Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany

You almost don’t need to read the book after getting through the world’s longest title. I learned about Bill Buford after I wrote a post offering a list of summer reading books. Holly, a frequent contributor to comments on the blogsite, suggested both Heat and Dirt, by Bill Buford. I read Dirt first, about experiences in a French restaurant, and had mixed feelings about it. I loved the stories, but I truly hated the life inside of a French restaurant kitchen. It’s brutal. This book, however, focuses on Italian kitchens, and more specifically, an Italian butcher shop.

Vegetarians beware – there is significant talk about cutting and eating animals. Though the pig story in Dirt is worse. It’s respectful, but it is detailed.

But it’s also about far more than a butcher shop.

There are ample ways that the author learns how to be an accomplished Italian cook. He learns from many Italians in a variety of places in Italy throughout the book. He has multiple experiences, some of them insanely crazy, in famous Italian chef Mario Batali’s restaurants. The good news – and this is what I hoped – the book did not ruin Italian kitchens for me. These restaurants can be filled with all of the food romance and passion for food that all of us believe Italian kitchens have. There is still the intensity, but it’s not even close to French intensity. And as I experienced in my first trip to Italy this summer, there is an emphasis and fresh ingredients and simple recipes. It’s great stuff.

The book made me want to cook, to talk with friends about cooking, and to keep learning how I can be better.

I truly enjoyed the book, and recommend it highly.

You can purchase it here.

Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention and How to Think Deeply Again

My friend Jenn loaned me this book. That means I read it as a paperback, instead of Kindle-ing it. I read less than 10% of my books in hard copy. This was a perfect one to choose to be part of that 10%.

This is a book about why we are distracted, and the forces at work doing their best to increase our levels of distraction. It’s not a conspiracy theory book, but it is an “open your eyes and know that there are forces at work trying to keep you from being your best” book.

There is nothing shocking about this book, but the way Johann Hari keeps piling it on makes it clear that we have true problems in our society, and most of us, myself included, have big problems we have to overcome as individuals.

Some of my takeaways:

  • I am sad that we are not a nation of readers. I see it. So many people I talk with don’t have the time to read books. Even a five-minute essay is too much for most. I am surprised that magazines like The Atlantic or The New Yorker, with their long and in-depth articles, continue to survive. Hari emphasizes that the world is not simple, and it cannot be understood in brief scannable messages.
  • The best part of the book focuses on how interrupted our lives have become. Most of us do not have time for thought, silence, day-dreaming, reflection, or problem-solving. And interruptions are more disruptive to our thinking than we think. He pushes the idea of flow – one of my favorite concepts and always a goal in my life – and how flow is the opposite of our normally distracted life. “Slowness nurtures attention. Speed shatters it.” (p. 36) “Fragmentation makes you smaller, shallower, and angrier. Flow makes you bigger, deeper, calmer.” (p. 62) 
  • The forces behind the Internet – the engineers and profiteers – are actively trying to get, then keep our attention. Outrage works. People click on outrage. Infinite scrolls work. Rabbit holes work. Be aware and avoid them. “As we get manipulated by the outrage, we become, as a species, less rational, less intelligent, and less focused.” (P. 141) And . . . it’s threatening our democracy.
  • The big societal idea in this book is to ban surveillance capitalism. Like lead paint and CFCs from aerosol cans, it is hurting or threatening to hurt us. Companies who surveil us know who we are and what makes click (literally), and they work tirelessly to manipulate us for purchasing or voting reasons. It’s too much. I think it’s hard to ban – if it’s not Facebook or X developing profiles on us, it’s going to be a foreign entity. I think it’s worth studying, and I need to learn more.

Overall, a fantastic read. Hari put a lot of different ideas together and made an impact through his synthesis. I recommend it highly. (If you’re into books. 🙂 )

You can purchase this book on Amazon by clicking here.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

My dad recommended this book to me – he may have even given me a copy of the book to read. It sat on my desk for a few years, but after I posted my summer reading blog post, he recommended it again. So I finally read it. Bill Bryson is author most famous for A Short History of Nearly Everything, one of my all time favorites. If you’ve read that, you know he’s a smart dude. But if you read this book, you wonder how that intelligence ever happened. It certainly wasn’t due to school!

Bryson tells the story of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, and calls it the greatest time ever to be alive. I feel pretty lucky in my one-decade-later childhood, but he may be right. But what I love about the book is that so many of his experiences of growing up in Des Moines were crazily similar to my childhood in Little Rock.

  • The crazy candies we ate
  • The magic of TV
  • Kids being left to play for hours unsupervised outdoors
  • Summer vacations, some boring, some spectacular
  • Nuclear war drills in held in schools
  • The wonders of electric football (maybe the worst game ever), along with the Slinky, Silly Putty, and other toys that ads convinced us to ask our parents for.
  • And memories you wish you could live through again. One of my favorite lines, after recounting visiting the Des Moines Register, where both of his parents worked, “I’d give anything – really almost anything at all – to pass through that gate and see all the guys in the Sports Department and beyond them my dear old mom at her desk typing away.” Isn’t that the way it is? You look at old photos and can’t believe how young you were, how young your parents were, and how young your kids were. It all goes so fast.

Writing it down in a book certainly makes it memorable, and I loved the journey. It’s very funny, informative, and for those of us raised as baby boomers, a wonderful trip pack in time.

You can purchase the book here.

Fish!: A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results

If you have ever been to the Pike Street Fish Market in Seattle, it’s a fun and joyful place. These three authors researched what makes it such a great place to work, and then they started using it as a motivational tool for individuals. This is a super quick read, and here are the four main lessons they learned:

CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE – This is a theme in books I’ve been reading in 22 and ’23. It all starts with that.

PLAY – I’ve been criticized for this, but I’m all in. I try to have as much fun as I can in a work day. There’s a time and place of course, but we can laugh and enjoy ourselves. In fact, I think we are far better off when we do just that.

MAKE THEIR DAY – This was a new one for me. Every day, go out of your way to make someone’s day with an unsolicited complement, gesture, or something that will make them stop and marvel. I have this on my goal list as something I can do as a part of my every day routine. I love it.

BE THERE – This is another theme of so many books I’m reading. Be in the present moment. Yoda was trying to hammer that in to Luke’s head a long time ago. (“This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away…to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was.) Be there.

So simple, so positive, so fun, and so life changing. We have the power to do it.

Purchase the book here.

The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

This is a super fun book. Even though it was published before The Power of Positive Leadership, I read it afterwards. This is written as a fable – a tale of a bus full of positive people with positive energy and their impact on a rather negative man whose life is not going the way he wants it to. I smiled so often while reading it. It’s over the top in terms of of how positive the people on hte bus are, but the lessons are real.

I love rule #1: You are the driver of your own bus. I had a therapist tell me something like that: I am responsible for my own happiness. Victor Frankl figured that out in Man’s Search for Meaning, stating, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Joy, the bus driver in the book, works to help everyone realize that about themselves.

I won’t go into all 10 rules, but they all reinforce the idea that attitude matters. It matters for you, and for those around you. Every day, I aspire to be positive. I know those around me are better for it, but the secret is, I am way better for it.

I’m a fan of this book and recommend it highly.

Click here to purchase.

The Power of Positive Leadership

When I started as superintendent of the Placentia – Yorba Linda Unified School District, they had already adopted the theme of positive leadership for the year. I read Jon Gordon’s Positive Leadership as I explored the theme. Those of you who know me know that I am extremely optimistic and relentlessly positive. Unlike Candide, I do not believe that things just work out for the best. I believe though that if we work hard, and work through failure, we can make things better. I believe in Martin Luther King’s arc of justice idea, and that we will continue, through ups and downs, to build a society where all people are treated equally and where there is true justice. So with that belief in mind, reading Jon Gordon was an absolute pleasure. I’m with him.

Some highlights:

“We are not positive because life is easy. We are positive because life can be hard.” I love that.

“People who experience more positive emotions than negative ones are more likely to see the bigger picture, build relationships, and thrive in their work and career, whereas people who experience mostly negative emotions are more likely to have a narrower perspective and tend to focus more on problems.” I love this as well, and I have always tried to lead this way.

You can purchase the book here.


Today Matters: 12 Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success

My friend Rick Lopez is a devout follower and fan of John Maxwell. Since Rick is probably the most organized and intentional person I’ve ever met in my life, I figured I should familiarize myself with Mr. Maxwell’s thinking.

“Pulitzer prize-winning journalist William Allen White observed, ‘Multitudes of people have failed to live for today. They have spent their lives reaching for the future. What they have had within their grasp today they have missed entirely, because only the future has intrigued them . . . and the first thing they knew the future became the past.’ Hoping for a good future without investing in today is like a farmer waiting for a crop without ever planting any seed.” In other words, today matters. A lot.

Maxwell uses the wisdom of John Wooden and Steven Covey in his emphasis on making today a masterpiece.

Some highlights:

  • Express gratitude to others daily.
  • Focus on your top priority – make sure you get that done. If you have six things on your list, and you just get #1 done, that’s a good day.
  • Take care of yourself  and your body so that you are ready to make the most of the day. “My friend Zig Ziglar asks the question, ‘If you had a million-dollar racehorse, would you allow it to smoke cigarettes, drink whiskey, and stay out all night? How about a thousand-dollar dog?’ Of course you wouldn’t.

So much of what I read encourages us to not dwell on the past, to stop wondering about the future, and to focus on the present moment. That’s the Power of Now. Maxwell does a great job of not just finding peace by focusing on the present moment, but by maximizing our potential by making the most of each day.

One of my new goals is to imitate my friend Rick and make the ideas of this book fundamental to my day each and every day.

You can purchase the book here.

Sweet Land of Liberty: A History of American in 11 Pies

In the debate on best desserts. and in the pie vs. cake debate, pie wins for me 100% of the time. Ive had some good carrot cakes, and I’ll eat a sheet cake with a whipped cream frosting, but pie rules. So when I saw that this book was written, I had to read it.  The book begins strongly, advocating for why pie  is a great way to study America

  1. It’s a truly American dish. Damn right it is.
  2. Like America itself, it’s highly adaptable.
  3. It’s totally unnecessary, and you can tell a lot about a culture by how it chooses to spend its optional time and tastes.

Over and over in the book, Anastopoulo points out that just our current pie recipes have been altered so much as America has grown and changed. Pies were created and altered by European, Native American. African slaves, and other cultures around the world. As much as I like the idea of this book (did I mention I love pie?), it did not hold my interest enough to read every word. I skimmed to the end, but I’m still happy to have read it.



You can purchase the book here.

Miseducated: A Memoir

I heard Brandon Fleming speak at a school board member conference this year. He was dynamic and engaging, and he told a remarkable story. I bought his book so I could know even more about his story. Fleming is an African-American who excelled in basketball in high school. In spite of virtually no support from his parents, he earned a basketball scholarship. Then, early in his college career, he sustained a career-ending injury. Left to succeed on his academic merits, he failed miserably. At first.

Fleming tells a beautiful story of hope, perseverance, and giving back.  He shares how, as a black man, he had never heard that black persons were an important part of American history and intellectual difference-making. It speaks to the critical importance of each child seeing that people who look like them matter. As he states, “My life would have been completely different had I known these truths. But I knew them now. And I was ready to do the work of undoing my own miseducation.”

And not only does curriculum matter . . . people matter even more. Fleming rose from the ashes because certain teachers believed in him. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  It was caring people who helped Fleming to do what he has done.

Brandon Fleming tells an important story that all educators should hear. We need to do all we can to do to make each child feel seen, to let them know their culture mattes, and to make sure they know that they matter and they are cared for. Pretty simple really. Except, it’s not.

You can purchase the book here.



The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance

This is yet another book recommended by Scott Fawcett, inventor of DECADES golf. It’s written by Josh Waitzkin who was the kid featured in In Search of Bobby Fisher movie that came out in 1993. He was a chess prodigy, and though he never conquered the world, he was among the best of the best.  That’s a lifetime accomplishment, right? But after he was done with chess, he moved into Tai Chi Chuan. While there is the peaceful side of the Tai Chi moves, there is also serious competition, violent competition, that is a part of it. Waitzkin became a world leader in that field as well. That alone is a great story, but what he adds in learning theory, what to do in the effort to be truly great, is nothing short of phenomenal. I recommended this book to my Dad, and it’s his new favorite book. 13.5 stars. Mike says, check it out.

Click here to buy this book on Amazon.

The Art of Scoring: The Ultimate On-Course Guide to Short Game Strategy and Technique

I think the way that I learned about this book was through a golf learning program called Decades Golf, taught by Scott Fawcett. I believe he said this book was one of his go to’s. Like Fawcett, he believes that if average golfers kept their swing the same and made no other improvements, walking around the course with a pro would lower their score by 5-10 shots, as they would make better decisions. Great short game tips throughout. Turns out he is one of the most expensive golf instructors out there, charging $500 an hour for a lesson. I’m happy to have paid $10.99 for book on Kindle, and I think I’ll stop there.

Click here to buy this book on Amazon.

Walking in Wonder: Eternal Wisdom for a Modern World

My friend Tom recommended this book to me this year. Tom is a fellow superintendent who plans to retire at the end of 2022. He is a talented leader, a musician, and on top of that, a very reflective person. He found this book meaningful to him as he was embarking upon his new journey of no longer being one of the epicenters of the world of education.

As I write this, I have just finished six months of being retired and not working. While I have dabbled in some consulting things, I already know a few things about this new life that Tom is going to find out. My life is incalculably more sane. I am able to devote my full attention to matters at hand at home. And my email and my phone traffic have decreased by 95%. That’s all beautiful, but it does mean that I am now rarely distracted by pressing matters that take me away from . . . me.

Tom recommended this book because it deals with topics of balance, aging, wonder, the beauty in landscape, solitude, and more.

John O’Donahue is a famous Irish poet. I have been accused by those who love me of being illiterate, and my lack of knowledge of anything O’Donohue has ever done might be exhibit 243B in that case. But that didn’t stop me. But I do recoil a little at poetry. Understand poetry requires a slowness in my mind that I am working on, but I have so far to go on. This book is a mixture of conversations O’Donohue had with others and poems written throughout his life. And like Mikey of Life Cereal fame, I surprised even myself by not just liking it, but truly finding a great deal of meaning in it.

I’m grateful to Tom for the recommendation, and if you’re interested, try it. You’ll like it.


Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being

Martin Seligman is on a mission to change the very nature of psychology. While he looks at drugs and Freudian psychology as techniques that can at least mask and perhaps address the problem, he sees positive psychology as a way for everyone to grow. He does not want to treat PTSD, instead he wants to promote PTSG (Post-Traumatic Stress Growth). In his book he defines Well-Being (he used to use the term happiness, but he believes well-being is a better and more inclusive term) as having these five elements:

  • Positive Emotion
  • Engagement
  • Meaning
  • Positive Relationships
  • Accomplishment

And he gives research proven techniques for how we all can improve our sense of well-being. He has worked extensively with the military, and they have adapted his techniques in a big way. He has tried to work with schools and has experienced . . .  just some success. Working with a military structure that has at least some unity is easier than working with nearly 14,000 school districts around the nation.

I wrote a blog post about how I learned about Seligsman’s work and my reflections on its impact. I highly recommend the book, and you can check out my blog post here.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

What a life. Those of you who watch the Daily Show (Jon Steward/Steven Colbert/Trevor Noah) know what intelligence, empathy, humor, and wit and takes to lead that effort. Trevor Noah has all of that.

But I expected this book to be laugh out loud humorous. He finds a way to lighten it, and there’s humor there, but it’s a hard story.  Growing up in South Africa as the secret child of a black mother who grew up in Soweto and a white father of Swiss/German descent is something nobody would wish upon anybody. Noah writes, “During apartheid, one of the worst crimes you could commit was having sexual relations with a person of another race. Needless to say, my parents committed that crime.”

It’s the story of a loving and totally giving mother and a challenging young man for whom life could have easily gone a different direction. But it did not. It is honest, brutal and it gives great insight into Apartheid (and the American South) from someone who we love seeing in our homes during The Daily Show.

You can’t put this book down, and Trevor Noah truly honors his mother while shining a stunningly bright light on all the wrong hardships he and his family endured.

Get it on Amazon here.

Daditude: The Joys and Absurdities of Modern Fatherhood

My favorite columnist in the world is Chris Erskine. He was a twice-a-week columnist in the LA Times for years. He wrote about being a dad, being a friend, being a husband married above his pay grade, and loving almost everything about his adopted home town of Los Angeles. He’s an everyman. A guy you want to have a beer and a burger with. And he can write with humor, zing, humility, and incredible meaning. He still writes a column, really just for himself and the thousands of people like me who look forward to his still-twice-a-week columns at www.chriserskinela.com.

This book was published in 2018, just before two brutal life events devastated his family. But that’s the thing. Those events would have crushed most of us, but Chris, though severely wounded, continues to let his light still shine through. That’s when you can really tell a person’s character, and he has it in buckets.

This quote from his “Let Me Explain” intro says it far better than I:

Who will like this book? Quiet souls like me who follow jazz or who linger too long over lighthouses. But also wise guys who enjoy belly laughs and Chevy Chase pratfalls. Those who appreciate oversized cheeseburgers, tight spirals, and the majesty of a cocktail party quip. Who else will like this collection on fatherhood, culled from my weekly newspaper columns? Dads and moms. Sons and daughters. Dogs and cats.

I think all but three of those terms define me, and I’m all in.

Find it on Amazon here.

Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story

I’ll admit it. This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I’m not ashamed, in fact I’m embracing it. If you play golf, it’s required watching, and the more quotes you can cite at the right time, the more you are perceived as a real golfer. I don’t know how many lines Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods can quote, but I’m calling them real golfers regardless of the number. Call me not stupid. But you don’t have to call me classy. Many of you thought of me as a pool guy. But like Carl, I’m a pond guy.

My friend Laura loaned me this book, in spite of being one of the more classy people I know. Chris Nashawaty’s book details the making of Caddyshack, and even more than you might figure it was, it was a total sh**show. It’s a miracle a film was ever made. You marvel and cringe your way through it, and you feel for all of the comic geniuses who could not hang on to their own lives. I am not sure what there is redeeming about this story. While the result has created legacies for many, the process was brutal. It was worth the read, particularly if you love Saturday Night Live, the Harvard Lampoon, or of course, Caddyshack.

Click here to purchase on Amazon.

Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Smart, Sexy, and Fit – Until You’re 80 and Beyond

Younger Next Year is a book I keep coming back to. I forget who first turned me on to it, but I read it in my mid-fifties, and it continues to inspire me.  The bottom line is that at some point, sometime in our forties or fifties, our bodies want to get old and decay. It is time, and they are ready to fade. We can’t stop it, but we can do a great job of slowing it down. Some of the quotes that have impacted me:

  • “So how do we keep ourselves from decaying? By changing the signals we send to our bodies. The keys to overriding the decay code are daily exercise, emotional commitment, reasonable nutrition and a real engagement with living. But it starts with exercise.”
  • “In short, we have adopted a lifestyle which—for people designed as we were designed—is nothing less than a disease. Think about that. Our lifestyle—especially in retirement, especially in this wonderful country—is a disease more deadly than cancer, war or plague.” That lifestyle comes about because, relative to our ancestors, everything is easy now. Food is plentiful, we live comfortable lives, and the threat of true danger rarely appears in our lives. It’s not what our bodies are expecting.
  • “Biologically, there is no such thing as retirement, or even aging. There is only growth or decay, and your body looks to you to choose between them.”
  • “You can control the cycle [of stress, inflammation, and repair]. Commuting, loneliness, apathy, too much alcohol and TV all trigger the inflammatory part of the cycle. But daily exercise, joy, play, engagement, challenge and closeness all trigger the crucial repair.”
  • “Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life.”
  • “Aerobic exercise does more to stop actual death, but strength training can make your life worthwhile.”
  • “Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week for the rest of your life.”

Obviously, this stuff is really hard. It’s way easier to decay and grow truly old. I am choosing to fight. I hope this effort will help counteract whatever life throws at me, and I’m not going down easy.

Click here to purchase on Amazon.


The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

I’m not sure why I haven’t added this book until now. I’ve been reading it and re-reading it for years, and it has helped me through many a stressful time. I love the references to all of the world’s major religions. The main premise is rather Buddhist in nature, seeking the end of suffering through quieting the mind, but Tolle employs wisdom from many religions in explaining the path. I feel that I can go to this book and open it up to any page to find wisdom and guidance. Some of the passages I have highlighted over the years include:

  • Enlightenment is not only the end of suffering and of continuous conflict within and without, but also the end of the dreadful enslavement to incessant thinking. What an incredible liberation this is!
  • Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.
  • When listening to another person, don’t just listen with your mind, listen with your whole body. Feel the energy field of your inner body as you listen. That takes attention away from thinking and creates a still space that enables you to truly listen without the mind interfering. You are giving the other person space — space to be. It is the most precious gift you can give.

Another book in my bibliography on meditation is 10% Happier, which is a much lighter version, kind of a sports center version, of the power of meditation.  I recommend it as well, but The Power of Now is the true source for me. And true enlightenment is like Calculus – we can approach it the answer, but even the best at it don’t quite get there. I have a long way to go, and I am grateful for this book.


The Wright Brothers

If you’ve read anything by David McCullough, you know to expect a great read with fascinating history. I have read his John Adams book, his 1776 book and his Truman book and loved them all. The Wright Brothers is more great history well told. 


If you are going to the Smithsonian Aerospace Museum, you need to read this book to get all the background. The story is fascinating. How two bicycle mechanics had the courage and the patience to do what they did is a true story of what makes America great. I give it two major thumbs up and encourage you to check it out.

WordPress to Go

This is a very quick read for me as I try to figure out how to use the web and blogs to get some of my ideas across. I have this as a continuous goal, and I have a ways to go to get better at it, but that’s what I’m working on. Interesting – I spoke to my dad in the summer of 2016 and he is working on the exact same things at age 77.  So he and I are going to be working in the 2016-17 year together on how we can become more successful bloggers/writers/idea spreaders. I’ll look forward to sharing that with my amazing father.



Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be

I became interested in this book after reading about Palo Alto High School and some of the suicide tragedies that occurred in that school in the last ten years. The pressure on our students to go to the right college is extraordinary. The pressure on our most advanced students to get into one of ten to twenty schools is similarly extraordinary. There is not room for all of the amazing students to go to this “elite” set of schools. Yet so many are pinning their hopes on just that. Mr. Bruni’s point is that not only are there other schools that are out there that are great schools, but those schools may in fact be better for students than the “elite” schools. He cites example after example of students who excelled by going to a school that was the right fit for them. 


He details examples of students and parents and their sometimes misplaced focus on identifying a certain school with success in life. The book makes perfect sense. I remember applying to college and I knew I would have been happy at any of the schools that I got into. I have friends who’ve attended a wide variety of schools, ranked at different levels on the rankings that are out there, and the success of my friends often bears little resemblance to what people would predict based on the colleges they attended. Two of my most successful friends did not even go to college, and they are wildly successful. Again, in this theme of books about the pressures on our students, it’s a great book for our students and our parents to read.  It sits on my bookshelf in my office highly displayed, because I absolutely love and believe in the title. Again, highly recommended.


Wheat Belly

After reading this, my weight dropped from 205 to 197. If I was truly dedicated, it would go even lower. I recommend it for a very quick read. I don’t think he is wrong. My favorite line is when Dr. Davis talks about all of the marathoners and triathletes who have a paunch. How can that be? Carbs and wheat he thinks. But I do love good bread. Somewhere there has to be a middle ground!



Unselfie : Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World

This is a book that our middle school vice principal Margot Parker asked our parents to read and led a book group discussion on it. It explores the idea that in this digital age, students are often hyper-consumed with themselves. I am reminded of that classic YouTube video of the college girls at the professional baseball game who spent about three minutes doing nothing but taking selfies of themselves, leaving the announcers rather dumbfounded at what was going on. What this culture of narcissism does is keep us from focusing on anyone but ourselves. That means a world without empathy. Ms. Borba laments this development, and talks about how we can help students to see the world beyond themselves, develop empathy and therefore make a better world for themselves. An important idea that’s hard to argue with.



Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival

I read this because (1) it is a big movie this year, and (2) it is a local story of a man from Torrance. My friend Paul told me about the book, and how it told so much more in the movie. He was particularly angered by the fact that the movie removed the importance of his Christianity in overcoming the demons of Louis Zamperini’s imprisonment and torture. It’s a good read and an amazing story. It is yet another reminder of our greatest generation and the sacrifices they made for freedom and democracy.