Half the Sky

My two favorite books are the two readings that I would like to recommend in this article. They are Pencils of Promise by Adam Braun and Half the Sky by Nicholos D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn. These two books have a lot of similarities within the general message and purpose of the text, but the style and context sheds light on two different viewpoints of main social injustices that occur today in the world.Pencils of Promise is a book that revolves around the steps that author Adam Braun took to leave his corporate level job and start an international nonprofit providing a proper education to those who couldn’t have one before. Braun used to be a businessman in New York City until he found a cause that sparked his interests more than any desk job could. It started off when he participated in a semester at sea and got to see the world. When he was in each of the countries he visited instead of picking up souvenirs at tourist trap destinations he decided to ask a child in each location ‘if you could have one thing in the world, what would it be?’. Although he expected most of them to say they wanted a million dollars, or nice cars and houses, it was here that he found most of their answers were something so simple that we take for granted every day. One of the kids even stated that all he wanted was a pencil. These answers ultimately lead to him finding his passion and working hard to achieve his goals of bettering the world. Over the course of a year he slowly moved out of the finance world and into on where he found himself traveling through Asia and Central America looking for the most underdeveloped places to build schools so that their youth could for the first time receive a proper education. It was not an easy decision for him, he knew that if he stayed in New York that he would be unhappy but he would be financially secure for the rest of his life, although he would not be living his passion, the view of living a life of comfort was hard to walk away from. That life of comfort and financial stability was not enough for him though. He decided that he would rather live outside of his comfort zone and be happy making a difference then staying still only to please those around him who doubted him from the start. He began with venturing through Thailand, and expanding through Asia and eventually working his way through Central America to continue to help this dream grow. At 34 years old he is the CEO and co-founder of MissionU, which is a debt-free education program, and the founder of Pencils of Promise who now has over 100 schools around the world. He is also a New York Times bestselling author of the book ‘The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create an Extraordinary Change’.


The other book I recommend is Half the Sky by Nicholos Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn. This novel is also a national best seller that takes a differing approach on the same issues of social issues. Although, the focus on this novel revolves around the oppression of women in the developing world. This book is put together of numerous short stories or women throughout Asia and Africa who have suffered from something extreme. Although they have taken these incidents and harmful experiences and turned them into something beautiful. There is a story of a girl who was forced to work in a brothel in Cambodia and she managed to escaped and eventually build a retail business where she was able to support her family. A woman from Ethiopia who was abused and as her injuries were treated and healed, worked towards becoming a surgeon. Although this novel relates more to what women can accomplish, it is a wonderful book to read for anyone. It shows the strength an individual has and can achieve if they work towards it. It shows that one person can make a difference and can achieve the ultimate goal they work towards in life. It is a very inspiring novel which I would recommend any individual to read, especially if they are about to put themselves in a situation where they are giving aid to individuals like those who are written about here. Not only is it inspiring what these woman have done and are capable of but it inspires yourself to know that you could be the person behind the push for someone in need to help themselves.


We live in a place where we have so much and a lot of us aren’t even aware of it. Reading books like the two I have listed above really helps bring attention to what a lot of people are going through. It also shows that there is hope. Just because the world is not perfect now does not mean that there is not room for improvement. If something as little as reading a novel brings attention to bigger problems then that is the first step we need. Just to bring more awareness to the issues so that they can be properly addressed and handled.Overall, I think both of these books are amazing whether or not one plans on volunteering abroad. They really shed a new light on the issues that humanity faces and how you can stray off the beaten path to help those in need. It shows what others are going through and how they work to resolve their lives, and others, in the most dramatic ways. It proves that working a desk job is not meant for everyone. Even if you started on that path it is never too late to back out and chase what you are truly passionate about. I would suggest that anyone reads both of these books. They truly represent what the world is going through and how it is never too late to chase your passion.