Seeing that summer is officially here (although weather wise it hasn’t shown up here in the Pacific Northwest) I thought I’d review a couple books I read and listened to this past year in case you were looking for something to read over the summer. A little something for everyone I hope.

I read more fiction this year then I have in my entire life probably leading up to it. All the credit goes to this librarian (Twitter @mischelej) who came to my school in Thailand this year figured out what I liked and then keep pushing books on me until I started reading some. Mischele…can’t thank you enough and keep sending the book recommendations…I have a lot of travel ahead of me. 


Ready Player One Ready Player One is a fantastic book. If you have spent anytime at all in Second Life this book will have you wondering if this is the future. If you haven’t been in Second Life but grew up at all in the 80s then you are in for a treat. Your inner geek will come out and you’ll be transported back into your childhood (OK…my childhood) of some of the first computer games. Well written and if every book I read could be this good I’d read a lot more. 

What has blown me away even more is how the author is using social-media and the idea in the book to engage his audience. Check out this youtube video for contest details and then go read the book.

The Art of Fielding I have mixed feelings about The Art of Fielding. The books starts out focused on baseball and if you are a baseball fan or ever played baseball this part of the book is so good. I found myself lost in memories of my own two a day practices, 5am runs and the weight room back in college and what it takes to make it at the next leave. The baseball part of the book I loved. The book gets away from the baseball and dives into player relationships. It’s not a bad thing and I’m still recommending it but by the end of the book I wanted more baseball talk. Still a great novel perfect for a summer read seeing that it is baseball season.

11/22/63 11/22/63 is the first Stephen King book I have ever read. Love the idea of the book about going back in time and changing the past. An easy read that is based on relationships, history and one mans struggle to try and change the past. A good vacation book….or was for me.  




Professional Books:

Public Parts Public Parts by Jeff Jarvis makes a great argument on why we all should get use to living in public and how it benefits us as a global community. He takes on the big idea of privacy and how we have struggled with privacy for years in different forms. I listened to the book on Audible as Jeff reads the book himself and being an auditory learner I like it when I can get the authors voice coming through in the book…I feel it adds insight as you get those little inflections in the authors voice when they really want to make a point. 

I would recommend this book for anyone who is struggling with this idea of living public, putting things on the Internet or where we fear all this will lead. Administrators…..I think this is a must read for you. 

Drive If you haven’t yet read or listened to Drive by Dan Pink then make this a top priority this summer. I think one of the best books about what truly motivates people to work and play. Seeing we want students to work in our schools and classrooms this book is a must read. The power of motivation and what really motivates us to do our best. Another must read for Administrators, Superintendents or anyone whose job it is to motivate others to do their best work.


Those are my recommendations for this summer. If you want to see other books I recommend head over to my Amazon store and check out other things that might interest you.

What are you reading this summer? Or what would you recommend I or others read?

One thing is for sure. When you work with a powerful team like Tara and Kim you have conversations that end up turning into a lot of blog posts. πŸ™‚

I have a sticky note I keep on my desk with ideas. I have an idea book that I keep in my backpack, and I have thoughts in my head that keep me awake at night. All ideas and thoughts that poor Tara and Kim have to listen to whether they want to or not. πŸ˜‰

At a team meeting, with the above mentioned, a couple weeks ago we got on the topic of books. Now I’m sure I’m going to get some push back on this one, but I’m hoping it helps me to frame what I’m thinking (and it might be wrong) a little clearer…so please….feel free to push back.

Up until recently books are what we have known. They were the holders of knowledge, they were the all mighty, the all knowing. If you wanted to know something you went to a book. If you wanted to drift off into a fantasy world, you read a book. If you wanted to heart felt story…you could find it in a book. It a book didn’t have the answer you went to a divine power.

Today….we just go to Google

Books are great. I love them on planes, on the beach and by the pool. Yes, I think books have a niche in today’s world. I just think it’s smaller then what we believe it to be.

Simple questions:

When was the last time you read a book?

When was the last time you read a web page?

When was the last time you read a letter addressed to you in the mail? (A real hand written letter)

When was the last time you read an e-mail?

When was the last time you looked up a phone number in the phone book?

When was the last time you looked up a recipe in a recipe book?

When was the last time you used an encyclopedia?

When was the last time you went to a book before the web for non-fiction/relevant information?

When was the last time you used an IM client (chat)?

Now, take these questions and go ask them to your class, to a kid on the street, or the kid sitting next to you. Are the answers the same? Different? Why?

In a world of niche markets I believe that books have a place, but I think we need to take a step back and find where that place is. I’ve been asking these same questions to myself the past couple of weeks. Then I walk into classrooms to see students reading books for hours on end.

Now, I have nothing against this, just that I have a feeling that the skill of reading a book is practiced much more than say the skill of reading a chat or reading a web page. Yet we spend more time in society today reading chats, web pages and e-mails than we do books. Now I don’t have any research to support this (please add links if you find some) but I have read the Long Tail (audiobook version) and understand that newspaper subscriptions have been in a steady decline. That public libraries are seeing less and less book check-outs and more people coming to use the computers. I witnessed this particular one this summer in a 4 hour visit to the local public library because they had free WiFi. Of the 20 people in the library only one (a seven year old) was browsing the books. Everyone else was there for the free WiFi or to use the library computers.

I do believe that books are still important to our society today, although I do see them evolving with devices like the Kindle. But until that becomes mainstream paper is still the way to go. There is something in holding a paper book, the way it bends, smells, and reads on a sandy beach that just can’t be replaced with my Palm.

At the same time I see a growing disconnect between what and how we are teaching students to read and where we spend our time reading. Are our classrooms changing with the times? Should we be allowing forcing students to learn to read a web-page, an e-mail, a chat? Should we force them like we force them to sit and read a book for 30 minutes of SSR a day to do the same with digital print?

Are we doing this in our classrooms?

Is this a priority?

Are we doing our students a disservice?

Is all of this over stated because students will learn these skills in spite of us and our education system?

OK…your turn!

(I have to link to Mark Ahlness’ SSR 2.0 post every time I talk about this. Cause over a year later, I’m still thinking about this!)