Books with a Cause

As we come to the end of what’s been a challenging economic year, it’s worth taking a moment to shed the financial stress and dig down into what really makes us tick. For some, it’s more hours out on the trails or quality time with family and friends. For others, it’s appreciating that no matter how much they might have lost, too many people still have less.

One of my favorite Breckenridge, Colo. restaurants, Amazing Grace Natural Eatery, has recognized exactly that. Despite a tough year and endless hard work to make their small business thrive, owner Monique Merrill and staff have decided to start a small charitable giving program to benefit local nonprofits.

Good at the Grace, which they call “a small project inspired by the generous souls who visit us daily,” will take place once a season in support of philanthropic efforts that share the profile of Amazing Grace: “small in stature, but enthusiastically spreading goodness in the world in a joyful, big-hearted way.”

On December 22, Amazing Grace will kick off the program by donating 100% of the day’s net profit, including tips and salary, to the Langtang Medical Clinic in Nepal. The small clinic, established in 2006 by “Doc PJ” (Craig Perrinjaquet), provides free primary medical care to more than 1500 Nepali villagers annually.

Following the lead of Amazing Grace, I hope to extend the goodness with a list of reads that will educate, inspire and offer new ways to make a positive impact. Each of the books below incorporates elements of memoir, adventure and documentary style storytelling, while also leaving you with a reason to support the cause.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn In Half the Sky, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn discuss the major abuses of women worldwide, including sex trafficking, gender-based violence and maternal mortality. They are clear in their goal: they want to recruit all readers to “join an incipient movement to emancipate women and fight global poverty by unlocking women’s power as economic catalysts.”

Strength in What Remains, Tracy Kidder – From the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Mountains beyond Mountains, Strength in What Remains tells the story of Deo, who after living through a civil war and genocide in Burundi, moves to the U.S. to create a new life in New York City.

Stones into Schools, Greg Mortenson – In the sequel to his bestselling Three Cups of Tea, Mortenson continues his story of building schools for young women, this time in the secluded northeast corner of Afghanistan.

First They Killed my Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, Loung Ung – This memoir follows Loung as she’s displaced from privilege in Phnom Penh and forced into work camps under Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army. Bones that Float: A Story of Adopting Cambodia by Kari Grady Grossman and The Road to Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine by Somaly Mam are also worthy companion reads.


(This post also appeared in my latest blog for the Women’s Adventure Magazine newsletter)


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