Ignite Your Passion for Positive Change: Summer Reading List from Philanthropy Northwest and The Giving Practice

Ignite Your Passion for Positive Change: Summer Reading List from Philanthropy Northwest and The Giving Practice

Photo of a woman reading a book in a hammock in the forest nearby a river

Get ready to soak up the sun and ignite your passion for positive change this summer in the Pacific Northwest! Our Philanthropy Northwest and The Giving Practice staff curated a list of captivating books to inspire and empower you. From thought-provoking reads to transformative tales, these recommendations are sure to kindle your desire for change. So grab a book, find a cozy spot in the sun and embark on a reading journey this season! 

The Enneagram for Black Liberation: Return to Who You Are Beneath the Armor Your Carry by Chichi Agorom 

Katie Hong, Senior Advisor with The Giving Practice 

“For those of you who appreciate and like the Enneagram as a tool to support individual and team development, check out this book from Chichi Agorom which talks about how we can use Enneagrams to return to who we are beneath the armor we carry. The book helps us understand our core motivation in the context of broader systems and structural inequities. Centering freedom, ease and rest for Black women, Chichi invites us to better understand our Enneagram types to support our individual and collective liberation.” 



My Body Politic: A Memoir by Simi Linton 

JulieAnne Behar, Senior Manager, Programs with Philanthropy Northwest 

“It has been 10+ years since I read this book, but I still remember it clearly as my very powerful introduction to disability justice. Simi Linton shares her journey of claiming disability and navigating an ableist world, in particular pre-ADA New York City in the 1970s, in a way that is honest, funny, challenging and joyful. Simi’s work was the first time I truly recognized ableism, and the first time I experienced disability in an asset-based frame, touching on her experiences with community, politics, ambition, pleasure and discovery. Though the disability justice movement has grown and evolved since this book was written in 2006, it is still a great personal story and impactful read.” 


How We Get Free: Black Feminism and The Combahee River Collective edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor 

Taylor Coats, Manager, Programs and Membership with Philanthropy Northwest 

“This book gathers an amazing collection of insights and wisdom from some of the foremost Queer Black feminist scholars and activists in the country. A quick but meaningful read, the text offers historical context on one of the foremost radical Black feminist collectives of the 60's and 70's, as well as several interviews of past and contemporary activists reflecting on its contributions to the movement. A great read for anyone looking to expand their understanding of organizing, movement work, Black feminism and liberation practices.” 



Before We Were Trans: A New History of Gender by Kit Heyam 

Taylor Coats, Manager, Programs and Membership with Philanthropy Northwest 

“I just picked this book up and I am already very invested! It offers an expansive exploration of gender identity across the world and a detailed overview of the evolution of language and expression the Queer and Trans community has seen. One of the highlights thus far has been the author's centering of folks whose identities do not fall neatly into categories of male or female, drawing attention to the fullness and validity of gender as a spectrum.” 



When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill 

Karalyn Jenkins, Associate, Marketing and Communications with Philanthropy Northwest 
“This fantasy novel weaves a compelling fiction story that delves into the profound themes of rage, memory and the oppressive shackles women face with forced limitations. This timely tale transports you to a world that seeks to keep women confined within narrow boundaries – pulling in real aspects that women have faced throughout history but in a fantastical twist where women, particularly women who defy societal norms, become dragons. This is a must-read for anyone seeking an empowering exploration of gender dynamics and the resilience of women who rise above limitations.” 



We Do This ‘til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice by Mariame Kaba 

Mares Asfaha, Senior Manager, Programs with Philanthropy Northwest 

Mares’ book choice is perfect for avid readers looking to delve deeper into challenging the status quo and exploring alternative paths to liberation. Throughout the book, Kaba presents the principles of abolition and transformative political struggle. She explores the possibility of seeking justice beyond the confines of the punishment system and encourages us to transform the way we approach harm and accountability. Kaba's insights offer a fresh perspective on addressing societal issues and envisioning a more just and equitable future. 



The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee 

Lalitha Vaidyanathan, Senior Advisor with The Giving Practice 

Lalitha’s recommendation is a fascinating factual account of the history of systemic racism in the US. Drawing from personal experiences and travels across the country, Heather McGhee reveals the consequences of embracing the zero-sum paradigm – the belief that one group's progress must come at the expense of another. Also, a fun fact, Heather McGhee was a keynote speaker at our PNW21 Annual Conference and shared her perspectives on the role philanthropy can play in combating economic racism and inequality. 



My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Mending Our Bodies and Hearts by Resmaa Menakem 

Pragya Madan, Human Resources and People Advisor with Philanthropy Northwest 

“In this groundbreaking book, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology. The novel is a call to action for all of us to recognize that racism is not only about the head, but about the body, and introduces an alternative view of what we can do to grow beyond our entrenched racialized divide.” 




Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob

Pragya Madan, Human Resources and People Advisor with Philanthropy Northwest 

“Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first, they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira must think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality and, of course, love.” 



Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson 

Jill Nishi, Chief Executive Officer with Philanthropy Northwest and The Giving Practice 

“This is a powerful and sobering recount of how our American social structure was architected on a hierarchy of human values and a system of caste, the remnants of which continue to persist today." This profound book challenges readers to confront the unspoken power dynamics that affect us all and offers a path toward building a more inclusive and equitable society. If you seek a transformative read that delves deep into the roots of societal divisions, “Caste” is an essential book that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.



One Life by Megan Rapinoe 

Emily Daman, Senior Analyst with The Giving Practice 

“'One Life” offers an important message on using the platforms we have to advocate for justice. Rapinoe reminds us that “Real change lies within all of us…At its simplest, it's in whether we're willing to spend even five minutes a day thinking about how we can make the world better.”' If you are looking for an uplifting and transformative read that motivates you to embrace your power for change, "One Life" is a book for you. It will leave you inspired and ready to make a positive impact on the world around you.



Lucy By the Sea by Elizabeth Strout 

Rosalie Sheehy Cates, Senior Advisor and Executive in Residence with Philanthropy Northwest and The Giving Practice 

"This novelist is so adept and tells the story of an older woman hitting yet another inflection point in love and in the journey of being a mother." Through a rich tapestry of empathy and emotion, “Lucy by the Sea” dives into the profound human connections that persist even when distance separates us. The novel delves into the pain of witnessing a beloved daughter's suffering, the profound emptiness that follows the loss of a loved one, the promise of new friendships and the solace of an enduring love that transcends time. 


The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor 

Rachel Jackson, Vice President People, Operations and Finance with Philanthropy Northwest 

Rachel’s recommendation offers a powerful and transformative look into the diversity of human beings, from our beliefs and morals to our unique bodies. The book offers a radical solution: self-love as the healing balm to mend the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. The author urges us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies, encouraging us to celebrate our collective, enduring strength as individuals and as a global community. If you seek a book that empowers you to break free from societal norms and embrace your true self, “The Body Is Not an Apology” is an essential read. 



We sincerely hope that you find joy and inspiration within the pages of these recommended books. Whether you are seeking thought-provoking narratives or heartwarming tales, we believe there is something for every reader to savor in this list. We encourage you to support local talent and diverse voices as you explore these captivating reads. To discover more books written by Pacific Northwest authors, consider visiting Select Books. Additionally, if you are eager to uplift BIPOC voices and perspectives, BIPOC Books is an excellent resource for finding books authored by BIPOC writers. Happy reading and may your summer be filled with an inspiring literary journey!