Books I Have Read This School Year (and would actually recommend): Nonfiction

Continuing with my recommendations from books read this school year, here are some of the nonfiction titles I enjoyed:

Tiger, Meet My Sister. . . . and Other Things I Probably Shouldn’t Have Said by Rick Reilly

Tiger Rick Reilly

I know hardly anything about sports except for baseball, but I love to watch sports movies and read sports writing.  Rick Reilly is one of the best sportswriters alive. He writes about professional, college, and high school sports with a critical eye but a love for the game. Reilly knows how to infuse human interest into all scenarios, and several of these essays had me teary-eyed.

The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall


This was a great read about the role and purpose of storytelling. Gottschall explores the reasons why storytelling is so central to human existence and why stories have so much power in our lives.  As a literature teacher, I always find the human obsession with stories fascinating.

Focus: A Simplicity Manifesto in the Age of Distraction by Leo Babauta


One of my favorite topics to read about and values to which I aspire is minimalism. I love Leo Babauta’s blog Zen Habits, and this relatively quick read spells out some important principles for living simply and deliberately in a world where we have so many distractions vying for our attention.  I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered the art of living simply, especially with a family, but I’m always looking for inspiration to clear busyness from my life and to engage in life-giving activities.

Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science by Charles Wheelan and Burton G. Malkiel

Naked Economics

I’ve been coaching Academic Decathlon for the last couple of years, and one of the subject areas that I don’t know well at all is economics.  In fact, I searched online for “Economics books for lay people,” and this book appeared at the top of the search results.  I really enjoyed this approach to economics: learn the principles without getting bogged down in graphs.  The writing is clear with relevant and entertaining examples.  I’m much more interested in economics than I was before I read it.

The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley

Smartest Kids

In this book, Amanda Ripley follows three American exchange students to Finland, South Korea, and Poland. Through the experiences of these students, Ripley examines the education systems of these three nations, systems that are very different from one another but that are, internationally speaking, quite successful.  A compelling read that provides needed insight into ways that American public education could improve.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In

Sheryl Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, and I first heard her speak on women’s issues in her TED talk called “Why we have too few women leaders.” I enjoyed this book and felt encouraged by many of her principles to regard my own career with more optimism and to be grateful for the supportive partner that my husband has always been to me.

The Teenage Brain by Frances Jensen


I am nearly finished with this book, and I am gaining much needed insight into why teenagers’ brains are quite different from adult brains.  Although high school students may look like adults, they don’t truly think like adults.  In some cases this is a positive quality: teenagers’ brains have an astounding capacity for learning. However, the underdeveloped connections between the frontal lobe and the rest of the brain make teenage brains more vulnerable. I believe that the insights I have gained from this read will help me to approach my teaching with more sensitivity.

That’s it for the recommendations so far! I’m excited to be able to read more this summer!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s