Karl Krayer and I will soon complete our 13th full year of hosting the First Friday Book Synopsis. At each of our monthly meetings, Karl and I each present a synopsis of a best selling business book.
For nearly half that time, I have also presented synopses every month for the Urban Engagement Book Club for CitySquare (formerly Central Dallas Ministries). And just as people ask me about the best/most important business books, people also ask me about the best/most important social justice & poverty books.
Let me state the obvious – reading one book helps you a little, but reading a series of books, covering an important arena, builds a body of knowledge, and helps you know how to think, and then, what to do.
If social justice and poverty concern you, here’s a short list of books to put in your reading stack. Read these, and you will begin to build that body of knowledge.
|Read this book||A comment, or two|
|How to get started… Start here!||The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
|Yes, that The Grapes of Wrath (1939). Just to grasp the human struggle of severe poverty. Everyone should read this in their adult years!|
|To understand the plight of the working poor||Nickel and Dimed On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich.||Ehrenreich went “undercover” before Undercover Boss was ever conceived.|
|To go a little deeper into the plight of the working poor||The Working Poor: (Invisible in America) by David K. Shipler||Shipler is a Pulitzer Prize winner – and this is gripping, and sad.|
|To think about unequal education||The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America by Jonathan Kozol||Or – read his earlier book, Savage Inequalities. Actually, read this one first…|
|So, what to do||How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein||Comprehensive – helpful, useful!|
To build optimism
The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World’s Toughest Problems by Richard T. Pascale, Jerry Sternin, Monique Sternin
Some encouraging success stories. The Sternins were used as a success story in the book Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.
Of course, there are many worthy, valuable books not listed here. If you compiled your own list, it would be different. But I think this is a pretty good list to start with.
We all keep wondering just what sets the most successful individuals above the rest. What do they do? Well, here is a principle that is clear. The most successful practice constant improvement. How do they do that?
#1 – they figure out just what needs to be improved – starting with self!
#2 – they work — specifically, intentionally, diligently — to make such improvement.
Here are two quotes to help us understand just how important this trait is:
“People with a high level of personal mastery are acutely aware of their ignorance, their incompetence, and their growth areas.” (Peter Senge)
“Because of their motivation, highly successful entrepreneurs are highly self-correcting. This may seem a simple point, but it cannot be overstated… The entrepreneur’s inclination to self-correct stems from the attachment to a goal.”
(David Bornstein, from How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas).
Your assignment is simple (not easy, but simple): first, figure out where you need to improve, what you need to correct. Then, start self-correcting.