Today's list is a bit odd, and yet I find that when I teach, I frequently mention several books. In case you weren't in class, or you couldn't write fast enough, here's the latest list!
Nonfiction: (NOTE: for this list, the links embedded in the titles of the books lead to authors' websites, the links embedded in the pictures lead to Amazon, where you can read further reviews!)
1. Brain Rules by Dr. John Medina
This is an easy to read and easy to remember summary of the latest research into how your brain actually works. It's packed with research results that you'll find yourself quoting extensively. You can click on the title of the book to go to the author's website which has lots of supplemental information. Enjoy!
2. Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
This is a summary of the latest research on child development. It's amazing how much has been discovered in the past few years, and yet, because of the speed of our news cycle, it's hard to see that the overall picture has changed dramatically. I really do recommend that everyone who comes into contact with kiddos read this book as a reality check. Delightfully, the website associated with the book (click on the name) has a LOT of information both from the book, and information written after publication. Go, read, learn, and enjoy!
3. Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales
I've been recommending this book for years. In fact, one year I gave away 15 copies as gifts. Combining great storytelling with hard science (occasionally dense), the author takes us on a search for the common elements that allowed folks to survive all kinds of situations. By the time you finish the book, you'll have a set of survival skills to develop now, while you're safe, that will help you no matter where, or in what kind of survival situation your find yourself. I discovered this book when I was lost in an internal wilderness and it really helped. Mind you, he spends more time talking about external wildernesses, but the insights are valid for both.
4. Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by Dr. John Gottman
As discussed in Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, this (rather poorly-titled IMHO) book is the result of Dr. Gottman's years of research that allow him to predict with stunning accuracy the likelihood that a couple will split up or stay together. It's a well-written book, with lots of mini-checklists and questions as well as stories and data supported by scientific research. Fun!
5. Don't Shoot the Dog: the New Art of Teaching and Training by Karen Pryor
Of all the books I've ever read, this slim volume has had the greatest impact on how I teach. My classes are now more relaxed and more fun for everyone, both for me and for my students. (Evidence? Attendance figures are much improved!) Mind you, this is theoretically a book about how to train animals, written by a dolphin trainer. That said, it's also a beautifully clear explanation of exactly how to shape behavior. For each section she explains how to apply that concept to a pet, a child, a spouse, a boss, and yourself. With knowledge comes power. Read this book and use your powers wisely! :)
Fiction: I often don't get as much time to spend recommending fiction as I do nonfiction, unfortunately. Also, because I teach all age levels, this list may not suit everyone. Still, these are books that I mentioned in several different classes. Enjoy! (NOTE: Yes, I do teach ALL age levels.)
6. Starting with my top recommendation for the toddler set: ANY board book by Sandra Boynton. She's fabulous! My favorite? Your Personal Penguin, which I bought when engaged. NOTE: most of her books also have songs. Here's the link for the Penguin one.
7. I Am Going! by Mo Willems
The author of the (deservedly) famous Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, has begin a series of wildly entertaining first readers. The Elephant and Piggie series of books is designed for kids who are just starting to try and read on their own. Kids get a lot of help from both the pictures and the delightful typography. Best of all? The stories are fun for the adults to listen to, as each has a twist at the end.
I'm willing to go out on a limb for this author and state for the record that I think his books will be as enduring and as genre-shaping as the Dr. Seuss books are for the Level 1 readers! A bold prediction, I know, but one I'll stand behind as a reading teacher with a LOT of experience.
8 & 9. Skipping several levels of development as a reader, my favorite Robert Heinlein novel, as mentioned to my older classes, is either Friday or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Please, don't make me choose just one!
Friday is a one of the strongest female protagonists out there, and I just love listening in on her life. Sadly, I think this vision of Earth is increasingly accurate, and that worries me.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress features one of the more unique narrative voices in all of sci-fi, and is basically a handbook on how to run a revolution. When Luna City is finally built, I hope everyone will have read this book!
10. John Ringo's series that starts with There Will Be Dragons is thought-provoking, well-written, wild adventure. It's sci-fi mixed with ren-faire folk, mixed with the best of the fantasy realm, while also discussing deep philosophical and ethical issues. Ahh yes, and there's Bast the wood elf. I won't spoil any more of the story, just go get a copy and get lost reading!