5 Social Change Reads for Summer

This post originally appeared on frank talk — the online hub for the frank gathering, a conference for public interest communicators. 


A large part of being a public interest communicator is getting inspired.

Consuming research, new perspectives, pop culture, books and art all strengthen a communicator’s ability to craft messages, understand new audiences and launch campaigns that effect change.

Plus, summer is settling in and there’s nothing quite like flipping pages of a new book while kicking back in a hammock or just laying in bed with a breeze sailing through. Check out these five summer reads that will inspire your social change work.

  1. A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity by Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Delivering an inspirational roadmap to driving social change, the husband-and-wife duo shed light on oppression faced by women and girls around the world, and the people who are changing it. On the heels of their previous book, Half the Sky (also a worthwhile companion to a summer evening) The New York Times columnist Kristoff teams up with a frank 2015 speaker WuDunn to share on-the-ground reporting of successful individuals and groups advancing social progress, inspiring readers to combat injustices.

  1. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

As a surgeon, Atul Gawande has worked on the frontlines of medical treatment, but what he found when he confronted our processes for caring for elderly populations was disturbing. In his thought provoking fourth book challenging the modern American medical system, Gawande explores the elder care system, and how it is failing to support the wellbeing of our nation’s oldest citizens — their choices, their freedom and their anxieties about death. Currently on my nightstand, Being Mortal offers an eye-opening, human-centered reality check for us to shift our thinking about how to live a fulfilling life even into old age.

  1. The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

Intersecting history, psychology and social change, this book is an inspiring look at how our moral direction has evolved. Steven Pinker, a frank 2015 speaker and Harvard researcher, takes a long journey back into the history of violence, examining how it has decreased since the 20th century and why human nature leads us towards a peaceful society. Pinker credits the spread of government, literacy, trade and cosmopolitanism as keys to this social progress, making us more empathetic toward one another.

  1. A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for our World by Daniel Goleman

Reflecting on current social issues through the lens of compassion, Goleman applies the Dalai Lama’s teachings to transforming the world in practical ways. He shares how compassion can impact systems change, such as designing schools that teach empathy and rewarding transparency and accountability in business practices. A Force for Good will inspire a stronger approach to compassion in your work.

  1. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

Marketer and entrepreneur Seth Godin lights a fire in this passionate and heartfelt book about social changemaking, teaching readers how to spread powerful ideas in any field. Linchpin will motivate you to use your unique skills and personality to make change—not because you’re an entrepreneur or powerful public speaker, but because your contribution is a building block to meaningful impact.

What are your recommendations for other social change reads? Head to frank for more inspiration, research and news related to the field of public interest communications.

Jenna Cerruti

Account Director Jenna Cerruti leads Prichard's client work and manages Prichard's blog. Before Prichard, she spent several years working with for-profit, purpose-drive brands. When she is not developing strategic communications plans, brainstorming digital communications strategies or executing media relations for clients, she is on the hunt to find the best pizza in Portland, likely listening to her favorite diva, Beyonce, along the way.
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