The hot, humid days of July and August mean that things tend to slow down a bit here at the DCS offices.  As our minds turn toward barbecues, baseball, and the beach, we thought it would be a good idea to ask our clients about the other big “B” of summer – books.  Specifically, we wanted to know what our friends and colleagues are reading as they break out the flip flops and head for the shore.


Their choices were as broad and diverse as the organizations themselves.  Here’s just a taste of what our clients are cracking open this summer:
  • As Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Julie DeSeyn tackles very real challenges facing our region every day.  For summer, though, she’s turning to fiction — albeit a novel with a message that resonates pretty strongly in “the real world” nonetheless.  Wonder by R.J. Palacio follows Auggie, a 10-year-old boy whose facial malformations present him with a unique challenge as he starts middle school, looks to make friends, and learns to overcome all the other hurdles that life throws his way.

  • Larry SwansonExecutive Director at ACTION-Housing, Inc. is cracking open what he calls some “light history for the summertime” with The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For by David McCullough.  The book collects timely speeches from the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, author, and narrator of PBS’s The American Experience as he reflects on what it means to be “American” in this day and age and explores the ideals that help shape that identity.

  • As both the Chief Financial Officer at Med Health Services andfounder of the La Dorita test kitchen and dulce de leche brand, Josephine Caminos Oria is no stranger to splitting her time.  That holds true when it comes to books, too – Josephine is not only the newly-minted author of her very own Dulce de Leche: Recipes, Stories, and Sweet Traditions, but also an avid reader.  This summer, she’s tackling Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies — though where she finds the time is beyond us.

  • It’s fair to say that as Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at The Pittsburgh Foundation, Khalif Ali has a lot on his plate.  We’re lucky to work with him on just a handful of the projects he balances every day, so maybe it’s no surprise that he’s also juggling two books this summer.  The first, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, is a DCS staff favorite.  The second, ironically enough, is Cal Newport’s Deep Work — which is all about ignoring the clutter of everyday life and going deep on key projects.  We, for one, can’t imagine why Khalif would be interested in such a thing.

  • It is summer after all, and Center for Victims President/CEO Laurie McDonald’s choice, Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B and Popseems tailor-made for beach reading.  Drawn from Marc Myer’s long-running Wall Street Journal column, the book looks back at hits from groups ranging from the Isley Brothers to R.E.M., and offers a wealth of information on how some of the 20th Century’s most iconic hits came to be.  We’re guessing Laurie is the type to bring her headphones to the beach.

  • Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape CEO Delilah Rumberg has built a career around battling the toxic current of rape culture that lies underneath the facade of “polite” society.  That’s why her book of choice, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger, seems particularly fitting.  The book likewise dissects the in-group mentality and conflicting values of fraternity/viciousness inherent to military life — and examines why the same qualities that make for a successful soldier are often viewed with horror when vets return home.

  • As a client, the Center for Responsible Shale Development‘s Susan LeGros has always made our job easy thanks to her strong leadership and clear vision for exactly what needs to be done.  As a respondent to our book questionnaire, she  was no different — her review for Stephen L. Carter’s The Emperor of Ocean Park puts it better than we ever could: “If you like Scandal and John Grisham, you will probably like this book, written by a Yale Law professor.  This book has it all — legal thriller, family saga, professional jealousy, long-hidden secrets, infidelity…a great beach read.”  What she said!

What are you reading this summer?  Post your best beach read below in the comments section.