Jenn Hoos Rothberg -

Jul 28, 2022

A Summer Reading List on Belonging

The storefront of The Open Book bookstore.

In 2007, I moved to New York City and joined the foundation as its first full-time employee with a simple belief that authentic relationships – made up of trust, empathy, curiosity, and care, and where we feel rooted, connected, and loved – are indispensable in helping individuals and communities flourish and thrive.

This month, as I reflect on my fifteenth year at Einhorn Collaborative, formerly known as the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, I find myself ever more committed to our mission. While our work is cast in a new light and better situated given the current context, what remains is an unwavering commitment to helping people embrace differences, find common ground, and build stronger relationships in service of our shared humanity. (You can read about our moment of reflection and re-imagination as a foundation here.)

In both my personal and professional journey, I am grateful for the many dear friends, partners, teachers, and elders whose wisdom I continually draw upon for inspiration and guidance as we work to advance this generational effort.

My passion and drive are a product of my insatiable curiosity, constantly seeking new ways to better understand what it will take to build a culture of belonging.

  • How do we connect across distance, history, and identity?
  • What does it take to foster true connection and acceptance?
  • How do shame, vulnerability, and curiosity shape our actions and relationships with others?
  • And what can we do as individuals and a collective to listen better, reach across differences, heal the divides, and build a relational, pluralistic culture?

I routinely turn back to these questions and seek out answers from different perspectives, experiences, vantage points, and worldviews. Despite the disheartening current evidence to the contrary, I continue to believe that the next chapter of our human story will be relational. I hope this reading list brings you joy, awe, ingenuity, provocation, and “aha!” moments as you take time to restore, replenish, and care for yourself and your loved ones this summer, as we need your help in ushering in the Relational Era.

Humankind: A Hopeful History
By Rutger Bregman

If there is one belief that has united the left and the right, psychologists and philosophers, ancient thinkers and modern ones, it is the tacit assumption that humans are bad. But what if it isn't true? Bregman shows us that believing in human generosity and collaboration isn't merely optimistic—it's realistic. Moreover, it has huge implications for how society functions. When we think the worst of people, it brings out the worst in our politics and economics. But if we believe in the reality of humanity's kindness and altruism, it will form the foundation for achieving true change in society, a case that Bregman makes convincingly with his signature wit, refreshing frankness, and memorable storytelling.

A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life
By Parker J. Palmer

In A Hidden Wholeness, Parker Palmer reveals the same compassionate intelligence and informed heart that shaped his best-selling books Let Your Life Speak and The Courage to Teach. Here he speaks to our yearning to live undivided lives—lives that are congruent with our inner truth—in a world filled with the forces of fragmentation.

The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations
By Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

The year 2001 began as the United Nations Year of Dialogue between Civilizations. By its end, the phrase that came most readily to mind was ‘the clash of civilizations.’ The tragedy of September 11 intensified the danger caused by religious differences around the world. As the politics of identity begin to replace the politics of ideology, can religion become a force for peace? The Dignity of Difference is Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s radical proposal for reconciling hatreds.

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
By Mary Oliver

Throughout her celebrated career, Mary Oliver has touched countless readers with her brilliantly crafted verse, expounding on her love for the physical world and the powerful bonds between all living things. Carefully curated, these 200 plus poems feature Oliver’s work from her very first book of poetry, No Voyage and Other Poems, published in 1963 at the age of 28, through her most recent collection, Felicity, published in 2015. This timeless volume, arranged by Oliver herself, showcases the beloved poet at her edifying best.

We Need to Build: Field Notes for Diverse Democracy
By Eboo Patel 

The goal of social change work is not a more ferocious revolution; it is a more beautiful social order. It is harder to organize a fair trial than it is to fire up a crowd, more challenging to build a good school than it is to tell others they are doing education all wrong. But every decent society requires fair trials and good schools, and that’s just the beginning of the list of institutions and structures that need to be efficiently created and effectively run in large-scale diverse democracy. We Need to Build is a call to create those institutions and a guide for how to run them well.

What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing
By Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD and Oprah Winfrey

Our earliest experiences shape our lives far down the road, and What Happened to You? provides powerful scientific and emotional insights into the behavioral patterns so many of us struggle to understand. Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience
By Brené Brown

If we want to find the way back to ourselves and one another, we need language and the grounded confidence to both tell our stories and to be stewards of the stories that we hear. In Atlas of the Heart, we explore eighty-seven of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human and walk through a new framework for cultivating meaningful connection. This is for the mapmakers and travelers in all of us.

I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times
By Mónica Guzmán

We think we have the answers, but we need to be asking a lot more questions. Journalist Mónica Guzmán is the loving liberal daughter of Mexican immigrants who voted—twice—for Donald Trump. When the country could no longer see straight across the political divide, Mónica set out to find what was blinding us and discovered the most eye-opening tool we’re not using: our own built-in curiosity.

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds
By adrienne maree brown

Inspired by Octavia Butler's explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live. Change is constant. The world is in a continual state of flux. It is a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns. Rather than steel ourselves against such change, this book invites us to feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen.

All about Love: New Visions
By bell hooks

All About Love is the acclaimed first volume in feminist icon bell hooks' Love Song to the Nation trilogy. All About Love reveals what causes a polarized society, and how to heal the divisions that cause suffering. Here is the truth about love, and inspiration to help us instill caring, compassion, and strength in our homes, schools, and workplaces.

High Conflict book cover

High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out
By Amanda Ripley

When we are baffled by the insanity of the “other side”—in our politics, at work, or at home—it’s because we aren’t seeing how the conflict itself has taken over. That’s what “high conflict” does. It’s the invisible hand of our time. And it’s different from the useful friction of healthy conflict. That’s good conflict, and it’s a necessary force that pushes us to be better people. In this “compulsively readable” (Evan Osnos, National Book Award-winning author) book, New York Times bestselling author and award-winning journalist Amanda Ripley investigates how good people get captured by high conflict—and how they break free.

Get your free eBook/audio downloads by July 31, 2022.

Let's Talk About Hard Things book cover

Let's Talk About Hard Things: The Life-Changing Conversations That Connect Us
By Anna Sale

In Let’s Talk About Hard Things, Anna Sale uses the best of what she’s learned from her podcast to reveal that when we dare to talk about hard things, we learn about ourselves, others, and the world that we make together. Diving into five of the most fraught conversation topics—death, sex, money, family, and identity—she moves between memoir, fascinating snapshots of a variety of Americans opening up about their lives, and expert opinions to show why having tough conversations is important and how to do them in a thoughtful and generous way. She uncovers that listening may be the most important part of a tough conversation, that the end goal should be understanding without the pressure of reconciliation, and that there are some things that words can’t fix (and why that’s actually okay).

Get your free eBook/audio downloads by July 31, 2022.

Think Again
By Adam Grant

Intelligence is usually seen as the ability to think and learn, but in a rapidly changing world, there’s another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn. Think Again reveals that we don’t have to believe everything we think or internalize everything we feel. It’s an invitation to let go of views that are no longer serving us well and prize mental flexibility, humility, and curiosity over foolish consistency. If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.

Impact With Integrity: Repair the World Without Breaking Yourself
By Becky Margiotta

The world is on fire and in desperate need of volunteer firefighters. If you’ve ever wondered if you have a purpose, if there’s a place in the world in need of your unique genius, the answer is yes. And the right time to step into your purpose and explore the path of your potential is now. But you don’t have to do this work alone—and you shouldn’t do it without taking care of yourself first. Burnout rates in the helping professions are off the charts, but we won’t make progress “out there” until we take full ownership of whatever we’re feeling “in here.”

Becky Margiotta’s Impact With Integrity: Repair the World Without Breaking Yourself is a call to action, but also an invitation to reclaim your agency and mobilize your creativity in order to enact meaningful, efficient, and effective social change.

The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World
By Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Chair of The Elders, and Chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, along with his daughter, the Reverend Mpho Tutu, offer a manual on the art of forgiveness—helping us to realize that we are all capable of healing and transformation.

Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World
By Dr. Vivek Murthy

Humans are social creatures: in this simple and obvious fact lies both the problem and the solution to the current crisis of loneliness. In his groundbreaking book, the 19th Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Vivek Murthy makes a case for loneliness as a public health concern: a root cause and contributor to many of the epidemics sweeping the world today from alcohol and drug addiction to violence to depression and anxiety. Loneliness, he argues, is affecting not only our health but also how our children experience school, how we perform in the workplace, and the sense of division and polarization in our society.

Longpath: Becoming the Great Ancestors Our Future Needs
By Ari Wallach

Many of the problems we face today, from climate change to work anxiety, are the result of short-term thinking. Futurist Ari Wallach offers a radical new way forward called “longpath,” a mantra and mindset to help us focus on the long view. Drawing on history, theology, neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and social technologies, Longpath teaches readers to strengthen their ability to look ahead, relieve reactions to stressful events, increase capacity for cooperation, and even boost creativity.

Jenn Hoos Rothberg leads Einhorn Collaborative. Learn more about our work and more about Jenn. Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter and be the first to read Jenn’s blog posts.