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Inside Change Often: Our Favorite Reads and Literary Adventures

Welcome back to Inside Change Often! In this second installment of our series, you’ll learn about the kinds of books our Change Agents indulge in that help us at work, as well as escape from the day-to-day hustle and bustle. Whether you're an avid bookworm or a casual reader, prepare to purchase some new books so you can take part in the magic they bring to our lives!

Cyril Jefferson

Growing up, I was a huge fan of Harry Potter (and still am to this day!), and always found that the epic tales of this young wizard were both inspiring and exciting. Harry's commitment to bravery, against all odds, was impressive along with his display of integrity and service.

When I became an adult, I shifted to more nonfiction pieces. As a former educator & coach, I thoroughly enjoyed the words of Nationally-renowned basketball coach, John Calipari, from the University of Kentucky in his book entitled Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out. By highlighting examples from his storied hall of fame career, he emphasizes the importance of every coach holding themselves accountable for the results of their teams, and that the only way to truly build something special is to commit yourself to purposefully finding solutions to help your students/players through their challenges.

Finally, as a young public servant and entrepreneur, I have loved the works of President Barack Obama. All 3 of his most notable books — Dreams from My Father, The Audacity of Hope, and A Promised Land — have helped to shape my perspective, guiding me towards being a more empathetic and steady leader. It is clear that President Obama's experience provides valuable insight for every reader regardless of their age, background, or profession.

Tiffany Boller

"The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho is hands down my top inspirational book and an adventure story that truly speaks to me. Following Santiago's journey feels like walking alongside a kindred spirit on a quest for his dreams. It taps right into my faith, reminding me that my path is valid and that all things work together for my good. This story showed me that synchronicities are real, and everything that happens, good or bad, is shaping my story. This book is my go-to for those times when I need a reminder that I am on the right path in life. Just like Santiago's unshakable belief led him to his treasure, this book fuels my drive to face challenges head-on, cherish every moment, and embrace the journey towards my own dreams.

Kayla Quick

If you were to ask me, "What's the one book everyone should read?" without a doubt, I'd enthusiastically recommend All About Love by bell hooks. I read this gem during my 2021 "12 Books in a Year" challenge (let's not even talk about how many I actually finished). But this book was like finding a treasure. It felt less like reading and more like embarking on a transformative journey. With every page, I felt immersed into the complexity of love. From family bonds to romantic relationships, and even the relationship I have with myself, hooks' words were like a guiding light, leading me towards and through healing and self-discovery.

Of course, my bookish adventures don't stop there. There's something magical about Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me Into the Life of My Dreams by Yvonne Orji, a book that infused my spirit with joy and faith and a way to constantly live in them. Then there's the unfiltered and relatable journey shared by Gabrielle Union in We're Going to Need More Wine and You Got Anything Stronger, which had me laughing, nodding in agreement, and sometimes tearing up as I connected with her stories on a deeply personal level. I have favorite authors, but when some of them collaborated on Blackout (Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon), I was in awe of such a literary powerhouse. And I can’t forget the captivating narratives of Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas, and the soul-nourishing wisdom in Feeding the Soul by Tabitha Brown. 

These books have done more than just transport me to different worlds; they've guided me through the intricate landscapes of identity, spirituality, love, blackness, and the transformative power of self-reflection. So, if you're looking to expand your literary horizons and connect deeply with stories that resonate, these reads are an absolute must. (But I have many more if you need some 😀)

Rod Brooks

Title: Leadership Lessons from the High Seas: Friendship and Leadership in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin Series

In terms of literary adventures, what immediately comes to mind for me is the Aubrey-Maturin series of nautical historical novels written by English author Patrick O'Brian. I prize the entire set of 20 books in hard copy on my bookshelf. Set during the Napoleonic Wars at the beginning of the 19th century, the plot throughout the series is structured around Jack Aubrey's ascent from lieutenant to rear admiral in the Royal Navy. As much as my enjoyment comes from the daring-do and swashbuckling heroics that keep the pages turning, I find the books to be a study on leadership, and what I most appreciate is the enduring friendship between naval officer Jack Aubrey and physician, naturalist, and spy Stephen Maturin. In many aspects, the two couldn't be more different, but they find they share a passion for music, as well as a good pun, and they are always there for one another, indispensable companions throughout years of adventure and danger. Throughout my career, I've found books by Jim Collins, John Maxwell, Simon Sinek, Brené Brown, Carol Dweck, Max DePree, Daniel Goleman, and Ken Blanchard to provide great insight and guidance on leadership. The Aubrey-Maturin series illustrates to me how invaluable good friendships are to good leaders.

Corey Byrd

Reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac was like embarking on a wild, exhilarating journey through the heart and soul of America. As I delved into the pages of this iconic novel, I found myself swept up in the whirlwind adventures of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, their endless quest for freedom, and their unrelenting desire to experience life to the fullest. Kerouac's prose flowed like jazz, a spontaneous and unapologetic rhythm that mirrored the characters' restless spirits. With each turn of the page, I felt the open road calling to me, beckoning me to leave behind the ordinary and embrace the extraordinary. "On the Road" isn't just a book; it's a manifesto for those who yearn for adventure, spontaneity, and the boundless possibilities that life has to offer. It left an indelible mark on my soul, inspiring me to seek my own path of self-discovery and wanderlust, reminding me that sometimes, the most profound journeys are the ones that take us deep within ourselves.


As we conclude another journey Inside Change Often, let us remember that our love for literature is not only a source of joy and wonder but also a tool for change. As we celebrate International Literacy Day (Friday, September 8, 2023), we're reminded that literacy is the key to unlocking opportunities and shaping a brighter future. So, as you close the page of this blog, let's carry forward the magic of our favorite reads and share the gift of literacy with those around us. Together, we can continue to explore new literary adventures, discover uncharted worlds, and ensure that the power of words continues to transform lives. Until we meet again on the next page, may your reading journeys be filled with inspiration and the promise of new horizons.