My Top 10 Books to Read in 2009

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I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions.  They’re ripe for failure and 360 days from now seems like a really long time to wait to start something new.  I tend to think every day should be full of resolutions to be a better person or accomplish a particular goal.  Over winter break I started one of these new daily resolutions.  In 2009 I want to read more books.  I read quite a few blogs and online journals, but books tend to play second fiddle in my reading life.  Sure I hear about them and sometimes I even purchase one or two, but most just sit on my Amazon Wish List just waiting to be remembered…one day.  As a result, I’ve missed some great texts the last few years.  No more!  Just after Christmas a Sacramento area Borders closed (the picture is my haul at the massive 40% off sale) and I was able to expand my reading list with quite a few books that had been lingering on my Amazon Wish List.  Santa (aka Kelly) also brought a few others.  So here’s my Top 10 list of books that I will reading in 2009 in no particular order.

  1. Disrupting Class – Clayton Christianson documents how disruptive innovations in the form of online education will revolutionize modern American schools.  I actually read this one over Winter break, so a review will be coming soon.
  2. Freakonomics – I thought I was probably the last person on the planet to read this book, but when I posted a Facebook status update referring to it I found many of my well-read friends hadn’t checked it out either.  Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner explore the hidden side of everything from the true reason for decreases in crime to the cost associated with some of the more “creative” names given to children.  I finished Freakonomics on Friday, so you’ll see a review pretty soon.
  3. The Numerati – If you live anywhere near a Safeway chances are you have a Club Card.  This handy little device allows you to get discounts on certain featured items.  Are they really discounts or are you actually selling your shopping behavioral information to a marketer for that 50 cent price reduction?  In the Numerati Stephen Baker talks about the mathematicians who are making sense of all of the personal data we leave behind as we click websites or pay with credit cards.  I’m actually in the middle of this book.  So far its been a fascinating read and I think I should have paid more attention in math!
  4. The Global Acheivement Gap – Tony Wagner discusses what skills are needed in a global economy and why American schools can’t provide them and how schools can be changed to cultivate these skills.  Hmm…scary, but sounds like something I need to read.
  5. Grown Up Digital – I actually read Growing Up Digital by Don Tapscott a few years ago for a grad school class and I really liked it.  The book gave me a different perspective on my students and peers since by his definition I am part o the Net Generation. Grown Up Digital is Tapscott’s continuation of how this generation is dramatically changing society now that they are in adulthood.
  6. The World is Curved – The subtitles on this book, “Hidden dangers to the global economy” and “The mortgage crisis was only the beginning” are honestly what caught my eye.  A little more digging led me to the inside cover where the book by David M. Smick is described as, “picking up where Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat left off.”  Since I’ve read Friedman’s work and actually seek out his Wednesday and Sunday New York Times editorials I thought I should give this book a whirl.
  7. Brain Rules – I discovered this book through a online video of a speech the author, John Medina, gave for Authors@Google.  The book covers what scientists currently know about brain development and how that ties into teaching, working, learning, and presenting.
  8. Made to Stick – Two brothers, Chip Heath and Dan Heath, analyze why some ideas stick and others do not.  Its a great review for what makes effective communication.
  9. Tribes – This book has popped up so many times in my RSS reader that I had to add it to my Amazon Wish List.  Seth Godin describes human “tribes” and the leaders that guide them.  Through his analysis he looks at what makes a strong leader.
  10. Outliers – Much like Tribes, Outliers popped up on nearly every blog I read.  That in itself pretty much makes it a must read, but the description sounds pretty interesting too.  In Outliers Malcom Galdwell tries to explain what makes some people more successful than others and it contrary to popular belief it isn’t luck.

These are the ten books with which I am beginning 2009.  So far, I already have 2.5 read, but school has started back up and chances are I won’t be consuming them nearly as fast.  Hopefully, they are only the beginning of a productive, well-read year.  If you’re curious what else I’ll be reading take a look at my Amazon Wish List.  Its my online way of remembering great books referred to me by friends or relatives.  If you have any suggestions for others to read post a comment below!

Joe

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