Summer Reading to Inspire Summer Giving

Lauren Janus – Good-Giving Planner

There’s no use pretending this summer will be like any other in recent memory.

Coronavirus is still with us for the foreseeable future, and with it the disruption, uncertainty and suffering that comes with it.

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If relaxing in the garden and getting lost in the latest crime thriller doesn’t feel quite right this summer, you’re in luck. In recent years, a number of authors have published highly readable—yet equally enlightening—books on enduring issues such as poverty, health and the environment.

Each of the books below is well-written, well-researched and well-suited to helping you dig deeper into some of the world’s social and environmental challenges, many of which were highlighted by the unequal affects of COVID-19 across the world.

Learning more about one of these issues might inspire to give. If this is the case, I’ve included some suggestions for where you might direct a well-informed donation this summer.

So unfold a lawn chair, pour yourself a cool drink, and settle into this unusual summer with one of these highly recommended books:

This Is Going to Hurt: Secret diaries of a junior doctor, by Adam Kay

This quick, engrossing read came out only a couple of years ago and has since sold well over a million copies in the UK. Kay was an NHS gynecologist and obstetrician for 10 years. He wrote This Is Going to Hurt from a collection of his own journal entries, jotted down after days spent working on the wards. It is hilarious, cringe-worthy and a hugely valuable window into the harrowing lives of junior doctors, made all-the-more timely in the era of COVID.

After reading this book, you might consider making a gift to a charity connected with a hospital or hospice near you. While your donation may not benefit junior doctors directly, improved services and facilities for patients are always appreciated by the medical staff who care for them.

In Your Defense: Stories of life and law, by Sarah Langford

Sarah Langford is a barrister overseeing a full plate of criminal and family court cases on a daily basis. In this highly readable memoir, Langford dedicates each chapter to a specific case.

We the reader meet the people behind cases of domestic abuse, robberies, and the petty crimes of young offenders. What is particularly enlightening is Langford’s description of how the social welfare system works alongside the courts, for better or for worse.

Langford’s book might inspire you to give to a social welfare charity near you. As a first stop, look up your local community foundation, which often knows the charities most active in helping vulnerable members in your community.

A Bit of a Stretch: The diaries of a prisoner, by Chris Atkins

Following in the criminal justice theme is a brand new book just out this spring. A Bit of a Stretch is written by Chris Atkins, a documentary film maker who recently served time at Wandsworth prison in London for tax evasion.

In it, Atkins recounts his time in the horrifically understaffed, filthy and overall dysfunctional building where the majority of his fellow prisoners are addicted to drugs and/or in need of support for mental illness.

Reading A Bit of a Stretch might inspire you to have a look at an organization like Clinks, which supports the voluntary sector working within the criminal justice system. Or you might consider donating to a mental health charity.

How to Give Up Plastic: A guide to changing the world one plastic bottle at a time, by Will McCallum

If you’re one of the thousands of us who are fed up with the amount of plastic in our lives, you’ll appreciate this highly accessible guide by Greenpeace activist Will McCallum.

In How to Give up Plastic, McCallum offers a load of low-commitment ways to slowly purge our lives of plastic, including how to find plastic-free alternatives to every day items, and time-tested ways on encouraging local businesses to use less.

Reading some of the shocking plastic facts in McCallum’s guide might inspire to you to give to an environmental protection charity, or just invest in some plastic free (read: pricier) items around your home.

Wherever your summer reading takes you, I hope it’s a safe, healthy and relaxing season for you and your family.

Next Steps

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