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8 BOOKS THAT CHANGED OUR WORLD

By Saraniya Thayaparan, Award & Development Programme Officer

At The Diana Award we love to read and right now with us all working from home and having more time on our hands, we thought we would put together our list of our favourite books to share with you. These are all books that have changed our world and we hope will inspire you too. 

17 April 2020

NATIVES: RACE AND CLASS IN THE RUINS OF EMPIRE BY AKALA

Natives offers a raw and personal account of racial tensions in the UK, written lucidly and critically by creative talent ‘Akala’ who describes growing up in Camden with a white mother and an absent black father. I would recommend as it has the ability to change your understanding of race relations in this country and what there is still to be done.

HOW TO FAIL: EVERYTHING I’VE EVER LEARNED FROM THINGS GOING WRONG BY ELIZABETH DAY

‘How to Fail’ by Elizabeth Day is a funny, wise, and honest celebration of the things that don’t always go to plan and what we can learn from embracing them. As someone who is a bit of a perfectionist and who has encountered many failures myself (driving tests, job applications…) she reassuringly explains how our imperfections shape who we are and enable us to see how far we’ve come. It’s all a matter of perspective!

WHY I’M NO LONGER TALKING TO WHITE PEOPLE ABOUT RACE BY RENI EDDO-LODGE

In ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’, Reni writes so passionately about the way discussions of race and racism in the UK are being led by individuals who aren’t affected by it. She explores the historical, political and socio-economic reasons as to how we got here in such an accessible way. I found it an uncomfortable but hugely important and educational book that will better equip everyone to understand the underlying issues of race in our society, and ultimately encourages us to live in a kinder and more equal world.

START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS BY BLAKE MYCOSKIE

Love your work, work for what you love, and change the world—all at the same time.

In Start Something That Matters, Blake Mycoskie tells the story of TOMS, one of the fastest-growing shoe companies in the world, and combines it with lessons learned from such other innovative organizations such as Method Products, charity: water, FEED Projects, and TerraCycle. Blake presents the six simple keys for creating or transforming your own life and business, from discovering your core story to being resourceful without resources; from overcoming fear and doubt to incorporating giving into every aspect of your life. No matter what kind of change you’re considering, Start Something That Matters gives you the stories, ideas, and practical tips that can help you get started.

DAVID & GOLIATH BY MALCOLM GLADWELL

In David & Goliath, Gladwell examines stories throughout history where unexpected people have overcome adversity to achieve great things. He reminds us that even giants have weaknesses and explores the idea that underdogs might be better equipped to win.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS BY MAYA ANGELOU

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is the first in the series of Maya Angelou’s autobiographical series and is a great insight into her transformation from a withdrawn self-conscious child to a trailblazer, while trying to deal with racism & sexism at every step.

DOING GOOD BETTER: EFFECTIVE ALTRUISM AND A RADICAL NEW WAY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE BY WILLIAM MACASKILL

I can definitely say that reading Doing Good Better and diving into the philosophies of the Effective Altruism movement played a big part in my decision to look for roles in the Impact & Evaluation space, and ultimately ending up in this role at The Diana Award. Although their utilitarian ideas are considered controversial by some, I found the book to be a really interesting perspective on how we can best spend our time and money to reduce the overall suffering in the world. You might not finish the book wanting to completely change your career path or the causes you champion, but I bet it will get you thinking about how you can make a bigger impact in the world.

BECOMING BY MICHELLE OBAMA

Becoming, for me provided an insight into the role of first a girl, a young woman who then became a wife, then a mother and the first African American First Lady of the United States Of America. This book provided a deeper insight into what greatness looks like and the different obstacles that can sometimes, present itself at first to be overwhelming or too challenging. However whatever and however you set your mind towards greatness, everything else where your anatomy is concerned has to then fall in line. This book is one that stands out for anyone who is unsure of the leadership qualities they possess and whether they are good enough. Regardless of your sex or your colour, Michelle’s story is one that we can all relate to and confirms that we all have a story, however we make the choices that will determine how our stories end.

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