The promise of a pencil. Incredibly inspiring story of Adam Braun who started the nonprofit organization that has built more than 200 schools around the world. It's perfect for anyone who wants to create a life of meaning, passion, and purpose.
The book "What is the What" by Dave Eggers, which tells the story of Valentino Achak Deng who lived through the civil war in Sudan and moved to the US as a refugee, inspired me to support the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation (http://www.vadfoundation.org/) that was started by Valentino and the author. The Foundation works to empower youth and promote sustainable development in South Sudan. I'm sure that part of the reason I feel passionate about supporting their work is the book, which has made me feel more connected to what's happening in the part of the world I've never been to.
In a similar way, the book "Escape from Camp 14" by Blaine Harden, which tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, who was born and raised in North Korea's prison camps and has escaped, has inspired me to learn about and be more aware of what's happening to hundreds of thousands of people in North Korea who are being abused in the camps. One of the saddest things I've learned from the book is that the world knows fully well that these camps exist, even with Google satellite image as proof, but hasn't done enough to care. I have thus been inspired to learn more, from organizations like Liberty in NK (http://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org/) and North Korea Freedom Coalition (http://www.nkfreedom.org/), and to support and spread the word where I can.
I don't think that I've done "most good" because of these books, but for me, these have been important inspirations to educate myself about people and countries that I may otherwise have been unaware of, or not cared as much.
That's a great question. Honestly...it's a combination of some books and what was happening in my life. So, Start Something That Matters mixed with Seth Godin's Linchpin in a cocktail that was chased by a conversation with one of my students who wanted to do good in the world.