Books I've Read

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell

Robert Dugoni 2018
Read: 2020

This book combines some classic underdog stories in the setting of a traditional Catholic school education. I was reminded several times of some of the stories from my own Catholic school education, and I loved all of the reminiscences. It’s a great tale of parenting, discrimination, and coming of age, and the author ties it […]

Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life

William Deresiewicz 2014
Read: 2015
Education/Leadership, Non-Fiction

This book was recommended to me by a Mira Costa graduate who is now a college sophomore. It is a damning report on the level of instruction at the college level. Having had a son just go through college, I believe that great teaching in many colleges is the exception. It also discusses how our […]

Ethan Frome

Edith Wharton 1911
Read: 2017

This year I shadowed one of our junior students at Mira Costa High School. Click here to read my blog entry. One of our big topics here is trying to improve the social emotional wellness of our students, and one of the ways we tried to gain more understanding was to shadow students for a […]

Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching

Charlotte Danielson 2007
Read: 2013
Education/Leadership, Non-Fiction

We are doing a lot of work on teacher evaluation in MBUSD, and Charlotte Danielson is regarded as one of the foremost experts on the subject. I worked with her many years ago on a teacher evaluation project in Santa Monica – Malibu USD, and I found her to be bright, engaging and completely passionate […]

Ender’s Game

Orson Scott Card 1985
Read: 2014
Fiction, Recommended for Young Adults

Somehow I missed this when it came out. I am a fan of this genre and this book was a true though provoker. I only climbed from under my rock when the movie came out. So my son and I read it, discussed it, and saw the movie. Two main thoughts. First – The idea […]

Emotions, Learning, and the Brain

Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang 2015
Read: 2016
Education/Leadership, Non-Fiction

Manhattan Beach belongs to Consortium 2034, a group of school districts from across the country who work to better serve the needs of our similar communities. One of our regular contributors is a MBUSD parent, Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang. Dr. Immordino-Yang is a USC professor who has written this book and others, and speaks around […]

Educated: A Memoir

Tara Westover 2018
Read: 2020
Education/Leadership, Non-Fiction

This is a book that has been on the best-seller list for a while, and I saw it in a friend’s house that I was visiting for a few days, picked it up, and read it. It’s a super quick read, mostly because you just can’t put it down. It is the true story of […]

Edge of Eternity

Ken Follett 2014
Read: 2015

This is the last in the century trilogy by Ken Follett. I’ve already written about the other two, Fall of Giants and Winter of the World. I love a good historical novel.  This is a third book that follows the same four families during the 20th century: one family is from the United States, one […]

Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Education Will Change the Way the World Learns

Clayton Christensen  2011
Read: 2012

Michael Horn, one of the co-authors of this book, spoke at Manhattan Beach’s TEDx conference in 2012. It’s a book that makes predictions about where education is going. You all know that MBUSD is pursuing technology through iPads. There are those who are against it, and it is certainly a challenging transition, but there is […]

The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer

Neal Stephenson 2000
Read: 2013

My sister-in-law recommended this book to me. It’s a science fiction book about a futuristic world where computers and humans are incredibly intertwined. I did not love the book, but there were many interesting elements of trying to bring reality back into people’s lives. The fascination of the future with the morality of the Victorian […]

Death by Meeting

Patrick Lencioni 20014
Read: 2012

, by  (2004) I’ve always thought of myself is an excellent meeting manager. In fact, I’ve often joked that my ideal job would be a professional meeting runner. I believe in the theory of a well-planned agenda, an easy beginning and end, and a solid meaty middle part where difficult problems get resolved. But I’ve been […]


Daniel Suarez 2014
Read: 2014

This is another recommendation from my father. I call these types of books pure fun that can be read on a weekend or on a night when you don’t need to sleep more than a few hours. Suarez writes stories similar to Michael Crichton in their pace and use of science. This one is about […]

Creative Schools

Ken Robinson 2015
Read: 2016

Like most educators, I am a huge fan of Ken Robinson. His famous TED Talk has inspired so many of us in education. At the core of it is his belief that we have to do everything we can to keep our students creative. That means that student-centered education should be what we focus on […]

Cool: How the Brain’s Hidden Quest for Cool Drives Our Economy and Shapes Our World

Drs. Steven Quartz and Annette Asp 2015
Read: 2015

Steven Quartz is a very good friend of mine, and my wife and I were excited to be able to read this book before its publication. This is a big brain research book. Brain research is increasing its role as a shaper in education research and policy. This insightful book examines why people make the […]

Coaching Conversations: Transforming Your School One Conversation at a Time

Linda M. Gross Cheliotes and Marceta A. Reill 2010
Read: 2014

This book was recommended to me by Dr. Brett Geithman, MBUSD’s Executive Director of Educational Services. Brett is one of the finest instructional leaders I know. I first saw him as a principal in Long Beach. We sent teams of teachers to his school to learn about how they were teaching writing with incredible success. […]

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Isabel Wilkerson 2020
Read: 2021

This was a majorly eye-opening book. To me, the key to the whole book is Wilkerson’s assertion that there have been three caste societies in our last 2,000 years. One is the Indian caste system that we all read about in our textbooks with the brahmin at the top and the untouchables at the bottom. […]

Building The World’s Greatest High School

Richard Parkhouse 2013
Read: 2014

I love this book. I love it so much and it has truly inspired me. I met with a group of leaders to share my enthusiasm for it, and I found that I’m kind of alone in my love for it. But I don’t think I’m wrong. Perhaps I love it because it rings true […]

Building a Better Teacher

Elizabeth Green 2014
Read: 2015

This book, by a journalist and not an educator, hits the nail on the head when the author states that our educational research in the US is fantastic, and the level of implementation in the classroom is deplorable. I remember a phrase from Richard Elmore that talked about the stormy sea in which educational research […]

The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100

Dan Buettner 2019
Read: 2021

I learned about this book when I received my Blue Zones newsletter in my in box, and then I was so pleased to get the book as a gift from my friends at Beach Cities Health District. BCHD has been promoting Blue Zones for a long time. Manhattan Beach is a Blue Zones city, committed […]

Big Green Egg Cookbook

Sara Levy 2009
Read: 2012

When I’m not being a school administrator, I love to cook. I cook all kinds of things, but what I really love to do is to grill and smoke foods. For my 50th birthday, my wife bought me a Big Green Egg. It is a smoker, grill and pizza oven, and I recommend it to […]

Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates 2015
Read: 2018

Manhattan Beach has spent a lot of time over the last 18 months talking about the importance of inclusion. We have seen events in our community and in our schools that make us realize that we need to make sure that every student and every community member do all they can to respect and include […]

Better Learning Through Structured Teaching

Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey 2013
Read: 2015

This came to my attention from a USC doctoral student. It is a fantastic book that brings together many of the best ideas and research in teaching. Mike Schmoker’s ideas on direct instruction; Lauren Resnick’s ideas on accountable talk, the role of independent learning and the use of technology. It’s a strong book, and I […]

Being Mortal

Dr. Atul Gawande 2014
Read: 2015

I am 55 years old now and I feel very fortunate that both of my parents are still alive and very much a part of my life. But I am at the point in my life where I am thinking about how it will be as they get older, and as I get older. Dr. […]

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Neil de Grasse Tyson 2017
Read: 2018

solid read.   by  (2017) I’ll give you two quotes from the book. One from the intro: “If you’re too busy to absorb the cosmos via classes, textbooks, or documentaries, and you nonetheless seek a brief but meaningful introduction to the field, I offer you Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.” That is completely accurate. […]