By Laura Ramos, Community Engagement Associate

Celebrating World Book Day by Sharing CVCF Staff’s Favorite Books

Arguably one of the greatest children’s book authors of all time, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, say’s it best in his most popular book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.”

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

These simple words speak to a bigger truth, reading can teach us, change us, and help us. Today is World Book Day. It’s a day to encourage all of us, no matter how busy our schedules are, to make an effort to read. To celebrate we asked our Central Valley Community Foundation staff to share their favorite (and second favorite) book and why they love it. We hope one of these books sparks an interest for yourself. For convivence, we’ve linked all the books mentioned.

Ashley Swearengin, President & CEO

“Grassroots Leaders for a New Economy” by Doug Henton, John Melville, and Kim Walesh

Why?  Published in 1997, this book is about civic entrepreneurship.  It hit right after the recession of the early 1990s and during the ramp-up of the IT revolution that was changing our state, nation, and world.  But none of that prosperity, not a drop of that economic tsunami, was being experienced in the San Joaquin Valley.  The authors of this book were consultants who worked with regions all over the country on advising them on how to prepare their communities to compete in this knowledge-based, “new economy.”  In Fresno, there was a group of civic and business leaders who were meeting together weekly to figure out what needed to happen to successfully link the region to this fast-paced, technology-driven economy.  Grassroots Leaders for a New Economy was like a Bible of civic transformation for our early thinking about how to shift regional economy in a way that would benefit the residents of our communities.

Click HERE to purchase this book.

Elliott Balch, Chief Operating Officer

“The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro

One of my favorite experiences in literature is when the truth, and what the narrator is telling you, are slowly revealed to be in conflict. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro seems to present a prim English butler’s self-affirming story of poise and fidelity. But as layers of memory are peeled back, the protagonist’s grasp on that self-image unravels — and he would do anything to keep you, or himself, from thinking so. The tension between you and the narrator remains taut as you learn to soak in the truth about the past precipitating from a cloud of denial.

Click HERE to purchase this book.

“A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman

In A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, the same thing happens in reverse. An outwardly sympathetic narrator brings farcical reason to the ravings of Ove, an unlikeable old curmudgeon. But it’s the words you never exactly read about Ove, and never hear Ove say, that you learn are the most true. And in that revelation, this old curmudgeon melts your heart.

Click HERE to purchase this book.

Gretchen Moore, Chief Strategy Officer

“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I loved it the first time I read it in high school, but I don’t think I truly appreciated it until I was older. Now, every time I read it, I uncover new and interesting dimensions to the characters and how I relate to them.  Jane is a complex heroine, a plain-looking, poor, intelligent, feisty underdog who refuses to be defined or restricted by her status. She is filled with doubt, yet even at her most vulnerable, she maintains a strong sense of self. She challenges convention, stands up for herself, and has a marvelously dark sense of humor. The book is 200 years old and as relevant today as it was then.

Click HERE to purchase this book.

Jessica Revis, Executive Assistance to CEO

“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

It was by chance that I first read ‘The Alchemist’, and it could not have come at a better time. I was 18 years old, and I had just had my son a few months prior. I spent most of my youth with this idea of what I wanted my life to be like and working so hard towards that goal. Motherhood and other extending factors had turned all of that upside down. I felt lost and unsure of my life path. ‘The Alchemist’ renewed my spirit, it gave me the confidence to trust myself and inspired me to follow my dreams.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” – The Alchemist

Click HERE to purchase this book.

Laura Ramos, Community Engagement Associate

“Esperanza Rising” by Pam Muñoz Ryan

As a kid, reading was not one of my favorite things to do. I found it difficult to connect with a book but when I read Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan I could not put it down. Although, a children’s book, Muñoz Ryan showed me there were books out there I’d enjoy. I immediately connected with the main character, Esperanza, because she was around my age and spoke Spanish. Sometimes I question whether I saw the movie because of how vividly I saw the book in my mind. I should point out, Esperanza Rising has never been made into a movie, and selfishly I hope it never is.

Click HERE to purchase this book.

Happy reading!

In April, the Central Valley Community Foundation launched its own Little Free Library. You are invited to stop by our office on 5260 N. Palm Ave. Ste. 122, Fresno, CA 93704 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and choose from one of our books! Be a part of keeping our library growing by sharing one of yours. For questions contact Laura Ramos at or 559-226-5600.