Whether you are relaxing on idyllic beaches, visiting friends or traveling for service projects. spring break can take on many forms. But one thing no spring break should be without is a good read. Check out these great book recommendations to take with you to the beach, or to the couch. What better way to spend the break than learning something new?
The International Bank of Bob: Connecting Our Worlds One Kiva Loan at a Time, Bob Harris
American TV writer, TV and radio personality, and political humorist Bob Harris takes us along on his epic journey to discover the true effect of microfinance on someone’s life. After a lavish, no-expense spared trip writing for Forbes Traveler, Bob experienced a crisis of conscious about the birth lottery, and how drastically it shapes our fortunes and opportunities. Research lead him to Kiva, and Kiva lead Bob on the journey of a lifetime. Inspired by his first Kiva loan to a wood carving business in Bali, Bob begins a global journey to visit areas directly benefiting from Kiva loans.
“I do nothing heroic, I overcome no difficult odds, and I don’t pretend to have changed anybody’s life all that much,” Bob Harris writes. “They’re doing the life-changing themselves. I’m just telling you about it.”
BOTTOM LINE: The mix of Bob’s fun and witty writing style together with poignant anecdotes makes The International Bank of Bob a great spring break read for anyone looking to learn the fundamentals of microfinance with a healthy dose of inspiration.
More Than Good Intentions, Dean Karlan & Jacob Appel
If you enjoyed the much lauded style of Freakonomics you’ll find More Than Good Intentions a great read with a development and poverty twist. Global poverty is possibly the largest issue we face today, and yet it seems that large-scale efforts never bring significant results.
Dean Karlan, a behavioral economist, and Jacob Appel, an aid worker, pool their respective expertise and present a cutting-edge approach to combating global poverty without trading in only idealistic platitudes. The authors visit real-life development situations around the world and demonstrate that many cookie-cutter development models don’t work. Karlan and Appel combine intensive field research with psychological insights to show how analyzing human tendencies can bring about small but effective changes to many development initiatives.
BOTTOM LINE: More Than Good Intentions provides a sharp look at the results of combining behavioral economics and development to create non-traditional aid models.
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power and Politics of the World Trade, Second Edition, Pietra Rivoli
Globalization is a hot-button topic and a term that is used in varied contexts -but what exactly is it? Economist Pietra Rivoli uses a simple concept, how a souvenir T-shirt gets from Point A to Point B, to educate and tell the story of globalization. From the store in Florida she originally bought it, to the cotton fields of Texas and beyond, Rivoli provides a literal example of the pros and cons of world trade through the example of the textile industry. Even for readers with casual knowledge of economics, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy deals in easy-to-understand data points and gives comprehensive value to the meaning of ‘free trade.’
BOTTOM LINE: Whatever your opinions on globalization, you’ll finish this quick-read knowing a lot more about global trade and never see a souvenir t-shirt the same way again.
Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity, Lester Brown
With alarm over food security growing, Lester Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute, delves into the extent of food challenges in various regions of the globe, and the potential impacts based on environmental and socioeconomic factors in these regions in his book Full Planet, Empty Plates.
Every page of this short book is filled with clear facts and concise, convincing arguments as to how issues surrounding food security should be addressed. The importance of food security cannot be overrated as it’s tied to so many other global issues: overpopulation, dietary tendencies, ethanol production, rising global temperatures, soil erosion, water depletion, and political regional stability.
BOTTOM LINE: Though Full Planet, Empty Plates is more informative than delight-filled, Brown is attempting to sound the alarm on an important issue that more and more is being used as a chess piece within geopolitics.
The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today, Kevin Bales
Although most people believe slavery is a dark but distant part of history, human trafficking continues to exist today in many forms around the world. Kevin Bales, author of Disposable People, and Ron Soodalter bring the issue of modern-day slavery close to home.
Oftentimes shocking, The Slave Next Door unveils these forms of slavery and human trafficking occurring all around us, hidden in plain sight: the dishwasher in the kitchen of the neighborhood restaurant to the kids on the corner selling cheap trinkets. The authors succeed in combining anecdotes from all parties - slaves, slaveholders and traffickers, as well as from experts, counselors, law enforcement officers, rescue and support groups— to give the reader a well-rounded perspective of the issue.
BOTTOM LINE: Though a difficult topic, the book itself is digestible, informative, and provides actionable solutions for everyday life. Anyone who wants to learn more about the ongoing problem of slavery in the United States, as well as what they can do about it, should read The Slave Next Door.
Half The Sky, Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn
Half The Sky, written by Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, examines the oppression of women and girls in the developing world through a harsh but ultimately hopeful lens.
The authors take us a journey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, from a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery to an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. The authors show how a little help, whether that be through education, clean water or access to microfinance, can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. Through a series of powerful stories, Kristof and WuDunn present undeniable proof of what can be achieved by unlocking women’s potential.
BOTTOM LINE: Half the Sky is a great pick for any changemakers looking for a bit of reassurance that there are fail-proof ways to tackle sustainable development and investing in women is one of them.