First off, if you are anything like us, we are here to tell you: 2021 is around the corner. Yes, we can hardly believe it as well. In getting our head in the new year space, we are brushing off the bookshelf and being thoughtful about what we read. The following are the books on our bookshelf that we will be reading for 2021 inspiration.
The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again by Robert D. Putnam
Deep and accelerating inequality; unprecedented political polarization; vitriolic public discourse; a fraying social fabric; public and private narcissism—Americans today seem to agree on only one thing: This is the worst of times. In a sweeping overview of more than a century of history, drawing on his inimitable combination of statistical analysis and storytelling, Robert Putnam analyzes a remarkable confluence of trends that brought us from an “I” society to a “We” society and then back again.
Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration by Reuben Jonathan Miller
Each year, more than half a million Americans are released from prison and join a population of twenty million people who live with a felony record. Reuben Miller, a chaplain at the Cook County Jail in Chicago and is now a sociologist studying mass incarceration, spent years alongside prisoners, ex-prisoners, their friends, and their families to understand the lifelong burden that even a single arrest can entail. What his work revealed is a simple, if overlooked truth: life after incarceration is its own form of prison.
In this wide-ranging and remarkable book, Deirdre Mask looks at the fate of streets named after Martin Luther King Jr., the wayfinding means of ancient Romans, and how Nazis haunt the streets of modern Germany. The flipside of having an address is not having one, and we also see what that means for millions of people today, including those who live in the slums of Kolkata and on the streets of London. Filled with fascinating people and histories, The Address Book illuminates the complex and sometimes hidden stories behind street names and their power to name, to hide, to shame, to judge, to decide who counts, who doesn’t―and why.
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
In a world where addictive technology is designed to buy and sell our attention, and our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity, it can seem impossible to escape. But in this inspiring field guide to dropping out of the attention economy, artist and critic Jenny Odell shows us how we can still win back our lives. Odell sees our attention as the most precious—and overdrawn—resource we have. And we must actively and continuously choose how we use it. We might not spend it on things that capitalism has deemed important … but once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress.
In Measure What Matters, Doerr shares a broad range of first-person, behind-the-scenes case studies, with narrators including Bono and Bill Gates, to demonstrate the focus, agility, and explosive growth that OKRs have spurred at so many great organizations. This book will help a new generation of leaders capture the same magic.
Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works by Roger L. Martin and Sally Osberg
In this compelling book, strategy guru Roger L. Martin and Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally R. Osberg describe how social entrepreneurs target systems that exist in a stable but unjust equilibrium and transform them into entirely new, superior, and sustainable equilibria. All of these leaders–call them disrupters, visionaries, or changemakers–develop, build, and scale their solutions in ways that bring about the truly revolutionary change that makes the world a fairer and better place.
The levels of inequality in the world today are on a scale that have not been seen in our lifetimes, yet the disparity between rich and poor has ramifications that extend far beyond mere financial means. In The Broken Ladder psychologist Keith Payne examines how inequality divides us not just economically; it also has profound consequences for how we think, how we respond to stress, how our immune systems function, and even how we view moral concepts such as justice and fairness. Understanding how inequality shapes our world can help us better understand what drives ideological divides, why high inequality makes the middle class feel left behind, and how to disconnect from the endless treadmill of social comparison.
Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World by Charles G. Koch and Brian Hooks
People are looking for a better way. Towering barriers are holding millions of people back, and the institutions that should help everyone rise are not doing the job. Crumbling communities. One-size fits all education. Businesses that rig the economy. Public policy that stifles opportunity and emboldens the extremes. As a result, this country is quickly heading toward a two-tiered society. Today’s challenges call for nothing short of a paradigm shift – away from a top-down approach that sees people as problems to be managed, toward bottom-up solutions that empower everyone to realize their potential and foster a more inclusive society. Such a shift starts by asking: What would it mean to truly believe in people?
Tell us what is on your bookshelf to read for 2021!
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