|book review | October/November 2015
Books that make a difference
by Christine Kujawa
Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library
Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference
by William MacAskill
William MacAskill does a fine job explaining effective altruism, a fairly recent social movement that applies research data and logic to all altruistic actions, rather than basing decisions solely on emotion. He explains that one can make the greatest positive impact by considering data and using reason.
The author provides various scenarios to illustrate how this concept works. For example, a randomized controlled study in a developing country's school system ascertained that providing deworming medication to students increased school attendance more than providing free school uniforms and supplies. Without taking the time to do this research, any donated school supplies would ultimately not make an impact if the children were sick and unable to attend school. MacAskill urges readers to consider how they might utilize effective altruism in their own lives.
Plastic Purge: How to Use Less Plastic, Eat Better, Keep Toxins Out of Your Body, and Help Save the Sea Turtles!
by Michael SanClements
St. Martin's Griffin (2014)
In "Plastic Purge," SanClements provides an analysis of plastic, including its history, how it's made and the products made from it. While he touches on the benefits of plastic, he focuses mainly on the detriment of overuse and lack of recycling. The author provides tips on how to use less plastic, which results in less waste in our landfills and oceans and fewer toxins in our bodies.
The tips in this book can be implemented by anyone. Choosing to drink non-bottled water, purchasing BPA-free plastic products, and making an effort to recycle is easy to do -- yet, collectively, it makes a big difference for our environment.
If the titles above pique your interest, you may also like these: "29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life" by Cami Walker offers daily actions that may seem simple on the surface but make a big difference in others' lives; in "The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically," world-renowned philosopher Peter Singer provides attainable life changes one can make to give more to those in need; and "Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World" by Mattieu Ricard examines the component of empathy in altruistic actions.
All of these titles and thousands more are available for checkout at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library.
Christine Kujawa is the library director at Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library. Follow the library on Facebook here .