Feature

Also of interest...in good intentions gone awry

With Charity for All; The Humanity Project, How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick, Overbooked

With Charity for All
by Ken Stern (Doubleday, $27)
Charity donors “too often give to the wrong organizations for the wrong reasons,” said Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times. In an exposé of the nonprofit sector that’s long overdue, former NPR CEO Ken Stern shows how misplaced priorities and a lack of accountability lead nonprofits to get far less for donors’ money than they should. The book “falters in its most important role: proposing remedies.” But it “marks an important advance in educating the donor public.”

The Humanity Project
by Jean Thompson (Blue Rider, $27)
Nearly every character in this “sad, perceptive, ambivalent” novel is ethically compromised, said Sam Sacks in The Wall Street Journal. Their failings are often what tie them together, especially once a local widow launches a charity dedicated to making people more compassionate. As we get to know a school-shooting victim, a painkiller addict, and a teenager supporting his father through crime, Jean Thompson’s “lucid, no-frills prose” gives each portrait a “stamp of authenticity.”

How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick
by Letty Cottin Pogrebin (PublicAffairs, $25)
When Letty Cottin Pogrebin was diagnosed with cancer at age 70, some of her friends started to drive her batty, said Deirdre Donahue in USAToday.com. They meant well, but Pogrebin realized that they could have used some advice about providing more effective solace. In this helpful book, “she makes the point that in sickness, as in health, people are individuals,” with some needing constant support and others genuinely wanting solitude. She urges us to listen, and to never make empty promises.

Overbooked
by Elizabeth Becker (Simon & Schuster, $28)
Journalist Elizabeth Becker “makes a convincing case for treating tourism as the serious, consequential industry it is,” said Carlo Wolff in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. As Becker notes, the travel industry now represents about 10 percent of the world economy. She sees negative effects everywhere, with foot traffic wearing down temples in Cambodia and cruise ships pumping out pollutants with impunity. Becker backs her charges with ample research; “at the same time, she is a bit of a scold.”

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