Favorite Reads for the (Armchair) Traveler

Erin’s Picks: Great Reality Reads

All these books fall within the “creative non-fiction” category, although I am a big fan of fiction too. The thought here is to stop with the Reality TV already – Let’s get back to books! (Exception: Project Runway and Top Chef are very worthwhile, educational shows.) Here are my favorite reads:

Mountains Beyond Mountains

Recommended by Paige, I often buy this book as a gift for friends/colleagues. It’s all about Dr. Paul Farmer and the incredible work he’s doing in Haiti (and Russian prisons) to treat TB, HIV/AIDS, and other infectious diseases.

Not only is it inspiring to see how one man could have such an impact, but also (from a professional point of view), his struggles with the dual roles of fundraising and medicine. Balancing development work while trying to spend the bulk of his time giving his greatest gift: healing the sick.

It’s a humbling book that makes you question your own dedication to pursuing your ideals. And, most importantly, it proves that it’s possible to live by our own rules. Dr. Farmer, you the man!

Which book do you like best?

Three Cups of Tea

Greg Morgenstern is truly an adventure philanthropist. His combination of mountain climbing and death-defying life saving, coupled with the personal integrity to repay those that saved his life, is awe-inspiring. (Although, really, sometimes you wonder if Greg is living in the 21st century – Dude, learn to use a computer!).

Sometimes I refer to this book with my clients, recalling Greg’s exasperation when he finally raises the money for the school, just to have it go toward building a bridge instead. It’s a good lesson for us donors who are so set on contributing in the way we want, not necessarily in the way that’s most helpful.

Random Family

Recommended by Laura, who said she stayed up all night to finish reading it. It’s definitely one of those books that you can’t put down. It’s about a family in the Bronx and their struggles to break the cycle of poverty and prison.

What I particularly like about Random Family is the author’s ability to convey why it’s so hard to stop the downward spiral. So often we hear people advocate that the poor should “just pull themselves up by their boot straps” – if only it were that simple.

This book relates the constant trade-offs that those living in a low-wage society must make everyday: buy a bus ticket to get to work or buy food for the family? Another good perspective on this theme is Nickled & Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Favorite flicks of adventure, bravery and heart

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 and is filed under Erin Right Now.

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