November Reads: A Peek Inside Our Library

Reading is the key to knowledge and success for all entrepreneurs. Setting aside 30 minutes to an hour each day increases productivity, and provides a means to escape the business world, even just for a few moments.

At IDEA, learning from others is the power behind our strategy and creativity. Add more perspective to your life by checking out what we’re reading this month!

Start-up Nation
By Dan Senor, Saul Singer

Start-up Nation addresses the trillion dollar question: How is it that Israel— a country of 7.1 million, only 60 years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources— produces more start-up companies than large, peaceful, and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada and the UK? With the savvy of foreign policy insiders, Senor and Singer examine the lessons of the country’s adversity-driven culture, which flattens hierarchy and elevates informality— all backed up by government policies focused on innovation. In a world where economies as diverse as Ireland, Singapore and Dubai have tried to re-create the “Israel effect”, there are entrepreneurial lessons well worth noting.

Banker to the Poor
By Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus has a dream: the total eradication of poverty. In 1983, against the advice of banking and government officials, Professor Yunus established Grameen, a bank devoted to providing the poorest of Bangladesh with minuscule loans. His objective was not just to help the poor survive, but to create the spark of personal initiative and enterprise that would help them lift themselves out of poverty forever. In Banker to the Poor, Yunus describes the many hurdles to putting his ideas into action – battles with bank bureaucrats, the deep-rooted fears of his first, tentative borrowers, devastating floods and famines – as well as the victories – the first Grameen branch opening in Jobra village and the first cell phone delivered to a proud village “telephone lady.” He challenges our common perceptions of the economic relationship between rich and poor, their respective rights and obligations, their origins, and their future.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
By William Kamkwamba

William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger. But William had read about windmills, and he dreamed of building one that would bring to his small village a set of luxuries that only 2 percent of Malawians could enjoy: electricity and running water. His neighbors called him misala—crazy—but William refused to let go of his dreams. With a small pile of once-forgotten science textbooks; some scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle halves; and an armory of curiosity and determination, he embarked on a daring plan to forge an unlikely contraption and small miracle that would change the lives around him.

The Glass Castle
By Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing — a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar, but loyal, family. Jeannette Walls has a story to tell, and tells it brilliantly, without an ounce of self-pity.


Kevin Walther
 is the Communications Officer for IDEA: Northeastern University’s Venture Accelerator at Northeastern University. Follow IDEA at @IDEANEU.

*Descriptions provided by Barnes & Noble
*Audrey Shaughnessy and Matthew Saitta contributed to this post

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