Culture

7 books that will change your world view

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There’s so much more to a book than words on a page. Books have the power to inspire, enlighten, uplift, and change the world. Two years ago, our Global Policy Team recommended 10 incredible books that opened our eyes and inspired us to take action.

Now, we’ve got seven more books from them that will improve any book collection:

The Invention of Wings; Sue Monk Kidd

A compelling story about the relationship between a female slave and the daughter of her white master, and each’s search for freedom, empowerment, and justice. Set in the early 1800s, the book alternates between the two women’s perspectives, offering nuanced glimpses into the lives of slaves in the American south, the system of white oppression that enslaved them, and the difficulties of being a woman abolitionist born into a family of slave owners.

Recommended by Joe Kraus, Policy Director, Washington DC

Educated: A Memoir; Tara Westover

Tara Westover grew up in a family where it was believed that the government was out to get them. They isolated themselves in Idaho, treating all health concerns with herbs and stockpiling fuel, guns, and food. But even with limited exposure, Tara began to educate herself, setting foot in a classroom for the first time at 17, and eventually continuing on to get a PhD from Cambridge University. This book is an incredible testament to the power of individual choice to invent new possibilities.

Recommended by Natasha Somji, Education Policy Manager, Washington DC

My Sister, the Serial Killer; Oyinkan Braithwaite

Yes, that is a killer title, and yes, this is a (fictional) book about a murderous sister. What you might not expect, however, is that this book is at times laugh out loud funny. Set in Nigeria and told in short, punchy chapters, this is a story about a woman doing all that she can to protect her sister from herself, and others from her sister. Despite being based around a serial killer, at its core this is a story about unconditional love.

Recommended by Joe Kraus, Policy Director, Washington DC

The Looting Machine; Tom Burgis

The Looting Machine is an amazing exploration of how conflict and poverty are directly linked to the looting of oil, gas, and minerals from African countries. Burgis illuminates the strategies of some key individuals who use their networks or power to secure corrupt deals and hide the proceeds in some of the world’s biggest financial centres and tax havens. If you want a window on how a dark part of the world functions, read this book.

Recommended by David McNair, Executive Director of Policy, Brussels

Kindred; Octavia E. Butler

If you like science fiction, historical fiction, or stories involving time travel, you’ll love Kindred. First published in 1979 by the first African American science fiction writer, this is a page-turning story about a black woman living in modern day California who inexplicably wakes up on a slave-owning plantation in the American south in the early 19th century. It’s a brilliant premise for a novel, and provides an interesting lens through which to view the injustices of slavery.

Recommended by Joe Kraus, Policy Director, Washington DC

Half of a Yellow Sun; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie weaves together the lives and stories of of three people living in Nigeria during the Nigerian Civil War: Ugwu, a 13-year-old house boy; Olanna, the daughter of Chief Ozobia who abandons her privileged life to be with Odenigbo, a university professor; and Richard, an English writer who comes to Nigeria to explore Igbo-Ukwu art. The novel addresses the issues of post-colonialism, class, race and ethnic allegiances, showing how each of the main characters lives significantly changed after Biafra’s declaration of succession and the brutality of war.

Recommended by Samantha Singh, Global Policy Coordinator, London

The Finance Curse: How Global Finance is Making us All Poorer; Nicholas Shaxson

What do the Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, tax havens, the backlash to globalization, and the rise of populism have in common? Each is a product of the evolution of the global financial system. In this powerful and well-written book, Shaxon offers a clear-eyed indictment of that system, documenting how it has taken on a force of its own, shaping both national and global economies, while actually yielding more damage than benefits to society. This is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the global dynamics shaping our world today and wanting to do something about it.

Recommended by Joe Kraus, Policy Director, Washington DC

 

Photo credits to Abhi Sharma.

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