Creating Social Value Blog / Social Innovation

Summer Reading for Changemakers and Social Innovators

Below are a few selections from The Lewis Institute bookshelves for anyone wanting to bathe in brilliance while soaking up some sun this summer.

For Changemakers • For Social Innovators • For Youth


Books for Changemakers & Leaders

Start With Why:

How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

If you haven’t yet read Simon Sinek’s book, stop reading this webpage and go read Start With Why.

Designing Your Life:

How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

A must-read for any changemaker, written by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

Check out Rachel’s review of the book!

New Power:

How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World—and How to Make It Work for You

A fascinating new book by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms about understanding influence. Thanks to John Kluge MBA’17 for recommending this one!

Wired to Care:

How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy

One of Emily’s favorites, written by our friend and mentor Dev Patnaik about how empathetically connecting with your stakeholders creates prosperity.


The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

The Lewis mantra is to “do something that matters.” Greg McKeown’s approach enables you to focus on doing just that.

Leading with Soul

In this older yet still timely book, Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal talk about purpose-centered work.

Positive Intelligence:

Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential and How You Can Achieve Yours

Shirzad Chamine’s book helps to open your eyes to the extent that you judge yourself, situations, and others. Rebecca recommends this book for that deep inner work.

Deeper-Dive Books for Social Innovators

All In:

The Future of Business Leadership

Cheryl’s mentor David Grayson, along with Chris Coulter and Mark Lee, offer qualitative and quantitative insights on leading high-impact corporate sustainability.

Social Value Investing:

A Management Framework for Effective Partnerships

Cross-sector partnerships are critical to creating long-lasting social impact. In their new book, Howard Buffet and William Eimicke provide a framework for developing and measuring these collaborations.

The Regenerative Business:

Redesign Work, Cultivate Human Potential and Achieve Extraordinary Outcomes

A leading voice for decades and one of our Social Innovation Fellows, Carol Sanford‘s book provides a pathway for creating a transformational workplace.

21st Century Corporate Citizenship:

A Practical Guide to Delivering Value to Society and Your Business

Co-authored by Dave Stangis, our Entrepreneur-in-Residence, this book provides an excellent guide for creating social and economic value simultaneously.


The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

Paul Hawkin’s book is a must-read for anyone working towards the UN SDGs or climate action.

How to Change the World:

Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas

This is one of our favorite books as a changemaker campus. We presented author David Bornstein with a Social Innovator Award in honor of the social impact he’s making with Solutions Journalism.

Building Social Business

Interested in starting a social enterprise or venture? Start with this book by Muhammad Yunus, our 2016 commencement speaker.

The Unfinished Social Entrepreneur

This is the book for all social innovators or people interested in the field. Life-long social justice activist and social entrepreneur, John C. Lewis quickly sheds the ego to get to meaty statements of wisdom and insight.

Books for Youth Entrepreneurs

The Start-Up of You

Janai recommends this book by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha as great place to start if you’re interested in entrepreneurship, beginning with the idea of thinking of yourself as a brand.

The Mesh:

Why the Future of Business is Sharing

Especially for our Youth entrepreneurs, Lisa Gansky’s book is a wonderful guide on how to use the resources around you to support your business.