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10 books you need to read that will change your world view


Looking for great book recommendations? We’ve got a 2020 update with seven new books that will change your world view.

There’s no denying the value of a good book. From informational to entertaining, eye-opening to jaw-dropping, and everything in between, books have the power to change our perspective.

If you’re looking for the perfect read, here are some suggestions from ONE’s Global Policy Team. These suggestions cover a wide range of reading needs, from non-fiction that addresses tough global development challenges, to fiction that transports you through exceptional stories.

Africa Uprising: Popular Protest and Political Change by Adam Branch and Zachariah Cherian Mampilly

Africa Uprising offers an interesting and clearly written historical account of protest in Africa. The book situates current African protests within their broader historical context and argues that African protests are distinct from protests elsewhere.

Recommended by Joe Kraus, Policy Director, Transparency & Accountability

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Rönnlund

It may seem difficult at times to see things in a positive light. Luckily, Factfulness is here to help! This book addresses 10 human “instincts” that push us to have a pessimistic view of the world, which may distort our reality.The authors challenge readers to try and see the world through a different lens.

Recommended by Serah Makka-Ugbabe, Nigeria Director

Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

NOI (as she’s often referred to), Nigeria’s first female finance minister, knows the dangers of fighting corruption. In 2012, her 83-year-old mother was kidnapped by people who objected to some of her policies. Her book draws on her experiences to provide lessons learned on transparency, accountability and good governance.

Recommended by Blessing Omakwu, Policy & Advocacy Manager, Nigeria

Natives – Exploring Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala

Natives speaks directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the history of Britain’s racialised empire. The book covers the police, education, identity, politics, the far right, and much more from Britain’s history.

Recommended by Lorriann Robinson, Policy & Advocacy Manager, UK

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

This book details everything you never knew about the origin and evolution of our species, in clear and relatively brief (considering it covers over 2 million years worth of history) terms. It gives a newfound appreciation and understanding of basic human behaviors.

Recommended by Sara Harcourt, Senior Director, Poilcy

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing offers an unflinching view of the transatlantic slave trade, through interconnected stories of descendents of two West African women. Well-researched and complex, this book is a must-read.

Recommended by Fiona Robertson, Policy Officer, Development Finance

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What would you say if your friend asked you how to raise a feminist? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was asked that very question, and wrote this letter – which is now published as a short book. Some of these suggestions may be easier to implement than others, but this quick read is thought-provoking and important nonetheless.

Recommended by Allison Wong, Project Manager, Global Policy

A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk

A Strangeness tells the story of a street cart vendor in Istanbul, his family, and his community. Their experiences shine light on the broader history of modernizing Turkey and the social and political upheavals that accompany the process. This book is beautifully written and approaches development from a unique perspective.

Recommended by Megan O’Donnell, Senior Policy Manager

Manuscripts found in Accra by Paulo Coehlo

Written by the author of The Alchemist, Manuscripts found in Accra is a book that teaches a series of life lessons. The book, set in Jerusalem during the Crusades, provides philosophies that all people can learn from. It’s exactly the type of book you might want to read during a low-key weekend.

Recommended by Jenny Ottenhoff, Policy Director, Global Health & Education & Anita Okemini, Policy Director, Agriculture and Inclusive Growth

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Before fleeing the Islamic Republic of Iran, Nafisi formed a secret book club with seven of her female students. They analyzed western classics that were forbidden and controversial in Iran, while also discussing their daily lives. The books opens up deep philosophical questions about freedom, imagination, and the role of fiction, while also focusing on women’s empowerment and Iran’s history.

Recommended by Suzanne Seiller, Policy & Advocacy Assistant, France

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