ICYMI, summer is here y’all.
Break out the swim trunks, coolers of Corona and… books? (Like you didn’t already know I was a cool kid!)
Yep, so far this summer I’ve been spending those summer nights reading about my favorite topic: saving the world.
Or, you know –– just making things better all around. It’s one of my hobbies.
So, amidst the many sunny, outdoor activities brought to you by the summer season, maybe carry a book or two in tow.
Make your local librarian proud.
5. Start Something That Matters –– Blake Mycoskie
You knew I had to put a social entrepreneur on the list, didn’t you?
I gotta admit, when it came to the TOMS shoes brand, I used to feel pretty ambivalent. Wasn’t this just another token feel-good brand? The ‘buy one, give one’ idea is cool and all, but how is giving away shoes to people in need really solving any problems in a sustainable way?
Turns out, I didn’t know the whole story.
The evolution of TOMS is –– spoiler alert –– much more complex and interesting than I had imagined. Hearing it all told from the perspective of TOMS’ Chief Shoe Giver (real title), Blake Mycoskie, humanized the company and made me reconsider its mission with a new perspective.
Read this if: you’re a budding or interested social entrepreneur who wants to get inspired to make your own social enterprise a reality.
4. Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism –– Betsy Greer
If I hadn’t decided to get lost in the library one day, I never would have found this book. Normally I slide right past the craft book section –– lamenting my own lack of artistic prowess and repressing painful memories of art class failure –– but the title of this book caught my attention.
Craft + activism = craftivism. So simple. Much wow.
If the pussy hat revolution didn’t already call your attention to the ruckus that handmade items can cause in a social movement, this book will do it.
This isn’t your grandma’s knitting club (or maybe it is, if Gram-Gram’s a social change fanatic.)
Read this if: you think that the maker revolution shouldn’t just be for tech heads.
3. You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen –– Eric Liu
There are few book titles that make me stop in my tracks and go “I must have this book immediately.” (I admit I often judge books by covers. But just books!)
This was one of them.
While I personally prefer learning from people who went grassroots to global, getting the perspective of someone who has rubbed shoulders with the bigwigs (Liu was speechwriter and policy adviser for Bill Clinton, to name one such bigwig) is a must for understanding the larger context in which social change occurs.
I originally found Liu through his internet baby, Citizen University, which I highly recommend tapping into, if civic engagement is your cup o’ tea.
Read this if: you want to take civic empowerment to a whole new level.
2. The Story of Stuff –– Annie Leonard
Every now and then I get this weird infatuation with minimalism. It usually derives from the joy I get every time I move apartments and joyfully purge most of my stuff, lightening the load of things I call mine.
Ironically, my interest in ‘less’ always makes me think of ‘more’.
How can I do more to reduce my impact on the planet? How can I recycle more? Shop more consciously? Learn more about my carbon footprint? Save more money?
This book takes this amorphous concept of ‘stuff’ and turns it into tangible messages and suggestions for changing the way we relate to stuff for the sake of the planet. Ugly realities yes, but powerlessness, no.
Read this if: you think that the more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you.
1. How to Be Alive: A Guide to the Kind of Happiness that Helps the World –– Colin Beavan
Had to save the best for last.
I’ve become something of an evangelist for this book –– after checking it out from the library, I immediately bought a copy and sought out the precursor to this one, No Impact Man.
Just go get it. Seriously.
This is the first book I have come across that lays out in a non-judgmental fashion how we can channel our desires to improve the planet into realistic lifestyle changes great and small, that will ultimately make us happier people.
Key words here? Non-judgmental and realistic. I get so damn tired of reading holier-than-thou literature that demonize and guilt trip people –– making them believe they must become an off-the-grid hippie tree person in order to make the world a better place. Ugh.
This book is real-person response to such messages.
PLUS, as you read, there is an accompanying workbook with exercises and reflections, so that all the ideas and insights that occur to you as you read are not lost.
Read this if: you want to start making your personal fulfillment and planetary responsibility merge into one.
It might seem counterintuitive, but summer is my favorite time to read and get inspired.
Maybe it’s the extra Vitamin D, maybe it’s the good weather, maybe it’s my library’s summer reading prizes.
These are just five books I like to get you started on your own save the world summer reading. What else should I be perusing?
See you at the library… and the pool.
Let's change the world.
Who wrote this?
Gina Edwards, Impact Explorer founder and lover of all pun jokes, making a positive change in the world, Stephen Colbert, Jif Peanut Butter, and staying inside on rainy days. Order may vary.