Sorenson Impact 2021 Book Recommendations

A year into the pandemic, most of us are still spending more time than usual at home. For many of us at Sorenson, this has meant rediscovering quieter hobbies - such as diving back into the world of books. If you’re reading more this year too, read on for a few of our top staff recommendations - social impact and beyond.


The Future is Faster Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler

Diamandis and Kotler detail how converging technologies are transforming business, industries, and our lives. Their book serves as a framework for how the world will adapt in response to rapidly advancing technology. Sorenson Impact CEO Geoff Davis calls it a “ great overview of the role converging technologies will play in our future lives.”

A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

Williamson gives us a spiritual guide to becoming miracle workers in our own lives. She shows how love is the key to becoming the best version of ourselves. “It talks about miracles! It helps heighten awareness of self and others,” says Tiana Rogers, PhD, director for the Data, Policy, and Performance Innovation team. “A reminder that love always wins.”

Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown

“This book makes a powerful case that social change begins with each of us: it teaches that to transform the world, we must also begin with creating the conditions for justice within ourselves and our organizations,” says Senior Director Caroline Ross. The author is a social justice facilitator, healer, and more, and the book touches on topics such as personal and societal transformation, collective leadership, and facing the crisis of our times with renewal in the hope of a better future.

Fair Play by Eve Rodsky

The pandemic exposed how much of gender equality must start at home and the unequal balance of domestic responsibilities that women still carry. “This book tackles the topic of family work and domestic labor with humor, wit, and pragmatism, providing a type of card game where couples can deal out responsibilities each week to everyone’s satisfaction while also finding what the author calls creative “unicorn space,” says Megan Brewster, communications strategist.


Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell by Chas Smith

Senior Associate Lexi Kaili recommends this title, noting “Former reporter reveals the secrets behind Oahu's North Shore surf culture and the modern-day Robin Hood efforts to protect Native Hawaiians from exploitation.” In this novel, surfer and former war reporter Chas Smith describes the high-stakes world of surfing Oahu’s North Shore and exposes the dark world of drugs, crime, and violence that awakens each with the winter swell.

Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

In Cradle to Cradle, also recommended by Lexi Kaili, “[It shows] innovative ways to reorient the manufacturing industry (and the way we design things) to be more efficient and sustainable. This idea is ‘If we redesign the way we make things, we won't produce waste.’ The actual book is made from plastic resins, is waterproof, and also designed to be infinitely recyclable.”

Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

In the United States, we are taught the history our country has with slavery and its abolition after the Civil War. We are also aware of the transformation in our country through the civil rights movement. What many of us don’t know is what happened during the century between these two eras. In Stony the Road, Gates gives us a history and exposes the roots of the systemic racism we still see today. “Gates is an incredible historian, but he backs up his narrative with unforgettable images from the era after reconstruction,” explains Daniel Hadley, senior director of foundation relations at the U and Sorenson staff alum.

Project Interrupted: Lectures by British Housing Architects, edited by Pamela Johnston

Director of Communications, Max Seawright, says “I keep returning to housing and public space as subjects. Reading The Color of Law was a reminder that housing in the United States is rooted in white supremacy, a Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute report revealed the extreme housing affordability challenges facing Salt Lake City, and the pandemic left me thinking about both the change to our collective public-private spheres and the importance of public responses to public issues. Reading lectures by architects of some of the most successful post-war public housing projects leaves me hopeful for a new generation of practical public housing solutions.”


The Scarlet and the Black by J.P. Gallagher

The Scarlet and the Black is a page-turning story filled with espionage, conspiracy, and secrets, yet it’s the real-life story of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty. Serving in the Vatican during the German occupation of Rome, O’Flaherty undertook a daring mission to rescue Jews and POWs from the Nazis. A favorite of Kortney Gong, strategic projects leader.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

Recommended by Geoff Davis, CEO, who says, “This is a great fact-based historical novel about a true hero of the Italian resistance in WWII.” Pino Lella was an average Italian teen until World War II destroyed his home and turned his life upside down. Beneath a Scarlet Sky follows the true story of Pino as he joined an underground railroad to help Jewish people escape, hid among the ranks of the German military, and became the personal driver for Hitler’s right-hand man.


Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This book is simultaneously a love letter to the natural world and a critique of the human and environmental costs of extractive economic systems. The author bridges the worlds of academic science and indigenous knowledge to show a more communal way of living. “This is a book I will be thinking about for years to come,” says Megan Brewster, communications strategist. (Thanks to one of our clients for the recommendation!)

The Nature of Nature by Enric Sala

Sala, an internationally renowned ecologist, details how he wants to change the world in this environmental manifesto. Pulling from his discoveries and experiences on expeditions, Sala explains the economic benefits of caring for nature. Geoff Davis calls it “a systems view of the role the natural ecosystem plays in everything.”

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

Wohlleben shares his love of woods and forests in this guide to understanding the hidden life of trees and what we can learn from them. “It can change the way you view the world around you,” says Austin Heywood, manager of film production.

Deep by James Nestor

Inspired by a freediver in Greece, journalist James Nestor set about to expand his knowledge about the human body and our planet. Recommended by Lexi Kaili, who shares: “A journey to the ocean's far corners and greatest depths to understand the nature of freediving. It also explores the drive to conquer great depths on a single breath and the adaptations the human body is capable of.” (Lexi is herself a diver!).

What books would you add to this list? Let us know!

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