You Should Read This

As we move into the last weeks of summer, the YCI office has decided to share our ultimate reading list. While it is not necessarily a summer reading list, many of these titles could help you make it through long hours at the cottage, the in between moments of CTV’s Olympic coverage or lazy afternoons at home. Here are 2 picks from a few of our staff:

Heather Auden, Volunteer Program Manager

28 Stories of AIDS in Africa – Stephanie Nolen puts a very human face on the toll HIV and AIDS has taken on sub-saharan Africa.  When it was written there were statistics that suggested that there were 28 million people living with HIV in the region at the time.  So the book has 1 story for every million people.

Ohhhhh so hard to narrow it down to 1 more.  OK, I think I’ll have to go with Fruit by Brian Francis (just narrowly beat out A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews).  One of the funniest and most heart-warming books I have ever read about a 13 year old boy coming of age in small-town Ontario in the 1980s.

Sagal Abdulle, Program Coordinator

Sweetness in the Belly! I use to have dreams of visiting the walled city of Harar, Ethiopia. When my friend recommended this book, I thought maybe I can. This is a book about love, loss, humility and redemption that makes you really reflect on  the human condition as painful as it can be at times!

Things fall apart By Chinua Achebe. I was given this book as a gift. I’m a heart-strings kind of gal and this book tugged at each one. It is one of the few books I can read over and over again and feel like it’s the very first time I’m reading it. Chinua Achebe  has a gift and I’m so happy he decided to share it with the world.

Sarah Vickery, Program Coordinator

Hands down my favourite book of all time is Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. I have read this book multiple times and will be picking it up again shortly. The cover of my copy has a review that says it should be read by every human alive, and I am in complete agreement.

My second choice is Lamb by Christopher Moore. This book made me laugh out loud, sometimes in public. It is a hilarious re-telling of Jesus’ life through eyes of his childhood friend Biff.

Liesl Harewood, Program Assistant

Anything by Dr. Seuss (but my ultimate favourite is Green Eggs and Ham) – I grew up on these books as a child, passed down from cousins (and on to cousins) and I remember reading Dr. Seuss books to my younger cousins, when I myself was only about 10 years old. These books have passed up and down and across our family tree. And even now when I am reading one to a younger family member I am so excited to be introducing them to this magical world and I feel like I am learning something new and different. I think what really stands out for me though is that it is something that has passed down for generations.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Harry Potter got me back into reading for fun and not just for studies. I went from being one of those people who scoffed at people lining up in the cold to get their latest copy, to becoming that Muggle who not only did so, but then went straight home and read it until the end so that the spoilers on the internet would not tarnish the experience for me.

Stephanie Near, Program Assistant

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks  – A science biography like no other.

The Language of Flowers – One of the most unique and intriguing books I have ever read.

And finally, here is a bonus list from Cheryl Turner our Tanzania Country Manager. (Her list was too interesting to cut it down to just two books.)

The Spirit Catches You and You fall Down, is the best book I know about cultural differences and medicine.

We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families –  great book about the Rwandan Genocide and it’s aftermath.

Half a Yellow sun – another Genocide, this one is the Biafra war in Nigeria

Monique and the Mango Rains–  a great Peace Corps memoir about a midwife in a rural village in Mali

Blue Highways – a great adventure/philosophy book about traveling around the US on rural routes.

Finding George Orwell in Burma – a wonderful blending of Orwell’s experiences in Burma and how it affected his work, intertwined with the chilling modern reality in Myanmar.

Rory Stewart’s books about Afghanistan and Post Gulf war Iraq (The Places In Between and The Prince of the Marshes) were both excellent to understand the bizarre atmosphere in both places.

Not For Sale (by David Bathstone) is a good summary of some of the various types of human slavery existing in the world today.

Fugitive Denim – Rachel Snyder tells the story of a pair of jeans from the cotton fields in Mali to the manufacturing plants in Cambodia and China.  It helped me understand trade policy a lot better.

River Town – Peter Hessler, another Peace Corps Volunteer, tells his experiences of living in China; great insight into Chinese development and culture.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals  (by J Maarten Troost)! His best book. A hysterical tale about development work in Kiribati.

I also liked Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates, because of the great title and because Tom Robbins can do no wrong.

Happy Reading!


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