The blog I wrote quickly in October of 2010 “What Makes Someone Inspirational?” has turned out to be my most ‘searched for’ and read blog post.  I am also an avid reader and greatly benefit from the suggestions of others, so my end-of-the-year blog this year is sharing some of my and my colleagues favorite inspirational reads that we have read this past year.


  • Mine: “Boiling Point: Can citizen action save the world?” By Kumi Naidoo   Kumi with extensive experience in civil society and citizen action on the national and global levels, reflects on his experiences with a ‘call to action’. A special blend of a trained analytical mind with an activist’s passion for significant social change. [Note: As this is the only book listed not available through ‘standard’ online booksellers I have included a link.]
  • From Lucia Nass @LuciaMHNass: “The art of happiness” by the Dalai Lama – love how your own mindset influences what you see and what comes to you; and “Connected” by Christakis & Fowler: How social networks shape our lives, and similar findings about a happy mindset!
  •  From Tom Murphy @viewfromthecave: “Fighting for Darfur” by Rebecca Hamilton. It shows how a critical look at advocacy can come from a place of support.
  •  From Hildy Gottlieb @Hildy Gottlieb: “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek – the importance of the “what & how” coming only after “the why”.
  • From Pritha RaySircar @pritharaysircar: I read “Teachings on Love” and “Anger:Wisdom for Cooling the Flames” by Thich Nhat Hanh each year.
  • From Penelope Carter @penelopeinparis: “The House on Sugar Beach”  – memoirs of Helene Cooper’s privileged childhood in Liberia
  • Akhila @akhilak shares: I am reading “Haiti after the earthquake” by Paul Farmer. He is definitely a huge, huge inspiration.  Also “The gifts of imperfection” by Brene Brown and the memoir “Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny” by Zainab Salbi
  • From Jean Russell @nurturegirl “Click: The Magic of Instant Connections” by Ori and Rom Brafman; “The Power of Pull” by John Hagel and the “Age of the Unthinkable” by Joshua Cooper Ramos


  • Mine: “Sweetness in the Belly” by Camilla Gibb – a young orphaned woman survives and thrives in a multitude of cultures through her sensitivity to those around her.
  • From Kalsoom Lakhani @kalsoom82 “The Solitude of Prime Numbers”
  • From Pritha RaySircar @pritharaysircar “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino
  • From Penelope Carter @penelopeinparis “Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood:  “What happens when a society takes ideology too far – women are both revered and diminished.  A first person, diary-style account it makes the reader think long and hard about some of the ideologies surrounding feminism, and the objectification of women.”  Also  “Half of a Yellow Sun”  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie— “absolutely beautiful story of love, resilience and the power of conviction.”
  • From Jean Russell @nurturegirl “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse

Happy reading! (and please do add your favorite inspirational reads from the past year!).