What we’re reading right now

Dec 27, 2019

Book recommendations from Ashoka Fellows

In interviews for our #FutureOf series, U.S. Ashoka Fellows shared the books on the top of their mind— reads they found inspiring, sustaining, eye-opening, or just plain funny.

The reading roundup:

📚 Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility, Tara Westover’s Educated, and An Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. -Dana Mortenson

📚 I just finished Fruit of the Drunken Tree, a beautiful novel about Escobar-era Colombia. For entrepreneurs and leaders, I recommend Roger Martin’s The Opposable Mind. It’s about how innovators need to be able to hold two contradictory thoughts in their head — and be comfortable over an extended period of time with lack of resolution. Groundbreaking innovations come as you work to resolve these models. -Willy Foote

📚 Right now I’m reading I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron (it’s hilarious!) and The Empath’s Survival Guide by Judith Orloff. Actually I’m listening to them — I’m an auditory learner. -Molly Barker

📚 Adrienne Maree Brown’s Emergent Strategy and new book Pleasure Activism are informing the particular movements I’m in. I pick them up almost daily and get so much juice from them. Also, Brown is a great writer! -Janelle Orsi

📕 The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead. It’s a story about what it means to live by your values in the face of injustice and cruelty, and the struggle to survive. Every human being should read this book. -Jessica Sager

📕 Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the United States: Restoring Cultural Knowledge, Protecting Environments, and Regaining Health, co-curated by Indigenous writer and food security expert Elizabeth Hoover, a changemaker I admire. -Dune Lankard

📕 Leadership On The Line, by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky — an important book about how to navigate the backlash of disruptive innovation. -Amelia Franck Meyer

📕 I’m seeing important changes around the movement that is emerging under the frameearth repair.” There’s an exceptionally good book about this called Climate: A New Story, by Charles Eisenstein. It’s a reframe away from an emissions/carbon focused definition of the problem to one that is largely focused on ecosystem, soil, forest, wetland, and grassland degradation, and efforts at repair. It’s important to note that earth repair and restorative agriculture do not have the political problems climate change has. -David Bornstein

📕 The Drama of the Gifted Child is about how people who go into “helping” professions like medicine, therapy, and teaching often come from families and backgrounds where they had to play the emotional regulator role, so they develop a heightened empathy or awareness of others’ needs and feelings. It’s a “gift” that comes with a dark side, though — they often bury their own feelings and needs. Fair warning: this book is a dense read, but an important core idea and the inspiration for a lot of our work! -Megan Marcus

📕 Right now I’m reading The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present, which reframes the story of Native America to one of resiliency and resourcefulness. -Seth Flaxman

📚 I just started David Brooks’ new book The Second Mountain. Take-away so far: as humans, we can’t avoid suffering — so can we learn to suffer well, to make it redemptive? Also: John O’Donohue’s poetry — I recommend starting with To Bless the Space Between Us. -Jeff Dykstra

Bonus! Playlists & other extras:

🎧 The podcast How I Built This With Guy Raz. I love the episodes on Warby Parker, WeWork, Spanx, and of course Ben & Jerry’s. They all show the determination and commitment to vision of each of the founders, pushing ahead against all odds. And each has a story of failure that was not a setback but a learning experience. -Paula Daniels

🎵 📺 My go-to game time songs: Great Work by Brian Courtney Wilson and Ella’s Song by Sweet Honey in the Rock. Last year’s obsession: Daniel Caesar’s NPR Tiny Desk Concert. And film: Just watched Alex Bombach’s brilliant documetary On Her Shoulders. But who are we kidding, my favorite all-time movie: The Wiz. -Morgan Dixon

🎵 🎧 Radio Paradise. Krishna Das. I make time for Calm App every morning, and Tina Turner’s Nam Myoho Renge Kyo — it’s a Buddhist chant turned into a beautiful song. It melts away problems, builds inner strength, inspires solutions. And podcast: For The Wild created by Ayana Young, a changemaker I admire. -Dune Lankard

🎧 Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History. He makes the new neurons in my brain fire. -Molly Barker

📺 Right at this moment, I’m liking Taco Chronicles, a Netflix mini-series from Mexican producers and writers. On the surface, it’s about tacos — the art of making perfect and delicious tacos. Carnitas. Canasta. Asada. Barbacoa. But I’m also finding it to be a beautiful and timely celebration of Mexican culture and traditions that have served us for centuries, a reminder that even in our darkest moments, during the worst storms in our lives, that what truly matters in life — family, food, traditions — will persist. Or as people in my neighborhood say, “la cultura, cura.” -José Quiñonez

🎧 Podcasts: Hidden Brain, Code Switch, anything that gets me thinking deeply about human behavior. -Dana Mortenson

Ashoka is the world’s largest community of social enterpreneurs, with 3,800 Ashoka Fellows worldwide. The compilation above draws from our U.S. network, via our weekly #FutureOf series where Fellows tell us what trends they’re seeing and where they get their inspiration.

Eager for more inspiring reads? Check out these 6 new books from Ashoka Fellows in 2019.

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What we’re reading right now was originally published in A New Game on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


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