For any North American, this book throws stones inside the glass house.

David Books takes square aim at the notion that the human experience is primarily an individual one. He argues – convincingly I might add – that individuals are the products of the families, communities and societies they emanate from.

For example, a newborn baby doesn’t develop its sense of self until after its first birthday. For the first year of our lives, we are inextricably linked to this other hemisphere of ourselves called mother. Learning how to signal for food, cuddles and warmth are the first skills we develop.

Brooks follows the lives of a couple named Harold and Erica to demonstrate how our origins, cultures, workplaces, friendships and loves shape and mould us into the people we eventually become.

This book is important to fundraisers because it shows clearly and compellingly (with LOTS of research findings) how important human connection is to our life experience. Surely, philanthropy and coming to the aid of others in need fits within Brooks’ world view.

This book is fun to read. It’s easily digestible (in the Malcolm Gladwell & Jonah Lehrer style) and mind-popping. It made me laugh right out loud many times – and I wept at the final few pages.

Get this book. Read it. Think about it. Use it. Grow from it.

You’ll be glad you did!

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and criticisms once you’ve read it. Pop me an email at and let me know what YOU think!

P.P.S. If you’re still hungry for more, check out David Brooks’ talk on

Good Works distills the best, most relevant, and most thought provoking books to help you understand your donors and build your fundraising programs. Read more in the Book Club.