Coming Alive

Inspiring others to use their voice to change the World


It was Confucius who said, “You cannot open a book without learning something”. Most of what inspires and motivates me is what I read in books. Below you will find a list and short review of some of my favorites both for me and my kids. I invite you to pick one, read it, and see if something within you comes alive too!

Adult Books:

It Happened On The Way To War: A Marine’s Path To Peace by Rye Barcott:
My husband and I both zoomed through this book and loved it. You will learn about the beginnings of Carolina for Kibera and how $26 can change a community. This is the organization I have been involved with the most since returning from Kenya. I can give an entire presentation just on the work they are doing.

The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers: (would also be a GREAT young adult book!!)
I love this book—it is inspiring and uplifting. I would love to see a middle school class read this one. It is the story of a young girl from a Ugandan slum who ends up a world chess championship.

Global Soccer Mom by Shayne Moore:
This is Shayne’s first book and how she became involved in advocating for HIV/AIDS. Her story begins very similar to mine, except she ends up at the Bono/Ashley Judd speaking event and then to the G8 Summit. However, 11 years later we ended up together on the same trip to Kenya with the ONE Moms.

Refuse to Do Nothing by Shayne Moore and Kimberly McOwen Yim
Shayne started working on this book after our return from Kenya. I just finished reading it last week and have already ‘refused to do nothing’. I am telling everyone and anyone to pick up this book!

The Last Hunger Season by Roger Thurow
Roger Thurow was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal for 30 years. He is now a senior fellow for the Global Agriculture and Food Policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He is, with Scott Kiman, the author of Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty. The Last Hunger Season follows four farmers in rural Kenya for an entire year (the same year I was there—we actually ran into Roger). He has partnered with the ONE Faith team to develop a book reading curriculum. If you are interested in forming a group with your faith community let me know and I can provide you the materials.

The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz
I first quick read this book 6 years ago, and then fully read it this last fall. The story behind this book is a true testimonial to how connected our world is. In short, in high school Jacqueline Novogratz donated a childhood favorite blue sweater with a crocheted scene of Mt. Kilminjaro on the front to a local charity. Then several years later, age 25, standing in Rwanda she looks across the way and sees a young boy wearing her sweater (her name was written on the tag!). She ends up a real world changer, founding the Acumen Fund and promoting micro-financing for women ran initiatives. Her story is powerful!!

Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai:
The story of Wangari Maathai is nothing less than inspiring. She is the first African woman and the first environmentalist to the win the Nobel Peace Prize, You will close the book ready to “rise up and walk”.

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah:
This is a challenging book to read about the firsthand account of being a recruited and living as a child soldier. It is quite powerful.

Emerging Africa: How 17 countries are leading the way by Steven Radelet:
A non-fiction book written by the chief economist for USAID. It gives a great understanding of the economic layout of the countries in Africa and where/why/how some are progressing and others are not. This is a very fact driven book.

Tribe of Women– a Photojournalist Chronicles the Lives of Her Sisters around the Globe by Connie Bickman:
One of my favorite Mother’s Day gifts was this book. We had just moved from Indiana to start on a new adventure and I had made a conscious decision to become more educated and active in my passion to end extreme poverty. My family picked this book out for me at Ten Thousand Villages.

Crossing the Heart of Africa: An Odyssey of Love and Adventure by Julian Smith:
A non-fiction travel book that really is a love story covering the history across many countries in Africa as well as tying in the modern day observations. This was a book that pulled me in and made me feel like I was traveling with him. There was love in there as well

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver:
This was an Oprah book club selection that took you into the heart of the Congo with a missionary family. Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors and this book was good, however it took me a long time to read.

Mountains beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder:
On my reading list.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese:
Oh–I loved this!  Every page was written so thoughtfully.  The language used was beautiful and the story was moving.  It was a great way to begin my summer.

Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn: This is still on my reading list…..but is a full-fledged movement. Check out the site!!

Young Adult (not necessarily Africa, but empowering):

A Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara and Susan McLelland:
This book is the true story of Mariatu Kamara who was a victim of the child soldiers in Sierra Leone. The book is written for young adults, however does have some challenging material. It takes you through her journey of healing and on to work with UNICEF. She ends up meeting Ishmael Beah (from A Long Way Gone above)

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munez Ryan
Girl power!!

Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munez Ryan
Coming of age

It’s Our World, Too! Young People who are making a difference–How they do it–How YOU can, too! by Phillip Hoose.

Picture Books:

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters–An African Tale by John Steptoe;

Jambo means hello–Swahili Alphabet Book by Muriel Feelings~pictures by Tom Feelings

Anansi The Spider–A tale form the Ashanti by Gerald McDermott.

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