2020 Better World Books of the Year

Reading is one of the best ways to stimulate the brain, think in new ways, and dive deeper into stories and ideas that shape our world. Below you’ll find my five best books I read this year that deal with building a better world in five categories:

  1. Self-Transformation

  2. Black Lives Matter

  3. Rethinking Our World

  4. Fiction

  5. Memoir

Self Transformation: A New Earth -Eckhart Tolle

In a world filled with to-do lists, constant comparison, and a divisive political landscape. A New Earth shaped how I approach my better world work as a young professional. It gave me the tools and insights to take a deep breath, slow down, and live in the present moment. It’s so easy to get caught up in where we are going in life and our past that we forget to live in the present. Eckhart Tolle is one of my favorite thinkers and humans who teaches us the value of being in the present moment.

Black Lives Matter: Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates

The George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter movement sparked an urgent call to action for me to read material from Black authors and learn about how to be an anti-racist. The reason this book made the list is because of the power of Coates' storytelling of his childhood and Baltimore and his personal view of the world. The way he describes being a Black man in America to his son is heartfelt, authentic, and uncomfortable. But growth in perspective comes from being uncomfortable. A must-read for anyone who is striving to be an ally to the BIPOC community.

Rethinking Our World: Humankind -Rutger Bregman

How often do we think the worst about humans? The only thing we see in the media is the extreme right and left, the people who are controversial. We see the evil of humanity on the news, but in reality, that’s not an accurate reflection. Bregman does an incredible job disproving the fallacy that humans are evil and gives actual data and historical events on how humans are actually wired to be kind.

Fiction: The Underground Railroad -Colson Whitehead

Reading fiction is a great opportunity to explore deep-rooted societal issues with a unique lens. The story development, characters, and plot by Whitehead are done impeccably well while examining the deep roots of racism in the south. We all know slave trading took place, but an understanding of how it actually affected Black humans is a grim reality.

Memoir: Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth - Sarah Smarsh

Memoirs are one of my favorite ways of learning about systemic issues. Heartland is an incredibly done memoir on what it’s like to be in agriculture in the Midwest, work your tail off, and still be poor. The American culture is the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps,” but as you’ll learn in so much of this country there aren’t opportunities to bootstrap. An excellent read for those who are curious about what rural agricultural life is like in the midwest.

Honorable Mentions:

Infinite Game - Simon Sinek

The Power of Now -Eckhart Tolle

21 Lessons for the 21st Century -Yuval Noah Hurrari

Outliers -Malcolm Gladwell

How to Be an Anti-Racist -Ibram X. Kendi

Recommended By a Better World Human

Hunger -Roxanne Gay

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