Recommended Reading

If you are like me, you have a stack of books next to your bed that threatens to topple over like a game of Jenga. As I work my way through the stack, I thought I would share just a few recent selections that have made an impression on me:

How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success
Julie Lythcott-Haims

Drawing on research and on her own experiences as Dean of Freshman at Stanford University, Lythcott-Haims writes compellingly and personally about the overparenting epidemic. As parents, we worry about our children’s future success and their psychological health. Getting over-involved is not the answer; in fact, it compromises our students’ ability to navigate the demands of young adulthood. How to Raise an Adult offers advice about how to create opportunities to allow children to have their own space, which in turn helps them learn how to apply themselves, to solve problems, and to become more confident about their abilities.


Lab Girl
Hope Jahren

What struck me most about Lab Girl was Jahren’s steadfast curiosity, determination, and passion for science. She studies plants, seeds, and soil, and her “curiosity-driven” (as opposed to “product-driven”) research has uncovered much knowledge about paleobotany. Rather than using scientific language to describe the workings of the natural world, Jahren writes striking poetic narratives. Lab Girl, which shifts between memoir and scientific insights, shares with us Jahren’s struggles a female scientist, her unwavering resolve to pursue her research, and her personal, very human, challenges. It is a beautiful, inspiring book.


The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds
Michael Lewis

Lewis is well-known for examining innovators who disrupt the status quo in various fields from major league baseball to bankers. In The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds, he explores the work of two psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, who challenged conventional wisdom about people’s rationality, motives, and decision making. The book follows Kahneman and Tversky’s research, which has deeply affected economics, sports, politics, and military protocol, as well as at their unique collaboration and friendship. It helped me to understand why we think we make rational decisions when they are more emotional and illogical than we are aware.


A More Beautiful Question
Warren Berger

In A More Beautiful Question, Berger examines the power in asking “why?” Noting that the most creative and successful people are expert questioners, Berger asks how educators can spark kids’ natural desire to question. He discusses the power that comes from questioning deeply and authentically. These “beautiful questions” are “ambitious yet actionable.” For those who want to foster inquiry in our children, think about how to utilize questions to help our businesses, or use questioning to reckon with our lives, this book will help develop a method for innovative questioning.


Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

J.D. Vance

After the recent election, I find myself wanting to understand a wider range of people’s stories and perspectives. Currently #2 on the New York Times Best Seller List, Hillbilly Elegy is an unflinching examination of Vance’s upbringing in the Rust Belt. Vance compassionately and honestly portrays the lives of the working class and articulates a voice of many people who feel disenfranchised and primed for a change. This first-person account, intermingled with sociological analysis, lays the ground for empathy and understanding of a region and culture that differs quite broadly from ours in Los Angeles.


What has occupied your reading list lately? I would love to hear your suggestions. Please share in the conversation by posting a comment on the link to this blog that appears on our Facebook page. I look forward to exploring your recommendations!


Dr. Laura Konigsberg
Head of School

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