Reading list

13 January 2022

I am always amazed at how things seem to fall into place.  The goal of this post was to share what I’ve been reading over the past few months.  I had shared from Rolf Gates’ writing (and promised more), so I took a look at what the next chapter summarized.  It was

Three Ways to Embrace the Spirit of Practice –

Make lists of:

  1. The virtues you wish to express with your practice.
  2. The virtues you wish to express with your life.
  3. The role models who have embodied those virtues for you.

Reflect on these lists often.  (p. 149)

I have kept annual lists of my readings ever since it was a professional development log requirement in the school district I worked at prior to my final one.  While many administrators disliked the “busy work” of doing this, I enjoyed looking back on the learning I did in the previous year.  I continued the practice in my new district even though I knew my superintendent and then my school board really didn’t care that I did it.  I did it for me.  Now, I think I want to do it to share with others.  Some of the most enjoyable readings have been ones recommended to me by friends.

In reverse order:

Reading now – Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown.  She is a master of telling it like it is when it comes to human emotions.  Great insight.  I now have words to describe some things I’ve done and why I did them.

Breathe by Joyce Carol Oates. Parts of this novel were just a bit too horrific for me.  If nothing else, I learned how I hope I don’t deal with the anguish of the death of a loved one.

Blood and Steel:  Ryan White, the AIDS Crisis and Deindustrialization in Kokomo, Indiana by Ruth D. Reichard.  Recommended by a friend, this was a hard read.  The ugliness of people, driven by fear and greed, was at the forefront of intertwined stories of events in Indiana and the country in the 1980s.  Not so different now.

Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart.  At first, I wasn’t liking what seemed like a multicultural rip-off of “The Big Chill,” but I grew to love the characters and did cry like a baby at times.

State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny.  I was pleasantly surprised by the page turning excitement of this novel and little frightened by the real non-fiction that I know was woven into it.

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue.  A creepy little mystery set in an Irish Catholic girls’ academy…

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen.  My goal is to read all of Hiaasen’s novels.  I’m reading them all out of order, but his humor and attention to all things Florida, driven detectives, bumbling and greedy criminals, sexy chicks, and caricatures of people in general are SO enjoyable.  The filming of an Apple TV series based on the novel will start next month in The Keys.  It was hard not picturing Vince Vaughn as Andrew Yancy while reading this! 

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.  I should send Governor DeSantis a copy to read.  He’d burn it, I’m sure.  Everyone needs to know the full history of our country.  Not so we hate it – so we never repeat past injustices.

Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach.  I love her writing style.  After enjoying Stiff (all about dead bodies) a number of years ago (recommended by someone during a counselor interview!), I knew I’d enjoy her take on true stories of animals behaving badly.  Fun and enlightening.

The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers.  OK, Oprah said, but almost 800 pages?!  OMG – one of the best books I’ve ever read.  Take true history, family history, mix a little of the new “Wonder Years,” and some of “Our Kind of People” and that kind of gives you an idea of what you’re getting here.  I did not want it to end.  The last book that made me feel that way was Where the Crawdads Sing.

Florida by Lauren Groff.  This collection of short stories was refreshing after her newest novel (earlier read, see below).  I like her writing style most of the time.  I read Fates and Furies (because Barack Obama said he liked it) a few years ago, but didn’t really remember it.

Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen.  Love his stuff.  Always good twists and turns.  Almost made me feel guilty for moving here – the damned tourists just ruin everything.

How Humans Learn by Joshua R. Eyler.  On my stack for a while – this was on effective college teaching.  Amazing – adults and kids learn similarly.

Dew of Death by Joel A. Vilensky.  On my stack for too many years.  It’s the story of lewisite and gas weapons of mass destruction that started back in World War I.  Quite the work by a former boss of mine.

Born to Build by Jim Clifton and Sangeeta Badal.   Another in Gallup’s series of putting your best self forward and maximizing your Strengths.  This focuses on entrepreneurship.  I was frustrated with lack of consistency between my two Builder Profile 10 assessment results, so I didn’t give this book as much focus as I probably should have.  I may revisit it later.

Counseling Suicidal People by Paul G. Quinnett.  This was part of my QPR training supplemental pack and also on my stack for reading.  Quinnett has brought so much hope to those who consider suicide as an option.

The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk.  Recommended by a friend.  It’s a philosophical fantasy that seems all too real in our current global state.  It’s hard to believe it was published in 1993.  A very interesting story of culture clashes and a fight for survival…

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton.  This was mentioned by a local morning news anchor and I’m glad I checked it out!   Lives are intertwined in 1935 in a story combining Flagler’s Overseas Railroad, the fallout of the Cuban Revolution, and a hurricane.

Matrix by Lauren Groff.  I both liked and disliked this piece of semi-historical fiction.  I appreciated Groff’s research into the story.  I like her writing in general.  But, through the whole thing I felt like I did during a visit with a friend many years ago.  One person reading this will get this.  “I just can’t see you becoming a nun.”

So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo.  I think I mentioned this book in an early blog.  Another must read – a good in your face, this is how it is from someone who has lived it.

The Social Capital Quotient by Augustine Emuwa and Justine Gonzalez.  This was another earlier mention.  Anything Justine touches is golden – she’s building leaders up all over the world.

The Anatomy of Peace from The Arbinger Institute.  I’m not a huge fan of the presentation style, but the lessons on what drive and perpetuate conflict are on point.

Wellbeing at Work by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter.  Mentioned before.  I am enjoying Gallup’s recent focus on wellbeing.  The highlight of this book for me was the breakdown of each of the factors for each of the 34 themes.

Unwritten:  The Story of a Living System by Lori L. Desautels and Michael McKnight.  Lori is one of my heroes.  The work she has done on neuroscience and the importance of relationships has revolutionized education.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.  Also mentioned and quoted previously – a classic.

Escaping the Road to Nowhere by Jamelle Godlewski.  Another one that was on my stack to read.  Kudos to Jamelle for opening herself up to tell her story.  She has helped so many in LaGrange and beyond.  And, she can sometimes get my mother to stay for bible study when she volunteers at Life Care Center of LaGrange.

The Equity & Social Justice Education by Baruti K. Kafele.   I loved how Kafele framed his message by using 50 critical questions we should ask ourselves as educators on how to improve opportunities and outcomes for Black students. 

Vital Friends by Tom Rath.  This was recommended by some fellow Gallup Coaches a while ago and it was one of my first retirement reads.  Rath does a great job explaining why we need a variety of different supports through different friendships.  I won’t lie, I haven’t done the assessment yet.  I was still missing work friends terribly when I read it and didn’t want to focus on that.

Wow!  This ended up a lot longer than I expected.  If you find something you enjoy reading because of it, great!  If I bored you, my apologies!  Back to my book…

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