideals. I was surprised to learn about communities from hundreds of years ago that shared some similarities with my own ideals. One of them is even still around!

Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock by Jenny Odell
This book doesn’t directly relate to intentional communities, but it includes great insights into our relationship with time, how it’s controlled, and how it’s used to control others. It’s an aspect of society that’s dissatisfying to me, and part of my motivation for seeking an alternative lifestyle, so I’m sharing it!

Everyday Utopia: What 2,000 Years of Wild Experiments Can Teach Us About the Good Life by Kristen Ghodsee
There are a lot of great, historical examples in this book of the benefits of communal lifestyles. It’s a great read, and I really enjoyed how Ghodsee approached the subject.

Mutualism: Building the Next Economy from the Ground Up by Sara Horowitz
This book focuses on the power of mutual support and organizations rather than intentional communities. It’s not exactly what I was searching for, but it does provide practical steps to building and supporting a mutual organization - which I believe can be well applied in growing an intentional community.

American Utopias by Charles Nordhoff
Originally published in 1875 as the Communistic Societies of the United States, this is another great look at the American communities of the past that went against the mainstream and lived in a communist manner. What I really enjoyed about this book is that much of it is a first-hand account of the author’s visits to the communities. It’s a long read, but I recommend it!

I’d like to give a special mention to the following books as they stood out to me as clear evidence of the failings of the mainstream society most of us live in. They’re not about intentional communities, but definitely check them out if you can:

  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
  • Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond
  • Tell Them Who I Am: The Lives of Homeless Women by Elliot Liebow

That’s the end of my mega post :sweat_smile:
If you read any of it, thank you! And please share some recommendations with me!

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Walden Two

This fictional outline of a modern utopia has been a center of controversy ever since its publication in 1948. Set in the United States, it pictures a society in which human problems are solved by a scientific technology of human conduct.

Original Walden

Walden by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, is a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and manual for self-reliance.

First published in 1854, it details Thoreau’s experiences over the course of two years, two months, and two days in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts. The book compresses the time into a single calendar year and uses passages of four seasons to symbolize human development.

By immersing himself in nature, Thoreau hoped to gain a more objective understanding of society through personal introspection. Simple living and self-sufficiency were Thoreau’s other goals, and the whole project was inspired by transcendentalist philosophy, a central theme of the American Romantic Period. As Thoreau made clear in his book, his cabin was not in wilderness but at the edge of town, about two miles (3 km) from his family home.

Living Walden Two: B. F. Skinner’s Behaviorist Utopia and Experimental Communities

In Walden Two, behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner describes one of the most controversial fictional utopias of the twentieth century. During the 1960s and 70s, this novel went on to inspire approximately three dozen actual communities, which are entertainingly examined in Hilke Kuhlmann’s Living Walden Two. In the novel, behavioral engineers use positive reinforcement in organizing and gently guiding all aspects of society, leaving the rest of the citizens free to lead happy and carefree lives. Among the real-world communities, a recurrent problem in moving past the planning stages was the nearly ubiquitous desire among members to be gentle guides, coupled with strong resistance to being guided. In an insightful and often hilarious narrative, Hilke Kuhlmann explores the dynamics of the communities, with an in-depth examination of the two surviving Skinnerian communities: Comunidad Los Horcones in Mexico, and Twin Oaks in Virginia. Drawing on extensive interviews with the founders and key players in the Walden Two communities, Kuhlmann redefines the criteria for their success by focusing on the tension between utopian blueprints for a new society and communal experiments’

Upon Further Reflection

This book deals with global issues concerning ecology and world government. It moves from the very general to the very specific.


Aka Over the Range (e-re-whon) is a novel by Samuel Butler which was first published anonymously in 1872. The title is also the name of a country, supposedly discovered by the protagonist. In the novel, it is not revealed where Erewhon is, but it is clear that it is a fictional country. Butler meant the title to be read as “nowhere” backwards even though the letters “h” and “w” are transposed, as it would have been pronounced in his day (and still is in some dialects of English). The book is a satire on Victorian society. The first few chapters of the novel dealing with the discovery of Erewhon are in fact based on Butler’s own experiences in New Zealand where, as a young man, he worked as a sheep farmer on Mesopotamia Station for about four years (1860–1864), and explored parts of the interior of the South Island and which he wrote about in his A First Year in Canterbury Settlement (1863).

Civil Disobedience

Sparked by Thoreau’s outrage at American slavery and the American-Mexican war, Civil Disobedience is a call for every citizen to value his conscience above his government. Within this 19th century essay, Thoreau explains government of any sort – including democracy – does not possess more wisdom or justice than its individual citizens, and that it is every citizen’s responsibility to avoid acquiescence. More than an essay, Civil Disobedience is a call to action for all citizens to refuse to participate in, or encourage in any way, an unjust institution.

Communist Manifesto

“A spectre is haunting Europe - the spectre of Communism.” So begins one of history’s most important documents, a work of such magnitude that it has forever changed not only the scope of world politics, but indeed the course of human civilization. The Communist Manifesto was written in Friedrich Engels’s clear, striking prose and declared the earth-shaking ideas of Karl Marx. Upon publication in 1848, it quickly became the credo of the poor and oppressed who longed for a society “in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

The Communist Manifesto contains the seeds of Marx’s more comprehensive philosophy, which continues to inspire influential economic, political, social, and literary theories. But the Manifesto is most valuable as an historical document, one that led to the greatest political upheaveals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and to the establishment of the Communist governments that until recently ruled half the globe.

This Bantam Classic edition of The Communist Manifesto includes Marx and Engels’s historic 1872 and 1882 prefaces, and Engels’s notes and prefaces to the 1883 and 1888 editions.

A Collection of Marxist Writings: The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx’s Wage-Labour and Capital, Friedrich Engels’ Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that analyzes class relations and societal conflict, that uses a materialist interpretation of historical development, and a dialectical view of social transformation. Marxist methodology uses economic and sociopolitical inquiry and applies that to the critique and analysis of the development of capitalism and the role of class struggle in systemic economic change. Read this collection piece of works authored by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to engage your mind and learn more!

The Principles of Communism

Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820 - August 5, 1895) was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, working in close collaboration alongside Karl Marx. In 1845, he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research. In 1848, he produced with Marx The Communist Manifesto and later he supported Marx financially to do research and write Das Kapital. After Marx’s death Engels edited the second and third volumes. Additionally, Engels organized Marx’s notes on the “Theories of Surplus Value” and this was later published as the “fourth volume” of Capital.

Engels is commonly known as a “ruthless party tactician”, “brutal ideologue”, and “master tactician” when it came to purging rivals in political organizations. However, another strand of Engels’s personality was one of a “gregarious”, “big-hearted”, and “jovial man of outsize appetites”, who was referred to by his son-in-law as "the great beheader of champagne bottles.”

Looking Backwards

First published in 1888, Looking Backward was one of the most popular novels of its day. Translated into more than twenty languages, its utopian fantasy influenced such thinkers as John Dewey, Thorstein Veblen, Eugene V. Debs, and Norman Thomas. Writing from a nineteenth century perspective and poignantly critical of his own time, Bellamy advanced a remarkable vision of the future, including such daring predictions as the existence of radio, television, motion pictures, and credit cards.

On the surface, the novel is the story of time traveler Julian West, a young Bostonian who is put into a hypnotic sleep in the late nineteenth century and awakens in the year 2000 in a socialist utopia. Crime, war, personal animosity, and want are nonexistent. Equality of the sexes is a fact of life. In short, a messianic state of brotherly love is in effect.

Entertaining and stimulating, Looking Backward, is a provocative study of human society as it is and as it might be.

Self-Reliance and Other Essays

2018 Reprint of Selections from Emerson’s Essays: First Series [1841] and Second Series [1844]. Essayist, poet, and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was a founder of American Transcendentalism, a philosophy emphasizing self-reliance, introspection and the importance of nature for the human being. He was a prescient critic of the dehumanizing tendencies of modern society, especially the then nascent industrialization, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States. The six essays selected from Essays, First Series (1841) and Essays, Second Series (1844) offer a sampling of his views outlining his moral idealism as well as a hint of the later skepticism that colored his thought. In addition to the celebrated title essay, “Self-Reliance”, the others included here are “History,” “Friendship,” “The Over-Soul,” “The Poet,” and “Experience”.

Science And Human Behavior

The psychology classic—a detailed study of scientific theories of human nature and the possible ways in which human behavior can be predicted and controlled—from one of the most influential behaviorists of the twentieth century and the author of Walden Two.

“This is an important book, exceptionally well written, and logically consistent with the basic premise of the unitary nature of science. Many students of society and culture would take violent issue with most of the things that Skinner has to say, but even those who disagree most will find this a stimulating book.” —Samuel M. Strong, The American Journal of Sociology

“This is a remarkable book—remarkable in that it presents a strong, consistent, and all but exhaustive case for a natural science of human behavior…It ought to be…valuable for those whose preferences lie with, as well as those whose preferences stand against, a behavioristic approach to human activity.” —Harry Prosch, Ethics


Utopia is a work of fiction and socio-political satire by Thomas More (1478–1535) published in 1516 in Latin. The book is a frame narrative primarily depicting a fictional island society and its religious, social and political customs. Many aspects of More’s description of Utopia are reminiscent of life in monasteries.

Freedoms Ferment

Freedom’s Ferment was first published in 1944. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

In this historical synthesis of men and movements, Alice Felt Tyler shows in action the democratic faith of the young American republic. She tells the stories of the reform movements and social and religious experiments characteristic of the early half of the nineteenth century.

The early efforts toward social and economic equality — later engulfed in the urgent issues of the Civil War—are here depicted and interpreted in their relation to the history of American thought and action.

Freedom’s Ferment divides the movements of the early 1800’s into two groups: the cults and utopias of varied origins and the humanitarian crusades. A wave of revivalistic religions swept the country. Here is the story of the Millerites, who believed the end of the world would come on October 22, 1844, of the Spiritualists, Rappites, the Mormons, the Shakers.

Many experiments in communal living were instituted by religious groups, but others were entirely social in concept. Life at Brook Farm, in Robert Owen’s colony, in the Oneida Community, and a score of others, is interestingly reconstructed.

Humanitarian reforms and crusades represent the other phase of the movements. Tyler, “exasperated by all the silly twaddle being written about the eccentricities” of the early American republic, shows these movements and the leaders—event the crackpots—as manifestations of the American creed of perfectibility.

Prison and educational reforms, work for delinquents and unfortunates, crusades for world peace, temperance, and women’s rights flourished. All to be overshadowed by the antislavery movement and submerged temporarily by the Civil War.

Freedom’s Ferment pictures the days when the pattern for the American way of life and the fundamentals of the American faith were being set by crusaders who fought for righteousness. The changes in out social picture have altered the form of the humanitarian movements but not the purpose.

Interpretative and critical, the book show the ferment of the period and the urge to reform, found in every phase of life, to be the result of the fusion of religious freedom and political democracy.

Neville Goddards Complete Edition

The full contents of this reference book by Neville Goddard are as follows:

  • At Your Command (1939)

  • Your Faith Is Your Fortune (1941)

  • Freedom For All (1942)

  • Feeling Is The Secret (1944)

  • Prayer - The Art Of Believing (1945)

  • The Search (1946)

  • Master Class - Five Lessons (1948)

  • Out Of This World (1949)

  • Radio Lectures - Station KECA (1951)

  • The Creative Use Of Imagination (1952)

  • The Power Of Awareness (1952)

  • Awakened Imagination (1954)

  • Seedtime And Harvest (1956)

  • I Know My Father (1960)

  • The Law And The Promise (1961)

  • He Breaks The Shell (1964)

  • Resurrection (1966)

Possessing a self-educated and uncommonly sharp intellect,Neville Lancelot Goddardespoused aspiritual visionthat was bold and total: Everything you see and experience, including other people, is the result of your ownthoughts and emotional states. Each of us dreams into existence aninfinitude of realities and outcomes. When you realize this,Neville Goddardtaught, you will discover yourself to be a slumberingbranch of the Creatorclothed in human form, and at the helm oflimitless possibilities.

The Need for Spiritual Communities and How to Start Them

In this book Swami Kriyananda, called “the Father of the Communities Movement,” shares the wisdom gained through many decades of study and practice of the principles that make modern communities thrive. Inspired by his guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, and his ideal of “world brotherhood colonies,” Kriyananda brought these principles to fruition through persistent effort and inspired leadership.

“Make your ideals practical,” Yogananda advised, and Kriyananda took those words to heart. During his lifetime, Kriyananda (1926-2013) founded nine spiritual communities in the United States, Europe, and India. His network of Ananda communities has been hailed as the most successful in the world.

The Ananda communities were formed on two basic principles–“people are more important than things” and “where there is right action, there is victory.” Adherence to these principles is one of the secrets to Ananda’s success.

Whether you are interested in communities from a philosophical perspective or from a practical one–and wish to form your own or join with others in doing so–this book will bring you hundreds of helpful insights into the process–how to start a community, how to make it prosper even in difficult times, and how to see it continue into a bright future.

Spiral Dynamics

Spiral Dynamics - Mastering Values, Leadership & Change

Spiral Dynamics in Action, Humanity’s Master Code

I have about 20 more that are on my “to read” list. The above list are all books I have read within the last 3 years and would highly recommend. There are plenty others about sociology, commune governance, building, bioenergy, animal husbandry and so so so much more but I didn’t want to spam the thread.


I will most certainly check these out! Thank you so much for sharing. I’d love to start a book club if anyone is interested? We can meet once per week for 30 minutes as a group on skype or something, with a goal of 1-2 chapters per week and then discuss our thoughts, or once per month and we read a full book and share our thoughts at the end of each month. Then we vote on the next book as a group? Just some ideas. Thanks again!


Wow, thank you for this great list! I’m excited to check these out.

I’d be interested in joining a book club! Once per month would work a little better for my schedule, but I’m flexible. I’ll research some books I haven’t read and share 1 or 2 here as recommendations. Please feel free (anyone) to add some as well so we can have a vote and get it started!

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