summer reading

June 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Greetings and salutations! It’s been ages since my last post, but I thought it would be great to do a summer reading list to herald the end of the school year.

Books that have made a difference for me:

“Drive: the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel Pink.

A most serendipitous purchase made in LGA and read cover-to-cover before touching down in Kansas City for the 2011 ASTA conference. The premise of Pink’s book is that our current motivation systems such as reward and punishment are outdated and do not increase development of natural intrinsic motivation, and in order to motivate present and future workplaces and classrooms, we need to approach motivation differently.

“Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Suriving and Thriving at Work, Home and School” by John Medina

It’s not every day you read a book by a developmental molecular biologist, but this faculty required reading list book from a few years back was my enjoyable first foray into the world of teacher development literature. Some of those things your mother always told you growing up —eat right, exercise, and get a good night’s sleep— take a surprising and well-researched tone in Medina’s book.

“The Gifts of Imperfection: Letting Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” by Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW

While I am largely suspicious of pop-psychology or “self-help” books, there are a few really remarkable books that delve into human development and personal insight. Dr. Brown’s book is one of them. As a shame researcher for the University of Houston, she provides a loving and meat-and-potatoes clarity on developing resilience, empathy and authenticity in the face of the numerous shaming and painful experiences we all experience. While I can’t do the book justice in this write-up, I also can’t sing it enough praises. In an age of disappointment-avoidance culture and glorified worship of certain questionable social expectations and standards, this book is a Godsend.

“Teaching Music with Passion” by Dr. Peter Loel Boonshaft

One of the first books I downloaded on my Kindle, and still one of my favorites. Combine practical rehearsal technique advice with heart-warming, tear-jerking anecdotes on life as a music teacher, and you have “Teaching Music with Passion.” Dr. Boonshaft’s book (part of a larger series) inspired me to take a closer look at where I am as an educator, and where I yet want to be. It’s worth enjoying in small doses, for while Boonshaft writes like a dream, this highly readable work is also very profound and its ideas deserve to marinate in your teaching toolbox.

“Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn

This seminal classic of the bringing-Eastern-thought-to-Western-minds, “Wherever You Go” is a practical primer on mindfullness and meditation. As a conductor it’s helped me become more present tense, though I reccomend it to any performing artist or musical layperson.

What’s on my reading list this summer…

“Better By Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong” by Aline Tugend

“Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul” by Stuart Brown, MD and Christopher Vaughan

“NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

“Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” by Anne Lamott


What books have made the difference for you? Please leave your response in the comments section below.


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