Economic times are tough. And, the winter months are coming. It's a good time for global citizens, anti-poverty leaders and social entrepreneurs to stock up on reading material.
Whether a fact-filled economic history or a satiric novel, these ten books (listed alphabetically by author) about poverty, power and prosperity will provoke, inform and stimulate your thinking.
Bound Together by Nayan Chanda (Yale University Press, 2007). The subtitle, "How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers and Warriors Shaped Globalization," hints at the breadth of the author's reach. Love or hate globalization, this anthropological and economic history is a reminder that we are all, inescapably, global citizens.
Farewell to Alms by Gregory Clark (Princeton University Press, 2007). So many myths and mythologies surround our understanding about why some countries are rich and others poor. A provocative investigation into the cultural norms that impede economic development.
The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier (Oxford University Press, 2007). "Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It" reads the subtitle. A balanced, smart description and prescription on the big factors which anti-poverty activists need to know.
Portfolios of the Poor by Daryl Collins, Jonathan Murduch, Stuart Rutherford and Orlanda Ruthven (Princeton University Press, 2009). As the subtitle explains, learn about "how the world's poor live on $2 a day." This is a must-read bible for every social entrepreneur working on global poverty.
The Big Necessity by Rose George (Henry Holt & Company, 2008). Compelling and repelling, "the unmentionable world of human waste and why it matters" gets to the heart of the global public health challenge. A colonoscopy about changing the health, dignity and living conditions for three billion people.
The HIP Investor: Make Bigger Profits by Building a Better World by R. Paul Herman (John Wiley & Sons, 2010). Greed and good are the twin goals of this prescriptive book on social impact investing. Jam-packed with the perspective and tools needed for guilt-free stock market investing.
Last Orders at Harrods: An African Tale by Michael Holman (Little, Brown Book Group, 2008). Satiric novel about poverty and power. Humorous, readable, empathetic, but never paternalistic, portrayal of the poor.
Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli (John Wiley & Sons, 2005). A readable expose about wasted taxpayer dollars and unfair market competition that simultaneously screws American consumers here and poor subsistence farmers overseas. The author documents the truth of H.L. Mencken's acerbic wit: "Every decent person is ashamed of the government he lives under." An issue worthy of Tea Party anti-big government hawks.
Poverty Capital by Ananya Roy (Routledge, 2010). Thoughtful, probing look at the economic development industry and its received wisdom. The popular microfinance movement is the book's motif. The author thinks like an academic and writes like a poet.
50 Facts That Should Change the World by Jessica Williams (Disinformation Company, 2007). Jacob Harold at the Hewlett Foundation once told me, "Anger is a useful motivator for short-term social change; Love is more useful for long-term social change." This book should make you angry enough to love a blog like this one.