We recently reached out to the GoPhil Founder’s Circle, Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers – an amazing mix of intelligent, insightful, globally-conscious, earth and humanity lovers – to see what they have been reading. The following suggestions make up a wide and interesting scope of books to tuck into this summer – books on travel, breathing, and trees, as well as exciting memoirs and novels.

We simply must kick off this list with three fabulous suggestions written by members of our very own GoPhil Community. We also extend huge congratulations to Lydia Dean, Bruce Logan and Jia Gottlieb for their recent publications!

Light Through the Cracks
by GoPhil Co-Founder Lydia Dean

In April 2015, Lydia Dean, Co-Founder of GoPhilanthropic Foundation, was on a work trip to Nepal when a deadly earthquake hit the region. Returning home to her family and facing the effects of PTSD, Lydia began a painful transformation that had her listening to and seeing the world through a new lens.

Gripping, insightful, relevant, and human—this book reflects a powerful interconnection of topics: how altruism can go wrong, the limitations and opportunities found in privilege, the importance of small acts of kindness, and the wisdom found in our natural world. Light Through the Cracks explores how our personal healing directly relates to our ability to make a difference in the world at large.

The Road from Tenancingo 
by Bruce Logan, GoPhil Founder’s Circle

Set in Mexico and Southern California, Bruce’s latest novel reveals the truth behind the notorious Tenancingo trafficking ring – viewed by law enforcement as the epicenter of sexual trafficking in the Western hemisphere. It is the story of a beautiful and brilliant seventeen-year-old girl from Oaxaca who studies at the University of Guanajuato. She is charmed by the sophisticated Geraldo who invites her to meet his family in Tenancingo, where to her horror, she is enslaved and sold into prostitution. All proceeds from the sale of Bruce’s novels are directed to the global battle against human trafficking.

aah… The Pleasure Book 
by Jia Gottlieb MD

In this groundbreaking book, Jia Gottlieb MD dispels two thousand years of shared shame, guilt, and ignorance to reclaim the wisdom of pleasure as the ultimate guide to a beautiful and fulfilling life. Drawing on penetrating insights from history, cutting-edge neuroscience, and spiritual wisdom, he provides the knowledge and tools to transform your life by working with your human nature rather than against it, to live from love rather than fear.

GoPhil Community Suggestions

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig

A very interesting and original concept and an easy read you can whizz through in a day. This book made me reflect and look differently at all those niggling regrets and ‘what ifs’ that we all inevitably have.
– Emily Bild, GoPhil Director of Programs

Matt Haig had me at the title and he did not disappoint. The first lines, “Nineteen years before she decided to die…” signal this might be a downer — and while Nora, the main character, reflects on regrets, along the way she finds hidden joy. If I were traveling this would have been great for a long flight. For now, wait for a rainy day and curl up with it and a cup of your favorite.
– Barbara Burger, GoPhil Founder’s Circle

The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett

This is an important and contemporary addition to a pantheon of prior explorations of racial passing that stays with you long after finishing the book. I don’t think I can say it better than this review from the Washington Post: “Reinvention and erasure are two sides of the same coin. Bennett asks us to consider the meaning of authenticity when we are faced with racism, colorism, sexism, and homophobia. What price do we pay to be ourselves? How many of us choose to escape what is expected of us? And what happens to the other side of the equation, the side we leave behind? The Vanishing Half answers all these questions in this exquisite story of love, survival, and triumph.

– Judith Frant, GoPhil Founder’s Circle

Somebody I Used to Know: A Memoir 
by Wendy Mitchell

I was tentative as I picked it up, yet my need to understand what it could be like to experience this forced me to embrace this book which is for any of us who have a loved one living with dementia. I am so very glad I did! Wendy Mitchell, who was diagnosed with early dementia in her late 50’s, courageously shares her first-hand experience. Her humility and strength ultimately help us see the disease and those who face it every day, in a very very different way.

– Lydia Dean, GoPhil Co-Founder & Board Chair

The Overstory 
by Richard Powers

One of the best books I’ve read lately is all about trees – how they grow and communicate. There are multiple storylines that come together when the many characters meet to protect old-growth trees from being cut down. The characters are well-drawn as well as the emotions that motivate them.

– Dee Ann McIntyre, GoPhil Founder’s Circle

The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir 
by Michele Harper

This book was absolutely breathtaking. Harper’s debut true story as an emergency room physician explores how a life of service to others taught her how to heal herself. Her words and stories of healing deeply resonate with the ethos behind the work we do at GoPhil and also as humanitarians – add to that that she is a black woman working in a field dominated by white men, and you have one of the most relevant books of the year in many ways. I absolutely couldn’t put it down and I believe everyone will enjoy it.

– Travis Day, GoPhil Travel Director of Operations

A House in the Sky 
by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

Autobiographical, this book tells the story of Amanda Lindhout, a Canadian, whose wanderlust takes her to the four corners — to Antigua and Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, to Baghdad, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, and finally to Somalia where she and fellow traveler Nigel are kidnapped and held hostage by jihadists. Her story of survival is both riveting and difficult to read and despite all that is inflicted on her by her captors she finds compassion and empathy for them. For those who love to travel off the beaten path and have been grounded for the last year, it is worth a read.

– Barbara Burger, GoPhil Founder’s Circle

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art 
by James Nestor

I really enjoyed this book as I’d been thinking about breathing exercises to help calm oneself during anxious times, but it was really so much more than that. It was funny, informative, and far more interesting than I would have imagined. And the moral of the story – no mouth breathing!

– Jessica Rabbiner, GoPhil Donor & Travel Coordinator

A Man Called Ove 
by Fredrik Backman

A beautiful feel-good story that touches the heart, and you end up wanting the characters to be your neighbors.

– Jill Roeder, GoPhil Director of Operations

The Beekeeper of Aleppo 
by Christy Lefteri

A beautiful and tender novel about a Syrian family/couple who feel and “see” their pain in various ways. I loved every page which humanized what we see on our TV screens, reminding us of the value of simply being able to live a safe and peaceful life. A poetic and moving book.

– Lydia Dean, GoPhil Co-Founder & Board Chair

The Cold Millions: A Novel 
by Jess Walter

An interesting look at the Labor Movement in Spokane, Washington, in the early 20th century.

From Amazon, “An intimate story of brotherhood, love, sacrifice,  and betrayal set against the panoramic backdrop of an early twentieth-century America that eerily echoes our own time, The Cold Millions offers a  kaleidoscopic portrait of a nation grappling with the chasm between rich and poor, between harsh realities and simple dreams.

– Sharon Mattioli, GoPhil Founder’s Circle


All links above direct to Amazon for ease of access, but we encourage you to also support your local bookstore or black-owned bookstores where available.

If you do decide to purchase from Amazon, please consider making your purchase from Amazon Smile and selecting GoPhilanthropic as your charity of choice!