Slaughterhouse-Five

Continuing my “summer of satire.” This is a book on MBUSD reading lists that I had never read, but had always meant to. It is not the most uplifting of books. The hero is crazy, the aliens question our focus on linear time, and the insanity of war rips throughout the book.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

This is another one of my bedrock books. Stephen Covey has had such an influence on my personal and professional life.

The seven habits:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. First Things First
  4. Win-Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

From “Beginning with the End in Mind” which forces you to think about where you are going – both professionally and personally, to “First Things First,” making sure you prioritize correctly, to “Sharpening the Saw,” reminding you that if you do not practice self-improvement, you will wither away. I believe in all of these things, and I have to remind myself of them all the time.

For me, no other author does this as well as Stephen Covey. Read it, or Listen to it, and most of all, do what he advises and try to make habits out of his maxims. I do best when I have habits such as exercise, time away from work, time with family, planning my week/day, and I do worst when I get overwhelmed or sick and drop those habits. It’s a struggle for me, but I use Mr. Covey to help me with that struggle. When I’m at my best, fully employing these habits that I believe in, I feel like I can accomplish anything.

 

This is a book you read and reread.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

It’s been on the best seller list since it came out. It’s corny and very simply written. But as a parent and an educator, there’s not better book to give you the big picture of money. We educators don’t think about money. We think about how overwhelming our job is, how wonderful it is to make a difference, and sometimes just how to get through the week or the day, or maybe just that 4th period class that is oh-so-challenging.

 

You won’t leave this book knowing exactly what to do. But you will leave it believing that you have to become financially literate and that you have to start taking steps to gain wealth.

 

I made my sons read it read it when they were in 8th grade (Both of them responsed – “Really?”) But they abide by it now. We still discuss it often.

 

This book is a motivational gem. It’s not a how-to manual, but it’s a necessary first step. I’ve read many of his follow-up books and been less than impressed. Perhaps that’s because I have not taken his advice and owned a business, or perhaps it’s because they just don’t grab me. But his first book, it’s perfect for us educators.

Girl at War

This is a book I read when our English department wanted to make it one of our summer reading options for juniors and seniors. Our English department takes very modern books that have been recently awarded with prizes for adolescent literature as its summer reading books, and since they are brand new, none of us have read them. I offer to help with that process and find the reading highly enjoyable and provide my input to our English department.

This book is about a 17-year-old in the Yugoslav civil war in the 1990’s.  There is clear reference to the atrocities of war. There are stories of relationships developed and relationships lost during the war. And in my opinion, it’s a book that I highly recommend for our 16-, 17- and 18-year-old students. There are some more mature themes, but I believe juniors and seniors are ready for those. I thought the book was beautiful, I thought it was instructive in terms of modern military conflicts and how real people are affected by that, and I thought it would be an excellent book for interested teenagers to read.

Fahrenheit 451

I reread this book after Ray Bradbury died. It was my way of paying homage to a great thinker. I was struck by his prediction of reality TV, something that existed neither when he wrote it nor when I read it in the 1970s, and how it sucks people in. His version of Big Brother is a government that makes the people think about trivial nonsense so much that the realities of the world are almost completely ignored. TVs influence is so strong that we don’t see the beauty and pains of the world. One great quote from Faber, the English professor in the book, “I don’t talk things sir. I talk the meaning of things. I sit here and know I’m alive.”

 

Ender’s Game

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 that an adolescent can save the world goes to Liz Wiseman’s Rookie Smarts. Second, they are trying to defeat the ultimate enemy, who in the end, may not have been an enemy at all.