How Your Reading Can Make a Difference {+What I Read in July}

Moving back to America will suddenly bring an endless number of choices into my world: where to buy food, where to shop for clothes, and how to get books.

Obviously, the library is my number one choice. And in my previous posts, you've probably noticed me linking to Amazon for books I've enjoyed. But I have recently found a company that is making a huge impact by selling books, and I'm excited to join up as an affiliate to promote what I believe is a pretty awesome mission.

Buy Books, Spread Literacy

Better World Books is an online worldwide distributor of new and used books that donates both books and funds to literacy programs all over the globe. Some of their programs include:

  • Book for Book - think of it as Toms for books. Every book purchased from BWB means one book donated to someone in need.
  • Literacy program funding - BWB has donated over $16 million dollars since 2005 for non profits, such as Books for Africa and National Center for Family Literacy
  • Grants for education and library programs in the United States
  • Environmental initiatives, such as carbon offsets and recycling/re-using of over 190 million pounds unwanted books

One more amazing thing for us expats -they ship worldwide for free. The first I heard of BWB was from friends living in Phnom Penh who used them to order books for their kids. But I haven't had a chance to try them out yet (although I probably won't - in Poipet, we literally have no address. Our street doesn't even have a name!).

I browsed their listings, and they had 90% of what I would have ordered (if I had an address, haha). Their catalogue has over 8 million titles, so if it's published, they probably have it! (You'll still see me using Amazon links if BWB doesn't have it.)

Since living abroad, I have become a bit passionate about intentionally using my spending power to make a positive impact on others. I'm the last to bash Amazon (and I'll never stop loving my Kindle Paperwhite!). But if given a choice between spending money at a massive company with greater net worth than some African countries, and a company who is reinvesting its profits in literacy programs in developing nations - I'll choose the latter. 

So check out their books, and let me know how it goes if you order from them! 

And now, on to last month's reads!

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo 

This book gives you a harsh, unrelenting gaze into the complexities of urban poverty in India. It's so easy for outsiders to create simplified solutions for slum dwellers. But Boo shows you the individuals an families behind the numbers and programs, and the forces that keep them in poverty. A powerful must-read.

Favorite read of the month!

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles I listened to the audiobook read by Rebecca Newman - the gorgeous writing came alive in her voice. The story made 1930s New York clear and vibrant in my mind's eye. This is the tale of one year, three friends, and what controls our lives - fate or our own choices.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou - I accidentally picked up an abridged audiobook version of the book, so I missed out on some of the story. But I loved hearing her poetic, lilting voice reading it out loud to me. I admire so much her bravery in telling her story. Also as a nurse who has cared for pediatric rape victims, I felt she gave such insight into what a child goes through after such trauma. I also enjoyed hearing about her determination to find meaning in life.

(How do you feel about abridged books? Do they still count, or is it cheating?!)

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxendreider - This book felt like it was written for me: we are preparing to move back to America after three years abroad and grappling with how to assimilate our slower lifestyle with our home culture. I love the different sections of the book and the personal stories shared. There are also discussion questions in the back. My only complaint is that the chapters didn't always flow easily from one to the other. Sometimes they felt disjointed, like stand-alone essays that jumped around (or blog posts?). But I still think anyone who reads it will be challenged to evaluate how they can align their lifestyles with what they truly value and desire for themselves and their families.

Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home by Gloria Furman - This is a meaty, challenging, theology-heavy book that I found difficult to read because it pinpointed exactly where I needed to repent and ask for heart transformation. Furman helps us see our every day mundane in light of the Gospel in inspiring ways.

Escaping Reaction, Embracing Intention by Jacey Verdicchio - I loved how this book spoke to the challenge of prioritizing activities in my life - explaining why I often react to alerts and emergencies, feeling like I'm not really in control of my time, while neglecting what I know is important. Only complaint - it's too short!

What do you think about abridged books? Is it a great way to enjoy long books, or just cheating your way through your to-be-read list?

Note: Affiliate links used. Read full disclosure here.