Summer Reading: Books to Inspire

There are few things more inspiring than the written word. At Darling, we view writing as art—it is a craft to be learned, valued, and perfected over time. It should come as no surprise that reading is one of our very favorite pastimes. Books inspire and encourage us to explore our imaginations and indulge in creative pursuits, and we are especially motivated by books written by leaders within the non-profit world. These authors, regardless of their background or championed cause, motivate us to do good and better our communities—and they often do so while weaving in entertaining anecdotes as well. Just in time for the summer season when we know everyone could use a good beach read (or five), here are some books that have inspired and encouraged us:

Half the Sky

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof co-wrote this fascinating book with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn. Kristof has traveled the world reporting on injustices that occur all over the planet. Throughout the years, he and his wife wondered what could be done to bring world problems to an end, what solution could be presented to finally erase poverty, homelessness, AIDS, war, female genital mutilation, and genocide once and for all. After doing extensive research (while also simply observing cultures around them as they occurred naturally), they came to the realization that women hold the key to alleviating the world’s suffering. By empowering women, they realized, so many of the world’s problems would diminish and possibly even disappear.

Half the Sky is a riveting book chock-full of excellent statistics about the ways in which women can and have changed the world. The book flows well because these lengthy statistics are bookended with tales from the couples’ travels and stories about the survivors they’ve met. The book is excellently crafted, and it’s obvious that Kristof’s creative influence is threaded throughout the piece. This book will inspire readers to support women worldwide, whether it’s through one of the charities that Kristof and WuDunn highlight or if it’s simply through opportunities in their own communities.

Kisses from Katie

Katie Davis is not your average twenty-something. For starters, she resides in Uganda, the home of the non-profit organization she launched in 2008. Amazima Ministries serves the local community through educational endowments, vocational projects, and discipleship. In spite of all this, you may be thinking—There are other young people in the world making a difference like Katie is. What sets her apart? Simple: the fact that she has 13 daughters, all of whom have been adopted from her local community in Uganda.

Kisses from Katie takes the reader on an epic journey. This pilgrimage begins in December 2006 when Katie traveled to Uganda for the first time from her hometown of Brentwood, Tennessee. The reader is immediately riveted by Katie’s passion for the people she met during that inaugural trip, and even more so when Katie shakes things up by deciding to forego college in order to pursue her dreams in Uganda. The memoir shares Katie’s hopes and dreams as well as her fears and setbacks. Readers everywhere find themselves rooting for this incredibly inspiring young woman, and they fall in love with the children and community members who inspired Katie to action, including those that eventually became Katie’s daughters, her true family.

Jantsen’s Gift

Pam and Randy Cope were living the American dream – they had two beautiful children, lived in a perfectly decorated home, and took the best vacations with the money they earned from the jobs they loved. Their lives came crashing to a halt when they unexpectedly lost their son Jantsen due to an undetected heart ailment at the young age of 15. Their grief overcame them and just as their sadness spiraled them into the darkest of places, they were saved by something they never predicted: serving exploited, vulnerable, and trafficked children in West Africa and Southeast Asia.

This memoir, penned by Pam Cope and her co-author Aimee Molloy, chronicles the creation of the Touch A Life Foundation and features stories that are full of rescue, redemption, and grace. This book is a perfect read for individuals interested in non-profit work but have no experience in the field (Cope is a prime example – before founding Touch A Life, she owned a hair salon) and it’s also a wonderful book for anyone dealing with any sort of loss. Cope and Molloy seamlessly intertwine heart-wrenching grief sessions with hilarious accounts of family feuds and travel snafus, providing the reader with the opportunity to experience a full range of emotions.


Photo credit:

Rachel is the Development Director for the Touch A Life Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of exploited and trafficked children in West Africa and Southeast Asia. She currently lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband, their baby girl Ruby, and their cuddly English mastiff.


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