Summer Reading from buildOn
By Brett McNaught, Vice President of International Programs and Skyler Badenoch, Director of Development – East Coast
With summer comes opportunities for both travel and leisure–either way, one is usually granted time to catch up on their reading! As part of buildOn’s international staff, we thought we’d provide a list of suggestions for those wishing to globalize their perspective through a good book. Here’s buildOn’s reading list for summer 2011!
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
By far my favorite novel out of those that I’ve read in the last 5 years. It incorporates a bit of autobiography with lots of fiction. Most of the storyline takes place in India and has everything you could ever ask for in an epic summer read. It captures you from the first sentence and sends you on a journey laced with love, betrayal, deep rivalries, intense loyalty, war, survival, and irony.
Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat
Edwidge is my favorite Haitian author and this book is just one of her many must-read books if you are interested in Haiti. It’s a book of 9 short stories, and what I call a perfect commuter book because you can finish a chapter on your way to work.
Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen
This is a book that I enjoyed reading in graduate school. It helped me define my world view on international development and poverty. It’s an academic read, so don’t bring this book to the beach.
The Man and the Storyteller by Brett McNaught
Written by buildOn’s Vice President of International Programs, Brett McNaught, this book will get you in the mood for travel and life on the road in developing countries.
A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
V.S. Naipaul writes about his native Trinidad in a way that shows great humor, sadness and truth in A House for Mr. Biswas. The story follows a seemingly ordinary man, one that is not even necessarily likable, through his quest to one day have a house of his own and to get out from under his in-laws. What struck me most about this book is how fiction can be a rich and wonderful window into a time and place that non-fiction has trouble replicating with the same power. If you like this I recommend A Bend in The River as his next book, which takes a look at post-colonial Africa.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A magical journey through multi-generations of a Columbian family called the Buendias. Marquez is famous for his Magical Realism. If you like this you will also like Love in The Time of Cholera.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
The amazing and true story of William Kamkwamba of Wimbe village in Malawi and his resourcefulness to build a windmill in his village. buildOn has partnered with William in Wimbe and has completed the first of multiple schools in Wimbe, Malawi.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
A quick, inspiring must read that is perfect while you are travelling to get you in the travelling mood or while you are at home wanting to feel like you are getting away. It’s hard to go wrong when it has sold something crazy like 65 million copies and been translated in 65+ languages. Timeless.
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
An insightful book that examines history in an interesting way that seems to logically explain many mysteries of human society. Jared Diamond is a serious academic who writes in a way that allows most anyone to understand what he is explaining, even me.
A Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
Inspiring, educational and a very important part of world history that happened not too long ago.
American Creation by Joseph J. Ellis
Pulitzer Prize winning author of Founding Brothers Ellis is a great historian and storyteller who I believe honestly portrays the complexity of America’s founders at a time of great change. Ellis looks at Adams, Franklin, Washington, Madison, Payne and Jefferson to name a few and exposes their greatest strengths and weaknesses. It is an interesting read for anyone interested in creating social change.
Some other non-profit related reading lists were recently published by Fast Company, who notes a book about KA-BOOM!’s genesis, and LearnPhilanthropy.net. Hope your summer provides lots of opportunities to curl up with one of the above tomes!