Recommended Reading

Congo: The Epic History of a People

David van Reybrouk

By award-winning Belgian author David van Reybrouck, first published in Dutch in 2010 but now available in English, Congo is a fantastic addition to the library of any Africa watcher. Over the years I’ve read whatever Congo/Zaire related books I could get my hands on in English, and now I’m thoroughly immersed in this new telling. Super for those looking for an introduction to the country as well as a mini-lesson about much of the African story over the last century.

The Shallows

Nicholas Carr

Science, intellectual history, cultural criticism, all put together in a compelling read: The Shallows is one of my most-recommended books. If you think at all about how the internet is changing us – and you should – then read this work by Nicholas Carr. Our reading habits, our ability to comprehend concepts, our relationships, our very ways of making sense of the world – all are being shaped by our use of this tool. I am a teacher, a parent, a huge reader of books – the shelf and paper kind – and I also love the internet, so this was a must read. Do yourself a favor. 

The Defining Decade

Meg Jay

Why your twenties matter, especially in modern America. No, this is not a manifesto recommending a fast-track to working drudgery. It is a statement about the power of those years and how they are especially strong at imprinting a path for the future. If you’re the parent of a twenty-something, give him or her a copy.

Composing a Life

Mary Catherine Bateson

Well, really anything by Mary Catherine Bateson. Enjoy.

Composing a Further Life

Mary Catherine Bateson

In Composing a Further Life, Bateson redefines old age as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and challenges us to use it to pursue new sources of meaning and ways to contribute to society.

Anatomy of an Epidemic

Robert Whitaker

Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America

A must-read for anyone taking psychiatric drugs, or anyone who knows someone taking psychiatric drugs: and that’s all of us. 

Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny

Kate Manne

Misogyny is a hot topic, yet it’s often misunderstood. What is misogyny, exactly? Who deserves to be called a misogynist? How does misogyny contrast with sexism, and why is it prone to persist – or increase – even when sexist gender roles are waning? This book is an exploration of misogyny in public life and politics by the moral philosopher and writer Kate Manne.

White Fragility

Robin Diangelo

“The value in White Fragility lies in its methodical, irrefutable exposure of racism in thought and action, and its call for humility and vigilance.”
—The New Yorker 

Rage Becomes Her

Soraya Chemaly

A transformative book urging twenty-first century-women to embrace their anger and harness it as a tool for lasting personal and societal change.

We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families

Philip Gourevitch

For many, the story of the 1994 Rwandan genocide when over 800,000 people were killed in the span of 100 days, has receded into distant memory. But this 1998 book exploring what set the stage for the genocide, and how it ended, is worth a fresh look. Apparently, convincing people to take machetes to their friends, neighbors, and family members is a lot easier than you might have thought.

Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game

Abby Wambach

You know about Abby Wambach’s 2018 Barnard Commencement Speech. (Listen here.) You know that Abby lives just down the road from me in Naples, Florida, with her wife and children, so we’re practically neighbors.

And of course you know that Abby is a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, FIFA World Cup Champion, six-time US Women’s Soccer Athlete of the Year, and possibly the greatest soccer player ever.

Then she becomes an activist for gender equity too?! How good can it get? Here’s her book. I rest my case. Thanks, Abby.

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Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your roadmap through life…

– John Taylor Gatto

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