Skip to content

10 Must-Reads for the SAS Global Citizen

SAS Reading on Deck

To kick off National Reading Month, we asked our Semester at Sea faculty, staff, alumni, and friends a thought-provoking question, What is a book that has helped you grow as a Global Citizen?”

We compiled your recommendations as a resource for our community to continue growing a global mindset that sparks “bold solutions to global challenges.”

Here are 10 Must-Reads for the SAS Global Citizen:

1. The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Summary: Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama looked back on their long and purpose-filled lives to answer a single burning question: how do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?

🛳️ : As a longtime supporter and friend of Semester at Sea, Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s legacy is woven into the fabric of our shipboard community. He participated in the program on numerous occasions, sailing on partial voyages in 1984, 1992, 2005, and Spring/Fall 2013 and speaking with students during the program’s numerous visits to Cape Town, South Africa.

Get it from Bookshop or Amazon

2. Starry Messenger by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Summary: Author Neil deGrasse Tyson writes about a way of looking at the world called the cosmic perspective. It’s the view that opens up when we think about human life in its largest possible context – that of the universe itself. He shines a new light on the crucial fault lines of our time–war, politics, religion, truth, beauty, gender, and race–in a way that stimulates a deeper sense of unity for us all.

🛳️ : While traveling to 10+ countries with fellow voyagers from various backgrounds, this book helps grow one’s view of the world in a way that is bigger than our own life experiences and perspectives.

Get it on Bookshop or Amazon

3. A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea by Melissa Fleming

Summary: A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea is an emotionally charged, eye-opening true story that represents the millions of unheard voices of refugees who risk everything in a desperate search for the promise of a safe future.

🛳️ : During a study abroad program like Semester at Sea, students encounter situations that shed light on issues faced worldwide. This book further educates students on experiences related to refugees as one of the most pressing humanitarian crises of our time.

Get it on Bookshop or Amazon

4. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

Summary: In The Geography of Bliss, author Eric Weiner asks which nations are the happiest on Earth and what it is about these countries that make their citizens so joyful. The answers to these questions reveal some fundamental truths about our many cultural differences and the many similarities and contradictions we share.

🛳️ : We’re all in the pursuit of happiness, and as a SAS community built on traveling the world, many of us have found joy in the places, people, and experiences we’ve encountered through travel. This book helps identify what brings joy in other cultures and how to apply those principles and lifestyles to wherever our feet are planted.

Get it on Bookshop or Amazon

5. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter by Meg Jay

Summary: Our “thirty-is-the-new-twenty” culture often tells us the twentysomething years don’t matter. In The Defining Decade, Meg Jay argues that your twenties not only matter but can be the most transformative time in our lives. Drawing from more than two decades of work with thousands of clients and students, Meg shows us how work, relationships, personality, identity, and even the brain can change more during this decade than at any other time in adulthood—if we use the time well.

🛳️ : Meg Jay is a former professor on Semester at Sea (SP20, FA22) and even talks about her voyage experience in her updated version of this book! She discusses how the time on the ship in which voyagers go without constant access to their phones helped grow global citizens during the SP20 voyage and beyond.

Get it on Bookshop or Amazon

6. The Queen of Water by Maria Virginia Farinango

Summary: Born in an Andean village in Ecuador, Virginia lives with her family in a small, earthen-walled dwelling. In her Indigenous community, it is not uncommon to work in the fields all day, even as a child, or to be called a longa tonta—stupid Indian—by members of the privileged class of mestizos, or Spanish descendants. When seven-year-old Virginia is taken from her home to be a servant to a mestizo couple, she has no idea what the future holds.

🛳️ : Although the novel was set during the 80s and 90s, her powerful storytelling gives readers a doorway into those experiences. This poignant coming-of-age novel exposes readers to the exploitation of girls worldwide whose families grow up in poverty. SAS Voyagers were also able to meet the author in Ecuador!

Get it on Bookshop or Amazon

7. After Sorrow: An American Among the Vietnamese by Lady Borton

Summary: Drawing on twenty-five years of work in Viet Nam, Borton achieves an unprecedented intimacy with its people and lets their voices set the tone of conciliation and renewal. Without calling attention to herself, Borton-the first westerner allowed to live in a Vietnamese village since the war’s end-suffuses her account with a deep respect for all those we left behind.

🛳️ : “I loved books by Lady Borton! She was an Interport Lecturer from my voyage about Vietnam and the war.”- SAS Alumni

Get it on Amazon

8. When Helping Hurts by Steven Corbett and Brian Fikkert

Summary: Poverty is much more than simply a lack of material resources; it takes much more than donations and handouts to solve it. When Helping Hurts shows how some alleviation efforts, failing to consider the complexities of poverty, have actually (and unintentionally) done more harm than good. Focusing on North American and Majority World contexts, When Helping Hurts provides proven strategies for effective poverty alleviation, catalyzing the idea that sustainable change comes not from the outside but from the inside out.

🛳️ : While immersed in a variety of cultures, encountering poverty may prompt the question for voyagers, “How can I help?” This book can be a helpful resource on how to give a hand-up and not just a hand-out to create a positive impact while in-port and beyond!

Get it on Bookshop or Amazon

9. Educated by Tara Westover

Summary: Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University.

🛳️ : Semester at Sea focuses on providing transformative learning experiences that cultivate a community of global citizens and lifelong learners. Through Tara’s own quest for knowledge, readers will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for education.

Get it on Bookshop or Amazon

10. Travel to Transform : Awaken the Global Citizen in You by Freeman Fung

Summary: Travel to Transform shows readers how global unity, traveling, and transformational growth are all marvelously intertwined. Through personal stories derived from his own travels, Freeman shares all the critical lessons that are seldom taught in traditional education- guiding you into the development of the mindset of the new global citizen.

🛳️ : As a community of global citizens, this book will aid the growth of a global mindset for past, current, and future voyagers as well as friends of Semester at Sea!

Get it on Bookshop or Amazon

More books recommended by our community:

  • Education
  • SAS Community

Related Articles

Current Voyage
Who’s On Board? Meet Julie, a Lifelong Learner
Read More
SAS Reading on Deck
Global Education
10 Must-Reads for the SAS Global Citizen
Read More
Alumni News
ISE President celebrates milestones and close of $50.8 million campaign
Read More