Eboo's Summer Reading List
In the midst of a pandemic and widespread protests, it may seem out of step to have a summer reading list. But reading is one of the best ways I know to increase compassion for other life experiences, to increase knowledge, and to more fully become the person I want to be in the world. The list below represents authors from many different backgrounds whose beauty of prose and poetry have much to offer our world today. So, here they are in no particular order.
From the publisher: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation.
From Eboo: “Everyone in my family has read this and raves about it.”
From the Publisher: A deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel, at its heart it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home.
From Eboo: “Ayad is a friend, but quite apart from that ‘American Dervish’ is the best novel I know about American Muslims and ‘Disgraced’ is one of the best plays I’ve ever seen. This is his new one - and I’m fortunate to have an advance copy.”
- 'A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.' by Martin Luther King Jr.
From the Publisher: "We've got some difficult days ahead," civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., told a crowd gathered at Memphis's Clayborn Temple on April 3, 1968. "But it really doesn't matter to me now because I've been to the mountaintop...and I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land." These prophetic words uttered the day before his assassination, challenged those he left behind to see that his "promised land" of racial equality became a reality; a reality to which King devoted the last twelve years of his life.
From Eboo: I’m re-reading King’s collected writings and speeches in A Testament of Hope, and doing it along with my thirteen-year-old son and the collected poems of Langston Hughes with my ten-year-old.
From the Publisher: “Robby, the author of ‘The End of White Christian America,’ has been a friend for nearly fifteen years. I think he is the most incisive chronicler of our changing demographic landscape and what it means for politics and civil society. His new book ventures into the choppy waters of how racism is deeply woven into white American Christianity. I can’t wait to dive in.”
From the Publisher: Drawing on inspiring stories from change-makers around the world and on memories of her own most difficult experiences, Jacqueline divulges the most common leadership mistakes and the mindset needed to rise above them. The culmination of thirty years of work developing sustainable solutions for the problems of the poor, Manifesto for a Moral Revolution offers the perspectives necessary for all those—whether ascending the corporate ladder or bringing solar light to rural villages—who seek to leave this world better off than they found it.
From Eboo: “Jacqueline herself is one of the great moral leaders of our time through her organization, Acumen. She’s also a wonderful human being. I’m excited about this book.”
From the Publisher: How do we love in a time of rage? How do we fix a broken world while not breaking ourselves? Valarie Kaur—renowned Sikh activist, filmmaker, and civil rights lawyer—describes revolutionary love as the call of our time, a radical, joyful practice that extends in three directions: to others, to our opponents, and to ourselves.
From Eboo: “Valarie’s famous line ‘Is this the darkness of the womb or the darkness of the tomb?’ illustrates her keen insight and prodding towards a new world. This book is full of such insights.”
From the Publisher: What does it mean to be an engaged American in today’s divided political landscape, and how do we restore hope in our country? In a collection of “civic sermons” delivered at gatherings around the nation, popular advocate for active citizenship Eric Liu takes on these thorny questions and provides inspiration and solace in a time of anger, fear, and dismay over the state of the Union.
From Eboo: “In my mind, no one explores the trauma of contradictions that is America the way Eric Liu does. For all his intellectualism, at the bottom, Eric is a patriot - the kind who loves his country enough to work to improve it.”
From the Publisher: Born in the Old City of Sana’a, Yemen, to a pair of middle-class doctors, Mohammed Al Samawi was a devout Muslim raised to think of Christians and Jews as his enemy. But when Mohammed was twenty-three, he secretly received a copy of the Bible, and what he read cast doubt on everything he’d previously believed. After connecting with Jews and Christians on social media, and at various international interfaith conferences, Mohammed became an activist, making it his mission to promote dialogue and cooperation in Yemen.
From Eboo: “This is the story of a Muslim refugee who became an interfaith activist. What’s not to like?!”
- A daunting stack of Atlantic’s and New Yorkers.
If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today.
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The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.