2015 Summer Reading Recommendations from Staff and Board Members

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'Reading and relaxing' by Will Ockenden If you're like Canadian CED Network Executive Director, Michael Toye, you have a pile of books on the side of your desk (see image below right) to remind you of how much you would like to read, if ever you get enough time. Many of us see the few weeks of summer vacation we may have as the prime opportunity to set high expectations for the reading we'd like to accomplish.

Building on last year's blog post, we again asked staff and board members what they were planning on reading this summer, both vocationally and 'vacationally'.

Below is what we have compiled and it provides a great window into the personalities and interests of those involved in the daily operations of CCEDNet and those involved in providing the oversight and vision building of CCEDNet's work.

But more than that, we hope you might be inspired by this list to add some or all of the following recommendations to your own reading list (for the summer or for a later time).

Click on the names below or scroll down to read the suggestions.

We'd love to hear what you're reading! Share your suggestions with us on Facebook or Twitter.


Art Lew

The Tyranny of Experts – Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor by William Easterlye

Economist William Easterly, bestselling author of The White Man’s Burden, traces the history of the fight against global poverty, showing not only how these tactics have trampled the individual freedom of the world’s poor, but how in doing so have suppressed a vital debate about an alternative approach to solving poverty: freedom. Presenting a wealth of cutting-edge economic research, Easterly argues that only a new model of development—one predicated on respect for the individual rights of people in developing countries, that understands that unchecked state power is the problem and not the solution —will be capable of ending global poverty once and for all.

The Lady of the Sewers and Other Adventures in Deep Spain by Paul Richardson

Art will be moving to Spain for a while, and this book is part of his 'preparations.' Paul Richardson's mission—"to sieve out the ancient, perverse and eccentric from the new, nice and normal"—took him from coastal plain to mountainous peak. From ritual pig killings to wood-chopping competitions, from an alchemist who eats stone to pilgrimages in the name of obscure Virgins, his journey into deep Spain is captivating, often hilarious, sometimes surprising, and always highly illuminating.

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Carol Madsen

Carol has been working for the past few years with members of the Somali community in the Surrey, BC. Some of the books she has been reading are inspired by this work.

Infidel: My Life and Nomad: From Islam to America by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali captured the world’s attention with Infidel, her compelling coming-of-age memoir, which spent thirty-one weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Now, in Nomad, Hirsi Ali tells of coming to America to build a new life, an ocean away from the death threats made to her by European Islamists, the strife she witnessed, and the inner conflict she suffered. It is the story of her physical journey to freedom and, more crucially, her emotional journey to freedom—her transition from a tribal mind-set that restricts women’s every thought and action to a life as a free and equal citizen in an open society. Through stories of the challenges she has faced, she shows the difficulty of reconciling the contradictions of Islam with Western values.

Paige's Story: Abuse, Indifference and a Young Life Discarded by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

This investigative report by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, BC's Representative for Children and Youth, documents the downward spiral of a child who had great potential but never received the protection, nurturing and care she needed and deserved. A drug overdose in April of 2013 was the direct cause of death for Paige, a 19-year-old Aboriginal girl living in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. This report argues that it was actually years of abuse and neglect, persistent in action from front-line professionals and an indifferent social care system that led to this young woman’s demise.

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Derek Pachal

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Homo sapiens rules the world because it is the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in its own imagination, such as gods, states, money and human rights. Starting from this provocative idea, Sapiens goes on to retell the history of our species from a completely fresh perspective. It explains that money is the most pluralistic system of mutual trust ever devised; that capitalism is the most successful religion ever invented; that the treatment of animals in modern agriculture is probably the worst crime in history; and that even though we are far more powerful than our ancient ancestors, we aren’t much happier.

The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us by Bee Wilson

Ever since men first hunted for honeycomb in rocks and daubed pictures of it on cave walls, the honeybee has been seen as one of the wonders of nature: social, industrious, beautiful, terrifying. No other creature has inspired in humans an identification so passionate, persistent or fantastical. In The Hive, Bee Wilson explores the magical world of the honeybee. From the hive to honey, from beekeepers to honeymooners, via Aristotle, Shakespeare, Napoleon and Sherlock Holmes. Derek is a beekeeper himself and has already read most of the technical books on the subject and looks forward to reading a more light-hearted exploration of the myths and interesting facts about our relationship to bees.

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Geoff Ripat

The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit by Kim Skildum-Reid and Anne-Marie Grey

As switched-on sponsors continue to evolve their sponsorship programs, other sponsors are falling behind - not because they are less intelligent, but because their approach and tools have not kept pace with recent big changes in sponsorship. It isn't about awareness or exposure any more. In an era of unprecedented consumer power, sponsorship is the single most potent marketing tool you have to create and foster relationships and relevance with your target markets. The Sponsorship Seekers Toolkit is designed to equip both sponsees and sponsors with the basic theory, skills and tools required for selling, implementing and managing sponsorships. It includes checklists and templates for letters.

Papillon by Henri Charriere

Classic autobiographical/fictional account of a man, sentenced to life imprisonment in a penal colony in French Guiana, who refuses to be broken or permanently detained by the callous and corrupt administration and system. Not CED, but good reading!

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Katie Schewe

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinarylife, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. His small act of kindness propels him into a world he never dreamed existed. There are people who fall through the cracks, and Richard has become one of them. And he must learn to survive in this city of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels, if he is ever to return to the London that he knew. Katie got a copy of this book signed when Neil Gaiman came through Winnipeg a few years ago. This one of her favourite books that she's looking forward to revisiting.

Katie is also looking forward to exploring The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit as recommended by Geoff.

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Kelly Gillis

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

"In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few." In the forty years since its original publication, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind has become one of the great modern Zen classics, much beloved, much reread, and much recommended as the best first book to read on Zen. Suzuki Roshi presents the basics—from the details of posture and breathing in zazen to the perception of nonduality—in a way that is not only remarkably clear, but that also resonates with the joy of insight from the first to the last page.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.

Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.

Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.

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Marianne Jurzyniec

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not  a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

A CED perspective intersects with many different sectors and areas of focus and if you’re like Marianne you likely have an interest in all of them. Marianne is reading Essentialism in an attempt to learn more about doing less, but better, and having greater impact in the areas in which she's involved.

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson

This book applies insights from diverse areas of economics and begins to answer why nations develop differently, with some succeeding in power and prosperity, while others fail. Based on fifteen years of original research, Acemoglu and Robinson marshal extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today. This has been on Marianne's reading list ever since she wanted a crash course in political economy. This summer it’s finally time.

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Matthew Thompson

Guns, Germs, and Steel; The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

Guns, Germs, and Steel seeks to answer the biggest question of post-Ice-Age human history: why Eurasian peoples, rather than peoples of other continents, became the ones to develop the ingredients of power (guns, germs, and steel) and to expand around the world. Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion, as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war, and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history.

1919 by John Dos Passos

1919 is the second novel in John Dos Passos' ambitious, groundbreaking and much lauded trilogy USA, originally published in 1932. In this trilogy Dos Passos sought to capture the essence of American culture following the first World War, taking particular interest in the gap between the rich and poor and the lives of ordinary people. To do this he employed four distinct narrative modes: fictional narratives exploring the lives of his main characters, "Camera Eye" sections that are written as autobiographical stream of consciousness, "Newsreels" that pull from newspaper headlines and article fragments from the period, and biographies of historical figures. Matthew read the first in the series, The 42nd Parallel, three years ago and looks forward to continuing this fun but challenging read.

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Michael Toye

Connecting to Change the World: Harnessing the Power of Networks for Social Impact by Peter Plastrik, Madeleine Taylor, and John Cleveland

Social entrepreneurs, community-minded leaders, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropists now recognize that to achieve greater impact they must adopt a network-centric approach to solving difficult problems. While the advantages of such networks are clear, there are few resources that offer easily understandable, field-tested information on how to form and manage social-impact networks. Easily understandable and full of actionable advice, Connecting to Change the World is an informative guide to creating collaborative solutions to tackle the most difficult challenges society faces.

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant

Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant spent four years surveying thousands of nonprofit CEOs, conducting hundreds of interviews, and studying a dozen high-impact nonprofits to uncover their secrets to success. The secret? Great nonprofits spend as much time working outside their four walls as they do managing their internal operations. They use the power of leverage to become greater forces for good. Crutchfield and McLeod Grant studied 12 nonprofits that have achieved extraordinary levels of impact—from Habitat for Humanity to the Heritage Foundation—and distilled six counterintuitive practices that these organizations use to change the world.

Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World by Srdja Popovic and Matthew Miller

Blueprint for Revolution is an illustrated guide to changing the world, or just your community, through non-violent means, from the slacker-turned-world revolutionary--named "the secret architect of the Arab Spring" by The Atlantic--who orchestrated the non-violent fall of Milošević in his native Serbia, and went on to influence peaceful uprisings from Georgia to Zimbabwe to Lebanon.

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Paul Chamberlain

Transition to Common Work: Building Community at The Working Centre by Joe Mancini and Stephanie Mancini

The Working Centre in the downtown core of Kitchener, Ontario, is a widely recognized and successful model for community development. Begun from scratch in 1982, it is now a vast network of practical supports for the unemployed, the underemployed, the temporarily employed, and the homeless, populations that collectively constitute up to 30 percent of the labour market both locally and across North America. This book highlights the core philosophy behind the centre’s decentralized but integrated structure, which has contributed to the creation of affordable services. Underlying this approach are common-sense innovations such as thinking about virtues rather than values, developing community tools with a social enterprise approach, and implementing a radically equal salary policy.

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Sarah Leeson-Klym

All About Love by bell hooks

Sarah read this a few years ago and is re-reading it now because she wants to dive into the other 2 books in this trilogy by bell hooks. hooks is an incredible feminist writer who can weave deeply important ideas about the intersections of various oppressions into concepts and reflections that make sense in the day-to-day to totally non-academic folks. This piece looks at our cultural understandings of love and how an overall oppressive social system affects love in terms of families, partners, but also love as a strategy of resistance. It’s clear throughout that love and justice are related ideals and that we need both to make our world better.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Sarah appreciates stories that re-imagine ‘bad’ characters, and a good dystopic vision. This one re-tells the story of the Wizard of Oz in a darker way, and shines a light on the Wicked Witch. In this version she’s an outsider who’s much maligned and bullied, and eventually an activist of sorts, while the Wizard is a dystopic dictator causing social and economic ruin in Oz.

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