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Summer Book Exchange

Illustration of a rising sun emerging from an open book lying flat on its covers. A palm tree, beach chair, and umbrella sit on top of the book's pages. The text "ELGL Summer Book Exchange" is overlaid on the sun.

Give a book. Get a book.

When you participate in the ELGL Summer Book Exchange, we match you with another local gov professional so you can swap books, build connections, and expand your summer reading list. The program is open to all ELGL members.

Participants will exchange books with their match between June 24 and Aug. 10, 2024.

At ELGL, we make friends and authentic connections that strengthen our network and encourage joy in public service. This is what the ELGL Summer Book Exchange is all about!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to participate?

We want the exchange to be affordable and accessible! Participants do not need to buy and send a brand-new book to participate. To keep costs in check, choose a paperback copy or select a used book from a reputable seller. Or you could send a gently used book from your shelf. USPS Media Mail is the most affordable way to ship books, with rates based on weight. The first pound costs $4.13, and each additional pound costs $0.74, regardless of the destination.

What book should I choose?

Choose something you would like to read, ideally with a focus on public service or local government! Consider books on management, public administration, and urbanism as starting points. We've also put together a list of recommendations!

What if I sign up and am unable to send a book to my match?

We get it — life happens. If you cannot send a book to your match, please let ELGL know as soon as possible so we can assist.

What if I have not received a book from my match?

If you have not received a book by Aug. 31, 2024, please let ELGL know as soon as possible so we can contact your match with a reminder.


Not sure what to send to your match? We've got some ideas! Check out our list of 10 city- and local gov-focused reads from ELGL board members:

"A Prayer for the City" by Buzz Bissinger: The author of "Friday Night Lights" goes inside Philadelphia City Hall to embed in the administration of mayor (and future Pennsylvania governor) Ed Rendell. "A Prayer for the City" chronicles the challenges, successes, and occasionally absurd moments in the life of local government from the perspective of both the mayor's office and city residents.

"Demon Copperhead" by Barbara Kingsolver: "Demon Copperhead" is not your typical local gov read — but if you're in local gov you should read this book. Set in Appalachia, Pulitzer Prize-winning "Demon Copperhead" tells the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer. The main character wrestles with feeling invisible in society while navigating addiction, foster care, child labor, failing schools, and other challenges.

"Herocrats" by Allison Bell: The author, a past ELGL Top Influencer in Local Government and GovLove Podcast guest, deeply understands the value public servants bring to communities. In "Herocrats" she shares stories and strategies from government employees working to fight systemic injustice. Along the way, the book details how public servants bring connection and creativity to city halls and communities.

"Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact" by Liz Wiseman: Every organization is home to what the author refers to as Impact Players — indispensable colleagues who always come through in difficult situations. (We like to think of those folks as Top Influencers.) The author shares what the most influential employees do differently and how others can learn to contribute at the same high level.

"Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall" by Alexandra Lange: Once the quintessential symbol of suburbia, the mall has declined in recent decades amid pressures from online shopping, changing consumer tastes, and a global pandemic. In documenting malls' rise and fall, the author shares the shopping centers' role in the evolution of our communities.

"Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter" by Liz Wiseman with Greg McKeown: A helpful guide for both new managers and experienced leaders, "Multipliers" explores why some leaders, a.k.a., Diminishers, drain teams of motivation and talent, while others, a.k.a., Multipliers, amplify those qualities and in turn create better outcomes.

"Reality-Based Leadership" by Cy Wakeman: "Reality-Based Leadership" shares strategies for leaders to defuse tough situations, overcome destructive patterns, and empower others when working with teams. The author details how to become the kind of leader who deals in facts, offers direct feedback, and insists everyone do the same.

"The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters" by Priya Parker: Understanding why we gather can help us reshape gatherings into memorable events. Through examples from her career, the author details what makes a successful gathering and shares how others can incorporate those elements into their gatherings.

"The End of the Innocence: The 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair" by Lawrence R. Samuel: With the Cold War as a backdrop and tectonic cultural shifts happening at home, the 1964-65 New York World's Fair sought to remake large swaths of America's largest city. "The End of the Innocence" delves into the fair's enduring-but-complicated legacy and unfulfilled promises of urban transformation.

"The Making of a Manager" by Julie Zhuo: When the author became a rookie manager at 25 she felt like she had no idea what she was doing. Think of "The Making of a Manager" as a modern field guide, complete with illustrations, to help new leaders grow into the role while ensuring employees succeed.

In addition to this list, we also recommend perusing the Best in Books 2023 list from Top 10 Influencer in Local Government Sarah Story.

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