Books about Inspiring People or Inspiring Ideas
These are the books that I've summarized in the Deborah's Palm series on the
first Wednesday of each month at noon. All women are
welcome! When we first started, I summarized the book in the first 20 minutes and
then we discussed the life lessons we can glean from this person for the rest of the hour. Since July 2015, we now focus on life lessons learned from videos, blogs, and posts to the Internet.
Inspiring People Books
- Molly Melching and her work in Africa to help African women and girls through Tostan, an innovative educational program for women she has developed in her decades of living and working in Senegal, as depicted through the book "However Long the Night". The life lessons to be discussed are self-empowerment and deep listening, as modeled through Molly's work. (September 2013 session)
- John Wood and his organization Room to Read, as depicted in his books Leaving Microsoft to Change the World and Creating Room to Read. Come and learn about this inspiring work and discuss the life lessons of listening to your heart and integrity, as modeled through John's work. Room to Read's results are impressive: since 1999, they have built 1,627 schools, established 15,082 libraries, published 874 books in native languages, and distributed 12.8 million books. 20,378 girls have participated in Room to Read's innovative scholarship program that provides girls with everything they need to attend school. Room to Read operates in 10 countries where 7.8 million children have benefited from Room to Read's work. (October 2013 Session)
- Temple Grandin and her perseverance and determination while struggling with the isolating challenges of autism at a time when autism was virtually unknown. From HBO's movie website: "Undaunted by education, social and professional roadblocks, Grandin turned her unique talent into a behavioral tool that revolutionized the cattle industry and laid the groundwork for her successful career as an author, lecturer and pioneering advocate for autism and autism spectrum disorder education and her struggles with autism and her work to enlighten those who help autistic individuals. Temple's professional designs have revolutionized livestock handling processes and fostered more humane treatment of livestock worldwide." Temple Grandin takes the art of making lemonade out of her lemons to a whole new level through using the unique characteristics of the autistic mind to reach understanding of animal behavior heretofore unknown. Come and learn about this inspiring work and discuss the life lessons of self-assessment and creative problem-solving as modeled through Temple's life and work. Although Temple Grandin has written several books, the focus of the session will be on "Emergence: Labelled Autistic" and "Thinking in Pictures." (November 2013 Session)
- Erin Gruwell, her work with at risk teens in Long Beach, and the foundation she formed to help other teachers reach inner-city youth. Strapped with the "unteachables" and forbidden to use the books for the "Scholars," Erin buys books, solicits donations, dreams the impossible, and inspires others to help these teens to overcome their difficulties and find hope for the future. The summary was taken from Erin's memoir Teach with Your Heart and the NY Times' best-seller, The Freedom Writers' Diary. The discussion will explore the lessons of empathy and audacity as depicted by Erin in her incredible, heartwarming work with these Long Beach teens. The movie Freedom Writers' Diary is available for free to Amazon Prime members here; click on the Watch now link. (December 2013 Session)
- Dr. Paul Farmer and his work, as portrayed in Tracy Kidder's book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World. Farmer's ground-breaking, heretical work has not only transformed tuberculosis treatment in impoverished areas around the world and developed the "gold standard" for dealing with MDR (Mutiple Drug-Resistant) TB, he has transformed small pockets of hell around the world into shining examples of what can be done if we are willing to redistribute wealth and moved on to do the same for AIDS that he has done for TB and create more havens of health in the poorest places on earth. His message is often uncomfortable but his work is always inspiring. As always, the session starts with a summary of the book followed by a free-flowing discussion of the book and the life lessons we can glean from this inspiring man.
(February 2014 Session)
- Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse: The True Story of a Woman Who Risked Everything to Bring Hope to Afghanistan by Suraya Sadeed. (March 2014 Session)
- Tracy Kidder's Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiving about Deo Niyizonkiza, a Tutsi who escaped genocide in both Burundi and Rwanda, came to the USA, and returned to establish a clinic for Hutus in Burundi. (May 2014 Session)
- The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius and Autism by Kristine Barnett A heart-warming book about a mother's determination to help her autistic son and other disabled children meet their full potential. From the horror of the diagnosis to the gut-wrenching decision to remove him from special ed. classes, you'll cheer her progress and be warmed this fantastic story.
- Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Connor Grennan A last-minute addition to a year of playing around the world caused this young man to change the course of his life to help reunite children with their families in the remote mountain villages of Nepal.
- VIDEO: The work of Dan Cohen, founder of Music and Memory. This organization improves the quality of life of those with dementia through an innovative program that helps the patients to reconnect with themselves and others through the music of their youth. We discussed the life lessons of compassion, passion, and persistence.
- VIDEO: The work of reKindle.org, founded by a father and daughter who wanted to make a difference. This organization helps the homeless and encourages others to not only help others but to share what they do on the Internet to inspire others.
2014 Summer Mini-Series: The Brain and Inspiring Research and Information
In a departure from the regular biographies, we explored two books that explain different aspects of the brain and discuss the implications of this information on our lives.
Return to Gail's Home Page
- 7/2: Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey, M.D. This book presents stories and research that highlight how exercise can help ameliorate depression, dementia, stress, anxiety, hormonal changes and improve comprehension, retention, and learning.
- 8/6: Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence by Rick Hanson Learn about the mechanisms in our brain that manage our reactions and how we can re-wire them to be happier, healthier, and more at peace.