Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Summer Reading List

With the summer solstice mere hours away, I have accumulated my stack of summer reading in anticipation of a fall internship season that is looking as exciting as ever.  My wife is under the impression that I am particularly ambitious in my choices due to both reading volume and variety.  I, on the other hand, feel a certain excitement in blending humor, politics, social psychology, and educational innovation into something that both inspires and anchors my thinking for the next little while.
Here is the list of titles stacked up beside me.  If any of these selections has a particularly impactful message, I’ll be sure to post a comment in the coming months.

The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs (2004)
I started this one a few days ago and am up to the letter “F”.  Very good sense of humor so far, although I’m not sure that the ‘lets try this just to say we did it’ approach isn’t a little dated now.  I can remember 30 years ago when, as students in university residence are sometimes apt to do, there would be a suggestion of spontaneity, and a road trip to the border would soon follow, all in the name of being able to get some Coors (getting American beer was seen as a treat) and also to be able to tell stories of cross-border accomplishment.  Of course the participants in these adventures didn’t write a book about their date with destiny in Shelby, Montana.  Come to think of it, I haven’t seen the corollary story written from the American convenience store operator’s point of view either.  I guess in hindsight these kinds of efforts are better left to legend.

Self-Efficacy In Changing Societies by Albert Bandura (1997)

Two different people have told me that there are more up-to-date authors that I could be looking at.  I’m sure this is true, but this one is in honor of a researcher whom I have the utmost respect for.   If the author’s papers I’ve reviewed are any indication, this one should be a definite keeper.

The Presidents Club by Gibbs and Duffy (2012)

I admit it; I am an unapologetic follower of American politics.  For some reason, I find the whole spectacle of how Americans select a leader quite fascinating.  Maybe it’s the way that people just say stuff like they own the facts that is so compelling.  I know that compared to Canada, you can be sure that every little detail is going to be revealed (our oligarchs are better hiders than their oligarchs).  I’ve never aspired to be a ‘frat boy’, so this insider’s look at the ultimate club should have me stoked as much as learning how to surf this summer.

The Righteous Mind – Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt (2012)

I saw this author on Bill Moyers and had to get the book.  I haven’t opened it yet (I can only read one book at once) but I can hardly wait to get into it.  I even gave a copy to my father for Father’s Day.  I’m not sure what the degree of enlightenment will be in the end, but I am sure that I’ll have a much better understanding of sanctification when I’m done.

Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner (2012)

If you’ve been one to look back at where this whole blog thing started, Dr. Wagner’s work was an early topic.  When this book arrived, I immediately read the first chapter and smiled.  Then I read the ‘advanced praise’ on the back cover and saw the potential for politicians to climb aboard this work and went, oh-oh.  This will be the last book I get to (sometime in August), as I want to cleanse my mind before I start down the path of argumentation once again (whether I’m still on board with Dr. Wagner’s ways will be a good test of whether the seasonal beers and island life have dulled my edginess too much).

So there it is…a collage of the things I am currently trying to get my mind around.  It wasn’t so long ago as a practicing educator that the thought of summer school was quite repulsive.  Now that I am self-selecting (in both work and thought), the idea of horizon expansion is actually quite appealing.  If anyone reading this post has additional selections that they feel would fit into this menagerie let me know.  I’m always keen to hear if there is something written that is attention worthy.