Best book gifts for those who want to change the world…

So there have been the studies released this year about the demise of books and reading, but curling up by the fire scrolling through text on a laptop or iPhone doesn’t seem to have the same appeal of settling in with a book on those Colorado days when it really, really doesn’t make sense to go out unless you are near a ski slope. And books are such a great holiday gift.

Here are three that I’ve read this year and highly recommend: Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age, by Allison Fine. I’m on the Terry McAdams Book Committee of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management, which annually selects the “nonprofit” book of the year (and means that I get to read 30–32 books on these topics each year!). This quickly surfaced as 2007’s top pick: For those of us who aren’t quite sure how these new social networking and other online tools are supposed to help us in advocacy and fundraising, this book helps us figure that out. More important, Fine lays out how new online tools and media can bring social change to scale.

Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life, by Marc Freedman. The most fun part of my work at JVA this year was working with the Rose Community Foundation on the Boomers Leading Change initiative, essentially looking at: How do we change the view of “retirement?” How do we harness the wisdom and energy of baby boomers in this next phase of their lives toward social change? And one of the most interesting parts of this very fun work was having dinner with Marc Freedman, who is the champion of this new idea, that as we get older we can celebrate not freedom from work, but freedom to work—work that has meaning for us. If you have a friend or colleague who is baby-boomer age thinking about what he or she is going to do next, buy them this book. If you are baby-boomer age thinking about what you are going to do next, buy this book. The case studies are inspiring and will make you think: What do I want to do next?

How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, by David Bornstein. In February, several of us from JVA headed out on a road trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to be trained in the social enterprise curriculum developed by the National Center of Social Entrepreneurs. We read this book en route.  This collection of stories of social entrepreneurs will make your new year’s resolution clear: I want to do something like this.

An interesting (and scary!) gift idea: combine these books. Give your favorite boomer looking for change Encore and How to Change the World, with the instructions to read Freedman first, then Bornstein.

Let us know what happens… All the best for a wonderful holiday season! Janine Vanderburg

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