More Books on Hunger and Poverty

September 9, 2010 at 6:08 am Leave a comment

We’ve got a few more books on hunger and poverty for you—any would be great for a church or community small group this fall. Of course, don’t forget to pre-order your copy of David Beckmann’s new book! Exodus from Hunger will be published next month.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Knopf, September 2009. The authors argue that global poverty can’t be alleviated until gender inequality is addressed. They focus on women and girls in the developing world, covering issues such as sex trafficking, maternal mortality, and gender-based violence (including mass rapes and “honor” killings). What makes the book fantastic is the writing and the storytelling—included among the crushing statistics about poverty are compelling stories about individual women and girls who have survived horrific abuses to transform themselves and the communities around them.

In the River They Swim: Essays from Around the World on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty, by Michael Fairbanks, Malik Fal, Marcela Escobari-Rose, and Elizabeth Hooper. Templeton Press, 2009. These writers argue that enterprise and technological solutions to poverty are the best hope for poor nations. Because they were asked to write about their actual experiences working in poor countries, the essays are interesting, informative, and personal. The writers are also candid about poverty-alleviating failures, which is refreshing.

Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail, by Paul Polak. Berrett-Koehler, February 2008. Polak is founder of International Development Enterprises, which helps rural farmers in developing countries develop low-cost tools (such as foot-powered irrigation pumps). He argues against relying on governments, relief agencies, corporations, and private citizens to “solve” global poverty and instead on the entrepreneurialism of the poor. He mainly focuses on what IDE has done, but readers also get an overall view of global aid and poverty issues. His writing is direct, humorous, and he includes stories about specific farmers and their families, which keeps the narrative flowing.

All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America? by Joel Berg. Seven Stories Press, November 2008. Berg is executive director of the New York City Coalition against Hunger. He argues that ending hunger in the United States is simple and affordable, and he explains how in the second part of the book. His writing is funny (sometimes snarky), which helps because the graphs, stats, and charts can be overwhelming. Berg focuses on government solutions, so there are few “here’s what you can do” steps readers can take, though an appendix lists many anti-hunger organizations, including The Alliance to End Hunger.

The Hole in Our Gospel, by Rich Stearns. Thomas Nelson, 2008. It’s a combination memoir/call to action—Stearns lived the life of a corporate CEO until World Vision wanted him as their president. He’s honest about how hard the transition was, materially and spiritually, and details his growing understanding about the magnitude of need around the world, which he shares via stats and stories. The book’s thrust is a call to action; his audience is readers whose theology, like his, hasn’t challenged them to think about the wider world and how we are called to act.

Hunger and Happiness: Feeding the Hungry, Nourishing Our Souls, by L. Shannon Jung. Augsburg Books, July 2009. Jung looks at how U.S. food policies have produced hunger and malnutrition among the poor while decreasing our sense of spiritual well-being. It’s more of a gentle “thought” book, probably ideal for Christians who want to think through issues of consumerism, poverty, and their complicity in others’ struggles before they’re ready to take action.


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