Spring 2021 Book List
The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
Something has been going wrong on many college campuses in the last few years. Speakers are shouted down. Students and professors say they are walking on eggshells and are afraid to speak honestly. Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide are rising—on campus as well as nationally. How did this happen? First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt show how the new problems on campus have their origins in three terrible ideas that have become increasingly woven into American childhood and education: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; always trust your feelings; and life is a battle between good people and evil people. These three Great Untruths contradict basic psychological principles about well-being and ancient wisdom from many cultures. Embracing these untruths—and the resulting culture of safetyism—interferes with young people’s social, emotional, and intellectual development. It makes it harder for them to become autonomous adults who are able to navigate the bumpy road of life.
The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer
The Courage to Teach speaks to the joys and pains that teachers of every sort know well. Over the last 20 years, the book has helped countless educators reignite their passion, redirect their practice, and deal with the many pressures that accompany their vital work. Enriched by a new Foreword from Diana Chapman Walsh, the book builds on a simple premise: good teaching can never be reduced to technique. Good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher, that core of self where intellect, emotion, and spirit converge--enabling 'live encounters' between teachers, students, and subjects that are the key to deep and lasting learning.
Distracted: Why Students Can't Concentrate and What You Can Do About It by James Lang
Why is it so hard to get students to pay attention? Conventional wisdom blames iPhones, insisting that access to technology has ruined students' ability to focus. The logical response is to ban electronics in class. But acclaimed educator James M. Lang argues that this solution obscures a deeper problem: how we teach is often at odds with how students learn. Classrooms are designed to force students into long periods of intense focus, but emerging science reveals that the brain is wired for distraction. We learn best when able to actively seek and synthesize new information. In Distracted, Lang rethinks the practice of teaching, revealing how educators can structure their classrooms less as distraction-free zones and more as environments where they can actively cultivate their students' attention. Brimming with ideas and grounded in new research, Distracted offers an innovative plan for the most important lesson of all: how to learn.
Make it Stick:The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. Daniels
To most of us, learning something "the hard way" implies wasted time and effort. Good teaching, we believe, should be creatively tailored to the different learning styles of students and should use strategies that make learning easier. Make It Stick turns fashionable ideas like these on their head. Drawing on recent discoveries in cognitive psychology and other disciplines, the authors offer concrete techniques for becoming more productive learners.
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (Play)
The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. First performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James's Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personæ to escape burdensome social obligations. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play's major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways. Contemporary reviews all praised the play's humour, though some were cautious about its explicit lack of social messages, while others foresaw the modern consensus that it was the culmination of Wilde's artistic career so far. Its high farce and witty dialogue have helped make The Importance of Being Earnest Wilde's most enduringly popular play. The successful opening night marked the climax of Wilde's career but also heralded his downfall. The Marquess of Queensberry, whose son Lord Alfred Douglas was Wilde's lover, planned to present the writer with a bouquet of rotten vegetables and disrupt the show. Wilde was tipped off and Queensberry was refused admission. Soon afterwards their feud came to a climax in court, where Wilde's homosexual double life was revealed to the Victorian public and he was eventually sentenced to imprisonment. His notoriety caused the play, despite its early success, to be closed after 86 performances. After his release, he published the play from exile in Paris, but he wrote no further comic or dramatic work.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (Historical)
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever―and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world. But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie (Historical)
From the New York Times bestselling authors of America's First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton--a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. In this haunting, moving, and beautifully written novel, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza's story as it's never been told before--not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal--but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.
The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue (Historical)
In Dublin, 1918, a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu is a small world of work, risk, death, and unlooked-for love, in "Donoghue's best novel since Room" (Kirkus Reviews) In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia's regimented world step two outsiders -- Doctor Kathleen Lynn, a rumoured Rebel on the run from the police , and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney. In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other's lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.
The Witch Elm by Tana French (Mystery)
Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life—he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden—and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed. A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.
Writers and Lovers by Lily King (Literary)
Blindsided by her mother’s sudden death, and wrecked by a recent love affair, Casey Peabody has arrived in Massachusetts in the summer of 1997 without a plan. Her mail consists of wedding invitations and final notices from debt collectors. A former child golf prodigy, she now waits tables in Harvard Square and rents a tiny, moldy room at the side of a garage where she works on the novel she’s been writing for six years. At thirty-one, Casey is still clutching onto something nearly all her old friends have let go of: the determination to live a creative life. When she falls for two very different men at the same time, her world fractures even more. Casey’s fight to fulfill her creative ambitions and balance the conflicting demands of art and life is challenged in ways that push her to the brink. Writers & Lovers follows Casey―a smart and achingly vulnerable protagonist―in the last days of a long youth, a time when every element of her life comes to a crisis. Written with King’s trademark humor, heart, and intelligence, Writers & Lovers is a transfixing novel that explores the terrifying and exhilarating leap between the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another.
Inclusion and Diversity
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez (Fiction)
When fifteen-year-old Maribel Rivera sustains a terrible injury, the Riveras leave behind a comfortable life in Mexico and risk everything to come to the United States so that Maribel can have the care she needs. Once they arrive, it’s not long before Maribel attracts the attention of Mayor Toro, the son of one of their new neighbors, who sees a kindred spirit in this beautiful, damaged outsider. Their love story sets in motion events that will have profound repercussions for everyone involved. Here Henríquez seamlessly interweaves the story of these star-crossed lovers, and of the Rivera and Toro families, with the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America. The Book of Unknown Americans is a stunning novel of hopes and dreams, guilt and love—a book that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American.
Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton (Non-Fiction)
In the summer of 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton began an ambitious project -to single-handedly create a photographic census of New York City. The photos he took and the accompanying interviews became the blog Humans of New York. His audience steadily grew from a few hundred followers to, at present count, over eighteen million. In 2013, his book Humans of New York, based on that blog, was published and immediately catapulted to the top of the NY Times Bestseller List where it has appeared for over forty-five weeks. Now, Brandon is back with the Humans of New York book that his loyal followers have been waiting for: Humans of New York: Stories. Ever since Brandon began interviewing people on the streets of New York, the dialogue he's had with them has increasingly become as in-depth, intriguing and moving as the photos themselves. Humans of New York: Stories presents a whole new group of people in stunning photographs, with a rich design and, most importantly, longer stories that delve deeper and surprise with greater candor. Let Brandon Stanton and the Humans of New York he's photographed astonish you all over again.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (Fiction)
Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone. But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it. Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It's that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?
Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States by Samantha Allan (Non-Fiction)
Ten years ago, Samantha Allen was a suit-and-tie-wearing Mormon missionary. Now she's a GLAAD Award-winning journalist happily married to another woman. A lot in her life has changed, but what hasn't changed is her deep love of Red State America, and of queer people who stay in so-called "flyover country" rather than moving to the liberal coasts. In Real Queer America, Allen takes us on a cross-country road-trip stretching all the way from Provo, Utah to the Rio Grande Valley to the Bible Belt to the Deep South. Her motto for the trip: "Something gay every day." Making pit stops at drag shows, political rallies, and hubs of queer life across the heartland, she introduces us to scores of extraordinary LGBT people working for change, from the first openly transgender mayor in Texas history to the manager of the only queer night club in Bloomington, Indiana, and many more. Capturing profound cultural shifts underway in unexpected places and revealing a national network of chosen family fighting for a better world, Real Queer America is a treasure trove of uplifting stories and a much-needed source of hope and inspiration in these divided times.
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (Non-Fiction)
Some Americans insist that we're living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America--it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit. In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis. As Kendi shows, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. They were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation's racial inequities. In shedding light on this history, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (Fiction)
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect? Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
Hell and Other Destinations by Madeleine Albright
In this revealing, funny, and inspiring memoir, seven-time New York Times bestselling author and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright—among the world’s most admired and tireless public servants—reflects on the challenge of continuing one’s career far beyond the normal age of retirement. Hell and Other Destinations reveals this remarkable figure at her bluntest, funniest, most intimate, and most serious. It is the tale of our times anchored in lessons for all time, narrated by an extraordinary woman with a matchless zest for life.
This is What America Looks Like by Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar was only eight years old when war broke out in Somalia. The youngest of seven children, her mother had died while Ilhan was still a little girl. She was being raised by her father and grandfather when armed gunmen attacked their compound and the family decided to flee Mogadishu. They ended up in a refugee camp in Kenya, where Ilhan says she came to understand the deep meaning of hunger and death. Four years later, after a painstaking vetting process, her family achieved refugee status and arrived in Arlington, Virginia. Aged twelve, penniless, speaking only Somali and having missed out on years of schooling, Ilhan rolled up her sleeves, determined to find her American dream. Faced with the many challenges of being an immigrant and a refugee, she questioned stereotypes and built bridges with her classmates and in her community. In under two decades she became a grassroots organizer, graduated from college and was elected to congress with a record-breaking turnout by the people of Minnesota—ready to keep pushing boundaries and restore moral clarity in Washington D.C. A beacon of positivity in dark times, Congresswoman Omar has weathered many political storms and yet maintained her signature grace, wit and love of country—all the while speaking up for her beliefs. Similarly, in chronicling her remarkable personal journey, Ilhan is both lyrical and unsentimental, and her irrepressible spirit, patriotism, friendship and faith are visible on every page. As a result, This is What America Looks Like is both the inspiring coming of age story of a refugee and a multidimensional tale of the hopes and aspirations, disappointments and failures, successes, sacrifices and surprises, of a devoted public servant with unshakable faith in the promise of America.
How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith (Leadership)
Leadership expert Sally Helgesen and bestselling leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith have trained thousands of high achievers -- men and women -- to reach even greater heights. Again and again, they see that women face specific and different roadblocks from men as they advance in the workplace. In fact, the very habits that helped women early in their careers can hinder them as they move up. Simply put, what got you here won't get you there . . . and you might not even realize your blind spots until it's too late.
The Monarchy of Fear: A Philosopher Looks at Our Political Crisis by Martha C. Nussbaum (Philosophy and Political Science)
For decades Martha C. Nussbaum has been an acclaimed scholar and humanist, earning dozens of honors for her books and essays. In The Monarchy of Fear she turns her attention to the current political crisis that has polarized American since the 2016 election. Although today’s atmosphere is marked by partisanship, divisive rhetoric, and the inability of two halves of the country to communicate with one another, Nussbaum focuses on what so many pollsters and pundits have overlooked. She sees a simple truth at the heart of the problem: the political is always emotional. Globalization has produced feelings of powerlessness in millions of people in the West. That sense of powerlessness bubbles into resentment and blame. Blame of immigrants. Blame of Muslims. Blame of other races. Blame of cultural elites. While this politics of blame is exemplified by the election of Donald Trump and the vote for Brexit, Nussbaum argues it can be found on all sides of the political spectrum, left or right.