Non-Fiction Favourites

When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin

Why? I adored Godwin’s writing style and felt like I learned about Zimbabwe from the inside out. This is an eye-opening, profoundly moving story told both with humor and the veracity of a journalist.

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl Wudunn

Why? Written by New York Times columnist, Kristof, and Times reporter, Wudunn, this book equips readers with a deeper understanding of issues related to the exploitation of women and girls worldwide. The authors deconstruct issues as harrowing as sex trafficking using real stories as examples, making this an intensely emotional, while informative, read. Our favorite part? That this book offers readers opportunities to become effectively involved in finding solutions to these problems.

Managing Sustainable Tourism: A legacy for the future by David L. Edgell Sr

Why? If you want to know what Sustainable Tourism (S.T)  is, where its been done successfully, and how to maintain it, this book is for you. Edgell explains that Cultural Tourism, which seeks an authentic representation of the stories of the local people, past and present, and Responsible Tourism, which maintains the benefits to local communities, minimizing negative social or environmental impacts,  both fall under the umbrella of S.T.  

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

Why? By recounting the unusual story of Paul Farmer, brilliant and world-renowned infectious disease specialist, Tracy Kidder created a book about humanity, social change, and, as the title suggests, overcoming tremendous obstacles. Farmer’s story will take you from Louisiana to Harvard to Haiti and beyond, delving deep into the cultural frameworks and public health realities found along the way. Written as though it were a narrative, this story is as easy-to-read and entertaining as it is inspiring.

What is the What by Dave Edgars

Why? This gave me a new appreciation for the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, especially the part of their story one doesn’t usually hear: their process of integration into society as refugees. The memoir (which was penned by American Dave Eggers on behalf of Sudanese Valentino Achak Den) isn’t a story about the tragedy that happened to the protagonist, but rather one about the courage, humor, and relentless persistence that moved him forward.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Why? Bryan Stevenson, co-founder of the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative, recounts his experiences as a defense attorney in a racially bias criminal system. He elaborates on the United States justice system, which he argues has systematically oppressed the poor and disadvantaged. Through his detailed testimonies of the wrongly condemned and neglected clients facing death row, he juxtaposes the current justice system and the nation’s founding principles of freedom and equality.

The Road to Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam

Why? Somaly Mam recounts her tumultuous life in Cambodia, from childhood to adulthood, as a victim and later, an escapee of human trafficking. Her story highlights the socio-economic, cultural, situational, and psychological factors that allow for a child to end up in the often life-long cycle of sex trafficking. In her early twenties, she was able to break free, empower herself, and now educates others on how to identify and prevent such atrocities from happening within a society. Currently, Mam is now a well known anti-trafficking advocate around the world. Her book discusses the steps involved in combatting the clandestine activities surrounding the trafficking of humans, as well as the effects modern day slavery has on the physical and mental health of its current and former victims.

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Why? Ayaan Hirsi Ali narrates her remarkable life story, from her traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, to her political awakening and activism in the Netherlands, and her current life in the United States where she receives both praise and death threats on a regular basis. Delving deeply and unashamedly into social issues surrounding Islam in the modern world, Hirsi Ali’s story is as important and timely as it is controversial. This raw and affecting memoir will inform you, educate you, surprise you, and stay with you long after you turn the final page.

Fiction Favourites

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Why? This is one of those it’s-3am-and-I-should-go-to-sleep-but-don’t-want-to-stop-reading books. Written with wit and a sharp tongue, this story made us laugh and nod and cry. Written from the perspective of a Nigerian woman who moves to the U.S. it highlights issues of race, gender and cross-cultural love in a way we hadn’t before considered.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Why? Propelled by the same superb instinct for storytelling that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Why? In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Why? There’s something so simple and beautiful and heartbreaking about books that deal with heavy issues, but tell them from the perspective of children. A story about unspoken societal laws in India, and what happens to those who break them.