Givology Staff's Blog

A Journey You Carry in Your Hands- Twelve Must-Read Books

by Macy Huang
As Vera Nazarian once said, "Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light." The books below are not listed in order according to rating, yet all of them encompass social movements that fundamentally changed the lives of women and children, the poverty-stricken, and those that lacked education in the less developed places. They are great books for learning about education and poverty eradication around the globe.
[font=Arial][b]Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World.[/b][/font]
By Tracy Kidder
Written by a Pulitzer Prize Winner, the book tells the story of Paul Farmer, a Harvard professor, a doctor and anthropologist, a world expert on AIDS and Tuberculosis, and a dreamer who in medical school found his lifelong calling: to make use of his medical talents and help those who are most in need. Although the journey of Dr. Farmer takes place in the mountains of Haiti, Cuba, Peru, and Russia, Farmer strongly holds the belief that  the only real nation is humanity. The name of the book, Mountains Beyond Mountains, is an old Haitian proverb that alludes to the problems coming after another one solved. As Dr. Farmer embarks on his journey to save lives endangered by diseases, he pushes through hardships and trudges to accomplish his goals.
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[b][font=Arial]Leaving Microsoft to Change the World[/font][/b]
By John Wood
A powerful autobiography on how he built up a charity that funds books for impoverished children, John Wood writes his book after he leaves a high-salary job at Microsoft to a trip in the Himalayas, in which he finally finds his passion. Shocked from only seeing seven books in the library of a local school in Nepal, Wood broadens his life by creating Room to Read, a non-governmental organization that brings books and literacy to children living in Nepal. By the end of 2007, he established over 5,000 libraries and 400 schools, offering over a million children an education even more powerful than money.
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[b]Banker to the Poor: Microlending and the Battle Against World Poverty[/b]
By Muhammad Yunus, Alan Jolis
Muhammad Yunus, born in Bangladesh, is an economics professors who founded the Grameen Bank. However, unlike many successful businessmen, Yunus is dedicated to offering miniscule loans to the poor, believing that credit is a basic human right to people of all ranks. Since 1983, the Grameen Banks has provided 2.5 billion micro-loans to more than two million families in Bangladesh, with a near 100% repayment rate. His vision inspired 300 more banks in the United States to offer micro-loans to poor families around the globe.
Banker to the Poor is certainly an interesting read to anyone fascinated in using economics principles in the philanthropy field, and provides a new angle on looking at the relationship between the rich and the poor.
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[b]The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change[/b]
By Adam Braun
Honestly written and extraordinarily told, the book tells the story of Adam Braun, who turned $25 into more than 200 schools around the world. He began working summers at hedge funds, later continuing his path at Wall Street. But while traveling he met a young boy begging on the streets of India, who after being asked what he wanted most in the world, simply answered, A pencil. This small request led to a staggering series of events that took Braun backpacking through dozens of countries before eventually leaving one of the worlds most prestigious jobs to found Pencils of Promise.
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[b]Little Princes: One Mans Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal[/b]
By Conor Grenan
In search of adventure, twenty-nine-year-old Conor Grennan traded his day job for a year-long trip around the globe, a journey that began with a three-month stint volunteering at the Little Princes Children's Home, an orphanage in war-torn Nepal. For Conor, what began as a footloose adventure becomes a commitment to reunite the children he had grown to love with their families, but this would be no small task. He would risk his life on a journey through the legendary mountains of Nepal, facing the dangers of a bloody civil war and a debilitating injury. The books explores the theme of love and friendship, courage and drive, as well as one mans story in search for his dream.
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[b]Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption[/b]
By Bryan Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didnt commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanshipand transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
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[b]Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity-My Own and What It Means to Be a Woman in Chaos[/b]
By Manal M. Omar
An American aid worker of Arab descent, Manal Omar moves to Iraq to help as many women as she can rebuild their lives. She quickly finds herself drawn into the saga of a people determined to rise from the ashes of war and sanctions and rebuild their lives in the face of crushing chaos. This is a chronicle of Omar's friendships with several Iraqis whose lives are crumbling before her eyes. It is a tale of love, as her relationship with one Iraqi man intensifies in a country in turmoil. And it is the heartrending stories of the women of Iraq, as they grapple with what it means to be female in a homeland you no longer recognize.
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[b]Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide[/b]
By Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
From two of our most fiercely moral voices, a passionate call to arms against our eras most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world. Readers undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. From Kristof and WuDunns combined reporting experience, readers depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope. Half the Sky offers a beautiful and sensitive portrait of many women who have suffered, a tribute to those who have taken action, and a challenge to all of us in development to continue the work we do.
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[b]I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban[/b]
By Malala Yousafzai
Malalas miraculous story started when refused to stay silent when the Taliban took over her home country, Pakistan. She paid the price and was shot at the age of fifteen on her way back from school. Surprisingly, she did not die, and in fact made her way to the halls of the United Nations at the age of sixteen. She continued her fight for womens education, on the journey gathering recognition as the youngest Nobel Prize winner. Good Reads deems her book as making you  believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.
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[b]Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time[/b]
By Greg Mortenson
Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistans treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortensons quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit. The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Talibans backyard.
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[b]Poor Economics: A Radical Thinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty[/b]
By Abhijit V. Banergee and Esther Duflo
When we see government dollars and thousands of charity organizations going to help the poor, the uneducated, and the minorities, we could stop and wonder if the dollars create a marginal benefit and truly help those in need, or believe in the appearance that charity would somehow create a better world. The book analyzes the presumptions of service, questioning if microfinance achieves long-term goals for the poor and if schooling equals learning. Awarded Best Business Book of the Year, the authors explores the behaviors of poor people and the best way to lead them out of poverty.
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[/color][b]The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It[/b]
By Paul Collier
In his book, Collier examines the countries left behind from the rapidly industrialized nations, and argues that foreign aid and globalization can often become downsides to the developments of fifty states, home to the poorest billion people on earth. Rather, he proposes hopeful and practical solutions to the humanitarian crisis we face today. He suggests a bold new plan supported by the Group of Eight industrialized nations and combat corruption and initiate military interventions. Based on dense scientific research, Collier hopes to alleviate poverty in nations suffering the most.
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[/color]Source: Goodreads

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