8 Books to Inspire You in 2011

Exec. Prod. of Franchises & Series. He previously reported for HuffPost, L.A. Daily Journal, and Biloxi Sun-Herald.

Maybe you've made a resolution to read more. Maybe you're looking for some inspiration to start off 2011 on the right note. Or maybe you just need something on the nightstand now that you've kicked the hornet's nest and followed Harry Potter all around Hogwarts. We scoured the TakePart HQ bookshelves and came up with eight suggestions for good reads that will help you lead a happier, healthier and more helpful life in 2011.


 

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This quartet is essential to the future of human nutrition. (Photo: FourFish.org).

Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg

Inspired by the work of Michael Pollan, Greenberg set out to investigate global fisheries and the pursuit of fish to satiate man's growing appetite for seafood. Greenberg chose four of the world's most popular fish—cod, tuna, sea bass and salmon—to illustrate how our voracious appetite is slashing fish stocks and pushing fishermen further and further out to sea. Sam Sifton of The New York Times calls Four Fish "A necessary book for anyone truly interested in what we take from the sea to eat, and how, and why."


Citizen You: Doing Your Part to Change the World by Jonathan Tisch 

The CEO of Loews Hotels, Tisch "challenges readers to take up the mantle of social engagement by showing them how individuals are working to change the world." Publishers Weekly says that Tisch writes with "contagious excitement" about a new era of civic engagement. At the end of his book, he gives readers 51 ways to get involved and "join the movement."


Girls Gone Green by Lynn Hirshfield

Filled with ideas about how young ladies can green their lives, Girls Gone Green presents a selection of amazing women who are doing their part to create a better world. Whether it's creating reusable lunch bags, or a toxin-free makeup line, every one of these girls is setting a great example and inspiring a number of the celebrities featured in the book—including Hayden Panettierre and Ellen Page. We're especially proud because the esteemed author's office is just down the hall from TakePart HQ. Hirshfield works for TakePart's parent company, Participant Media.


Simply Organic: A Cookbook for Sustainable, Seasonal, and Local Ingredients by Jesse Ziff Cool

Who says making healthy, sustainable, organic meals at home has to be a chore? Cool's latest cookbook contains more than 150 recipes that embrace sustainable and organic cooking as a lifestyle, not just a fad. If cookbooks and the kitchen intimidate you, rest assured: New York Daily News calls Simply Organic sunny, stunning and uncomplicated. (Several folks here at TakePart HQ can back that up!)


Waiting for "Superman": How We Can Save America's Failing Public Schools, edited by Karl Weber

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Learn how kids can be taught. (Photo: WaitingForSuperman.com)

A companion to the critically acclaimed education documentary of the same name (and produced by our parent company), Waiting for "Superman" is a call to action that provides resources, suggestions and ideas for applying the lessons of the film in your local community. The work is a #1 New York Times bestseller, and every book includes a $15 gift card for DonorsChoose.org


Just Kids by Patti Smith

Patti Smith (a "goddess" according to some of our colleagues here at TakePart HQ) has written a memoir of her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe that celebrates friendship and caretaking and mourns the legacy this country has been deprived of because of AIDS. Told with entertaining detail, Smith's narrative draws you in and holds your interest from the first chapter to her final thoughts.


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, by William Kamakwamba

At 14 years old, William Kamakwamba was tired of living in a world where he sometimes had to go to bed at 7 p.m. because few people in his native Malawi had a steady supply of electricity. When he did have light, William passed the time studying physics and science. He took scraps of PVC pipe, tractor fans, shock absorbers and bicycle wheels to construct a small windmill to power lights and a radio. Soon, William found himself whisked away to the TED Conference, and using donor money to help his village. Set against a backdrop of famine, cholera and malaria, William's tale underscores the truly important effect an individual can have on his life, and the lives of those around him. 


Hiroshima, by John Hersey

The Saturday Review of Literature said of John Hersey's Hiroshima that "everyone able to read should read it." Originally published nearly 60 years ago in the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Hersey presents a terrifying and devastating account of the hell wrought by atomic weapons. Interviews with survivors are nothing short of a masterpiece of 20th century journalism. We dare you to read this book and not come away with the firm conviction that we need to do everything in our power to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world. 

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