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5 Great Reads For Volunteers

As volunteers begin their year of simplicity, community, compassionate service, and spirituality many turn to written resources for support. Mercy Volunteer Corps staff compiled a list of our top 5 favorite books that we feel are perfect reads for anyone entering a long-term volunteer position! Here they are:

1. Half the Sky by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof

Written by two Pulitzer Prize winners, this book makes number one on our list because of its attention to detail, explanations of human rights issues, and depictions of personal stories. The book talks primarily about the struggle of women and girls in the developing world while offering first-hand experiences of these struggles. From human trafficking to lack of educational opportunity, the authors introduce a new area of discussion with each chapter, offering information, statistics, personal anecdotes, and potential solutions. Extraordinarily inspirational,Half the Sky is an essential read for every volunteer!

Bonus: These authors wrote another wonderful read, A Path Appears

2. They Come Back Singing by Gary Smith, SJ

This book is an easy read for all volunteers because of its structure. They Come Back Singing is a compilation of journal entires, letters, and essays written during the author’s time in Uganda. The daily entires personify the emotion and journey that volunteers often experience. While some entries detail the struggle of ministering other entires allow the reader to feel inspired by the impact they can have on a community.

3. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Volunteering can be challenging when faced with a new city, new position, and new community. This book is an excellent read to help recenter and find positivity within our own selves. The Happiness Advantage discusses seven different principles for achieving the right mindset to live out happiness. The author, a Harvard scholar, presents each of the principles while also providing examples of how highly successful individuals use them in their own daily lives!

Bonus: This author has many TEDx talks to watch!

4. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

This book is a #1 New York Times Best Seller. The author takes the reader on a journey of the five people the main character, Eddie, meets in heaven. The book has underlining themes of life, sacrifice, and love. With each new person Eddie meets he learns a new lesson about his life decisions. This book is a great read for any volunteer because it brings to light the impact of the relationships we build and the decisions we make. Your time as a volunteer is influenced by those who surround you, just as you in-turn influence them.

Bonus: This author also published Tuesdays with Morrie. Staff Member, Suzy, read this book when she was a Mercy Volunteer!

5. The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Anything by James Martin

This is a great read for any volunteer looking to dive deeper into spirituality. Whether you are Catholic, non-Christian, atheist, or simply just curious, this book has something to offer for everyone! The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Anything gives a closer look into our deepest desires, our friendship with God through others, and our ability to love. The book also gives insight into leading a simple life, a quality which most volunteers are very familiar with!

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