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Great Summer Reads: 2017 Edition


Looking for a great summer read?

Here’s a list of our favorite recent (or recent to us!) books.


Got any other suggestions for books that New Dreamers might enjoy?

Email us your recommendations or post them on our Facebook page.



Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

In Rest, Silicon Valley consultant Alex Pang argues that we can be more successful in all areas of our lives by recognizing the importance of rest: working better does not mean working more, it means working less and resting better. Treating rest as a passive activity secondary to work undermines our chances for a rewarding and meaningful life. Whether by making space for daily naps, as Winston Churchill did during World War II; going on hours-long strolls like Charles Darwin; or spending a week alone in a cabin like Bill Gates, pursuing what Pang calls "deliberate rest" is the true key to fulfillment and creative success. Drawing on rigorous scientific evidence and revelatory historical examples, Rest overturns everything our culture has taught us about work and shows that only by resting better can we start living better

You know that saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”? This was so true about the timing of this book in my life that it felt a bit eerie. I was both inspired by the stories Pang tells as well as comforted by the fact that I’m not alone in my need to unplug and recharge on a regular basis. And it’s not just the fact that the book makes me feel less alone; Pang also convinced me that it’s a much more effective life strategy if I want to achieve any true level of success.

—Edna Rienzi, New Dream Program Director



Strong is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves, by Kate T. Parker

A celebration, a catalog of spirit in words and smiles, an affirmation of the fact that it’s what’s inside you that counts, Strong Is the New Pretty conveys a powerful message for every girl, for every mother and father of a girl, for every coach and mentor and teacher, for everyone in the village that it takes to raise a strong and self-confident person.

Here's the book I've been telling everyone to get for their daughters. It's a favorite of our daughter's. She goes to bed with it often.

—Elena Esteban, New Dream Director of Online Media and Engagement






Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter, by Elaine St James

The more complex life becomes, the more people crave simplicity. Whether it's in your work, relationships, health, finances, or leisure time, North America's simplicity expert Elaine St. James can help you learn to unwind and improve the quality of your life. If you're feeling over-powered, overextended, and overwhelmed, SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE is the antidote, providing one hundred proven, practical steps for creating a simple and satisfying way of life.

If you are looking for a quick, efficient read to simplify your life, look no further: Published in the 90's, this title was a pioneer in simple living. I like books that are straightforward, filled with practical tips, and easy to reference. This book has it all. It went on to create a small revolution in my household, as it provided how to's in attaining the level of simplicity that I dreamed of, while devouring the Little House on the Prairie books. It's one of the key books that triggered my family's minimalism and subsequent zero waste lifestyle. It will undoubtedly make an impact on you too!

—Bea Johnson, Advisory Council Member and author of Zero Waste Home 



EarthEd: Rethinking Education on a Changing Planet, by Worldwatch Institute

With global environmental changes locked into our future, what we teach must evolve. All education will need to be environmental education, but environmental education cannot focus solely on teaching everyone to live just a bit greener. Instead, it will need to both teach students to be bold sustainability leaders as well as equip them with the skills necessary to survive the turbulent century ahead. Ultimately, only by boldly adapting education do we stand a chance in adapting to our rapidly changing planet.

EarthEd is a great primer for teachers, school administrators, and even parents interested in how we can reorient education to be more in line with what is needed to ensure a sustainable and thriving future, both for people and the planet. It includes chapters on traditional environmental ed topics such as ecoliteracy, nature-based learning, and systems thinking, as well as expanding the conversation to new topics such as character education, social emotional learning, and the importance of play. It even includes chapters on how "EarthEd" can transform the lives of everyone from inmates to medical students.

—Lisa Mastny, New Dream Senior Editor and Director of Publications



Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste, by Bea Johnson

Part inspirational story of Bea Johnson (the “Priestess of Waste-Free Living”) and how she transformed her family’s life for the better by reducing their waste to an astonishing one liter per year; part practical, step-by-step guide that gives readers tools and tips to diminish their footprint and simplify their lives.

I attribute Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home, to inspiring my start in zero waste living. My obsession with a zero waste lifestyle started with Bea's blog, which is a wonderful resource in itself, but her book put all the pieces together for me. Zero Waste Home is a thorough account of why zero waste living is critical, with practical ideas and tips on how to implement the lifestyle. It's a wonderful starting place for the novice, but also great inspiration for those people already practicing a zero waste life. I not only significantly reduced the trash I produce, but by following Bea's suggestions I'm living a healthier and more abundant life.

—Julie Fathy, New Dream contributor and author of the blog thebeautyinsimple.com



At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance – A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power, by Danielle McGuire

Danielle McGuire gives us the never-before-told history of how the civil rights movement began; how it was in part started in protest against the ritualistic rape of black women by white men who used economic intimidation, sexual violence, and terror to derail the freedom movement; and how those forces persisted unpunished throughout the Jim Crow era when white men assaulted black women to enforce rules of racial and economic hierarchy. Black women’s protests against sexual assault and interracial rape fueled civil rights campaigns throughout the South that began during World War II and went through to the Black Power movement. The Montgomery bus boycott was the baptism, not the birth, of that struggle. 

At the Dark End of the Street tells the story of the crucial role that black women played in standing up for their bodily integrity as a key underpinning of the entire Civil Rights Movement. This book provides vital context not only for the historical struggle for equal rights, but for the state of our nation today. A profound and important read for anyone who seeks a fuller understanding of our country's racial history.

—Guinevere Higgins, New Dream Director of Strategic Partnerships



What We’re Reading This Summer:

The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today's America, by Mark Sundeen

A work of immersive journalism steeped in a distinctively American social history and sparked by a personal quest, The Unsettlers traces the search for the simple life through the stories of three new pioneers and what inspired each of them to look for — or create — a better existence. Captivating and clear-eyed, it dares us to imagine what a sustainable, ethical, authentic future might actually look like.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead. 

Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path, by Erin Loechner

In Chasing Slow, Erin Loechner turns away from fast and fame and frenzy. Follow along as she blazes the trail toward a new-fashioned lifestyle—one that will refresh your perspective, renew your priorities, and shift your focus to the journey that matters most. Through a series of steep climbs—her husband's brain tumor, bankruptcy, family loss, and public criticism—Erin learns just how much strength it takes to surrender it all, and to veer right into grace. Life's answers are not always hidden where they seem. It's time to venture off the beaten path to see that we’ve already been given everything we need. We've already arrived. 

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland. 

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