100 books like Real Impact

By Morgan Simon,

Here are 100 books that Real Impact fans have personally recommended if you like Real Impact. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Manifesto for a Moral Revolution: Practices to Build a Better World

Kusi Hornberger Author Of Scaling Impact: Finance and Investment for a Better World

From my list on investing for impact.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Partner at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, where I lead a lot of our finance and investment advisory work with development finance institutions, family offices, and impact investors. I also serve on several impact investment and field-building organization advisory boards and regularly contribute to the ecosystem through thought leadership and speaking engagements at leading conferences. Over the course of my 20+ year career, I have played the role of advisor, investor, and technical assistance provider on more than 200 individual projects across the globe.   

Kusi's book list on investing for impact

Kusi Hornberger Why did Kusi love this book?

I recommend this book for any leader seeking to better understand their ‘why’. I have long admired Jacqueline Novogratz and Acumen and while not her most famous book, this one really gets deep into the inside of what motivates Jacqueline and the work she does at Acumen.

As someone who considers themselves to be values-led, I deeply admire how Jacqueline doesn’t shy away from the ethics of financing social and impact enterprises and instead leans in to explain her thinking in this book and to challenge our collective moral imagination about what is right.

It is also filled with useful examples and interviews with changemakers across the globe, which helps bring her work and the concepts in the book to life. A must-read for anyone interested in impact-first investing. 

By Jacqueline Novogratz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Manifesto for a Moral Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"An instant classic." ―Arianna Huffington
"Will inspire people from across the political spectrum." ―Jonathan Haidt

Longlisted for the Porchlight Business Book of the Year Award, an essential shortlist of leadership ideas for everyone who wants to do good in this world, from Jacqueline Novogratz, author of the New York Times bestseller The Blue Sweater and founder and CEO of Acumen.

In 2001, when Jacqueline Novogratz founded Acumen, a global community of socially and environmentally responsible partners dedicated to changing the way the world tackles poverty, few had heard of impact investing―Acumen’s practice of “doing well by doing good.” Nineteen years…


Book cover of Adventure Finance: How to Create a Funding Journey That Blends Profit and Purpose

Kusi Hornberger Author Of Scaling Impact: Finance and Investment for a Better World

From my list on investing for impact.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Partner at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, where I lead a lot of our finance and investment advisory work with development finance institutions, family offices, and impact investors. I also serve on several impact investment and field-building organization advisory boards and regularly contribute to the ecosystem through thought leadership and speaking engagements at leading conferences. Over the course of my 20+ year career, I have played the role of advisor, investor, and technical assistance provider on more than 200 individual projects across the globe.   

Kusi's book list on investing for impact

Kusi Hornberger Why did Kusi love this book?

This is a great practical read loaded with examples of all the innovative financing approaches that can be used to finance impact and social enterprises in emerging markets.

I had a chance to read and review the book before it was published, and I particularly appreciate how Aunnie is able to distill complex concepts into easy-to-understand prose. The structure of the book, which is organized around different innovative approaches and an extensive glossary of terms, is also very useful.

It is a great read for anyone interested in learning about and deploying alternative financing models. 

By Aunnie Patton Power,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Adventure Finance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The venture capital model doesn't work-at least not for 99% of startups and small businesses. In this 99% are a lot of companies with incredible potential: businesses headed by female founders and those from diverse racial backgrounds, organizations headquartered outside of venture capital hubs, and purpose-driven enterprises that are creating social and environmental impact alongside financial success.

Counter to what the press-savvy venture capital world would have you believe, there are a lot of funding options out there for startups and small businesses. Adventure Finance is designed to help you understand some of these options, and walk you through real…


Book cover of Viva the Entrepreneur: Founding, Scaling, and Raising Venture Capital in Latin America

Kusi Hornberger Author Of Scaling Impact: Finance and Investment for a Better World

From my list on investing for impact.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Partner at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, where I lead a lot of our finance and investment advisory work with development finance institutions, family offices, and impact investors. I also serve on several impact investment and field-building organization advisory boards and regularly contribute to the ecosystem through thought leadership and speaking engagements at leading conferences. Over the course of my 20+ year career, I have played the role of advisor, investor, and technical assistance provider on more than 200 individual projects across the globe.   

Kusi's book list on investing for impact

Kusi Hornberger Why did Kusi love this book?

This book is an excellent read for any entrepreneur who is looking for a firsthand account of the ups and downs of starting and growing a business in emerging markets.

I got to know Brian during my time living in Brazil and truly admire his story, as well as the candor and honesty that he brings to this book. Brian shares tons of funny and useful anecdotes, particularly as they relate to raising funding and negotiating with venture capital and private equity investors.

Filled with insight, this is a must-read for anyone starting a business or investing in startups that they hope to see scale and change the world. 

By Brian Requarth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Viva the Entrepreneur as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The entrepreneurial journey is lonely—especially if you’re looking to start a business in Latin America, where opportunities are ripe but resources are scarce. Brian Requarth is well acquainted with the challenges unique to this part of the world, having grown Viva Real from two people to over 500 employees, and tens of millions in dollars of revenue.

Now, Brian wants to help demystify the obstacles you’ll face, teach what you won’t learn in business school, and offer you inspiration and encouragement on your journey.

Viva the Entrepreneur shares the lessons Brian learned while building his company. He shows how to…


Book cover of Crazy Is a Compliment: The Power of Zigging When Everyone Else Zags

Kusi Hornberger Author Of Scaling Impact: Finance and Investment for a Better World

From my list on investing for impact.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Partner at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, where I lead a lot of our finance and investment advisory work with development finance institutions, family offices, and impact investors. I also serve on several impact investment and field-building organization advisory boards and regularly contribute to the ecosystem through thought leadership and speaking engagements at leading conferences. Over the course of my 20+ year career, I have played the role of advisor, investor, and technical assistance provider on more than 200 individual projects across the globe.   

Kusi's book list on investing for impact

Kusi Hornberger Why did Kusi love this book?

I love the title of this book–it is thought-provoking in the right kind of way.

The book, which is more about Linda’s story of founding and building Endeavor, a community of entrepreneurs in emerging markets, and less about finance, is on my list because of the lessons it offers about what it takes to be successful in doing something difficult.

In the book, Linda encourages readers to embrace risk and unconventional thinking to achieve success. Not to be afraid if others think what you are doing doesn’t make sense if you believe in your purpose, have a strong network of support, and are willing to adapt and learn along the way. It's a great read for any impact finance leader. 

By Linda Rottenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crazy Is a Compliment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Some books on entrepreneurship are of little practical use. Rottenberg's new book is different. Sober, convincing and offers the best ways to build new business ventures' Financial Times

'Linda has tapped into something important - that we all need to be more entrepreneurial these days. With her impressive track record and inspiring story, she shows us all how to overcome our fears and take smart, achievable steps to improve our organisations' Sheryl Sandberg

'Buy it. Read it. Live it' Seth Godin

These days everybody needs to think and act like an entrepreneur. We all need to be nimble, adaptive, daring…


Book cover of Humanomics: Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations for the Twenty-First Century

Andreas Ortmann and Benoit Walraevens Author Of Adam Smith's System: A Re-Interpretation Inspired by Smith's Lectures on Rhetoric, Game Theory, and Conjectural History

From my list on the Adam and smith of modern economics.

Why are we passionate about this?

 AO: I have been intrigued by the Adam and smith (a play on Adam Smith’s name due to K. Boulding) of social sciences ever since, as a graduate student, I was given the privilege to teach a history-of-thought course. I found a lot of wisdom in Smith’s works and continue to find it with every new read. BW: I first met Adam Smith when I was studying for my master’s degree in economics almost twenty years ago. Since then, I have enjoyed rereading him, always finding new sources of fascination and insights. For me, Smith's work is endlessly rich and remains astonishingly topical, three centuries after his birth. 

Andreas and Benoit's book list on the Adam and smith of modern economics

Andreas Ortmann and Benoit Walraevens Why did Andreas and Benoit love this book?

Smith is generally considered as the father of economics, laying its foundations in the eighteenth century.

But he can also be an inspiration for rethinking economics (providing more realistic assumptions about human conduct) and laboratory experiments in the twenty-first century, helping us to build a new “Humanomics” (see also McCloskey’s two books on this subject). That’s what Vernon Smith (Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002) and Bart Wilson convincingly argue for in their uncommon and innovative book. Smith is still alive (and well alive) today. 

By Vernon L. Smith, Bart J. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Humanomics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

While neo-classical analysis works well for studying impersonal exchange in markets, it fails to explain why people conduct themselves the way they do in their personal relationships with family, neighbors, and friends. In Humanomics, Nobel Prize-winning economist Vernon L. Smith and his long-time co-author Bart J. Wilson bring their study of economics full circle by returning to the founder of modern economics, Adam Smith. Sometime in the last 250 years, economists lost sight of the full range of human feeling, thinking, and knowing in everyday life. Smith and Wilson show how Adam Smith's model of sociality can re-humanize twenty-first century…


Book cover of Worn Out: How Our Clothes Cover Up Fashion's Sins

Stacy Igel Author Of Embracing the Calm in the Chaos: How to Find Success in Business and Life Through Perseverance, Connection, and Collaboration

From my list on memoirs about thought leaders who created brands.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Chicago and at a very young age worked in retail. While my mom was building her own brand, lumbar support called the “back machine”, I watched the process and got to shadow her to understand what the customers’ needs were. I went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison and triple majored in Design, Retail, and Business. I then moved to NYC and launched my brand BOY MEET GIRL® in 2001. When I couldn’t find a book on a woman building a brand who was also a mother I knew I had to write my book to show others how you can do it.

Stacy's book list on memoirs about thought leaders who created brands

Stacy Igel Why did Stacy love this book?

I have been in the fashion industry for over two + decades and have been fortunate to work with Alyssa Hardy the author of this book. She has featured me in several articles she writes for and has been a model in one of my anti-bullying campaigns.

Why I would recommend her book is not only because I think she is a rock star but because how important her book is to our society. It gives a real insider look at the rise of “fast fashion” and the abuse and neglect of garment workers.

By Alyssa Hardy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Worn Out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An insider's look at how the rise of "fast fashion" obstructs ethical shopping and fuels the abuse and neglect of garment workers

"With years of expertise in the fashion industry, Alyssa's reporting is consistently deep and thoughtful, and her work on sustainability and ethics has changed how I view the clothes I wear."
-Brittney McNamara, features director at Teen Vogue

Ours is the era of fast fashion: a time of cheap and constantly changing styles for consumers of every stripe, with new clothing hitting the racks every season as social media-fueled tastes shift.

Worn Out examines the underside of our…


Book cover of Herman Daly's Economics for a Full World: His Life and Ideas

David Miller Author Of Solved: How the World's Great Cities Are Fixing the Climate Crisis

From my list on books that evoke a place and take you there.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love cities, and as a former Mayor, I understand their vibrant complexity. Like all of us, I am deeply worried about planetary breakdown, but unlike most, I’ve had the privilege of seeing firsthand the great work that leading mayors are undertaking globally to address the climate crisis. It's my belief that if more of us knew what is happening in some cities, and therefore what is possible in all, we would not only see that it is possible to avoid climate breakdown but fuelled by that hope, we would demand change from those we elect. You can hear more in the podcast I lead, Cities 1.5, or read more in my occasional newsletter on substack.

David's book list on books that evoke a place and take you there

David Miller Why did David love this book?

This book is a lovingly and expertly written biography of an underappreciated but vastly significant economist, Herman Daly. Professor Daly was an early proponent of ecological economics, and his work is becoming increasingly important and relevant if we want to stop climate breakdown.

One of the main reasons we are approaching climate breakdown is because neo-liberal economic theories and the economic system they have led to through trade agreements and the like rely on false or oversimplified assumptions—like pollution is free or that any resource constraints can be met by new inventions. The fact that neither is true—and the policy implications that set out from that conclusion - are persuasively documented in this biography.

The book is about economics and a great economist who brilliantly and convincingly demonstrated that the Planet and human resource demands on it must be included in our economic analysis and rules. As such, the biography…

By Peter A. Victor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Herman Daly's Economics for a Full World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the first biography of Professor Herman Daly, this book provides an in-depth account of one of the leading thinkers and most widely read writers on economics, environment and sustainability.

Herman Daly's economics for a full world, based on his steady-state economics, has been widely acknowledged through numerous prestigious international awards and prizes. Drawing on extensive interviews with Daly and in-depth analysis of his publications and debates, Peter Victor presents a unique insight into Daly's life from childhood to the present day, describing his intellectual development, inspirations and influence. Much of the book is devoted to a comprehensive account of…


Book cover of Lincoln's Virtues: An Ethical Biography

Michael Burlingame Author Of The Black Man's President: Abraham Lincoln, African Americans, and the Pursuit of Racial Equality

From my list on Lincoln as an anti-racist.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a college freshman, I was profoundly affected by a mesmerizing, Pulitzer-Prize-winning professor and Lincoln scholar, David Herbert Donald, who became an important mentor. I was drawn to Lincoln as source of personal inspiration, someone who triumphed over adversity, one who despite a childhood of emotional malnutrition and grinding poverty, despite a lack of formal education, despite a series of career failures, despite a woe-filled marriage, despite a tendency to depression, despite a painful midlife crisis, despite the early death of his mother and his siblings as well as of his sweetheart and two of his four children, became a model of psychological maturity, moral clarity, and unimpeachable integrity.

Michael's book list on Lincoln as an anti-racist

Michael Burlingame Why did Michael love this book?

In this beautifully written study of Lincoln’s pre-presidential years, the political ethicist William Lee Miller, a warm and generous friend as well as a gifted scholar, argued that to “appraise Lincoln fairly” one “should not compare him to unattached abolitionists in Massachusetts or to anyone a century and a half later” but rather to “other engaged politicians in the Old Northwest in the 1850s,” who were far more skeptical about racial equality than Lincoln was.

Miller observed that Lincoln was consistently “cordial and welcoming in his treatment of individual African-Americans,” but that he was more than that. In Miller’s words, Lincoln’s interaction with those Blacks demonstrated “a racially inclusive egalitarianism.” Miller’s companion volume, President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman is an equally insightful examination of Lincoln’s presidential years.

By William Lee Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lincoln's Virtues as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

William Lee Miller’s ethical biography is a fresh, engaging telling of the story of Lincoln’s rise to power. Through careful scrutiny of Lincoln’s actions, speeches, and writings, and of accounts from those who knew him, Miller gives us insight into the moral development of a great politician — one who made the choice to go into politics, and ultimately realized that vocation’s fullest moral possibilities.

As Lincoln’s Virtues makes refreshingly clear, Lincoln was not born with his face on Mount Rushmore; he was an actual human being making choices — moral choices — in a real world. In an account…


Book cover of Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present

Kimberly Mair Author Of The Biopolitics of Care in Second World War Britain

From my list on showing how care isn’t always a good thing.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like everyone else, I have life-long experience of caring and not caring for things; being sometimes careful and other times careless. Communication has been my central interest as a historical sociologist, and I’ve been considering its relationship to care (attachment, affection, worry, and burden) and security. I have always liked the word care, employing it often in the sense of warm attachment, but I have been looking at how care can at times enact control, violence, or abandonment.

Kimberly's book list on showing how care isn’t always a good thing

Kimberly Mair Why did Kimberly love this book?

This book challenged my thinking about the implications of compassion taking a decisive role in policy.

Not undermining the import of compassion or empathy, it reveals how these moral sentiments are taking precedence over formal rights in decisions about asylum for refugees, aid, access to health or mental health care, and even justifying a military action.

Under the emergent logic of humanitarian reason, structural inequities and violence are easily rendered invisible as the most poignantly shaped public narratives of suffering gain sway over historical conditions of structural injustice and dominance. Fassin draws upon fieldwork in South Africa, Venezuela, Palestine, and Iraq, as well as policy in France, showing how the logic of humanitarian reason can abandon those who are positioned in the most precarious conditions.

By Didier Fassin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Humanitarian Reason as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the face of the world's disorders, moral concerns have provided a powerful ground for developing international as well as local policies. Didier Fassin draws on case materials from France, South Africa, Venezuela, and Palestine to explore the meaning of humanitarianism in the contexts of immigration and asylum, disease and poverty, disaster and war. He traces and analyzes recent shifts in moral and political discourse and practices - what he terms "humanitarian reason" - and shows in vivid examples how humanitarianism is confronted by inequality and violence. Deftly illuminating the tensions and contradictions in humanitarian government, he reveals the ambiguities…


Book cover of Double Crossed: The Missionaries Who Spied for the United States During the Second World War

Brooke L. Blower Author Of Americans in a World at War: Intimate Histories from the Crash of Pan Am's Yankee Clipper

From my list on surprising histories about Americans abroad during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a history professor at Boston University, where I teach and write about modern American popular thought, political culture, trade, travel, and war especially in urban and transnational contexts. I enjoy histories that are based on deep and creative bodies of research and that push past timeworn myths and clichés about the American past.

Brooke's book list on surprising histories about Americans abroad during WWII

Brooke L. Blower Why did Brooke love this book?

There are lots of stories about spies, and there are great histories about American missionaries.

But Sutton brings them together in a refreshing way, revealing the moral and political conundrums that arose once the United States turned to (mostly) men of faith to do undercover wartime work, from showering North Africa with propaganda and rescuing Doolittle’s downed raiders from China to stealing secrets and plotting assassinations.

By Matthew Avery Sutton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Double Crossed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What makes a good missionary makes a good American spy, or so thought Office of Special Services (OSS) founder "Wild" Bill Donovan when he recruited religious activists into the first ranks of American espionage. Called upon to serve Uncle Sam, Donovan's recruits saw the war as a means of expanding their godly mission, believing an American victory would guarantee the safety of their fellow missionaries and their coreligionists abroad.

Drawing on never-before-seen archival materials, acclaimed historian Matthew Sutton shows how religious activists proved to be true believers in Franklin Roosevelt's crusade for global freedom of religion. Sutton focuses on William…


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