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Summer Reading Recommendations

Summer is the perfect time to jump into some good books. We asked three alums to share a few titles they’ve enjoyed as of late.     

By Sara-Kay Mooney

July 13, 2022

Maaso's Recommendations

Maaso Kalema (Eastern North Carolina ’14) is currently a National Managing Director, Program Partner with Teach For America, supporting a portfolio of regions and regional practitioners across the network. She is also the founder of a consulting firm whose work sits at the intersection of equity, organizational strategy and critical consciousness.

"The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom" by Don Miguel Ruiz

This book shares wisdom that advocates freedom from self-limiting beliefs and grounds in the ways in which alignment intrinsically can lead to a possibility to transform their lives into a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. The commitment to a more equitable future must include people and practitioners who are committed to not only their own learning, but to their own power and responsibility to reimagine a more equitable future in the praxis of one’s own life. This text grounds readers in the possibility of our collective humanity, integrity and critical consciousness to recognize the power and responsibility we have as individual leaders to reimagine a new future and reality. 

"Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement" by Angela Y Davis

This collection of essays, interviews, and speeches from activist and scholar Angela Y Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world. It shows the power of collectivism and the spirit of Sankofa through the opportunity to learn through the lessons, experiences, and stories of those who have come before us and the elders of our community who so eloquently draw the intrinsic relationship between the collective struggle of oppression, past, present and future. This book has been integral in my journey as it explicitly draws a connection and relationship through a series of speeches and narratives and articulates the progression from theory and praxis towards a more equitable future. It illustrates how the past can be a teacher and lesson into the current and future state of our global ecosystem. 

Looking forward to reading: "Weapons of Math Destruction" by Cathy O’Neal

As a former STEM educator, the intersection of STEM related fields, sociology and the socio-political context of the world in which inequity and oppression manifest, this book immediately drew me in! Mathematician and data scientist Cathy O’Neal dives deep into the mathematical models used today that reinforce different forms of oppression across sectors and the world. I’m looking forward to completing this book and engaging in deep conversations at the intersection of data, inequality and the threat to democracy.

Will's Recommendations

Will Darden (Charlotte-Piedmont Triad ‘15) taught Science at Harding University High School in Charlotte before spending the past five years at UrbanPromise supporting high school leaders in their academic, spiritual and social development in various capacities. He resides in Charlotte and enjoys exploring the city and trying new restaurants with his wife Elizabeth and their dog, Sutton!

"The New Urban Crisis" by Richard Florida

This book explores the historical reasons that cities across the country are becoming more expensive and fostering greater levels of inequality. Though written a few years ago, reading it recently gave me a rich perspective on how many students of color and their families have been (and will continue to be) affected by the massive demographic and economic shifts playing out in cities across the country.

"Humans" by Brandon Stanton

If you’ve enjoyed the Humans of New York Instagram page, you will love this coffee table book by Brandon Stanton. Published at the beginning of the pandemic, this book is filled with hundreds of stories and photos of people from all over the world. It centers the voices of people representing countless cultures; reading their stories helps the reader see how the common threads of our human experience weave all of our lives together in a beautiful way.

Allison's Recommendations

Allison Colon (Eastern North Carolina ‘18) taught high school Spanish in Northampton County and taught a third year in Rocky Mount. Currently, she works on Teach for America staff as an Associate on North Carolina’s Development Team. Keep up with what she’s reading by following her on Instagram (@acbooksta). 

"The Firekeeper’s Daughter" by Angelina Boulley

I first heard about this book on a true crime podcast; this book is technically categorized as Young Adult (YA), but is packed full of adventure and themes related to intersectional identities and demonstrating resilience in the face of cultural and ethnic discrimination. Eighteen year-old Daunis grapples with her Indigenous & white identity when a tragic murder happens in her community. She befriends the new guy in town, Jamie, and together they search for the answer to a local mystery using traditional Ojibwe medicine. As they pursue this investigation, Daunis learns what it means to be a strong Indigenous woman. CW: sexual violence & drug abuse. 

"True Biz" by Sarah Novic

I’ve never read a book quite like this one before and I cannot recommend it enough. This story follows a principal and her students at a deaf boarding school as each of them navigate romantic relationships, family problems, and politics in a world that is not built to accommodate people with disabilities. I recommend reading this book as opposed to listening to the audiobook because it has a lot of diagrams and pictures in sign language.

Looking Forward to Reading: "The Retreat" by Sarah Pearse

Like I mentioned above, I’m a true crime/horror fan and I can’t wait to read this new release! This is the sequel to The Sanatorium which follows a detective that visits an old sanatorium turned luxury wellness retreat in the Swiss Alps. Bad weather causes the guests to be trapped in the Sanatorium where multiple murders are happening. The first book left off on a cliffhanger and the sequel follows the same detective on a new case.