Is there a better feeling in the world than reading a great book with the sound of the ocean as your soundtrack or losing yourself in a story any where your summer might take you?  That's what we were thinking about as we talked about our favorite books and wondered what our Practical Activists were reading?  We asked them two questions:

  • What is a book that has been significant to you at some point in your life?

  • What is a fun "beach" read that you couldn't put down?

Here are the recommendations that they shared and we've included our Bluestone team picks as well.  

"Beach Read" Picks

A Bigger Picture by Vanessa Nakate, recommended by Monique Aiken

Monique says:  "Couldn't put it down, but not your usual beach read!"

Book Lovers by Emily Henry, recommended by Carey Earle

Carey says:  "Had to have one quintessential beach read on the list for rom-com indulgence. If rom-coms are your guilty pleasure, tuck this in your beach tote!"

Fiona & Jane by Jean Chen Ho, recommended by Carey Earle

Carey says: "I am drawn to books about friendship, and love this debut novel which explores the complexities and intimacies of friendship through the eyes of two Taiwanese women growing up in Southern California."

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, recommended by Nathan Irons

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, recommended by Steve Gruber

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hong, recommended by Jennifer Cantero

Jennifer says: "I really liked how it featured Asian-Americans, their culture, and the lead of the story is on the spectrum."

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, recommended by Noelle Fogg Elibol

Tollbooth by Bud Smith, recommended by Chris Cucci

Chris says:  "It was a fun, fast read that had all the laughs and weirdness that encapsulate growing up in New Jersey for those of us who were fortunate enough to enjoy our youth in the Garden State."

Significant Books that Affected You

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande, recommended by Jon Jamieson

Jon says:  "This book was significant for me as I reflected on my Dad's passing this Spring."

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, recommended by both Pete Coppolillo and Noelle Fogg Elibol

Pete says:  "It's a pleasure to read-- the writing is beautiful and 100% accessible, and it's also powerful.  Kimmerer is such an amazing lateral thinker...she moves effortlessly from ecological theory, to empirical observations in the field, to Native ways of knowing about the world.  If we could all apply that kind openness of mind and spirit, many of the world's problems would be trivial."

Deep River by Karl Marlantes, recommended by Jon Jamieson

Jon says:  "A rich family saga about Finnish immigrants who settle in the Pacific Northwest at the beginning of the 20th Century set against a backdrop of environmental destruction, women in the American West and the rise of the Labor movement."

Emergent Strategy, by Adrienne Maree Brown, recommended by Monique Aiken

Maya Angelou's Autobiographical Series recommended by Carey Earle

Carey says:  "We all know that feeling when you're on the last page of the book and you don't want it to end.  That's the beauty of Maya Angelou's autobiographical don't have to stop.  I fell in love with her voice when I read 'I know Why The Caged Bird Sings,' and then just kept going.  The authenticity of her voice and the strength of her story is timeless and soothes the soul."

  1. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. 
  2.  Gather Together in My Name. 
  3. Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas. 
  4. The Heart of a Woman.
  5. All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes. 
  6. A Song Flung Up To Heaven.
  7. Mom & Me & Mom. 

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, recommended by Chris Cucci

Chris says: "Growing up in the US education system, we learn about one side of colonialism. This classic literary work by Chinua Achebe inspired me to consider that what may seem like the “best way” of living varies deeply from one cultural perspective to another. The other 2 books in this trilogy were great as well."

Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows, recommended by Monique Aiken

Monique says:  "An oldie but a goodie!"

Waking Up by Sam Harris, recommended by Nathan Irons

Walden: Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau, recommended by Steve Gruber

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, recommended by Jennifer Cantero.

Jennifer says: "It helped me find the courage to lean into some challenging things that were scary and ultimately lead to me founding the Sensiba Center for Sustainability!"

Here are a few more lists that you can check out:

Food & Farming book picks rom Civil Eats

NPR's picks for 2022

Earthwatch's 23 must read books about environment

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