Monday, June 17, 2013

Ideal Bookshelf--The Leftovers

       In two previous posts, I created some ideal bookshelves—one for educators, and one for leaders. Each had some caveats. But now those are gone, and this bookshelf contains the leftovers—books that I believe all educators and leaders should read, but which didn’t fit neatly into the restrictions of the categories. As you’ll see, most somehow focus on big-picture cultural issues, particularly the incredible changes we are experiencing currently.
       In some ways, a book making this list is an even greater endorsement. It suggests not only the quality of the work, but also its widespread relevance.
       With acknowledgment that a shelf has only so much space in the physical world, in no particular order:

·         Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott. How collaboration is spurring innovation and growth in multiple sectors.
·         Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet by Howard Gardner, Mihlay Csikszentmihalyi, and William Damon. Reminds us of the importance of ethics as pace and competitiveness ramp up.
·         Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirkey. A great overview on how we’ve shifted from being media consumers to media creators.
·         Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson. Incredibly insightful on both small and great levels.
·         What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly. Technology as a living force that will continue to evolve. A guide to being prepared and taking full advantage of what’s coming.
·         The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. Always important to hear all sides of an issue.
·         The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Be careful in choosing the objects of your desire and putting too much faith in them.
·         Moby Dick by Herman Melville. For me, no other novel has so captured all the complexities of human nature and civilization.
·         Walden by Henry David Thoreau. A great reminder about the need to take time for serious reflection about ourselves and our culture. Amazing insights into human nature.
·         Hamlet by William Shakespeare.  But one can be too introspective. Also a strong lesson about keeping our egos under control.

Were I filling these shelves at a different time, I know some of the choices would change. No doubt they are influenced by the ideas running clattering my mind more noisily than others right now. Also, I’ve tried to consider wider relevance and not just personal appeal. So I don’t include the wonderful novel I just read. Similarly, I wanted to stay away from works that have a definite theology or political perspective.
The exercise was fun, and perhaps you gained some ideas for summer reading or to add to your stack. I’d love to know what you think of the choices.

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