Capita’s Summer Reading Recommendations

Earlier this month we asked some of our board members and advisors to share their summer vacation reading recommendations with us. These books have inspired, informed, and fostered a deeper committment to the work of our closest collaborators in 2018.We are pleased to share them with you and hope they will be read profitably wherever your summer vacation takes you!


Our advisor, Ariel Kalil, a professor at the University of Chicago recommends Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan.

About this historical novel set during World War II, Ariel writes: It inspired me for many reasons, including the author’s powers of observation about the ways people relate to one another — in families, workplaces, the world at large. Simply a wonderful book!


Board member Sara Peters recommends Wendy Kopp’s One Day, All Children. This is Kopp’s personal account of the first decade of Teach for America and all the many highs and lows along the way.

Sara writes: I was struck by how deeply contemplative Wendy was about the impact of a range of operational and strategic decisions — high stakes and otherwise — made in the first few years of the organization. The level of transparency and honesty in the book is impressive and beyond the level that is usually seen in organizational founding stories. Two thumbs up!


Capita advisor and CEO of Kammok Haley Robison has recently read Arianna Huffington’s Thrive. Haley reports that the chapters on wonder, wisdom, and giving were especially meaningful and that the book gave her a renewed vision for living a full and meaningful life.


The philosopher and member of our Advisory Board, Shannon Vallor recommends Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

Shannon writes: Station Eleven is a hauntingly beautiful meditation on art, loss, the fragility of civilization, and the endurance of hope and community. The defining message of the book, a motto embraced by its central characters in the aftermath of apocalypse, is ‘Survival is Insufficient’ (borrowed from an episode of Star Trek Voyager). It is equally a message for our times — we owe future generations a world in which they can flourish, not merely survive.

PS: Shannon will moderate Capita’s first masterclass on Childhood in a Digital Age this summer in Los Angeles. Register here!


Laura Jana, MD has recently read Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling.

Laura writes: Using impressively well-organized and engagingly-presented supporting data, this book provides hugely compelling and important insights that help give structure to both the opportunities and challenges faced by anyone dedicated to making the world a better place (including in the complex arena of improving the lives of children).


Finally, I am happy to recommend Wendell Berry’s The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Agricultural and Cultural. Berry has been a significant influence on my own thinking for a number of years, but I only recently discovered an essay in this volume, Solving for Pattern.”

While written principally about the crisis of modern agriculture and the environmental challenges caused by industrial methods of farming (e.g. soil erosion, compaction, and depletion), this essay gives wonderful insights about systems that are easily applicable to other areas, including social policy. Berry first demonstrates how solutions to problems often cause other new and unintended problems unforeseen by the original solution and even very often worsen problems unrelated to the first problem the solution was meant to solve. Berry provides 14 principles of “good solutions” that are as applicable to wicked social problems as they are to the most complex challenges of modern agriculture.


Here’s to a relaxing and enjoyable summer of reading!

All cover images from Amazon.